whiles away the time

The Time Tunnel

The Time Tunnel is a 1966–1967 U.S. color science fiction TV series. The show was created and produced by Irwin Allen, his third science fiction television series. The show's main theme music was Time Travel Adventure. The Time Tunnel was released by 20th Century Fox and broadcast on ABC. The show ran for one season of 30 episodes. A pilot for a new series was produced in 2002, although the pilot was not picked up. It currently airs on AmericanLife TV Network and on

The series


Project Tic-Toc is a top secret U.S. government effort to build an experimental time machine known as "the Time Tunnel." When the costs of the project approach those of the entire U.S. space program, a United States Senator Leroy Clark (Gary Merrill) launches an investigation of the project. The Senator feels that the tunnel has cost too much money for too little reward. At his request the Senator is allowed to visit the project base and be given a tour. Once he reaches the central control room the Senator explains his complaints to the project heads. The Senator then says that he wishes to close down the project as a waste of time and money that has not worked.

Key Time Tunnel scientist, 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." The Time Tunnel top personnel can see through the Tunnel that Tony Newman is aboard the soon to sink Titanic. They can also see that he cannot escape before the sinking, and they cannot retrieve him.

In an attempt to rescue his younger friend, another key 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. Each episode begins with the following narration:

"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."

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. Sometimes, when rescue was impossible at the time, the Time Tunnel scientists would often try to help Tony and Doug in other ways or in some cases, communicate with them whenever possible. The final episode provides no resolution, as the series was initially scheduled to continue into a second season.

The series used a precursor to the Novikov self-consistency principle as its time travel model. Recorded history could not be altered because all attempts to do so were destined to fail. In other words, they will not change history because they haven't. However, sometimes Doug and Tony’s actions were essential to cause history to unfold as recorded. The lives of individual people could be influenced by the actions of the travelers or the Time Tunnel scientists.

The base for Project Tic-Toc was huge and located underground in the Arizona desert, with no visible entry. The only way in was a very big secret panel that when it opened a car could quickly go through the entrance. Once the panel closed all any one could see was ordinary desert. Tic-Toc base was a futuristic series of complexes 800 floors deep and employing over 36,000 people ("12 thousand people in each of those complexes"). It was under the command of General Heywood Kirk (Whit Bissell). The center of the base was The Time Tunnel control room where the tunnel was located. In charge of operating the Tunnel were Dr. Ann McGregor (Lee Meriwether) and Dr. Raymond Swain (John Zaremba). The date at which it was operating was stated as 1968, which was 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. 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 premier episode, "Rendezvous with Yesterday" (based on the original series pilot), was well written, and featured good production values, albeit with an 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 best-selling 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 soundtrack for The Time Tunnel was composed by John Williams (credited as "Johnny Williams"), who would go on to become one of film's most celebrated composers.

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.

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 following 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.

Recurring themes and cliches

Themes particularly characteristic of this show include:

