Updated: September 12, 2016
TIME TUNNEL PHOTO GALLERY #02
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
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
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.