Case Number 09522


Fox // 2003 // 645 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // June 21st, 2006

The Charge

Tony: I don't get this.
Doug: Neither do I, but I doubt we're supposed to.

Opening Statement

Tumbling through time for another fifteen episodes, Doug and Tony meet up with Billy the Kid, Merlin the Magician, Robin Hood, and an unusual collection of aliens and other barbarians. More swirling tunnel images, more blinking lights and that same green turtleneck sweater...It's Time Tunnel -- Season 1, Vol. 2 in color!

Facts of the Case

History repeats itself, and thus do I:

Miles beneath the surface of the earth is a super, super secret complex known as Project TicToc. This multi-leveled wunderkind (which looks eerily similar to the interior of the Death Star) cost seven and a half million dollars -- and what have they got to show for it? One big-ass spiral cornucopia that may or may not send people into the past. So when a government bean-counter arrives to shut down the money pit, our heroes are forced to take action. Young and brash, Tony Newman (James Darren, Gidget) decides to play human guinea pig and promptly plants himself firmly on the deck of the Titanic just hours before it's due to sink. (Smart move, college boy.) Thanks to scientific trickery the TicToc team are able to see and hear Tony but they can't communicate with him. And, oh, whoops, apparently the tunnel doesn't have a "Go Home" button. The only thing they can do is move a traveler from this time to some other time (no they can't pick the time -- jeez, what genius built this thing) and only when the cosmic alignment is just right.

And because one scientist in danger isn't enough, Dr. Doug Phillips, (Robert Colbert, The Young and the Restless) joins Tony (okay, they can't pick a time but now they can send Doug to the exact place and date -- make up your minds...). Week after week, Doug and Tony are plucked from one time period and thrown into another in order to save them from whatever historical danger they fall into while the scientists of Project TicToc struggle to find a way to bring the boys home.

Volume Two contains these episodes:

Disc One:
* "The Revenge of Robin Hood"
* "Kill Two by Two"
* "Vistors From Beyond the Stars"
* "The Ghost of Nero"

Disc Two:
* "The Walls of Jericho"
* "Idol of Death"
* "Billy the Kid"
* "Pirates of Deadman's Island"

Disc Three:
* "Chase Through Time"
* "The Death Merchant"
* "Attack of the Barbarians"
* "Merlin the Magician"

Disc Four:
* "The Kidnappers"
* "Raiders From Outer Space"
* "Town of Terror"

The Evidence

The second half of Time Tunnel's first and only season has fewer winners and a lot more losers than we saw in Volume One. Whether it was reaching for new and different plots, or just Irwin Allen forcing his favorite images, these episodes move away from the historical and move toward the fanciful.

There are three episodes with aliens, one ghost story, one appearance by Hitler, and various acts of gunplay in the Tunnel control room. Okay, so it's not rocket science...LOL...that's like a joke...cause, you know, they're scientists...

Anyway, moving on. Production values are still Irwin wonderful. He makes great use of colors and shadows, music and sound effects, imaginative imagery, and well-respected actors in some rather odd parts. Robert Duvall (The Godfather) leads the boys on a "Chase Through Time." Michael Ansara (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) works for "The Kidnappers," and John Saxon is Marco Polo in "Attack of the Barbarians."

For the diehard Irwin Allen fans, you'll find a rare appearance by Land of the Giants star Heather Young and several uses of our favorite green goddess, Vitina Marcus. Bob May (the Lost in Space Robot) and Del Monroe (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) both put in appearances, but I saved the best for last. Yes, he's here -- your all-time favorite Irwin Allen star; the horny costumed lizard!

For the uninitiated among you, the costumed lizard is a staple of all Irwin Allen productions. I'm still convinced he's in The Poseidon Adventure, I just haven't found him yet. Irwin was the king of recycling and in this volume of Time Tunnel you'll find plenty of space and monster gear recycled from Lost in Space. Real fans should have a great time playing "where do I know that prop from?"

On to the DVD itself. The packaging is still lame, and the non-animated navigation screen still screams "amateur" to me. I can overlook all of that just to have such clean and clear copies of a show I thought I'd never see again. Which brings me to the extras on this DVD. First off, you'll find interviews with Whit Bissell, Robert Colbert, James Darren and Lee Meriwether. These are nice if only to see them all wax curiously about the experience of working with the larger-than-life Irwin Allen. What's not so nice is the way the interviews are presented. To keep from paying out to an interviewer, the questions are not recorded. Thus you must choose the question from an on-screen list, trigger the answer, then wait for the DVD to cycle back to the next question to begin again. It's annoying, even in the Play All mode.

The real gems on this DVD are the two additional features; the 2002 unaired remake pilot and the 1976 TV movie Time Travelers. Now, I may alone in this, but Time Travelers is one of my old favorite TV movies. I have this thing, cut to ribbons from some local late night TV airing, on a Beta tape and that's how I've been watching it ever since. The movie stars Sam Groom (Time Tunnel) and Tom Hallick (Hangar 18) as a doctor and a historian charged with the task of recovering a cure for long dormant but deadly virus. The hitch? The cure was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Richard Basehart (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) plays the curmudgeony doctor who doesn't know why his own cure works and Trish Stewart (Salvage 1) is his sweet and innocent daughter who falls in love with a man who hasn't even been born yet. Seriously, I practically have this movie memorized so it was such an incredible treat to find it here clean and uncut.

The second big feature is the Time Tunnel remake of 2002. Frankly, I'm surprised this didn't go as a series. It has the look and feel of Stargate, darker than the original series and with an interesting twist.

Spoiler Warning

The world is slightly off kilter. Red means go, green means stop, and there are only 48 states in the U.S. It seems that when the good people of Project TicToc accidentally punched a hole in the space-time continuum, they caused the world to change -- for everyone except those that were protected by TicToc's bunker. Now they're stuck trying to repair and reverse the damage that is still being done to time without letting the general populace know that nothing is as it should be.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

My biggest complaint is about the delivery of this TV classic. I'm really at a loss as to why they broke this set up into two volumes. Could it be that TV shows of the era generally have more episodes per season than current TV shows so they needed to break it up for easier handling? I doubt it. It just seems like an unnecessary way of getting a few more dollars off the sale -- I mean, once you own Volume One, you're going to buy Volume Two, right?

Also, I've seen diehard fans complaining about the fact that the "brought to you by" voiceovers have been cut from the beginnings and endings of the episodes but frankly, it doesn't bother me.

Closing Statement

Like I said, this isn't rocket science, or Emmy winning material either, but do I care? No. I love it for what it is: pure escapist fantasy. Time Tunnel: Season 1, Vol. 2 is a weekly B-Movie with some very good actors doing the best they can within odd plots.

The Verdict

This court finds Time Tunnel: Season 1, Vol. 2 guilty of unabashed recycling and often nonsensical plotting. I would sentence the participants to five years, but they've escaped through the tunnel and there doesn't seem to be a way to get them back.

Review content copyright © 2006 Cynthia Boris; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 80
Acting: 80
Story: 75
Judgment: 83

Perp Profile
Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)

* English
* Spanish

Running Time: 645 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Interviews with Whit Bissell, Robert Colbert, James Darren and Lee Meriwether
* Time Travelers TV movie from 1976
* Unaired 2002 TV pilot
* Still gallery

* The Irwin Allen News Network

* The Time Tunnel Fan Site

* Official James Darren Site

* IMDb