  • The colorful, dynamic opening credits sequence.
  • A short "teaser" from next week's episode was shown at the end of each episode, as Tony and Doug arrived at their next destination. This device was later used in Quantum Leap.
  • The impressive introduction to the scale of the project (over 36,000 people and huge underground buildings) is rarely seen(possibly only once) after the first episode.
  • At the end of every episode, Tony and Doug always magically reverted to the same cleaned, pressed clothes: a green turtleneck sweater and a pair of gray slacks for Tony, and a conservative Norfolk suit for Doug. Doug never takes off his tie (although he loosens it occasionally). Doug's clothes originally, were definately were meant for the 1912 "Titantic", even though the suit changes and looks more contemporary later.
  • Often, when something is wrong with the main control panel, we see Dr. Swain (a man) pushing Dr. MacGregor (a woman) away from it so he can do her job himself.
  • In more than two out of every three episodes, Tony and Doug's random placement in time landed them right before an important historical event, and right where the event was about to occur (D-Day, the attack on Pearl Harbor, Custer's last stand, Krakatoa exploding, The Titanic sinking, Lincoln's attempted assassination in 1861 (not the one he finally died in, in 1865, although that one is briefly glimpsed), Biblical events, etc.)
  • The tunnel frequently sent objects and people back to help Doug and Tony, and even brought other people from the past, but it never could retrieve Doug and Tony themselves.
  • Wild historical mishmashes, such as Niccolò Machiavelli getting involved in the Battle of Gettysburg.
  • Mixing history and mythology, such as Robin Hood being involved with the signing of the Magna Carta, and Merlin the Magician appearing in the tunnel forcing Tony and Doug to help a very Young Arthur, etc.
  • No matter what they did they never changed history, even though they clearly could have.
  • Tony and Doug almost always landed somewhere prior to 1968. When they did travel to the future, it was, with two exceptions (both in 1978), hundreds of years into an unrecognizable future.
  • Everyone in a group of aliens or people from the future all dressed identically, often in aluminum foil.
  • 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.
  • No matter when or where they materialized, they were almost always immediately attacked.
  • Doug and Tony knew they were being monitored by their colleagues, but rarely spoke to them or asked for help.
  • At the end of every episode, the tunnel transferred Doug and Tony to another dangerous, random place and time -- usually for no obvious reason, since they were finally safe.
  • Though there are fistfights in virtually every episode, they never result in any bleeding or bruising.
  • When people are hit on the head they get amnesia, always temporarily.
  • A guest character decides that he has nothing left in 1968 and agrees to enter the past to help Tony and Doug, knowing that he will spend the rest of his life there.
  • Implausible physics. For instance, in episode 2 ("One Way To The Moon"), Doug and Tony were fighting in space suits on the moon using earth-like punches and kicks, without feeling the moon's reduced gravity. Also, a loud explosion in a lunar fuel depot ignites a massive fire -- impossible in the silent vacuum of the moon.
  • Everyone everywhere, in every time, spoke 20th-century English.


