Continuing my look at Irwin Allen’s TV series from the sixties, I’ve been re-visiting The Time Tunnel which I haven’t seen for quite some time.
The Time Tunnel is Irwin Allen’s third television series following on from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space. It comprised of 30 episodes, and was produced between 1966 and 67. It stars James Darren as Dr Tony Newman and James Colbert as Dr Doug Phillips.
Tony and Doug are directors of a secret government time travel experiment, code named Project Tic-Toc, which is housed beneath a vast underground complex, 800 floors deep, and situated in Arizona. Their fellow director is Lt General Heywood Kirk ( played by Whit Bissell), who is assisted by electronics expert, Dr Raymond Swain (played by John Zaremba) and electro-biologist , Dr Ann MacGregor (played by Lee Meriwether).
At the heart of Project Tic-Toc is The Time Tunnel, a huge receding elliptical tube which creates a pathway to anywhere in time, although, it does seem to be quite a temperamental device. (As seen in all of Irwin Allen’s TV series, the futuristic hardware which is used is prone to spectacularly shorting out at inopportune times during the action. It would appear that the submarine Seaview, the space ships, Jupiter 2 and Spindrift and the Time Tunnel don’t appear to use fuses)
The Time Tunnel idea itself was inspired by the 1964 film, ‘The Time Travelers’, in which two scientists, their female assistant, and an electrician are transported though a 3-dimensional time portal over a hundred years into an intriguing but ultimately bleak future.
Tony and Doug, spend most, although not all of their adventures in the past, beginning with their first in which they both end up on the ill-fated Titanic ocean liner, shortly before the Time Tunnel transports them into the future and the hold of a spacecraft about to take off to Mars.(This was the ‘teaser’ for the following week’s episode, however the ‘teaser’ at the end of the final episode, ‘Town of Terror’, shows Tony and Doug landing on the deck of the Titanic once again, implying that both the scientists are trapped in some sort of a time loop.
Although I watched and enjoyed the series as a youngster living in the UK, it didn’t have the same appeal for me as Irwin Allen’s other shows. The problem was there were no models kits to make of the Time Tunnel, or even an annual, which would have reprinted at least one of the two Gold Key comic stories that fans in America would have got.
The front and rear covers of the second Gold Key comic.
As far as I’m aware neither of the two paperback books, written by Murray Leinster were published in Britain, so I never saw those, and no British comics published any home grown comic strips, unlike Voyage and Land of The Giants, which would have helped me maintain more of an interest with the series once it was off the air.
The first paperback cover using artwork taken from a previous book 'Time Tunnel' written by Murray Leinster in 1964 which was no connection with the TV series just to confuse things. I'd imagine Irwin Allen liked the title.
I'd have been fooled!
A lot less confusion with the alternative cover on the first paperback
The cover of the second book.
Re-watching it now, like all of Irwin Allen’s series, It’s certainly still a glossy and entertaining series, although some of the historic aspects are sometimes a bit dubious, but I am looking forward to re watching the whole series again after such a long time.
Cue the opening narration (voiced by Dick Tufeld) that can be heard at the beginning of most of the episodes;
"Two American scientists are lost in the swirling maze of past and future ages, during the first experiments on America's greatest and most secret project, the Time Tunnel. Tony Newman and Doug Phillips now tumble helplessly toward a new fantastic adventure, somewhere along the infinite corridors of time"