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The Time Tunnel is a U.S. color science fiction TV series starring James Darren and Robert Colbert. The show was inspired by the 1964 movie The Time Travelers, and was creator-producer Irwin Allen's fourth science fiction television series, the others being Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Land of the Giants. Time Tunnel was released by 20th Century Fox Television and broadcast on ABC during the 1966–1967 television season. The show ran for one season of 30 episodes. A pilot for a new series was produced in 2002 but not picked up.

Project Tic-Toc is a top secret U.S. government effort to build an experimental time machine, known as "The Time Tunnel" due to its appearance as a cylindrical hallway.

The base for Project Tic-Toc is a huge, hidden underground complex in Arizona, 800 floors deep and employing over 36,000 people. The directors of the project are Dr. Douglas Phillips (Robert Colbert), Dr. Anthony Newman (James Darren), and Lt. General Heywood Kirk (Whit Bissell). The specialists assisting them are Dr. Raymond Swain (John Zaremba), a foremost expert in electronics, and Dr. Ann MacGregor (Lee Meriwether, right), an electro-biologist supervising the unit that determines how much force and heat a time traveler is able to withstand.

The series is set in 1968, two years into the future of the actual broadcast season of 1966-67 (because having a time machine in 1966 is improbable but the technology would surely have been developed by 1968).

Project Tic-Toc is in its tenth year when United States Senator Leroy Clark (Gary Merrill) comes to investigate in order to determine whether the project, which has cost 7.5 billion dollars, is worth continuing. Senator Clark feels the project is a waste of government funds. When speaking to Phillips, Kirk, and Newman in front of the Time Tunnel, he delivers an ultimatum: either they send someone into time and return him during the course of his visit or their funding will cease. Tony volunteers for this endeavor, but he is turned down by project director Doug Phillips. Defying this decision, Tony sends himself into time. Doug follows shortly after to rescue him, but they both continue to be lost in time. Senator Clark returns to Washington with the promise that funding will not be cut off to the project, leaving General Kirk in charge.

"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."

- opening narration voice over by Dick Tufeld

Tony and Doug become participants of notable past events like the sinking of the Titanic, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the eruption of Krakatoa, Custer's Last Stand, and the Battle of the Alamo among others. General Kirk, Ray, and Ann in the control room are able to locate them in time and space, observe them, communicate with them through voice contact, and send help.

After a single season of good reviews but mediocre ratings, ABC offered to renew the series if producer Irwin Allen would cut his budget by one-third. While Allen refused an ABC executive was gathering support for a series entitled The Legend of Custer that he lobbied for to replace The Time Tunnel. In the summer of 1967 Time Tunnel was cancelled not giving the producers time to film an episode in which Tony and Doug are safely returned to the Time Tunnel complex. Each episode of the show ended with a cliffhanger to the next episode. In the final episode they inserted a cliffhanger leading to the repeat of the first episode. Thus each episode had its own unique cliffhanger - both coming and going. Even though it lasted one season The Time Tunnel was Irwin Allens' favorite show. As a side note: Time Tunnels' replacement, The Legend of Custer, was quickly cancelled after airing only 17 low rated episodes, skewered by critics it performed worse than The Time Tunnel.

Time travel is facilitated by time being portrayed as a static continuum, accessible at any point through the Time Tunnel as a corridor spanning its infinite reaches.

When Senator Clark sees an image of the Titanic on the image screen in the course of episode one, he is told by Dr. Swain that he is seeing "the living past", and Althea Hall is told by Tony Newman that the past and the future are the same. The Time Tunnel is also a portal connecting the Time Tunnel "complex" with the same time periods in which Doug and Tony are located.

Other persons in time can also be relocated by the Time Tunnel from their time to another time as Machiavelli is switched from his own time to the time of the Gettysburg Campaign of 1863. Bringing people (other than Tony and Doug) back to the future happens continually in the series.