While the episodes were first shown in 1966, the show's setting begins in 1968, two years ahead of when the episodes originally aired.
Title Original Airdate Arrival Date Arrival Location Episode #
Rendezvous With Yesterday September 9, 1966 April 13, 1912 RMS Titanic in the Atlantic Ocean 1
The pilot episode. United States Senator Leroy Clark (Gary Merrill), who was once a paratrooper under General Kirk, arrives from Washington, D.C. to observe the status of Project Tic-Toc. Clark threatens to cut off funding unless the time travel technology can be successfully demonstrated before he leaves the following day. Late that night and against orders, Dr. Anthony Newman powers up the time tunnel, enters, and is successfully sent back in time. He arrives on board the RMS Titanic. Realizing what is going to happen, he tries to convince the captain of the impending disaster but the captain orders that he be locked in a cabin. Dr. Doug Phillips convinces the commanding general that he needs to be sent back to rescue Dr. Newman. After breaking Dr. Newman out of the cabin, they send a message requesting immediate, emergency assistance, but they are both captured and locked back in the same cabin. After the iceberg is struck, the captain comes to them to find out what happens next. They are released to help with the evacuation, but are thrown overboard during the shaking that accompanies the sinking. To avoid certain death, the team in charge of Project Tic-Toc shifts them to another time. Senator Clark promises that no action regarding funding of the Time Tunnel will be taken until Newman and Phillips are either safely returned or beyond all possible help. Production Note: There is a continuity error involving Tic-Toc Security's handling of Senator Clark's luggage.
One Way To The Moon September 16, 1966 1978 MEM rocketship 2
The two time travelers arrive on a rocket ship forty seconds before lift-off. The ship is the first manned mission to Mars, but their extra weight leaves the ship without enough fuel to make the trip. The shipboard radio has also been damaged, so rather than turn around, the captain decides to pick up extra fuel at a fuel depot on the moon built for just this contingency. But there is also a saboteur aboard. Production Note: On the surface of the moon the saboteur tells Doug to not touch the intercom. Still he manages to talk to him though he would need the intercom to make himself heard as vacuum does not allow sound to travel.
End Of The World September 23, 1966 May 21, 1910 Emperor Mine 3
During the 1910 pass of Halley's Comet, the two time travelers arrive inside of a mine just before a cave-in. Dr. Newman is stuck behind the cave-in. After unsuccessfully trying to convince people to help him, Dr. Phillips digs Dr. Newman out. They then have to convince the locals that the comet will not impact, that it is not the End Of the World, so that they will help them dig out the miners.
The Day The Sky Fell In September 30, 1966 December 6, 1941 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii 4
The time travelers arrive inside of the Japanese consulate in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on the day before the Attack on Pearl Harbor. They leave the embassy, but are followed. The young Anthony Newman was living in Honolulu at the time, but Dr. Newman has no memory of what happened that day except that his father was never seen again. When they try to warn the American military of the impending attack, they are questioned as to how they came upon this information. Dr. Newman also discovers that his younger self is staying overnight at a friend's house, a house that will be destroyed by the bombing. The travelers must save the young Anthony Newman, find out what happened to his father and avoid the Japanese who are now trying to kill them.
The Last Patrol October 7, 1966 January 6, 1815 near New Orleans, Louisiana 5
The time travelers arrive in Louisiana the day before the final battle of the War of 1812. They are taken prisoner by the British troops, court martialed as spies and sentenced to be shot at dawn. A British general, General Southall, played by Carroll O'Connor, is brought to the time tunnel so that the team can establish the location of their scientists. Recognizing his ancestor, Colonel Southall, and confessing that he does not have long to live anyway, General Southall insists on going back to order his ancestor, also played by Carroll O'Connor, to release the two scientists and to find out why he led his troops into the strong point of the opposing army, resulting in their deaths.
Note: This episode said that the battle occurred on January 7; it actually occurred on January 8.
Crack Of Doom October 14, 1966 August 27, 1883 Krakatoa in Sunda Strait, Indonesia 6
The time travelers arrive on the island of Krakatoa the day of its eruption. They have only a few hours to convince the scientists, with their native guides, to leave the island before it blows up; the biggest explosion in recorded history.
Revenge Of The Gods October 21, 1966 April 23, 1184 BC Near Troy in Turkey 7
The time travelers arrive near the city of Troy after the tenth year of the siege by the Achaeans (Mycenaean Greeks). (See Trojan War.)
Massacre October 28, 1966 June 23, 1876 Big Horn County, Montana 8
The time travelers arrive a few days before the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Dr. Newman is captured by the Indians and taken to their camp. Dr. Phillips is found by a young courier and goes with him to the camp of the 7th Cavalry. Dr. Phillips tries to convince Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer to rescue Dr. Newman, which Custer will not do. Failing that, Dr. Phillips tries to convince Custer that his regiment will be totally wiped out so he should not go to battle. Custer has him arrested to prevent him from telling this to the rest of the troops. Meanwhile, the Indians threaten to execute Dr. Newman, but for his bravery in facing this, he is adopted by Sitting Bull. Dr. Newman convinces Sitting Bull to not attack the soldiers but to talk peace. Dr. Newman is sent to convey the message of peace to Custer. Custer has Dr. Newman arrested, but Dr. Phillips has already escaped. Sitting Bull remains in his tent for the duration of the battle, waiting for Custer to come talk peace.
Devil's Island November 11, 1966 March 14, 1895 Devil's Island 9
The time travelers arrive on the French penal colony of Devil's Island just as new prisoners arrive. They are mistaken for two of the prisoners who have escaped and are imprisoned in their stead. The other prisoners are not interested in escape until, a few days later, Captain Alfred Dreyfus arrives on the island. (See the Dreyfus Affair.)
Reign Of Terror November 18, 1966 October 8, 1793 Paris, France 10
The time travelers arrive in Paris, France during the French Revolution. A shopkeeper offers to help them get out of the city if they will help him to get to Marie Antoinette, in an attempt to free her. Instead, they end up helping the Dauphin, Louis XVII, to escape. In this effort, they end up meeting a young artillery lieutenant by the name of Napoléon Bonaparte. Note: This episode said that Marie Antoinette was executed shortly after noon on October 15; the execution actually took place on October 16.
Secret Weapon November 25, 1966 June 16, 1956 Southeastern Europe 11
A general in The Pentagon takes advantage of them arriving at the right time and location to send them on a spy mission. They are sent a message to meet a contact who will get them in to a secret, Soviet project, A-13. A-13 turns out to be a project very similar to Project Tic-Toc, but it is not quite functioning. Also, the chief scientist of that project is currently (in 1968) defecting to the United States. The two time travelers pose as scientists and return valuable information on the project and the defector.
