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The Time Tunnel (ABC 1966 - 1967)
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2023 1:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the TV Guide covering The Time Tunnel's debut.

This science-fiction series features James Darren and Robert Colbert as scientists Tony Newman and Doug Phillips, who have almost perfected a time machine that can send men into the past or the future. Tonight: "Rendezvous With Yesterday." Hard pressed by the Government to put their Time Tunnel into operation, Tony becomes his own guinea pig --- and plunges back through time to the deck of the disaster-bound Titanic.

Script by Harold Jack Bloom from a story by Irwin Allen. Directed by Irwin Allen.

Guest Cast: Captain Malcolm Smith: Michael Rennie.
Althea Hall: Susan Hampshire.
Senator Leroy Clark: Garry Merrill.

I don't know why it took me so long, but I've finally realized the big problem with the Time Tunnel, apart from its generally poor scripting. It was a major motion picture premise being reduced to a weekly television series. It was simply far too ambitious for a TV show, TV lacked the scope and technology in 1966 to do the idea justice.

They had to rely on stock footage from feature films, left over sets, props, and wardrobe.

It was a major idea resorting to second-hand gimmicks in order to pull off the show and keep it on the budget they were given.

The expense of not being able to rely on standing sets was one costly factor. Bonanza could always plan to shoot scenes inside the Ponderosa ranch house; Star Trek could always plan on doing bottle episodes on board the Enterprise sets, and Hogan's Heroes had the Stalag 13 sets to use over and over again throughout the series run.

Time Tunnel did have that awesome looking and costly set for the TT complex. But how many times could they really work it into episodes in a justifiable way? How many times can we watch Ann & Dr. Swain saying, "We're losing the picture? Can you tell where they are?" On a weekly basis it gets stale pretty quickly. So to get their money's worth they have people from the past ages, or aliens, appear at the TT complex. That becomes very silly. They can get people from the past into the complex but never Tony or Doug? Talk about ridiculous and incompetent.

Now as a major motion picture in 1966, this could have worked much better. They could construct the required sets, props, and wardrobe for their trips into the past. All original stuff. If it was a hit, it could have become a franchise like the James Bond movies were.

I would guess that reviving the TT now for TV with a lavish budget and state-of-the-art visual effects they could do a handsome job of it. The grandeur of the concept could now be properly supported by the quantum leap of special/visual effects we possess today. And most crucial to supporting it all would be top notch scripting.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2023 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

__________________________________________________

Maybe The Time Tunnel should have been more like Quantum Leap. Give the two men a specific purpose which drives all their movements through time.

One of the lamest things about the show was that Tony and Doug just "accidentally" went to some new destination each week, and their only motivation was to survive so they'd be saved . . . by accidentally going somewhere else!

That's pretty bad story telling, folks. Sad

But if the Time Tunnel crew could control the temporal movements of the two men, then the whole purpose in sending them anywhere would be for them to "put right what once went wrong" (the catch phrase for Quantum Leap).

However, we all know that if you make a significant change in the time line, the ripple effect will create consequence which can be pretty bad.

So, the on-going story would involve the TT team desperately trying to fix some of the most serious changes which their own meddling caused — along with deliberate efforts to "put right" major aspects of the past that caused great harm.

Doing the show this way wouldn't require the constant search for stock footage of historical events, since the men are there to prevent the tragic events from happening!

That was the other dumb thing about the show — it constantly struggled to NOT change the history books, because God forbid we should do that, right? Rolling Eyes

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2023 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good observations, Bruce.

In spite of my criticisms of the Time Tunnel being too ambitious for its budget, I do want to say that the set for the show was most impressive. The scenes showing the power core and different levels were also fantastic.

The issue I had was that all of those things could only be done in a very limited manner each week. You can show it over and over again, but it begins to become redundant. You cannot really do a story about the power core itself that involves actors being on the device itself. Unless you construct a brand new set for it. The Time Tunnel sets were splendid, but they weren't really designed to be able to film stories about them as such. The sets for the Enterprise could be utilized all the time for their stories by comparison.

The crux of the series was following Tony & Doug's adventures in time. This needed to be epic in scope and to be supported by amazing sets and location shooting other than in California. That could be achieved with a major film more than a TV series.

It was a champagne & caviar concept executed by a beer and pretzels budget.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2023 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the June 10 ~ 16, 1967 issue of TV Guide with Tom & Dick Smothers on the cover, and an article about the Time Tunnel.

This Way Out. Television's imaginative answer to the problem of leaving the present.

How do you build a Time Tunnel, a super device to transport the heroes of a series both forward and backward in time, and somehow show a passage of time as well?

In Hollywood the producer dreams up the notion and the art director gives it to him. A relationship like Aladdin and the genie.

In this case the producer is Irwin Allen, one of the largest dreamers on the current scene (he produces Lost In Space, Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea), and the art director is William Creber.

Allan says, "At first we tried a kaleidoscopic effect, lights flashing and whirling. Then we tried using old newsreel shorts, blurring them to give the impression of time telescoping, but it looked like dirty soup. We finally went for pop art and came up with this tunnel, built at a cost of $84,000, out of Styrofoam, sheets of aluminum, and mostly paint for a trompe-l'oeil effect. It rests on an enormous concrete base. The consoles and ancillary equipment cost $45,000 and we used war-surplus material. The thing really works. Wheels turn and lights blink. The power towers are made of iron works put together piece by piece like Tinker Toys. They stand 45 feet tall."

