CHAMBER OF FEAR
First Aired: 11-16-1969 (35)
Lost at night in a slum-like area, Fitzhugh and Valerie hide from Deenar inside a pipe. Deenar uses his German Shepard, a baseball thrown into the pipe, and banging cans together to try to get them to come out. He claims nothing will happen to them; Val comments, "We've heard that song before." Fitzhugh lures Deenar away from Val but is captured by the giant who tells him he will be a model.
Several nights of searching prove fruitless. Dan and Mark seem to cast blame toward Val. Inside Jolo's Wax Museum, Steve, Dan, Val, and Mark see Fitzhugh on a table. Jolo is fighting with Deenar and causes Fitz to fall off. It is only a statue made by Deenar. They follow him to his studio. As Deenar is nagged by his wife Mara, Fitz tries to escape but Deenar stops him. Mara, Jolo, and Deenar have stolen a diamond. Now all three disagree on how to cut it and split it among them. Jolo has hidden it somewhere in his museum. Steve and Dan offer to find it if Deenar will then free Fitz. Deenar notices, "You want your friend as bad as I want the diamond." He agrees. Steve and Dan prepare to go but spy on Deenar who drops Fitz into a can of molding clay---and he covers it. Fitz knew his friends would come. The two pilots do not see Deenar tie the dog under the table to guard Fitz because they left and sent Val and Mark to hunt in the museum. Dan comments Deenar looks like he has just poisoned a reservoir and is waiting for someone to take a drink. Steve says, "Let's go take a drink." They go in to the vent and get out into the room--only to be blocked by the dog, only inches away from them both!
Dan "makes friends with the dog", distracting it long enough for Steve to climb up a lamp cord, hook the rope to the table, and climb across. The dog, his teeth showing, still blocks Steve. Dan climbs up while the captain distracts it. A Monk statue walks straight up to Val and Mark---a black cat activated the mechanism. The cat is named Malin and is Jolo's. Val searches inside a cannibal statue, slips and falls, nearly strangling herself. She screams for Mark.
Mark leaves a witch statue to help her down. Deenar keeps Jolo busy in his office, discussing the diamond cutting. Dan manages to hook the dog leash to a rope, keeping the beast away from the can Fitz is choking in. Val falls again---inside a Viking statue. She ventures outside and sees the cat atop the Viking's shoulder but it jumps off. The jump causes the sword in the Viking's upraised hand to fall---nearly killing a running Val, mere inches from her. The giants come in, Jolo searching but not finding anything. Deenar blames the cat. Val tells Mark, who finds her and thinks she's had enough, that she wants to continue because they must help Fitz. Steve hoists Dan by rope into the clay can--and both Dan and Fitz sink into it. In the Monk, Val falls YET AGAIN and hits a lever which gets stuck in the on position. The Monk begins walking while Mark is climbing on the beams. Mark falls onto a turning wheel mechanisms, and is knocked unconscious. Val manages to hoist
herself between the wheels before they can crush Mark's head but she cannot hold out this way for long.
Neither Val nor Betty, at the Spindrift (and called by Val), can reach Steve or Dan. Val sends Betty to a house where the people moved out yesterday to call the police. Betty asks if it is wise that the police come and Val yells, "It's Mark's life! Now hurry!" While Barry monitors Val, Betty runs to the house, phones the police but they do not seem to believe her. Dan gets Fitz out of the clay. Barry updates Valerie but she tosses the radio down. Steve, Dan, and Fitz hear her scream to them upon re-entering the wax museum. They help her and Mark, who, looking up after awakening, spots the diamond hidden high up inside the web like beams of the statue. Despite a warning from Steve, Fitz climbs up and takes it while the others, not watching him, wait at the foot of the statue's curtains to go--for the three giants arrive to continue their debate over the diamond. Jolo discovers it missing as Fitzhugh returns with it to the others. Jolo starts to knock over statue after statue using a sword to make Deenar tell the truth. Fitzhugh sneezes and drops the diamond just as Deenar reveals that little people are involved. The three giants spot them all!
