When it comes to giants on TV, many people will tell you that things begin with Lucille Ball and ends with Johnny Carson. I say things begin with W-O-G and, hopefully, never ends. Giants have been strutting across the stage that we like to call television ever since Eisenhower was in office. Heck, probably since Truman was in office. And while Presidents since them have gotten increasingly smaller in the eyes of history, giants on TV shows have gotten progressively larger. I blame CGI. And I prefer the trick photography.
World of Giants
“World of Giants” may well have been called “Six Inch High Govt. Spy.” The giants in this TV show that you may occasionally find going by the name W-O-G were actually not real giants, but normal-sized espionage suspects. Mel Hunter for some reason agrees to be shrunk down to just six inches tall so that he can better infiltrate the world of criminal activities. If you can think of a better way to investigate dodgy goings-on inside a casino than by squaring off against normal-sized human beings who are now giants to you by hiding in a roulette wheel, I’d like to know how.
One of the most iconic giants–and I mean a real giant–in the history of TV comes to earth “To Serve Man.” That is the ironic title of this “Twilight Zone” classic and the giant is played by real-life giant, Richard Kiel . You will see his name pop up over and over again in the history of giants on TV because the man stood more than seven feet off the ground. The shadow that Richard Kiel could cast over Rhode Island also darkens humanity’s future in “To Serve Man.” Hint: it’s a cookbook, baby!
Land of the Giants
When you think of giants on TV you absolutely have to think almost immediately of “Land of the Giants” if you lived through the 1960s. Disaster king Irwin Allen gave you earthlings who were lost in space in “Lost in Space.” And, um, he also gave you earthlings who were lost in space in “Land of the Giants.” Who knew that suborbital flights would be the transportation of choice from London to New York in the 1980s? And who knew that such an advancement in travel could result in travelers going through a warp in space that would fling them to a strange new world that kind of looked like earth but was populated by giants? Irwin Allen, that’s who. Terrifically imaginative special effects make “Land of the Giants” the TV series specifically about giants that all others will be judged against. Until a better one comes along.
The Six Million Dollar Man
When “The Six Million Dollar Man” first premiered, I think it highly unlikely that anyone could have predicted that the special guest character most identified with the science fiction adventure show would be Bigfoot. Bigfoot was another giant who had ties to aliens. In fact, Bigfoot was more than just a giant humanoid beast in the Pacific Northwest, he was a giant robot in the service of an alien race. And he was actually played by a giant named giant. Sort of. Andre the Giant originated the role of the giant android Sasquatch and then Ted Cassidy took over. Cassidy, you may recall, played the giant butler Lurch on “The Addams Family.”
Xena: Warrior Princess
Giants were not a regular part of the cast of “Xena: Warrior Princess” but they appeared often enough to give Bigfoot a run for his robot money as the most important guest character on a TV show of all time. Heck, Xena actually squared off against the most famous giant of all time, Goliath. But here’s the weird part. Goliath was a friend of Xena and not exactly what you might call a giant villain. That honor would go to Gareth. In one of the all-time classic episodes of “Xena: Warrior Princess” Xena is being counted upon to save two different villages from two different appointments with fate at the same time. One of those appointments with fate arrives in the form of Goliath’s old enemy, Gareth. A giant who makes Goliath look like a smaller giant. Of course, from the perspective of Mel Hunter, Goliath would barely look any smaller than Gareth.