In the course of the series Doug, Tony, and the Time Tunnel personnel discover that events of the past can be altered to some extent by the intrusion of the time travelers, and in a few cases their historical research allows for it. Episode 26 ("Attack of the Barbarians") explores the scenario of one of the time travelers falling in love with someone from the past: Tony and the Princess Serit, daughter of Kublai Khan. Marco Polo tells Doug, "Can they not touch each other?" History itself hints at the possibility of Serit marrying Tony as Ann informs General Kirk. The historical information on Billy the Kid's victims alarms Ann, Ray, and the General as it records that he killed two strangers near Lincoln, New Mexico in April, 1881, just when Tony, Doug and Billy the Kid are brought together.

The production used sets, stock footage and props left over from 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 for use in this color production. Only a few actors were costumed for a given episode, interspersed with cuts of great masses of people similarly dressed from original features. Only one set was constructed for the show, that of the Time Tunnel main control room. For the pilot episode, a large control room set was built, and a longer Time Tunnel was created using optical matte shots. After the pilot episode, location changes occurred for the production of the series; Colbert and Darren shot their scenes in another studio, on the 20th Century Fox backlot, or on location, while those who portrayed the Time Tunnel personnel filmed all their scenes on revised and smaller (due to the production having to utilize a smaller sound stage than used during the pilot filming) Time Tunnel control room set. Some episodes featured space aliens who wore costumes and carried props originally created for other Irwin Allen television and movie productions. Prop sets were similarly re-used. The prop computer looked realistic because it was an array of memory modules from the Air Force's recently decommissioned SAGE computer.

Continuity errors and errors in historical facts occurred in the series. In the series premiere episode, "Rendezvous with Yesterday", Captain Smith of the Titanic is called "Malcolm" when his name was Edward historically. The names of the secondary officers are also fictitious, though Walter Lord's best-selling non-fiction book about the event, A Night to Remember, had been released nine years earlier. Tony states that he was born in 1938. A few episodes later in "The Day the Sky Fell in", he states he was seven when Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 1941, which would make the year of his birth 1934.

The theme song for The Time Tunnel was composed by John Williams (credited as "Johnny Williams"). GNP Crescendo later released an album featuring Williams' work and the score composed by George Duning for the episode "The Death Merchant". The series won an Emmy Award in 1967, for Individual Achievements in Cinematography. The award went to L.B. "Bill" Abbott, for his photographic special effects.

In 1982, five feature-length TV movies were put together from 10 complete episodes with portions of the first episode as introductory material. Aliens From Another Planet, was produced using episodes 24 ("Chase Through Time") and 18 ("Visitors From Beyond The Stars"). Revenge Of The Gods was a compilation of episodes 7 ("Revenge of the Gods") and 20 ("The Walls Of Jericho). Old Legends Never Die edited together episodes 27 ("Merlin The Magician") and 16 ("The Revenge Of Robin Hood"). Kill Or Be Killed comprised episodes 4 ("The Day The Sky Fell In") and 17 ("Kill Two By Two"). Raiders From The Moon was compiled from episodes 28 ("The Kidnappers") and 2 ("One Way To The Moon").





Short documentary about the classic 60's SiFi series The Time Tunnel.




In January, 1967 a promotional novel, The Time Tunnel, was published by Pyramid Books. Murray Leinster was the author, who had previously written a novel of the same name in 1964, completely unrelated to the television series.

Leinster used four of the main characters: Tony Newman, Doug Phillips, General Kirk, and Ann MacGregor as well as the initial antagonist Senator Clark. Unlike the television series Project Tic-Toc is secretly begun and financed through the Defense Department without the consent of Congress. General Kirk is a retired Air Force General rather than an active duty Army General. Senator Clark, rather than urging immediate human time travel as he does in the TV series, demands that Project Tic-Toc refrain from going forward with it.

