Attack of the Monster Reviews
Rendezvous With Yesterday

October 31, 2003

EXCLUSIVE! The elusive Bill Tabor (far right) played by Dennis Hopper, deleted by Irwin Allen

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

STORY SYNOPSIS:

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 time-Titanic!

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 was excised.

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.


Sen Clarke onboard the Lear Jet before landing


The Lear Jet Lands. Note the cameras and film crew in the foreground.


Another beautiful shot of the Lear Jet.


Doug and Clarke on the elevator (also known as the Keeper's ship from Lost in Space).


Approaching the entranceway to the Time Tunnel Complex.


The Time Tunnel set in between takes. Note the "civilians" on the set.


Another shot on the set in between takes.


Tony in the Tunnel meets Sen Clarke.


Tabor's tweed suit design by Paul Zastupnevich.


Tabor's "woman disguise" also designed by Paul Z.


Tony about to be shot in 1958 by the TT guards


Tony and Doug get home at the end? The contriversy continues...


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