I’m trying the free week on Hulu Plus and so far I’m less than impressed. Their selection isn’t much better than Netflix and they have commercials. Really. I have to pay for their service and still put up with annoying interruptions?
In response to my complaint on Twitter, “If Hulu plus is a pay service, why do they shove commercials down our throat?” Hulu Support actually responded: “I wouldn’t put it that way. The Ads are a key cog in helping us acquire & deliver current TV content to our subscribers.” I didn’t respond. It didn’t make sense to. How do you argue with someone who believes ads are a key cog to anything? The whole point of paying a subscription is to get away from commercials.
And I’m not sure what that content is, but it still doesn’t explain why Netflix can do the same thing commercial-free. But then, I don’t believe I’m their key demographic. I’m not big on “current TV content.” Most of that I can DVR myself. I’m into programming I can’t find on television any more.
In that area, I did discover that Hulu Plus had a television program that Netflix doesn’t: Land of the Giants.
For those who don’t know, Land of the Giants was Irwin Allen’s fourth sci-fi fantasy show he put out in the 1960s. His was the genius that filled my childhood imagination with spaceships, monsters, ray guns, and pure fun action adventure. He was responsible for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, Time Tunnel, and lastly, Land of the Giants.
What was Land of the Giants? Its premise was, four passengers are taking a sub-orbital transport (like the Concorde, only the Spindrift actually went into space) on a trip from LA to London. They get pulled into a space anomaly and crash land, they think, near London. As it turns out, it isn’t London, it’s a land of giant creatures, and they’ve got to learn how to survive while repairing their ship.
The cast consisted of the crew: Gary Conway as Captain Steve Burton, Don Marshall as the co-pilot Dan Erickson, Heather Young as as flight attendant Betty Hamilton, and the passengers: Don Matheson as Mark Wilson, a rich, arrogant engineer; Kurt Kasznar as Commander Alexander Fitzhugh, who also happens to be a untrustworthy rogue who stole a million dollars, Stefan Arngrim as Barry Lockridge, the prerequisite annoying child actor along with his rag mop dog, Chipper, and Deanna Lund as Valerie Scott, as a sexy jet setter heiress.
Essentially, it’s a mash-up of Lost in Space meets Gilligan’s Island (without the intentional humor). You have Mark Wilson as the professor, Heather Young as Maryann, Valerie Scott as the movie star, and Fitzhugh as Doctor Smith.
I remember watching this as a child. It had some fun special effects, mostly the giant-sized objects that our intrepid heroes climbed around. Other effects were less than special. For instance, when they showed a “giant” the camera angle from from below and they’d use a slight slo-mo effect. For our heroes, the camera angles were from above at a distance.
I watched the first episode, “The Crash,” last night (which originally aired November 22, 1968) and there was some unintended humor. During the crash, Fitzhugh’s cabin chair actually fell over. You could tell it was just a chair on a pedestal. Either the prop guys forgot to bolt his to the set or they were too cheap to bolt them, intending to reuse the props elsewhere.
Because reuse was an Irwin Allen specialty. Much of the sound effects and music (by John Williams!) seemed to be borrowed from Lost in Space, which isn’t odd because Allen reused his flying sub from an undersea movie he had made in the 50s in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. In fact, the Spindrift looked like a fat flying sub with the same organic curves.
In another scene, the Captain Burton and Valerie as wandering around in the giant jungle and come upon a big box. Burton tells her a couple times to stay out, but what does she do? She goes inside. Then he says, “Didn’t I tell you to stay out of this?” as he climbs in himself, springing the door shut and trapping them both inside. Really? They couldn’t think of a better way to have these two characters get captured without making them look like idiots?
Anyway, if it wasn’t for Irwin Allen, we would have been deprived some entertaining science fiction. I look forward to watching more episodes of Land of the Giants, but at this point, I don’t know if this one show makes Hulu Plus worth $7.99.
Here is a promo of Land of the Giants before they filmed the pilot, so it’s told with drawings. I guess at this point they didn’t know what the Spindrift would look like, so they made it similar to the Jupiter 2. The video is also a retrospective of the shows Irwin Allen produced in the 1960s, along with some exciting music from Lost in Space.