He does this in the interests of humanity, which, in his view, would be adversely affected by a person from the future intruding into the past: ancestors of persons now living could be killed by a time traveler resulting in their descendants now living ceasing to exist or inventions and developments of the past being changed resulting in the wiping out of what exists in the present day.

Tony and Doug's relocation to Johnstown, Pennsylvania just before the Johnstown Flood of May 31st, 1889 allows them the opportunity of saving the life of Senator Clark's grandmother, Julie Bowen. If Tony and Doug had not gone back in time and saved her, Senator Clark would have ceased to exist.

The second time and place Tony and Doug are relocated to is the Texas prairie near Adobe Walls, Texas, June 26th, 1874. They are picked up by a traveling group of hunters tracking bison at the scene of the massacre of another group of bison hunters by Comanche warriors. Tony and Doug travel with them to Adobe Walls just in time for the historic battle on June 27th. Knowing about the impending attack and the incident of the cracking of the ridgepole of the sod roof of Hanrahan's saloon where Tony and Doug were staying, they caused the cracking themselves by shooting at the pole. This effectively awakened the sleeping hunters, making them ready to repulse the attack of the Native American warriors. Tony and Doug were able to assist the historic Bat Masterson in his exploits in the battle.

Tony and Doug's final adventure before being returned to the Time Tunnel took them to Saint Louis, Missouri sometime in the distant future. The American populace is menaced by aliens setting up a force field. Tony and Doug were able to utilize a vehicle capable of moving in both time and space developed by the Time Tunnel while they were in Adobe Walls. It is a floating platform with rails operated by Ann MacGregor back in the Time Tunnel control room. They appear to anyone seeing them as people riding on a flying carpet. In the Saint Louis library Doug finds out that he will marry Ann MacGregor, who is in love with him, and they will have three children. With the help of the "time traveler" platform they are able to destroy the flimsy alien craft and return to the Time Tunnel complex.

This was followed later in the year by Timeslip: Time Tunnel Adventure #2, the last novel based on the TV series. The front and back covers feature photos from the series. In the novel, an experimental nuclear missile was sent through the Time Tunnel (who would think that would be a good idea?) and of course something goes wrong, and it wound up at the bottom of a pond within Mexico City, in the 1840s. In the present (1968), excavation equipment was moving toward the site - any day a bulldozer blade might set it off, destroying a mighty city and plunging the world into war. Time travelers Tony Newman and Doug Phillips had only one chance to head off disaster - to go through the Time Tunnel and make the accident "unhappen." The trouble was, there was a war on in the past - and the bomb was in enemy territory.

There were two issues put out by Gold Key Comics (Western Publishing Co.) in 1966-1967. These were reprinted by Hermes Press in 2012.

In Issue #1:
The Time Tunnel: The Assassins - April 14th, 1865, Abe gets a second chance.
The Lion or the Volcano? - August 24th, 79 A.D., Pompeii. It's the lions or Vesuvius for Doug & Tony - which will it be?
Mars Count-Down - 1980. Will the US make it to Mars? Will Doug & Tony make it back to Earth?

In Issue #2:
The Time Tunnel: The Conquerors - D-Day 1944. The Nazis get a second chance, this time with weapons from the future.
The Captives - June 25th, 1876, mid-America. Custer gets a second chance.

There was a Japanese Time Tunnel book with record album that was licensed and manufactured for exclusive release in Japan by Asahi Sonorama company and was released during the show's original airing in 1967. The record is pressed in blue-vinyl and contains the time-travel drama "Adventure in the Lost World." The highlight of this package is the colorful 12-page booklet which showcases original storybook artwork of the record's episode with the intrepid time travelers being terrorized by rampaging dinosaurs and angry cavemen.

An album of music from the series, featuring the episodes "Rendezvous With Yesterday" (tracks 2-4) and "The Death Merchant" (tracks 5 and 6) was released by GNP Crescendo as part of the collection The Fantasy Worlds of Irwin Allen.

