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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had seen a "Time Tunnel" episode here or there growing up in the '70s
but never thought much about them. Recently, I found myself with some
gift cards for Best Buy and found both sets of the series (how rude
that they broke up a one-season series into two separate DVD sets).
Normally, I would have passed them by (having not been too impressed as
a youngster), but there was an amazing sale on them. I could buy BOTH
sets on sale for LESS than the regular price of ONE of the sets. Cool!
Popping in the series, again, I was not expecting much. That first
episode with the Titanic I found kind of dull and plodding...even
though I can see why the writers went with the Titanic as the first
episode. But the tragedy, shock and horror of the disaster were never
successfully woven into the story.
I almost decided to pass on the rest of the series and sell the two sets on eBay or something, but I continued to watch the show. It really has grown on me. Sure, the story lines are a bit predictable and the minuscule budget is glaringly obvious (only 6 prisoners on Devil's Island? Ha!) and the incongruity of everyone (in ancient Greece, France, etc.) speaking 20th century English (albeit with a foreign accent) just screams out HOKEY (and let's NOT even go into how they could constantly bring people and objects back from the past to the Time Tunnel lab and then send them back again--but they could NEVER bring back Tony or Doug)...but there's just something fascinating about the show and what they TRIED to do with it. For example, Tony goes back and meets his father OR Tony ends up at the base 10 years before the setting of the show and Doug doesn't know him OR when Tony does make it back to the lab but at an accelerated time than everyone else (everyone seems "frozen"--but Tony is just in a warp and has to return where he came from) were really interesting and novel attempts to break up the show's routine shuffle. I also enjoyed when the show moved off into the "future". At least they were TRYING to be creative.
It may not have been the best thing ever produced for television, but it was far from the worst. Too bad it only had one season. Given time (and a bigger budget), it MIGHT have evolved into a really fantastic series that is far more revered and remembered than it is today.
This was one of television's last great shows as far as I'm concerned.
I learned a lot of history by watching this show. It even got me a
little interested in it. My mother even got me a green turtleneck
sweater like Tony's the first (and only, come to think of it) Christmas
it was on the air.
I learned about many historical events, the sinking of the Titanic, Pearl Harbor, et al. The Pearl Haror episode titled "The Day the Sky Fell In" was a very emotional episode because Tony's father was among the missing the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. It was really sad to see him standing over his dying father following the attack.
I believe this was one of the first series ever to have these sucky cliff-hanger endings. For all we know, Tony and Doug are still out there floating around in that time vortex. It's like GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. I can't help wondering if those damn fools are still on that island.
It would have been nice to see Tony and Doug make it back home, but that never happened. They just disappeared and then the end credits (with the theme written by a young man named Johnny Williams, for all you music buffs out there.) Hope we some day get to see what happened to them after that last episode.
It gets a ten because James Darren is one of my all time favorites. I will admit that my favorite episodes happened in the first part of the series. Rendezvous with Yesterday has to rank as one of the ten best pilot episodes better. It would be followed up with the series' best episode, The Day the Sky Fell In. James Darren had the right amount of innocence to play Tony Newman, the younger, impulsive, scientist. Robert Colbert was good as his older mentor. (I'll admit in 1966, I didn't appreciate Robert Colbert. I thought he was bland. In retrospect, he's considerably better than I remembered. I do have to admit that the main attraction for me is still James Darren). I liked that there were people back home (Lee Merriwether, Whit Bissel, John Zaremba and for a time Sam Groom) who were trying to get them back. You could identify with the people back home who were trying to get them back. Yes, there were a few too many alien episodes, and a few too many times when they retrieved someone from the past by accident but all and all it was a good effort that should have lasted longer in my humble opinion. Irwin Allen, despite his critics, certainly knew how to entertain. Today's producers could take a page from his book.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Project Tic Tok' is a secret underground base where scientists have
developed time travel. Head of the project is Dr.Tony Newman. Terrified
of losing Government funding, Newman decides to test the device, known
as 'the time tunnel', using himself as guinea pig. He finds himself on
the deck of the Titanic, hours before its destruction. Dr.Doug Phillips
follows him into the past, but can the course of history be changed?