The Death Trap December 2, 1966 February 22, 1861 Baltimore, Maryland 12
The two time travelers arrive in a barn while a meeting is occurring of people conspiring to kill Abraham Lincoln on the day before he is attempted to be assassinated, before he has even begun his Presidency, in 1861. These followers of John Brown are hoping to make it look like southern secessionists had done it, thereby sparking a war with the South and resulting in an end to slavery.
The Alamo December 9, 1966 March 6, 1836 Alamo Mission in San Antonio, Texas 13
The two time travelers arrive just outside of the Alamo Mission on the final day of the siege. Knowing that the defenders are doomed, they attempt to convince the commander to have the men abandon the fort or at least evacuate the wounded.
The Night Of The Long Knives December 16, 1966 mid May, 1886 Northern India, near the border of Afghanistan 14
The two time travelers arrive in a desert in India just outside of Afghanistan (now Pakistan) and Dr. Phillips is almost immediately captured by Afghanistan rebels. Dr. Newman was shot and presumed dead, but is found by Rudyard Kipling and taken to the local British fort. Rebellion against the British occupiers is rising, and the local commander has been ordered to not attack the rebels. But one of the scientists has escaped and must convince the British to attack the rebels, freeing Dr. Phillips and stopping the Night Of The Long Knives, the signal to begin the general uprising.
Invasion December 23, 1966 June 4, 1944 Cherbourg, France 15
Two nights before the D-Day invasion of Europe, the two time travelers arrive in Cherbourg. The two are almost immediately taken captive by the local Gestapo. Dr. Phillips is taken to be brainwashed while Dr. Newman is allowed to escape so that he can be followed.
The Revenge Of Robin Hood December 30, 1966 June 14, 1215 King John's Castle in Runnymede, England 16
The Earl of Huntington, formerly Robin Hood, is petitioning King John to sign the Magna Carta, or the barons (who have raised armies) will overthrow the king. Dr. Phillips has arrived just outside of the throne room and overhears the end of the conversation. When King John orders his men to arrest the Earl of Huntington, Huntington puts up a valiant fight (with swordplay) but is apprehended when he runs into Dr. Phillips on his way out. They are questioned by the king as to where the barons are meeting, but when they don't give up the information, they are taken to the dungeon to be tortured for the information. Dr. Newman had arrived earlier in the dungeon, and when the time is right, he overcomes the guards and frees the two prisoners. The two time travelers escape first, but Huntington is recaptured on his way out. On their way to warn the barons, the two travelers are caught by the Merry Men. After escaping the king's men, rescuing the Earl of Huntington and kidnapping the king, the episode ends with King John reluctantly signing the Magna Carta.
Kill Two By Two January 6, 1967 February 17, 1945 Minami Iwo 17
The two time travelers arrive on the island of Minami Iwo, one of two islands off the coast of Iwo Jima, two days before the Battle of Iwo Jima. They manage to overpower the observer left on the island to radio the position of the U.S. Navy ships but are captured themselves when a Lieutenant Nakamura surprises them. Instead of imprisoning them or killing them, he offers them an opportunity to capture or kill the Japanese soldiers. Nakamura gives them a one-hour head start but no weapons. Dr. Newman has a badly sprained ankle, so Dr. Phillips sneaks back and manages to take five grenades from the supply room. The two sides play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, but Lieutenant Nakamura seems strangely suicidal.
Visitors From Beyond The Stars January 13, 1967 1885 In space above Mullins, Arizona 18
The time travelers arrive on an alien spacecraft in space above the Americas. Two aliens soon appear, pull a gun, and force the travelers into an area that translates between their different languages. The aliens tell the two travelers that they are going to take all of the protein (food) from Earth and that there will be no life left when they leave, just as they have done with other planets. The aliens also tell them that there are three kinds of people: those who cooperate, those who can be made to cooperate and those whom they must kill. "Resistance is impossible," they say. The aliens (from Alpha 1) land their ship at a farm near Mullins, Arizona (approximately 112°W 34°N). Their first objective is to take over the farm house, which they do. Their second objective is to take over the town, which they almost succeed in doing. Dr. Phillips has been made cooperative by the aliens. Dr. Newman has to get help from the sheriff and the bar owner in order for his plan to take the aliens' control unit away from them to succeed. Meanwhile, two of the same species of aliens (who no longer need to raid planets for food) appears in the Time Tunnel control room and demand that they prove that they didn't destroy the ship or face the destruction of the Earth. After they are shown an image of the ship leaving Earth safely, the aliens leave.
The Ghost Of Nero January 20, 1967 October 23, 1915 Villa Galba, Northern Italy 19
The travelers arrive outside of the Villa Galba during World War I, and enter the cellar to avoid am artillery bombardment. A German advance team has just arrived at the villa (an error: Germany wasn't at war with Italy in 1915; therefore, the soldiers should have been Austro-Hungarians). A German corporal is mysteriously stabbed to death while investigating a crypt marked Nero, which was exposed by a bomb. Fearing that the Germans will think they did it, the travellers hide and accidentally find a secret passage to the upper floors of the estate, where the owner, an Italian count named Galba–who is descended from Roman emperor Galba–offers to protect them from the Germans. When the Germans arrive at the room, Galba tells the Germans that the two travelers are neutral American guests of his. The German major orders them to stay in the room as prisoners while the Germans use the villa to observe the movements of Italian forces. A German officer is possessed by the ghost of Nero and tries to kill the descendant of Galba, whom Nero blames as his assassin. The ghost also tries to kill the nobleman by possessing Tony. Project HQ utilizes the services of a paranormal researcher, who suggests zapping Tony with electricity through the Tunnel to force the ghost out. This nearly kills Tony, so HQ attempts to bring him back to the present. Nero is transported instead, and almost destroys HQ before the scientists can send him back. When the Italian army retakes the Villa, the ghost of Nero enters a young Italian Corporal by the name of Benito Mussolini, who vows to drive the Huns from his country and restore the glory of the Caesars. The travellers are transported to a new era at this point.
The Walls Of Jericho January 27, 1967 1550 BC Near Jericho in Israel 20
The travelers arrive outside of the tent of Joshua during the night, two days before the end of the Israelite siege of Jericho. Joshua comes to believe they are who they say they are–time travellers–and sends them to spy inside the city. Doug and Tony save a young virgin from being sacrificed to the Levantine deity Chemosh by the high priest of Jericho. Tony is captured and sent to the dungeon to be tortured as an Israelite spy. Doug escapes into a house with an unlocked door. When the resident arrives, he calls her (Rahab) because, from the Biblical account, she is the one who sheltered the two Israelite spies. (Rahab is the sister of the almost-sacrificed virgin.)