Other spin-off items included a coloring book and The Time Tunnel 1966 boxed board game from Ideal Toys. The playing board design shows characters and events from the prehistoric era into the future. The box insert has a spinner board and other parts include playing cards, token, and marker disks. The second game is The Time Tunnel: Spin-To-Win, a 1967 boxed board game from Pressman Toys, which features a box insert playing board that has a tunnel-like design representing different past years in history and plastic tops are spun on the playing board to determine "Time Travels."

Bally Manufacturing created a pinball called Time Tunnel in 1971 based loosely on the TV series, but production was stopped due to copyright infringement. The game was re-released with revised artwork as Space Time.

The Time Tunnel Viewmaster set was released in 1966 featuring three Viewmaster slides from "Rendezvous With Yesterday" and a 16-page story booklet that tells the pilot episode.

Two attempts were made to resurrect the show. One produced a pilot episode, but neither resulted in a new series.

In 2002, Fox showed interest in remaking this series. A pilot was produced by Twentieth Century Fox Television, Fox Television Studios, and Regency Television in association with Irwin Allen Properties (1966 tunnel pictured above, 2020 tunnel below). Kevin Burns and Jon Jashni were executive producers. Sheila Allen was credited as one of the producers. The series was not ordered by Fox so as to make room in its schedule for Joss Whedon's Firefly.

The pilot had a darker and more serious tone than the original 1966 series. Doug Phillips (David Conrad) is the main character, and Tony Newman's character was replaced by Toni Newman, a minor female character.

In this remake, the 2002 Time Tunnel is a Department of Energy research project into nuclear fusion, which produces nearly limitless energy. When the reactor was initiated (not shown in the episode), that caused an unintended "time storm" which uncontrollably changed history. The DOE was able to anchor one end of the storm by using the Tunnel like a lightning rod.

On their way into the tunnel complex, Flynn tells Doug Phillips, a former friend, that the latter has been recruited because he has a detailed knowledge of the Battle of Hürtgen Forest. The head of the Time Tunnel project likens their team to FEMA, they don't send a team back for a rain storm but they do for hurricanes. However, they can only go through time to where the other end of the storm is at the current moment, so they have a limited period to fix what is wrong and to be retrieved by the Time Tunnel.

The team (Doug, Toni, Flynn, J.D., and Wix) must travel to the Battle of Hürtgen Forest in 1944 Germany during World War II. They plan to retrieve a person moved there by the time storm from 1546. During the mission, Doug Phillips meets his grandfather, a soldier who will be killed in the battle. Doug knows this, but cannot tell his ancestor and save his life because it would change history. Toni Newman tells Doug she used to have three brothers and two sisters before the time storm accident but is now an only child. The time travelers learn the displaced person is a now-confused medieval monk who carries bubonic plague. When the team is almost captured, two members switch to German uniforms and pretend to be Colonel Klink and (Sergeant) Schultz, complete with fake documents. Everyone who came in contact with the monk is given an antibiotic injection and the time ripples stop. But Flynn has been fatally stabbed, so he reveals Phillips was a bitter man before the time storm, but he now has a family. Flynn tells Phillips this information to give him an incentive to keep the timeline intact.

There are some notable differences between the series world and the real world:
Traffic lights use red for "go" and green for "stop" while yellow retains its meaning. There are 49 states in the United States of America. The title sequence shows New Jersey disappearing and the territory being divided between New York and Pennsylvania. The title sequence also shows the USSR winning the race to the moon as the American flag dissolves into the Soviet flag, and the New York Yankees are now the Boston Yankees.

The SciFi Channel announced in 2005 it would create a new pilot for its 2006/07 season. Allen's wife, Sheila, and two producers of the 2002 FOX remake (Kevin Burns and Jon Jashni) began work on the new pilot. John Turman (Hulk) wrote the script. The series never went beyond a pilot script.


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