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Time Tunnel, The

Entry updated 20 April 2021. Tagged: TV.

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US tv series (1966-1967). An Irwin Allen Production for Twentieth Century Fox Television/ABC TV. Created by Irwin Allen, also executive producer; very loosely based on Time Tunnel (1964) by Murray Leinster. Directors included Allen (pilot only), Sobey Martin and J Juran. Writers included Harold Jack Bloom, Wanda and Bob Duncan, Peter Germano, William Welch, Carey Wilbur and Shimon Wincelberg. Cast includes Robert Colbert, James Darren and Lee Meriwether. One season. 30 50-minute episodes. Colour.

Scientists Dr Tony Newman (Darren) and Dr Doug Phillips (Colbert) are trapped in time after testing a defective Time Machine, which takes the form of a tubular gateway – striped in alternating black and white rings extending into apparent distance – and is controlled by military personnel. Their military and civilian colleagues in the present day, including Dr Ann MacGregor (Meriwether), can see what is happening to them but are unable to return them to the present; efforts in this direction conveniently switch the travellers via further Time Travel to a new time-period every week, usually five minutes from the end of an episode, leaving them at a cliffhanger. Tony and Doug spend more time in the past than in the future, in such venues as the Alamo, the Little Big Horn, the Titanic (visited in the debut episode), the walls of Jericho and Pearl Harbor, just as dangerous events are about to take place; thus a good deal of stock footage could be utilized. Variously menacing Aliens appear on several occasions, scheming (though ultimately in vain) to conquer our planet, steal all its protein or strip it of oxygen. Rather more fantastic episodes featured Merlin [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] and the vengeful ghost of Emperor Nero (see Supernatural Creatures). Writing, performances and sets were dire. Two novelizations are The Time Tunnel (1967) and Timeslip! (1967), both by Murray Leinster.

Long after the series had ceased, five made-for-television films were clumsily edited together from pairs of episodes, each also including introductory material from the opening segment "Rendezvous with Yesterday" (9 September 1967), in which US government penny-pinchers threaten to shut off funding for the expensive Project Tic-Toc which has developed the Tunnel, leading to the two scientists' quixotic use of their flawed machine to prove that it works. The cobbled-together films are: Aliens from Another Planet (1982), based on "Chase Through Time" (27 February 1967) and "Visitors from Beyond the Stars" (13 January 1967); Kill or Be Killed (1982), based on "The Day the Sky Fell In" (30 September 1966) and "Kill Two by Two" (6 January 1967); Old Legends Never Die (1982), based on "Merlin the Magician" (17 March 1967) and "The Revenge of Robin Hood" (30 December 1966); Raiders from the Moon (1982), based on "The Kidnappers" (24 March 1967) and "One Way to the Moon" (16 September 1966); and Revenge of the Gods (1982), based on "Revenge of the Gods" (21 October 1966) and "The Walls of Jericho" (27 January 1967). [JB/DRL/GSt]


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