After Tony rescues Doug from the dungeon, they take refuge on the roof of Rahab's house, but are betrayed by her servant lady, who desires the reward of 1,000 talents of silver. Doug escapes to tell Joshua the information that he seeks. Tony and Rahab are about to be stoned to death, but when the Israelites complete their march, blow their trumpets and shout, the walls of the city fall down as what appears to be a tornado traces the destruction. Ann, a skeptic, decides that since a tornado is a natural phenomenon, that the fall of the walls was not a supernatural event, while Ray is convinced it was supernatural (perhaps because tornadoes are not known to strike in the Holy Lands). The travellers are transported to a new era after telling Rahab she'll be safe.

Idol Of Death February 3, 1967 October 1, 1519 near Veracruz, Mexico 21
Hernán Cortés (played by Anthony Caruso) has captured the royal family of the Tlaxcalan people of Mexico and is questioning them about the location of a golden mask, the symbol of ruling authority to these Indians. Doug and Tony arrive before the torture begins and are captured trying to save the royals. Once Cortés gets the information he wants, he kills the king and queen but keeps the timid royal heir alive for the moment. While Cortés is away watching the burning of his ships to prevent the rebellion of his troops, a member of the tribe frees the royal heir and the two travelers. The four of them try to retrieve the mask before the Spaniards gain it.

