| Writers: Shimon Wincelberg, Harold Jack Bloom and Irwin Allen
Director: Irwin Allen
Production #: 6034
Original pilot airdate: never aired
Revised pilot airdate: 9/6/66
Miles below the Arizona desert in 1968 is America's greatest and most secret
project-Project Tic Toc, The Time Tunnel. Sent from Washington DC Senator
Clarke can either approve continued funding or shut it down. Drs. Tony
Newman and Doug Phillips use the machine and land on the Titanic just before
it sinks. They are rescued but remain lost in time, monitored by the
ever-watchful staff & crew of Tic Toc, hopeful that some day they can return
the boys to the present day.
As was the case with Allen's Land of the Giants , the unaired Time Tunnel
pilot was very different than the aired version. In this case, no new scenes
(save a cliff-hanger to "One Way to the Moon") were shot for the televised
version but a great deal was deleted, some parts never to be seen again,
including all scenes with Tabor, an annoying passenger on the Titanic played
by Dennis Hopper. Thanks to a copy of the Revised Shooting Final script
dated 12/28/65 at least the dialogue has been located and will be reprinted
here for the first time ever.
The unaired pilot opens with the credits that fade into the shot of the Lear
Jet carrying Sen. Clarke landing in the desert. Clarke, played with
scene-chewing gusto by Gary Merrill represents the televison audience who is
also seeing this marvel of science and technology for the first time.
Writing credits in this version do NOT include Shimon Wincelberg, who penned
a script in 1964 for Irwin titled "The Man Who Killed Time" which was the
basis for this episode. Before the viewers in September of 1966 saw the
finished product Wincelberg made sure his name was included as well.
Much of the layout of the Time Tunnel complex was inspired by the classic
sci fi film Forbidden Planet, including the many levels sunken deep into the
planet and the futuristic elevators. On the subject of elevators, the
entrance to Tic Toc's main elevator is the mockup of "The Keeper's"
spaceship from the Lost in Space episodes of the same name.
The complex, with over sixty thousand employees must cost an enormous amount
of money to maintain. Is seven and a half billion dollars enough?
When Tony risks his life and runs into the Tunnel we get a glimpse of the
oblong observation windows of the auxilliary control room to the left of the
Tunnel, a shot/set never seen again in the series.
Tony lands with a thump on the Titanic deck and encounters Althea Hall, the
soon to be almost-tragic heroine of the story. As he turns and says good-bye
to her look VERY closely in the background and you can catch a glimpse of a
nervous-looking man in a tweed suit by the railing. This is the one and
only shot of Tabor that remains in the show and if you blink you'll miss
him. Hopper's Tabor character was cut completely from any and all remaining
copies of the episode for reasons that may never fully be known. Actor Don
Knight, who plays Mr Grainger, remarked once that Dennis had trouble
mastering a British accent and Irwin wasn't at all happy with his
performance, prompting Hopper's removal.
Newman leaves Althea and and almost collides with Tabor, who says, "Excuse
me old man...My name is Tabor. Bill Tabor. Didn't catch yours?" Tony, who
dislikes him immediately, replies with his last name only. Tabor wants
information about Miss Hall, who's dressed in expensive clothes and knows
the Astors (a rich couple who actually were passengers on the Titanic that
perished) personally. "It's just as easy to marry a pretty rich girl as a
pretty poor one-you know what I mean." Unable to hide his disgust Tony turns
to Tabor and says, ""I know what you mean, Tabor. I think Miss Hall is smart
enough to know what you mean, too. If not I might tell her," then storms
off, meets the shuffleboarders and sees the ship's name for the first
Michael Rennie gives a superb performance as Captain Malcolm Smith. He
doesn't believe the time traveller's story (would YOU?) and has Tony tossed
in a locked cabin below deck. There he's visited by Althea and his 1968
wristwatch makes its first appearance in the episode. He sets the watch to
the time period he's in and the watch returns in a pivotal scene later in
the unaired pilot version.
The technicians in the Time Tunnel complex are wearing jumpsuits later worn
by the apes in the 1972 Fox film "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes." They
also made their way onto the Seaview set in various episodes of Voyage to
the Bottom of the Sea. In fact, the hourglass armbands and several 'slant'
computers from Time Tunnel were also used in the Apes film.
Doug & Tony take over the ship's wireless room to send an early SOS and once
again encounter Tabor: "Hello, I want to send a wireless message to London
requesting an immediate reply. How much..." When he recognizes Newman, now
holding a gun, he escapes.
The Titanic starts to sink as is its fate and Capt. Smith is acosted by
Tabor, now in a state of panic: "Captain! Captain, help me!" "What seems to
be your problem, Mr Tabor?" the Captain inquires, having just been told that
he, too will perish this night and is in no mood. "My lifeboat! They won't
let me aboard! Only women and children." "my orders, sir'" says Smith who
slaps Tabor when he becomes hysterical. "Now then get hold of yourself. Try
to be a man. Make peace with your God-if you have one." Knowing Rennie's
acting talents this scene must have been very dramatic and it's a shame it
Doug helps Marcel (the French child in the episode's beginning that helps
Doug get to the imprisoned Tony Newman) and his family into a lifeboat and
spots a suspiciously masculine-looking "woman" rushing towards the small
boat. Doug yanks "her" kerchief off revealing Tabor in a last-ditch escape
attempt. He throws Tabor to the deck and leaves him prostrate, begging Doug
to "Help me, please! I don't want to die!" Thankfully, is the last we ever
see of the annoying Mr. Bill Tabor.
In the unaired pilot as Tony helps Althea into a lifeboat his wristwatch
makes its last appearance in the series. He gives it to her, proving his
claim to be a time traveller. Irwin couldn't have his heroes leaving
souveniers across the space/time continuum.
So this scene was cut.
In the aired version the hour-long adventure ends as the boys are transported again onto the deck of a ship-this time a Mars bound spaceship. The original pilot instead seperated them in time and sent Tony 10 years into the past in the desert above the complex, seconds away from being shot before he's blinked away courtesy of the Time Tunnel crew. This scene was later spliced into the "End of the World" episode at its conclusion.
Newman's then re-united with Doug in a steamy prehistoric jungle where they encounter a huge, roaring relic from Irwin's 1960 film The Lost World. It was an impressive matte shot but was not used til much later in the season (in "Chase Through Time").In the script the picture is then supposed to freeze followed by the clever blurb DON'T MISS NEXT WEEK'S EXCITING EPISODE OF THE TIME TUNNEL....
An epilogue was supposedly filmed where Tony & Doug materialize into the Tunnel which is still filled with prehistoric foliage . They briefly argue in the Tunnel then run out, happily realizing that they are home. Three photos exist to back this up (one being the last shot on the ViewMaster reel # 21) and Lee Merriwether in an interview several years ago remembered filming such a scene, but, like the elusive Tabor, this scene is lost to history-if it indeed ever existed.
Possibly the best sci fi TV pilot ever made, either version is a joy to watch. . The effects, sets, matte shots, acting and script show a lot of planning and research went into this production. Highly recommended.