August 8, 2023


New release: Early Cold War TV series World of Giants (1959) coming to Blu-ray in October! Research for my upcoming Spy Vibe book uncovered many shows and films which have been largely lost to time. Some are so obscure that only partial stories, isolated episodes, or brief clips remain, and whatever exists can only be found among collectors or as snowy copies on Youtube. One such example, until now, is World of Giants (W.O.G.) from the late 1950s! The premise will sound familiar to fans of Gerry Anderson's The Secret Service (1969)A miniaturized secret agent is left behind in an attache case by his partner inside various installations, where he then carries out covert spy missions. Only 13 episodes were made, which will all appear for the first time on home-video this fall. Although the show wasn't super-stylish, I think it's significant, along with ITC's The Invisible Man (1958-1960), as an important early stepping stone toward the genre-bending vibe of the the 1960s Spy Boom. Indeed, it was this kind of addition of fantasy and sci-fi elements that really elevated spy stories into the imaginative realm of James Bond, The Wild Wild West, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Pushing this envelope gave the stories a fun, pulpy flair, while packaging them in the modernist gloss of seductive technology. It's also interesting to look at World of Giants within the context of the era's fixation on stories about miniaturization, gigantism, and the unexpected results of radiation and scientific experiments. In addition to the aforementioned Invisible Man and Secret Service, a close cousin was Irwin Allen's Land of the Giants (1968), featuring a group of adventurers trapped in an oversized world, where they became involved in intrigue against an authoritarian government. Other projects in this vein included The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), "Four O'Clock" (The Twilight Zone, 1959), The Three Worlds of Gulliver (1960), The Phantom Planet (1961), “Calling Charlie Queen” (Super Car, 1962), "Planet of the Giants" (Doctor Who, 1964), “Tom Thumb Tempest” (Stingray, 1965), Gulliver’s Travels Beyond the Moon (1965), The Beatles Help! (1965), Fantastic Voyage (1966), "The Night of the Raven" (The Wild Wild West, 1966), "My Incredible Shrinking Master" (I Dream of Jeannie, 1967),  The Adventures of Gulliver (1968) and "Mission... Highly Improbable" (The Avengers, 1968), and Tom of T.H.U.M.B (1966-1969), not to mention the countless riffs on The Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) involving giant creatures. You can still see World of Giants on Youtube, so I suggest Spy Vibers check it out before ordering. Remastered clip HERE. If you've seen Sea Hunt, also produced by Ziv in the same era, you'll notice a similar approach to straightforward sets, lighting, camera work, and the use of voice-over narration. 

From the press release: "Now available for the first time on Blu-ray from ClassicFlix—the fantastic science fiction-espionage TV series World of Giants! During a secret mission behind the Iron Curtain, a freak accident involving an exploding rocket shrinks American agent Mel Hunter (Marshall Thompson, Daktari) to the size of six inches. But instead of ending his career, it turns out to be to his, and "The Bureau's", advantage as the pocket-sized operative is able to infiltrate areas closed off to the average G-man. Hunter is aided by his full-sized partner Agent Bill Winters (Arthur Franz, The Sniper), gal Friday Miss Brown (Marcia Henderson, The Glass Web) and Bureau Commissioner Hall (John Gallaudet, Perry Mason). Touting a $4,000,000 budget, CBS tapped prolific production company Ziv TV to produce World of Giants (WOG) which started shooting in early 1958—with an expected fall network debut. Production was later halted when CBS was unable to obtain sponsorship for WOG causing the network to delay the series premiere a full year. But when shooting wrapped in 1959, World of Giants was still without a sponsor and CBS scrapped the idea of network distribution entirely which allowed WOG to go into first-run syndication starting in 1961. WOG's high production values allowed Ziv to hire such luminary sci-fi directors as Nathan Juran (20 Million Miles to Earth), Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon) and Byron Haskin (The War of the Worlds), as well as involve famed production designer and art director Robert Kinoshita—known for his creation of iconic sci-fi robots such as "Robby the Robot" (Forbidden Planet) as well as for art direction on TV series' such as Lost in Space. World of Giants - The Complete Series includes all 13 episodes produced by Ziv and features guest stars including Peggie Castle, Gavin MacLeod, Tom Brown, Berry Kroeger, Bill Walker, Pamela Duncan, Ziva Rodann, Douglas Dick, Maria Palmer, Narda Onyx, Edgar Barrier, Nestor Paiva, Gregg Palmer and Allison Hayes." More info at ClassicFlix and Blu-ray. If ClassicFlix is reading this, please consider also reviving these other rare programs: Five Fingers, Amos Burke, Richard Diamond Private Detective, Mr. Broadway, T.H.E. Cat, and Australia's Hunter.  

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