Project HQ, meanwhile, has enlisted the aid of a Mexican named Castillano to help pinpoint the travellers' location in Veracruz in order to bring the two scientists back. It turns out, however, that Castillano is more concerned with acquiring the mask for himself. He insists that the project team bring back the mask before their colleagues. When HQ transports the mask, Doug, Tony and the young chief are in the cave containing the mask, being forced by a Spanish captain to collect the gold gifted to the pagan god. The transport of the mask threatens to collapse the cave, so the team tries to send it back, but Castillano grabs the mask and threatens to shoot anyone in his way. A short gun battle breaks out in HQ and the mask is successfully sent back. The time disturbances, however, cause the cave to collapse onto the greedy captain. The young chief, now confident in his ability to lead his people, saves the mask while Doug and Tony are transported to a new era.

Billy The Kid February 10, 1967 April 23, 1881 Lincoln, New Mexico 22
The travelers arrive in Lincoln, territory of New Mexico, but a gang on horses chases them into the sheriff's office. The gang then kills the deputy who is guarding Billy the Kid. The young outlaw plans to shoot the travellers, but Doug manages to shoot Billy. The scientists then escape out of town. Billy, whose belt buckle deflected the bullet, pursues them and catches them in an abandoned shack outside of town. Before Doug and Tony can be shot, Lt. General Heywood Kirk sends an audio transmission to the room stating that Billy is surrounded by law enforcement. The travellers then overpower Billy and tie him up. Tony goes back to town to get help from the sheriff, but is mistaken for the Kid and arrested. When sheriff Pat Garrett arrives back in town he verifies that Dr. Newman is not Billy the Kid, but the townspeople are convinced that he is and besiege the sheriff's office. Garrett sends out a deputy to start a cattle stampede to disrupt the lynch mob, allowing Garrett and Tony to escape the jail and return to the shack to arrest Billy. Billy, however, has been rescued by his gang. Doug evaded them and headed for town. When he arrives back in town, he finds Billy waiting for him. Billy demands a showdown in the streets, but Garrett and Doug arrive and save him. Garrett arrests Billy and his cohort, and the travellers are transported to a new era. Note: Billy the Kid was killed on July 14, not July 23.
Pirates Of Deadman's Island February 17, 1967 April 9, 1805 A ship near the Barbary Coast in the Mediterranean Sea 23
The travellers arrive on a pirate ship during the First Barbary War and are captured and taken to an island. Captain Beal, a Barbary pirate, orders that the strangers be shot. However, the nephew of the king of Spain, Armando, was also captured and pleads for the lives of the Americans, saying the travellers can watch over him until a ransom can be paid. Doug, Tony and the boy attempt several escapes, but are recaptured each time. Beal then decides to kill Doug and Tony for good, but the shelling from several U.S. Navy ships–commanded by Captain Stephen Decatur, who has arrived to defeat the pirates in the First Barbary War–puts an end to the pirates' plans. The pirates head for their ship to engage in battle. Tony is hit by a shot on the beach is and presumed dead. The pirates take Armando and Doug onto their ship during the battle. Tony recovers and swims out to the U. S. flagship.