I can remember being stunned by the opening episode of 'The Time Tunnel' back in the '60's. Even in black and white, the set looked incredible, a two-tone vortex stretching to infinity. Irwin Allen spared no expense here. As a cost-cutting measure, however, he was forced to plunder old historical movies to provide the settings, but it didn't harm the show as much as it could have. Like his other series such as 'Lost In Space', 'Time' emphasised action at the expense of plot and characterisation. James Darren and Robert Colbert made an exceptionally likable pair of time-travellers, while Lee Meriwether looked glamorous even in a lab coat. Each week, Tony and Doug would arrive at the scene of a famous historical event or disaster, such as Krakatoa or Little Big Horn, and try to survive without changing history.
Perhaps the best episode was 'The Day The Sky Fell In' in which Doug and Tony materialise at Pearl Harbour hours before the Japanese attack. Tony meets himself as a boy, and his father whom he knows will die soon. The ending is deeply moving.
Towards the end of the run, several 'alien invasion' stories appeared, but this didn't help ratings. 'Time' suffered the misfortune of being scheduled against 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.', then at the height of its popularity. Despite having the shortest shelf-life of any Allen show, 'Time' is amongst his best, and was his personal favourite.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Creator Irwin Allen always considered this his best television series,
even though it had the shortest run of only a single season. The
premise of two knowledgeable scientist, well-played by James Darren and
Robert Cobert, being flung to actual and fanciful historical events was
innovative and daring, even with Allen's bountiful use of stock footage
from Tewntieth Century Fox productions. The show had a theatrical feel
about it because of its incorporation of the footage and the occasional
use of music composed by Bernard Herrmann from the films "The Day the
Earth Stood Still," "Garden of Evil," and "Beyond the 12-Mile Reef,"
Another musical plus was the effective theme song, composed by a young John Williams, and its accompanying graphics. This was one of television's best opening sequences.
As far as the stories are concerned, the best installments involved Tony and Doug's appearances in American history. Two episodes, set during World War II ("Two by Two" with a bravura performance by Mako and "The Day the Sky Fell In," wherein Tony (Darren) comes face to face with his father who will die during the bombing of Pearl Harbor) were quite impressive. "End of the World," set during 1910, has an intriguing look at paranoia and also features great acting from veteran Paul Fix and James Westerfield. Robert Walker does a fine job as "Billy the Kid", which has interesting banter between the outlaw and Doug.
The time travelers did have some good treks in other corners and times of the world, too. "The Walls of Jericho" safely tackles the Biblical story and offers fine work from guests Myrna Fahey, Arnold Moss, and Lisa Gaye. Victor Jory steals the show as a Barbary Coast pirate that is accidentally transported to the Time Tunnel in "Pirates of Deadman's Island." And the pilot episode "Rendezvous with Yesterday" has the boys on the doomed Titanic in 1912.
The show did offer glimpses of future acting legends: Carroll O'Conner, who would later find fame and fortune as Archie Bunker on "All in the Family" does two parts in "The Last Patrol", and Oscar winner Robert Duvall appears in "Chase Through Time." Allen had his company of actors that would appear in each of his productions. However, because "The Time Tunnel" was more like an anthology, with each episode taking place in a different time and place, he could utilize actors in several episodes: John Crawford (4), Malachi Throne (2), John Hoyt (2), ABraham Sofaer (2), just to cite a few.
The worst episodes were actually the ones that owed more to "Lost in Space" than anything else. "Visitors from Beyond the Grave," "Raiders From Outer Space," "The Kidnappers," and the last episode, "Town of Terror", features aliens in that God-awful silver makeup or grotesque costumes and campy dialog and story lines. But, thankfully, those shows were few and far between.
Though not one of the better installments, "Reign of Terror" allows co-star Whit Bissell a chance to assay two roles, his regular one as General Kirk, as well as the general's French ancestor. And the aforementioned "The Kidnappers" hints that there is a romantic relationship between Colbert's "Doug" and Lee Meriwether's "Ann McGregor".
If Allen's other sci-fi show "Land of the Giants" lasted two seasons, the much-better "Time Tunnel" was entitled to season number two.
I vaguely remember this show. Good show. I remember watching it on the Sci-Fi Channel. Quantum Leap it ain't, but hey, you can't have a good time travel series like this without making it good. The premise is similar to Quantum Leap. Dr. Tony Newman and Dr. Doug Philipps work for a top secret government project. What is it? Time travel. In the first episode, which is set on the Titanic, Doug goes back in time and Tony's sent to rescue him before the Titanic sinks. There's an episode about Joshua which is good but my favorite is the one set on December 7, 1941, the "date which will live in infamy." I might have watched it when it was first on. I don't know. The last episode, Visitors from Beyond the Stars, took place in a coastal town in Maine. Doug and Tony were close to home by then. Did they make it home? We don't know. The ended before we could find out. Visitors From Beyond the Stars took advantage of the UFO phenomenon which was rampant in the '60s.
