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TIME TUNNEL PHOTO GALLERY #02

Updated: September 12, 2016

My Thoughts on this classic TV-series:

Almost constantly, but, perversely, that's what made it so watchable. Those guys never got a haircut or ironed their clothes, they always seemed to lob JUST before some freakishly important historical event amongst, say, Romans who spoke English or Committee for Public Safety members who didn't mind Americans, and just where the hell where those cameras that transmitted this guff back to the old guy and the scientist chick at HQ?!

When the characters continued to wear the SAME clothes in every episode: Doug in his cheap suit and Tony in that puke green sweater. Do you think the other scientists were tag-teaming Lee Meriwether when not on camera?

This show never jumped. I was young, and it actually my introduction to history. While realizing Romans didn't speak English and all the other inaccuracies involved, it wasn't Hogan's Heroes either. The best part was they were supposedly being dumped in random parts of history, yet always seemed to be five minutes away from an A-bomb attack. Just once, it would have been nice if they'd been dropped in, say, box seats for the '27 World Series or something - just to give them a break from getting the shit kicked out of them by every major historical figure.

The Tunnel jumped with the later-season episode "Visitors From Beyond the Stars", about the boys encountering a group of silver-skinned aliens in 1885 Arizona who had a plot for world domination that involved stealing all the cows or something. From then on, every other story seemed to involve foiling some invasion plot by aliens in different time periods, or encountering some equally ridiculous character (such as the ghost of Nero or Merlin the magician). Still one of the coolest and most fun shows of all time, though.

The show relied on stock footage from the FOX film vaults. It appeared that it was an inexpensive show to make. I did read somewhere, however, that the "Tunnel" set alone cost over 600K in 1966 dollars. It worked in the beginning, when patience ruled and the writers could create interesting stories (Ex. "Titanic" and "Tony's Father"). However, TV being what it is, the breakneck pace of writing a weekly show meant cutting corners and getting "product" on the air. Allen, cheapskate that he was, didn't let his writers create interesting stories that made sense historically. This would have taken time and intelligence, something that Allen clearly lacked. He was purely in it for the bucks. You can tell when the show jumped when guest aliens kept appearing.

(True of "Lost In Space" too, another Allen opus, although it was deliberately campy towards the end of its run). That was the turning point for me. The show lasted only one season. An interesting concept wasted.

I remember watching this every week thinking this was the coolest show. I was to young to understand the concept of stock footage, and I couldn't believe how every week they could do these shows about the Titanic sinking, or Lincoln being shot. Nor did I question the idea of our government spending trillions of dollars on these secret underground installation in the middle of the desert. But was weird was those episodes where the scientists accidentally beamed up people from the past. They even beamed up Haley's comet once!

I have to agree with an earlier poster that the "Visitors from Beyond the Stars" episode marked the shark jump for this show. Although the Time Tunnel was cursed with Irwin Allen's propensity for using cheap effects, the early episodes were interesting and plausible enough to overlook the cheesy sets. Besides that, cheap, cheesy sets were the norm for classic mid-sixties TV adventure shows. Look at a color episode of the Wild Wild West, or most episodes of Star Trek for similar examples. But "Visitors from Beyond the Stars" introduced another Irwin Allen trademark that plunged this show over the shark - silver-skinned aliens. Future shows all too often delved into Allenisc campiness. Aliens stealing the Earth's oxygen, Merlin the Magician kidnapping the boys, and appearance of the ghost of Nero are examples of this unfortunate genre of episode. This was a typical trend for Irwin Allen shows, which often started strongly and evolved into ridiculous camp - like Lost in Space. The sad thing is that in most cases these were good show formats that with some care could have been classic, quality TV instead of classic, cult TV. The Time Tunnel was a great concept that only lasted one season because it couldn't survive jumping the shark.

The Time Tunnel Jumped The Shark on day one. It pains me to make this statement, as I recall this show being so great at the time it was originally aired (although I was only 9 years old at the time). But now, when I catch a rare episode on cable, it is quite evident TTT JTS on day one for the following reasons (and there are many more than these). Here we have this multi-billion dollar "scientific" facility located in the ass of nowhere, and underground, no less. Imagine all the traffic from hauling all the crap needed to build this place! What, none of the locals (or drivers) would notice the armada of semis kicking up dust, day and night, and all the material being sent underground?? Once inside this facility, the visitor would be drawn to the raised, narrow corridor painted like a whirlpool, of which all the consoles were facing. "Nope, nuthin' unusual goin' on here, Senator!" Then, we watch these men and women of "science" workin' knobs, buttons and switches as they cause our two cosmic hobos to traverse time itself. All these whistles and bells to send our two vagabonds on their journey, yet they never had even the slightest idea where the hell the two were going to end up! And then, as if this isn't enough to cause the viewer to start rifling through medicine cabinets for Maalox, we see the two materialize and roll slow-motion onto the deck of the Titanic or some other notable point/place in time. These two NEVER materialized in a wall or the left lane of Germany's Autobahn. And instead of always dropping from two feet (and rolling), why didn't they materialize ten feet off the top of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, or smack-dab over the Grand Canyon, but at sea-level? Yeah, I know they would have then just plunged to their deaths, and we wouldn't be able to have seen Tony's scuzzy green sweater anymore. When they did land, say, in the middle of the Roman Empire, nobody cared beyond a passing glance they were dressed way out of style for the time?? Let some fool go struttin' down your street today, decked out in the latest in duds from ancient Rome, and almost certainly your gonna call the cops to have a freak removed from the neighborhood. TTT is a great television memory, but now, I realize it JTS on day one...

