AIRDATE-9-22-1968 (AND I WAS WATCHING!) NUMBER ONE
DIRECTED BY IRWIN ALLEN
MUSIC-JOHN WILLIAMS (some of which is on CD)
After the opening theme music and credits, we see a sleek spaceship flying, not quite in outer space yet. Lightning seems to grace it. A title shows us it is June 12th, 1983 when this sub orbital flight 6-12 encounters turbulence while passing from the atmosphere into space. The trip is in order for the ride from LA to London to take only 41 minutes. After losing radio contact with LA Airport, Captain Steve Burton and co pilot Dan Erickson find their ship pulled into a greenish ball of light. The passengers and stewardess see this out the side window. The pilots lose control, only to regain it when they come out on the other side. With power cells fading, the pair land the ship on a fog shrouded flat plain after spotting the night lights of a city down below. Stewardess Betty Hamilton tells ten year old Barry Lockridge, a passenger, that if his cousins do not meet him in London, she will take him home with her and he will never be an orphan again. Navy Commander Alexander Fitzhugh is very protective of his valise. Outside, two huge lights head at Steve and Dan, who think it is another plane. It is a titanic car which runs right over them! Next, the sound of giant steps send them scurrying back to the ship, alerting everyone of a takeoff. A giant boy picks up the ship and looks in at Betty, Dan, and Steve, Steve pushing Dan to his seat as the ship shakes.
The pilots fight the ship lose for a wild ride past buildings over 5000 feet in the air. Steve lands the ship in a forest for it to recharge its solar batteries. Business tycoon (and engineer, scientist) Mark Wilson doesn't believe Steve's tale of giants and space warps. Later, Fitzhugh overhears Dan and Steve talking about police waiting for him in London. Dan doesn't think he is the type to steal a million dollars. Fitzhugh decides to leave the spacecraft, followed by Barry with his dog Chipper, into the night fog. A giant lizard goes unnoticed by them. Betty, returning from the ship's galley, tells Steve the pair are gone. Steve tells Dan to throw out the search lights which Barry and Fitzhugh duck from. The two go off. Steve goes out and is chased by unseen giant menaces which Dan gets dozens of on the ship's radar--blips of all shapes and sizes, "Take it easy--you've got a lot of company out there." Steve nearly runs into a giant tarantula, another is behind it. He throws the branch he scooped up, knowing it is not protection against this...and runs. He finds jet setter millionairess Valerie Ames Scott has disobeyed orders and followed him outside (earlier she expressed she wanted to come with the captain, having to have her own way and to see everything--on Earth she's been everywhere twice and done everything there is to do). Fitzhugh and Barry see giant trees and are surprised from behind by a huge, yellow cat which hits the man's valise. From it spreads large denominations of bills. The two flee back to the ship--bringing the cat to it. Betty gets Barry into the Passenger Compartment while Fitzhugh closes the door. Dan yells, "There are two more people..." he opens it and the face of the cat is there. It attacks and nearly gets Dan at the doorway. Dan tosses Fitzhugh to the Passenger Compartment and gets to the control room cockpit--where he faces the huge maw of the cat at the viewport window. He fires the retro rockets at it while Mark stops a gas leak. Val disobeys Steve's orders again and goes inside a large box, "Don't worry I won't buy it without my lawyers advice." Steve is trying to call Dan and spots this, "Don't you ever listen to anyone. We don't know what kind of place this is." The cage door slams shut on them, trapping them inside. They manage to get a call off to Dan before a giant in a white lab coat--a giant bearded man wearing glasses, emerges from the jungle, over 70 feet tall. He leans down and picks up the cage, bringing them to his lab.
Dan tracks the giant blip from the spot he last heard from Val. Fitzhugh feels it is tragic and that Mr. Wilson should fix the ship's engines. Dan tells him they are not leaving here without Capt. Burton or Miss Scott. Barry spots a gun Fitzhugh has hidden in a closet at the back of the ship's main hallway but the con man cons Barry into thinking it is part of their survival gear. Val and Steve move off the radar scope range. The giant has a lab assistant, a female giant, helping him. He puts the cage down and moves off to help her work. The Earth pair, avoiding the giant several times, cut their way out of the cage and move onto a table. Val suggests making contact with the giants. Steve calls her crazy, "To him we're just six inch oddities." Steve starts to make a rope from a spool of thread after they climb uptop a set of file cabinet-drawers. Steve starts to climb down the table when Val, following according to plan, accidentally knocks over and breaks a test tube. The woman scientist grabs Steve off the rope and drops him in a round jar of hay; the giant man grabs Valerie in his hands as Steve tries to warn her, "Run! Run!" The giant observes Val in his fist and drops her into the jar beside Steve. The pair get up and face the giant face.
