The basic premise of Land Of The Giants, along with most of the attributes of the seven characters, is established in the first episode, "The Crash". The sub-orbital passenger ship Spindrift, en route from Los Angeles to London, is drawn into a glowing space apparition that carries them to a world exactly like Earth -- except that everything, people, animals, plants etc., is 12 times larger than on Earth. And as the crew and the passengers soon discover that they are subject to capture and experimentation by whatever inhabitants of this planet might trap them.
Within that framework, however, the series did undergo changes during the first season. In the first episode, the giants -- who are seen mostly in the guise of a scientist and his assistant -- are seen as distant, distorted figures, the size differential almost disorienting to the camera; and they are heard only indistinctly, speaking in muffled and distorted voices, and it's not clear at first what language they might be speaking. In other words, the size differential is emphasized to the degree that the giants and the "little people," as we later learn Earth visitors are referred to, are isolated from one another even in each others' presence, as sentient beings. This creates an eeriness to their interactions and adds an element of isolation in the point of view of the main characters in the early episodes that was lost in subsequent shows, as the point-of-view changed along with the way that the giants were presented.
In later shows, the giants' voices are fully comprehensible and they are speaking English and communicating with the "little people." And we discover that there is a government bounty on them. And we learn that most of the planet seems to be organized as a worldwide totalitarian state, similar to some of the Eastern bloc communist countries, with a secret police service -- a similarity that residents of many of those countries picked up on and resonated to very strongly, once the series started running in Eastern Europe in the 1970's. One such member of that service, Inspector Kobick (Kevin Hagen), investigates enough cases involving the Sprindrift's complement, that he actually at one point refers to the ship's commander, Captain Steve Burton (Gary Conway), by his last name -- a major concession to Burton's essential humanity and Kobick's own inability to ignore it, despite his official position.
During the first season, many of the episodes revolve around the Spindrift's crew and passengers trying to patch up their vessel for an eventual attempted return to Earth -- if they can get the equipment they need, if they can reach escape velocity, and find a space-warp that will take them back to Earth. There are so many barriers to their escape, that sheer curiosity about how they might overcome any of these obstacles made one want to tune in from week to week, this despite the fundamental concept behind the series being scientifically absurd -- people and animals (or anything else) 12 times larger than normal will, of necessity, weigh 144 times as much, and be incapable of movement, and it's not even a matter of weight so much as mass, which is independent of gravity. But the series was presented with enough of a brisk pace and sense of adventure so that few viewers were bothered by this matter (anymore than anyone ever tuned out The Adventures of Superman over the matter of how he flies . . . .).
The visitors are still learning about the giants' planet and social order during this season, and coping with their own individual motivations. This is especially true where Alexander Fitzhugh (Kurt Kasznar), an embezzler on the run with a million dollars, is concerned; he has a soft spot for the orphaned boy Barry Lockridge (Stefan Argrim), who looks up to him because Fitzhugh is wearing a US Navy commander's uniform (which is clearly a disguise, but one maintained for the run of the show), but otherwise is a sometimes unstable personality. The others aren't too much better -- Mark Wilson (Don Matheson) is a high-powered businessman and engineer who has an agenda of his own; and Valerie Scott (Deanna Lund) is a wealthy playgirl accustomed to getting her own way in most things. There were enough places for friction to keep the show interesting on a basic character level across the first season.
The first season credit sequence of the series has always been a point-of-interest for television and music mavens. Most of it is comprised of an animated motif in which a diminutive figure, representing the "little people," is being stalked by a much larger shadowy figure with a searchlight, while John Williams' sting-laden theme music plays, building gradually in intensity, in the background. Both the design and the music for this sequence bear a striking resemblance to the opening credits for Kraft Suspense Theater, which had aired across the early and middle 1960's on network television -- and had a similar musical accompaniment by . . . John Williams. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
- Gary Conway, Don Matheson, (more)