In my opinion, "Time Tunnel" jumped when it abandoned its earlier format of jumping from one key historical event to another and started concentrating more on straight sci-fi, space aliens, that kind of thing. When Doug and Tony jumped through the history pages (the sinking of the Titanic, Pearl Harbor, Krakatoa, etc.), you could see the show's writers had definitely done their history homework, even if some of the big scenes looked suspiciously like stock footage from the 20th Century Fox vaults. they even devoted an episode to the less-well-known "Baltimore Plot" to kill Abraham Lincoln on the way to his first inaugural instead of opting for yet another recreation of that night at Ford's Theater. Star-spotters who watch this show have a real treat in store, in that they can see solid early appearances by stars-to-be Carroll O'Connor, Robert Duvall, and Ellen Burstyn in various episodes. But I'm getting off the subject. This show ceased being interesting when it strayed away from all this historical material and focused on a multi-part sci-fi escapade. It took a wrong turn and up jumped the shark, to bite a good, original concept right in the ...

Two words - Irwin Allen. He always seems to have great ideas that JTS big time between concept and screen. For Time Tunnel: one scientist goes in and gets lost, the other scientist runs in >after< him yet they both end up together. They always appear just before some turning point in history, how about materializing in the middle of a wheat field in north america in 1640? or Siberia 1800? And I won't get into the well known time travel paradox, but they try to change history in every episode. Keeping with Allen's tightwad..er tight budget, they always go somewhere for which there is an existing back lot movie set (that's why there were so few episodes where they went to the future). While other Irwin Allen productions can be enjoyed for the campy schlock they are (Lost In Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) this one didn't even hold my interest as a teenager, much less now.

I remember feeling cheated (pre JTS vernacular) when the two guys finally made it back to the present (which seemed to be the original goal)only to turn around and run back in. It was like if David Jansen's char. in the Fugitive finally caught the one armed killer only to let him go to chase him some more. One of the above posters mentioned the set cost $600,000. Even as a kid I thought it looked cheaply made. Is he sure it wasn't $6,000.00 Which for 1966 would have been about right?

The Robin Hood episode. In the Dungeon, Tony does battle with a guardsman. Behind him, is Doug with both his hands chained to the wall. one scene cuts to Doug with his jacked buttoned...the next with his jacket unbuttoned...then buttoned...AND unbuttoned again! Was there some mysterious gust of wind breezing into him from out of time?

This show kicked ass! I've heard a remake is in the works, though. I hope they don't screw it up. Despite its technical glitches, I thought it was great. I still do!

I remember loving this show as a kid and being very upset when it was cancelled after only one season. I mean, there was so much more history to travel through! I recall one fairly interesting episode where they bring a Japanese national into The Facility for expert advice on one of the Pacific Islands during World War II, but the old fellow tries to cut a deal to have The Science Team save his son! The future episodes had the feel of the big-screen flick "The Time Machine," and I remember thinking that the future must be a very scary place. I saw an episode on the Sci-Fi Channel recently and the passage of almost 40 years has not worn well on the show. Forget about suspending disbelief - the episode was just plain boring. Malachi Throne was the guest star and the period was the Civil War. As Stephen Jay Gould said shortly before his death, if time travel were possible, why aren't we being overrun by time travelers? Sort of gives the lie to a lot of episodes from other series, but what the heck? Who wouldn't want to travel back in time and "set things right"? By the way, it was great seeing James Darren in a recurring role on Star Trek: Deep Space 9. What ever happened to Darren's sidekick from The Time Tunnel?

I agree that when the silver skinned aliens showed up, this show was on the downside. I was a kid at the time and enjoyed it then, even enjoy it now, but realize the aliens meant the beginning of the end.

Irwin Allen always had tight budgets, and his TV show reflected this. But, I really just wanted to add to a previous comment. Someone pointed out that the time travelers should have occasionally come down in a more ordinary time, and used the time of the 1927 World Series as an example. That is a bad example. If the time travelers had arrived at the 1927 World Series, they would have been able to see the first World Series grand slam by a pitcher, and the ONLY unassisted triple play in World Series history. Maybe they could have showed up in the future, and met the people who were starting the "Jump the Shark" website on the internet.


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