Fitzhugh laughs at the others' efforts, "A bunch of tiny midgets trying to attack a world of giants with a broken razor blade and a safety pin." His laughter turns grim when Barry accidentally lets it slip that Fitzhugh has a gun. He pulls the gun out on them, making Barry sit down, demanding Mark fix the engines, and Dan fly him back to Earth. Dan calls his bluff, knowing Fitzhugh cannot shoot him as he is the only one who can fly the space plane. When Mark picks up the razor-hatchet they have made, Betty and Dan expect more trouble. Mark wants to help and goes with Dan. Fitzhugh apologizes to Barry, drops his gun, and tells the boy he is not a military man--he's never fought in war in his life. Barry tells a confessing Fitzhugh that now is his chance to fight a war. The boy picks the gun up and gives it to the older man. Mark and Dan hear Valerie scream in the forest, which leads them to a huge flight of steps. They manage to get up it, helping each other. Inside, Steve and Val are being prodded and poked by the giants--being readied for dissection! Mark cuts a gas line (which causes an explosion and makes the female cough a lot) while Dan maneuvers himself up a flight of books--tossing the rope and grappling hook pin up to the table from the top of the books to catch onto the open drawer. He gets to Steve and Val who are scotch taped to slides. They all escape when Dan cuts them loose with a giant scalpel--climbing down, they are followed by the male giant--who has a butterfly net.
Followed outside by the giant man, Dan is netted by him. Steve, Val, and Mark run back out of a drainpipe to help him out. Fitzhugh, arriving with Barry and Betty, is made to shoot his gun at the giant by Barry. They run to the others and all of them flee into the drain--just as the giant puts his hand inside. Without knowing where it goes, they are going to try one way when the giant hand blocks them from it and they are knocked down another, more slanted drain. They are followed by a giant arm but Fitzhugh shoots at the giant's face at the end of the drain. They hear him yell in a loud voice, "COME BACK!" The gang emerge in a giant junkyard which has old shoes, light bulbs, egg cartons. Fitzhugh says, "This is the bottom of the barrel...a giant junkyard." They barely have a breather when Chipper wanders off. The dog barks at a huge mongrel dog who is faced by Barry who scooped up his own little dog. Steve gets to Barry and faces the mastiff with the boy until Mark arrives. Dan gets the girls into an egg carton and prepares a fire stick for the dog. Mark gets to Steve and Barry. Steve shoves the boy to him, "Get him out of here!" Mark takes Barry to Fitzhugh, "Get him in that carton!" Fitzhugh opens the carton, "In there quickly!" Fitzhugh hides under the egg carton in a hole while Mark and Dan take cover behind some fallen tree branch. Steve watches it catch sight of Fitzhugh and terrorize the egg carton holding the girls and Barry to get at Fitzhugh. Steve picks up a light bulb and tosses it at the dog's nose. This doesn't ward it off long. Steve gets his shirt into some cleaning fluid, lights it up, and tosses at the fallen light bulb near the dog's snout. It goes off and the dog runs away.
As the others are helped by each other, Fitzhugh complains, "I can't go on, I can't. I can't take it any longer. A constant nightmare in this hideous world, never knowing what's going to come next. I want to get out of here!" Steve grabs him, "From now on, that's just the way it's going to be in this world." He pushes Fitzhugh after the others who begin to find their way back to the ship. Steve leaves his burning jacket behind.