It is ironic that years later a Senator threatening to cut off funds
for a time travel project started Quantum Leap when the original
Senator was here, all in the Arizona Desert doing the same thing. Makes
you really wonder if our people in politics now are just as hung up on
their powers? This show had an imaginative premise but little budget to
work with. Irwin Allen did premiere a great idea with this concept.
They economized by recycling some plots with twists from other shows of the period. The Night of The Long Knives borrowed a bit from The Wild Wild West series for example.
The pilot to this series got a lot of attention. It is one of the earlier times that the baby boom generation got exposed to the Titanic. I was fascinated by that as well as the series premise of getting to meet a lot of historic figures alive. In a way, this series brought some history to life for me.
History had to be revised, but this show fit an image of an all powerful centralized government which could spend any amount of money to do anything. That is exactly what 1960's government was in the U.S. It ruled the media then to the point that all news & entertainment was censored by the government. At the time, this show provided the perfect escapism from that oppressive government.
James Darren provided the teenage girls with a hear throb. Lee Merriweather provided teen age boys with eye candy. Sadly, this show got beaten in the ratings because marketers back then we blissfully unaware of when they were reaching their target audience. Unlike Star Trek, this show did not get long enough to develop a cult following.
This is Irwin Allen's most imaginative work. Sometimes the plots on this were more complex than you could imagine. This show is actually the model used to create Quantum Leap years later. It is now running Thursday evenings on Sci-Fi night on the American Network along with Lost In Space & Voyage To the Bottom of the Sea. If you have this channel & are into Irwin Allen, it makes an interesting triple.
What a shame this fun series only lasted a single season (over money).
This series had one of the coolest time machines to ever hit the screen (with only the DeLorean time machine from the "Back to the Future" rating higher among my personal favorites), a veteran cast and dared to do special effects at the cutting edge (for its time, if you'll pardon my choice of words).
The freedom to pick any time and location let the writers use reckless abandon when they prepared plot lines (which admittedly were corny and predictable, especially for historic events where we knew the expected outcome).
If they could make a movie out of the MUCH cheesier (but still lovable) "Lost in Space", why not revive this as a movie or a series? The effects available today (and trend toward realism) would make this a natural!
Doug and Tony are a couple of scientists who hop from one crisis in time to another. I'm not even sure when they get a chance to eat or sleep. They do seem to find themselves tied up or incarcerated a lot, so I guess it is during these times that they get a little shut eye. Doug and Tony pretty much land in any given time and within five minutes are engaged in fisticuffs. They throw some mean punches for a couple of scientists and also seem to be quite knowledgeable about world history. Whit Bissell, John Zaremba, and Lee Meriwether typically act very grim, and Meriwether does it, for the most part, sitting down. Jerry is my favorite character because he strikes me as the weakest link in project tic toc. He always seems a bit on edge and could crack up mentally under the strain of trying to get Doug and Tony back to the present time. The theme music by John(ny) Williams, is great, as are the animated graphic images of the hourglass and helpless figure. The series as a whole pretty much sticks to a comic book level of drama and action without much contemplation on time travel themes. Perhaps had the series lasted longer it may have explored some challenging possibilities related to Doug and Tony's bumping about through time, but that seems doubtful since Irwin Allen was at the helm.
"The Time Tunnel" when it premiered in the fall of 1966,was creator-
producer-director Irwin Allen's third science fiction series for
television following the success of "Voyage to the Bottom of the
Sea",and "Lost In Space". "The Time Tunnel" was also Allen's second
television series produced for ABC-TV. The series was placed on ABC's
prime-time Friday night schedule on September 9,1966 which in fact
survived a season run of 30 episodes in color until it left on April
7,1967. The reason why this show didn't survive was that the network
put this show opposite the hugely popular "The Wild,Wild West",and
against "The Man From UNCLE" that clobbered it in the ratings. "The
Time Tunnel" was an escapism of a series that was big in production,big
in casting and big in the array of guest stars that were featured each
week. With Art Direction William J. Creber, Rodger Maus and Jack Martin
Smith; Set Decoration by Walter M. Scott and Norman Rockett; Special
Visual Effects by L.B. Abbott;and Cinematopgraphy by Winton C.
