WORLD OF GIANTS (1959) – Don’t confuse this program with Land of the Giants, the later Irwin Allen series about normal-sized people trapped in the title land. For that matter, don’t confuse it with the old spy series Man in a Suitcase, either. World of Giants involved secret agent Mel Hunter (Marshall Thompson), who was accidentally shrunk down to six inches in height by radiation while on a mission behind the Iron Curtain.
Mel still worked with his old espionage partner Bill Winters (Arthur Franz), who was not exposed to the radiation but got his stricken pal back to the U.S. to recover from his exposure to it. Now the pair were sent out on missions requiring Mel’s specialized skill-set. Bill would transport his diminutive partner in his briefcase, where Hunter would sit strapped into a test-pilot’s seat to prevent being battered around as Winters and the briefcase traveled.
World of Giants debuted on September 5th, 1959 and only lasted 13 episodes, ending with its November 28th episode. Mel Hunter and Bill Winters worked for an intelligence outfit called “The Bureau” and battled assorted foreign agents. Mel lived in a quasi-dollhouse concealed behind a painting in the home of Bill and his wife and I have to admit the sets intended to depict Hunter’s miniature furniture and exercise equipment were half-decent, shaming movies like Bert I Gordon’s Attack of the Puppet People.
The stories, however, were unintentionally hilarious and – even though you’d think there would be a lot of practical uses for a six-inch tall agent – the writers came up with awkward, sometimes moronic, missions where you’d have to think to yourself “Why did they need a tiny agent to carry out this particular assignment?” On top of that, Mel’s size sometimes seemed to change from six inches to about three inches from scene to scene.
In addition to exhausting all of the Incredible Shrinking Man brand of perils pretty quickly Agent Hunter also had to endure the risks of falling pencils, office fans and similar everyday objects.
The opening of each episode is up there with Captain Z-Ro for sheer 1950s campiness. The letters W.O.G. would appear on screen while a narrator ponderously intoned “WOG (wawg) … World of Giants!” World of Straight Men often seemed like a more appropriate title, though, as the characters deadpanned loaded lines about the little agent “making penetration” and similar turns of phrase.
The episodes run just over 25 minutes without commercials and you might be surprised at some of the actors who show up in – dare I say it – small roles. Peggie Castle, Allison Hayes, Robert Fuller, Brett Halsey and Gavin MacLeod are just a few. Even Bill Walker appeared as a jazz figure called Daddy Dean in the episode Off Beat. (Mel winds up trapped inside a piano in that storyline, something that not even Lucy and Ethel managed to do.) +++
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