NOTE: Certain drafts of THE CRASH script end with Barry and Chipper finding the tape recorder which is obviously from Earth. When the two leave to get the others, the tape recorder message from Major Kagan plays, ending the cliffhanger. Having already done cliffhangers in LOST IN SPACE and THE TIME TUNNEL, not to mention seeing the dwindling BATMAN interest, perhaps Irwin Allen decided to drop this old hat format. Mark wears a jacket and tie in this episode--is going to London to settle a thirty billion dollar deal. He removes the jacket half way through the show. Barry wears a tie and jacket, Fitzhugh wore full Navy dress--jacket and tie with hat. A two step stool is put out early after the second landing. Barry's father is was a Marine Lt Colonel (the man some time ago; Barry's mother just recently died). Dan was a decathlon star as well as winning at other feats in the Olympics.
REVIEW: A good first episode detailing how the group landed in this strange yet familiar world. Many series "cop out" by beginning a series already set up and in their universe already without telling about how the characters arrived at that spot and point in time. For example, the Saturday morning series, LAND OF THE LOST, showed us only in the credits how the family came to be in the land. STAR TREK shows us the ship already on its voyages, not what went before or how the characters first met. THE CRASH does not take this short cut but thrusts the new characters together. Other series do set up the entire concept but do it in a dull fashion. SPACE: 1999, an otherwise excellent series, has BREAKAWAY as its weakest episode of al 48 (however the scene of the Moon moving away from the Earth was fantastic). LAND OF THE GIANTS makes THE CRASH both interesting from a story viewpoint and from an action viewpoint. Here, there was not much character development but a lot of action; however, the characters' relationships were just beginning. THE CRASH set this up excellently. There was also a lot of background information about each and every character--even more so in the unaired pilot, the presentation reel, the scripts, etc. Each person had a detailed background and this shows in the episode and the ones that follow (unlike STAR TREK where in the first few episodes we really know very little about Kirk, Spock, and McCoy). LAND OF THE GIANTS has its characters' personalities develop over a period of time, learning from their mistakes and encounters. That doesn't mean THE CRASH didn't have them well established--Val was a snooty jet setter who rarely listened to anyone, Mark was a well meaning but by the book--his book--man of action and perhaps a bit too eager to violence, Fitzhugh was a con man who also meant well but sometimes without the others' direction would lose himself in selfishness, Betty was a wide eyed innocent who always saw the best in any situation while being often very afraid underneath--and who could calm the others or be there to spur them on to some good action, Dan was the athlete and perhaps the strongest of the group physically--loyal to Steve and even to his passengers (he refuses to leave Miss Scott even though he hardly knows her and what he does know implicates her foolishness which brought about Steve's capture) but not willing to back down to any of them about his principals, Steve who is the man of action also but who thinks before he leaps--most of the time and who is willing to take chances (witness his brash moves during the dog attack and his desire to just follow the drain wherever it goes despite Dan's warnings), and Barry--another wide eyed innocent perhaps not as afraid as Betty--but he learn fear from the giant dog attack--and also an orphan willing to latch onto these adults, especially Fitzhugh who he can influence and who can influence him. This group was at odds in many first season shows, then came to a more loyal cohesion, and finally a respectful gang who could disagree from time to time. The characters were certainly changed by their adventures by A PLACE CALLED EARTH. Val became much more loyal to following orders from the others, especially from Steve--she hides from the two would be Navy rescuers just because Steve said to, "That's good enough for me."
The effects were excellent in this episode, mostly involved giants and the little people but this is one of the rare episodes that also showcased the well designed spaceship Spindrift--it wasn't a rocket or a saucer but has aspects of both--being highly original--it has only the Flying Sub as a rival for originality, even by today's standards. Both are models, still unsurpassed in shape, design, and sleekness. THE CRASH gives the Spindrift quite a workout. The actors and characters also get a workout: a plunge into a space-time warp, two crash landings, a giant car running over the pilots, a boy picking up their ship, a wild excursion past 5000 foot tall buildings, a giant lizard, two oversized spiders, unseen shapes and sizes in the jungle, the giant professors, nearly being dissected, a giant cat, gas inside the spaceship, a giant dog, a junkyard, a drain pipe adventure, and a near mutiny or shooting. Not bad for one hour of action. John William's music, at times obviously inspired by Jerry Goldsmith's score for PLANET OF THE APES, fits perfectly. The first episode set it all up and paved the way ahead with style and verve--and didn't bore us to death.