Hoch,with an opening theme from composer John Williams(who also
composed the themes to other Irwin Allen produced shows from "Lost In
Space" to "The Land of the Giants" before he became famous of his
theatrical scores of films like "The Poseidon Adventure","The Towering
Inferno","Jaws",and "Star Wars")."The Time Tunnel" upon it's
short-lived run won the Prime Time Emmy in 1967 for Individual
Achievement in Cinematopgraphy and Photographic Special Effects(L.B.
Abbott),and was nominated that same year for Outstanding Achievement in
Cinematopgraphy(Winton C. Hoch). Most of the props used for the series
were borrowed from other Irwin Allen shows like "Voyage to the Bottom
of the Sea",and "Lost In Space".
Top name directors ranging from Nathan Juran, William Hale, Harry Harris, Herschel Daugherty, Murray Golden, Jerry Hopper,and Paul Stanley with Irwin Allen contributing directing the pilot episode of the series. Great writers also came from creator-producer Irwin Allen,but also from Bob and Wanda Duncan, William Welch, Carey Wilber, Allan Balter, Barney Slater, Leonard Stadd, Robert Hamner, William Read Woodfield, Theo Apstein, and Shimon Wincelberg.
Believe it or not, Irwin Allen's "The Time Tunnel" debuted in the same week as "Star Trek", "The Green Hornet",and "Tarzan",the premiere episode of "The Time Tunnel" had our heroes traveling through the portals of time ranging from them going back to the days of Pearl Harbor, The Old West, Sherwood Forest, going aboard the doomed Titanic,through the Roman Legions, Greek Mythology,and in one episode transported back to the Prehistoric/Jurassic Period. The starring leads Robert Colbert and James Darren were very familiar faces with TV audiences especially Darren himself who was still idolized as a "teen idol" from his stint in the theatrical "Gidget" movies and starring opposite Gregory Peck and David Niven in "The Guns of Navarone". The series also starred Whit Bissell,John Zaremba,and former Miss USA Lee Meriwether(in her first-ever television series). Each episode had our heroes going from one dimension of history to another and still you had to respect Irwin Allen for attempting to make something more and interestingly profound than "Voyage",but it survived as one of the shortest of the Irwin Allen produced series. Big name guest stars ranging from Michael Rennie, to Gary Merrill appeared in the pilot episode. Other guest stars were Lew Gallo, Michael Ansara, Malachi Throne, Rhodes Reason, Kevin Hagen, Anne Dore, Michael Pate, Perry Lopez, Rodolfo Hoyos,Jr., John Hoyt, Carroll O'Connor, Paul Fix, Vitina Marcus, Linden Chiles, Scott Marlowe, David Opatoshu, Nehemiah Persoff, to Victor Jory, Ellen Burstyn, Ben Cooper, Torin Thatcher, Mako, John Lupton, Jim Davis, Dee Hartford, R.G. Armstrong, Regis Toomey, Ford Rainey, John Napier, Vince Howard, Susan Flannery, Don Knight, Robert Riordan, George Matsui, Abel Fernandez, Richard Jaeckel, Robert Duvall, Gunnar Hellstrom, Allen Case, Eduardo Ciannelli, Paul Mantee, Jan Merlin, Heather Young, John Saxon, and Robert Walker, Jr.
The best episodes from this short-lived science fiction/fantasy series were very good and I start with the series pilot episode "Rendezvous With Yesterday". The other episodes included were "The Day The Sky Fell In", "The Revenge of the Gods","The Revenge of Robin Hood", "The Alamo", "The Invasion", "The Walls of Jericho", "The Pirates of Deadman's Island", "The Last Patrol", "A Chase Through Time", "Crack of Doom", "The Death Trap","The End of the World",and "The Idol of Death".
When the series was abruptly canceled on April 7, 1967 the network didn't take long to find a replacement on it's Friday night schedule for the 1967-1968 season. The series that replaced "The Time Tunnel" was a Western which was also short-lived as well......"Hondo" that was produced through John Wayne's production company Batjac Productions for ABC-TV that lasted 26 episodes in color and starred Ralph Teague in the title role.
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