Updated: February 21, 2020
TIME TUNNEL PHOTO GALLERY #04
The Time Tunnel was a 1966-1967 U.S. color science fiction TV series produced by
Irwin Allen that lasted for one season of 30 episodes. It was produced by 20th
Century Fox for the US ABC television network.
Lt. General Heywood Kirk (Whit Bissell), Dr. Tony Newman (James Darren),
Dr. Ann MacGregor (Lee Meriwether), Dr. Doug Phillips (Robert Colbert),
Dr. Raymond Swain (John Zaremba) Project Tic-Toc is a top secret U.S. government
effort to build an experimental time machine known as "the Time Tunnel". With
the costs of the project approaching those of the entire U.S. space program, a
young physicist, Dr. Tony Newman (James Darren) turns the machine on and sends
himself back in time in an attempt to prove that the Time Tunnel project funds
were not wasted. In so doing, Newman becomes "lost in time". In an attempt to
rescue his younger friend, Tic-Toc scientist Dr. Doug Phillips (Robert Colbert)
enters the Time Tunnel as well. However, the system was still being developed
and tunnel operations was never able to bring them home. As the series
progresses, the two time travelers are swung from one period in history to
another, allowing episodes to be set in the past and future. Episodes always
ended in a cliffhanger preview of the next episode. The final episode provides
no resolution, as the series was initially scheduled to continue into a second
Doug Phillips and Tony Newman in the tunnel complex by luck (or lack thereof) the
travelers, Tony and Doug, frequently found themselves thrown onto the precipice
of major historical events: on board the Titanic before it hits the iceberg, in
Pearl Harbor before the Japanese attack, on Krakatoa before it erupts, and so
forth. They would try to warn people about the event, or try to prevent it from
happening, while the Time Tunnel crew (led by two scientists and a military
general), who once gaining a "fix" can view through the Tunnel the action taking
place in the different time, would try to rescue the travelers before the
historical calamity befell them too.
The series never really established a consistent time travel model, but for the
most part it seemed that while major historical events could not be altered or
prevented (although Tony and Doug rarely stopped trying), the lives of
individual people caught up in those events could indeed be changed by the
actions of the travelers or the Time Tunnel scientists.
Tony Newman and Doug Philips the base for Project Tic-Toc was huge and located
underground in the Arizona desert, with no visible entry, similar to the Krell
machine in the movie Forbidden Planet -- some shots in the first episode
introducing the facility parallel those in the film. The date at which it was
operating was stated as 1968 -- which would have been two years into the future
for the initial TV audience.
The production basis of the show was the large number of period dramas made by
the 20th Century Fox film company. Even black-and-white shots of the Titanic
sinking were tinted to fit them into this color production. Only a few actors
were costumed for a given episode, interspersed with cuts of great masses of
people similarly dressed from the original features. The plots were not noted
for historical accuracy.
Certain episodes featured aliens who wore costumes and carried props originally
created for other Irwin Allen television and movie productions. Prop sets were
similarly re-used. These were fewer than it appears. Only in episodes 18, 24,
28, 29, and 30 did aliens appear; only the second and third of these were set in
the far future.
The Titanic based premiere episode, "Rendezvous with Yesterday" (based on the
series pilot), was well written, and featured good production values, albeit
with a major error in that the Captain Smith of the Titanic was called "Malcolm"
rather than "Edward" or "EJ". The names of the secondary officers are also
fictitious and do not reflect the actual officers of the Titanic, though Walter
Lord's bestselling book A Night to Remember had been available for nine years.
The prop computer looked realistic because it was actually an array of memory
modules from the Air Force's recently-decommissioned SAGE computer.
The quality of subsequent episodes varied considerably. However, some
particularly memorable aspects were:
The colorful, dynamic opening credits sequence Tony and Doug always reverted back
to the same clothes when they transfer, a green turtleneck sweater and a
conservative Norfolk suit, which were magically cleaned and pressed before their
passage to the next time. People from the future were always hostile
Tony and Doug's random placement in time mostly (22 of 30) landed them right
before an event like D-day, Pearl Harbor, Custer's last stand, Krakatoa, The
Titanic sinking, Lincoln's assassination, Biblical events, etc.
The tunnel could send objects and people back and forth to help Doug and Tony,
but had a complete inability to do the same with Doug and Tony themselves
Wild historical mishmashes, such as Niccolo Machiavelli getting involved in
the Battle of Gettysburg.
No matter how hard they tried, they could never change history, despite an
obvious ability to do so by, for instance, killing John Wilkes Booth.
They almost always landed somewhere prior to 1968, and very rarely in the
future. When they did travel to the future, it was hundreds of years into an
Classic 1960s "action" sequences, such as hand-to-hand fighting in which the
protagonists fall onto their backs and kick-flip their adversaries over them
at the beginning of almost every episode, no matter when or where they
materialized, they were immediately attacked. At the end of each episode,
when Doug and Tony were finally safe, the tunnel transferred them to another
dangerous, random place and time for no reason The Time Tunnel was not a
commercial failure, as it received higher viewer ratings than many other
shows of the network. It was picked up for the next year, and four episodes
for season 2 were scripted (and falsely rumored to have been filmed) before
an abrupt cancellation - after the cast "renewal party" had been held.
The series won an Emmy Award in 1967, for its Individual Achievements!