The set fills a complete Sound Stage at 20th Century-Fox. The infinity segment of the tunnel, at the rear goes an additional 26 feet into another stage and is built on wheels so that it can be moved into position to join the body of the tunnel or moved back to increase the tunnel's illusion of infinity. The front segment of the tunnel is wired for both lighting and special effects, and can shoot jagged streaks of colored lights and smoke.

Fasten your safety belts!
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Krel
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2023 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Murray Leinster wrote some "Time Tunnel" novels. In them they gained control over where they sent people, and they were used to correct altered events in time, kind of like "Time Cop". At one point they went into the future where there was no Time Tunnel. They figured that the Tunnels mission was finished and had been shut down.

David.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2023 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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That would certainly be a better series than the one we got.

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tmlindsey
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2023 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never could get into The Time Tunnel. Not sure why. Maybe because I never saw it until I was an adult, or maybe because all of Irwin Allen's shows were fairly silly.

I watched that 2002 failed reboot pilot, and it was pretty unmemorable . . . if I remember rightly
Wink
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2023 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tmlindsey wrote:
I watched that 2002 failed reboot pilot, and it was pretty unmemorable . . . if I remember rightly Wink

Give it another shot, Tim. It rocks . . . Cool

Here's one poor copy of it that I post a few years ago on this thread.


_____________ The Time Tunnel Pilot (2002)


_________


And here's a slightly better copy (but with Spanish subtitles Sad) that I found today.

_____________ The Time Tunnel Pilot (2002)


_________

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2023 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found that the 2002 FOX Time Tunnel TV-movie pilot, like the Netflix Lost In Space TV series, were both FAR superior to the original iterations of the 1960s Irwin Allen shows. Allen came up with intriguing concepts that usually were torpedoed by inferior scripting. His series are worthy of reboots today. However, audiences would demand strong & imaginative writing this time around and not just flashy production values.

Glen Larson's Battlestar Galactica is another example of the reboot being vastly finer than the original show in the scripting department. This proves that mediocre, or even poor, science fiction TV shows can be revived to take advantage of state of the art visual effects & production values, and with splendid writing leave the original versions of a show back in the dust.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2023 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Mike, I couldn't agree more!

The unsold pilot of The Time Tunnel is brilliant! I'd love to see a series based on The Time Tunnel reboot. It excited me much more than the disappointing Irwin Allen series.
Cool
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2024 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From TV Guide:

The Time Tunnel is the latest chunk of fantasy carved out by producer Irwin Allen (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost In Space). This time his itinerant heroes, a pair of young scientists, are on an excursion through time. It seems their experimental time machine has a few bugs in it, and its operators can't control the destination of the two travelers.

So one week they're back in prehistoric times, another week they're on a rocket to the moon, another week they're aboard the Titanic, or at the Battle of Gettysburg. Poor chaps never seem to get plopped down any place where they can just lie in the sun and enjoy life for an hour. Instead they have to keep saying things like "How can I make you understand!" or "I know I sound insane, but you must believe me!"

The yo-yo-ing scientists are played by James Darren and Robert Colbert. Meanwhile, back at the time machine, you can find their supporting cast — Lee Meriwether, John Zaremba and Whit Bissell — twisting dials like crazy and biting their fingernails.

Debut: ABC, September.

Note: I laughed at the TVG article quoting the lines of dialog used by either Tony or Doug. Had to have come out of their mouths on just about every single episode they were in.
Laughing
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Captain Starlight
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2024 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I take travel stories very seriously . . . but this series did not. The characters played by James Darren and Robert Colbert romped around through time and were never worried about the changes they made in the timeline! And the series never bothered to address the changes in the "present" these guys caused in the "past".
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PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2024 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the Advance Premiere Week article.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow -- Turn the dials and set off a multi-billion volt power charge. Set the switches for any century, any era, past or future. It's the thrill of a lifetime, heading your way via producer Irwin Allen's new 20th Century-Fox Television series "The Time Tunnel," debuting in color, Friday, September 9, on ABC.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2024 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

______________________________________________

They should have done The Time Tunnel more like Quantum Leap!

Tony and Doug would be given missions in which they were sent back to the past to make careful changes which were deemed to be potentially beneficial to mankind, without causing disastrous consequences.

Risky stuff, I know — but that's what would make the show both intelligent and exciting! Very Happy

And for God's sake, let the poor guys carry communicators (temporal walkies-talkies) which allowed them be in constant touch with the guys in the present!

That way that could frequently get information which aided their mission, as well as reports concerning unwanted changes they'd caused in the timeline! Tony and Doug would have to frantically undo something they did, thus repairing the temporal damage!

Now THAT, by jingo, would be exciting science fiction! Cool

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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2024 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good ideas there, Bud. Irwin Allen fell in love with the trope of having his protagonists on his series becoming lost.

Lost In Space: The title tells it all.

The Time Tunnel: Two American scientists lost in time.

Land of the Giants: A group of people from earth crash land upon an alien world.

Sometimes a theme like that can be overused and work against a show.
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