Steve snaps at Val to get to the door and she goes, holding back the giants by threatening to toss the diamond right out the window. He tells them all they want to do is get out and he'll put the diamond at the door if the giants let them leave. Mara urges Jolo, who is still holding the sword, to get him. Deenar warns them, "No. He'll keep his word!" The little people run to the door area as a policeman arrives, summoned by Betty's call. Steve tosses the diamond to the giant policeman, telling him that the giants stole it, and the five little people run under the door and out onto the street. The cop holds the three criminals. Steve still has to pull Fitzhugh away from going back yet again for the diamond. Fitzhugh feels they can get the diamond home some day and he wants to be rich. Steve says, "Yeah, some day. Let's get ourselves home first."
Once in awhile, separating the cast was a good idea, although Betty and Barry only have brief cameos in only the last act (and were underused for most of the rest of the series). Heather looked pregnant in this episode. As in THE INSIDE RAIL, Barry is now calling all the adults except Fitzhugh by their first names. At times, he will revert to using their last names or titles--mostly with Steve, calling him captain but rarely with Mark. The real problem with this action oriented episode is that Valerie is made to look clumsy, stupid, helpless, and careless. She falls three times and even though the statues were difficult to climb (and they sure did look it thanks to a great set), Val still looked the dumbest than she ever did before. The early Valerie was a bit reckless and carefree but not in the manner she is in CHAMBER OF FEAR. Val wears the yellow top with her checkered skirt. That jacket was off throughout the episode. Steve is again showing his care for Fitzhugh when he tells the other three that he will wait for him while they leave while Fitzhugh is climbing to get the diamond, even after Steve warned him not to do this. Fitz's bravery is shown when he tells Val he will distract the giant long enough for Val to get away in the opening sequence. Again, he is very different from Dr. Smith on LOST IN SPACE, who rarely, if ever, acted in a self sacrificing manner. Arthur Weiss, involved in TV in the past with the series THE FUGITIVE, hardly gave this episode any of that series' flair or conflict. Admitting that, this is an enjoyable episode if you can get past the helpless female cliche and male prejudice. Then again, this is a land of giants---who, male or female, would fair as well as Valerie Scott did. A note on Steve's character is made when Deenar, a sneakily, coward can even admit that Steve would keep his word and be sincere. Richard LaSalle's music was used, production order wise, for the first time and mingled with Leith Steven's music from THE CHASE and THE LOST ONES. LaSalle's music is very different, yet it fits LAND OF THE GIANTS well. It is more subtle than all the previous themes. It conveys a lighter, less grim feeling to the second season. In contrast to that, this episode has a real gothic atmosphere to it in the wax museum setting but throughout. Music from DEADLY LODESTONE was also re-used many times in season two and it contains a very serious sound throughout--with a short five second burst of goofy music (sounding very like some goofy Dr. Smith score from almost any LOST IN SPACE season two and three episode). This can be heard when Fitzhugh climbs up the statue. Also, it is used a few times in SIX HOURS TO LIVE, another good re-mix of previous music. Cary, among many other credits, was Merlin in THE TIME TUNNEL and was also in WONDER WOMAN in the episode DEATH IN DISGUISE. He also appeared in a HUNTER segment in the 80s. One really terrific moment was when the statue started moving with Val and Mark inside--the music sounded a bit different as it started out--almost had a bell like echo effect--at the same time Dan and Fitzhugh were under clay and a giant dog was hounding Steve on the table top! All this was going on and as a child watching this, I can remember great enjoyment derived from the cliffhanging type of moments all this action gave us. I also enjoyed the banter between Dan and Steve in this episode as they try to figure out Deenar, then figure a way to get past the dog. And that moment when Valerie and Mark first spot the statue of that Monk--a very scary figure (and played by a live actor, not a real statue)---and it walks right up to them--is classic LAND OF THE GIANTS. It made Val and Mark look so helpless before a giant moving object, massive and approaching from out of the darkness---you could almost feel their fear and helplessness--but this time, the helplessness fit in perfectly without changing their personalities or making them look stupid and inept. Again, this argument can be challenged: anyone would look helpless in the LAND OF THE GIANTS--there are such tremendous difficulties to overcome. The Monk at the door scene is really very atmospheric. For once, the giant, Deenar was cowardly and somewhat interesting and Jolo was a very good threat---until he actually meets the little people--he really does nothing when he finally sees them. Mara was just...well, the less said the better---she really made me feel sympathy for Deenar. Maybe, that is why is was in the episode!
A good story but not great, Weiss wrote much better for other series, I am sure.