The Time Tunnel personnel accidentally transfer Captain Beal back to HQ, and he causes a ruckus and kidnaps Ann. She persuades him to go back to his ship, where he is intentionally killed by one of his own crew. HQ then transfers Armando and Doug back to the island before the pirate ship is destroyed. They then transfer first Armando and then Doug to Captain Decatur's ship to save them from the shelling. Both Doug and Armando are seriously wounded, however, and it is feared they may both die. The newly retired Time Tunnel staff doctor, Dr. Benjamin Berkhart, insists on going back to save their lives and help the wounded American sailors. Dr. Berkhart arrives and treats Doug's shock with an injection and administers an anesthetic to Armando. Happy knowing he will live out the remainder of his life in this time period, Dr. Berkhart goes to look after the wounded sailors as the travellers are transported to a new era. Note: This is the last episode to have the opening narration.

Chase Through Time 24 February 1967 Various Dates Various Areas 24
The travellers arrive near the Grand Canyon, Arizona, in 1547. Meanwhile, back at HQ, Raul Niman (Robert Duvall) is a spy for an unspecified country or organization. Now that his mission is over, he has planted a nuclear bomb somewhere in the complex, and the timer has been placed in the Time Tunnel control room. In order to place the timer, he killed the person monitoring the time tunnel just before a security check. No other avenue of escape is left, so he jumps into the Time Tunnel. The Tunnel had been tuned to the location of Doug and Tony, so Niman arrives near the Grand Canyon at the same time. The two travellers are told that they must apprehend Niman and get him to tell them the location of the bomb. But the lock on the time period drifts and moves Niman to another time, so the two travellers are sent after him.

They arrive in the year 1,000,000 A.D., ten years after Niman has arrived. Niman is helping the inhabitants of this future age to build a time machine so that the 'masters' can spread their "ultimate human society"–actually a repressive, orderly society based on bee society–throughout different ages. The two travellers are pressed into service to help him build the time machine, but the Time Tunnel personnel are able to move them–along with Niman–before they can come to trouble. However, two people from that time are accidentally moved as well: Niman's guard Vokar (Lew Gallo) and a sympathetic female worker named Zee (Vitina Marcus). All five of them arrive in 1,000,000 B.C. and the chase continues until they all fall into a cell in a giant beehive. Niman is reminded that if the Time Tunnel is blown up, they will all be stuck here. Niman tells them where the timer is located and it is disabled. But the Time Tunnel can only transfer two people at a time; Doug and Tony are moved first, and then the two from the future are moved. The Tunnel can't do anymore moves at this time, so Niman is apparently left to face angry giant prehistoric bees.

The Death Merchant March 3, 1967 July 2, 1863 Adams County, Pennsylvania 25
The two travellers arrive in the middle of the Battle of Gettysburg of the American Civil War, where Dr. Tony Newman is quickly killed by an artillery blast. Dr. Doug Phillips retreats from the battlefield with a small group of Union soldiers, whose commander tells him to put on a Union uniform to avoid getting shot. The Time Tunnel personnel send a shock through time to revive Tony and he is found by a small group of Confederate soldiers. Suffering from amnesia, he becomes convinced he is the lieutenant whom the Confederate soldiers were expecting and dons a Confederate uniform. The Union soldiers had intercepted the courier so they know that a man named Michaels, who has stolen some gunpowder from the Union army, is going to sell it to the Confederate army. Both sides are attempting to find Michaels first and get the gunpowder.

Mr. Michaels is actually the early-16th century philosopher Machiavelli (played by Malachi Throne), who has been moved to this period by the Tunnel due to similarities with Doug's "pattern". When the Confederates show up, Machiavelli is willing to give them the gunpowder because the war is much more interesting when the sides are evenly matched. Tony takes Doug prisoner. Tony, Doug and Machiavelli eventually make their way to the cave where the gunpowder is stored. Tony and Doug fight, which results in Tony regaining his identity after being knocked out by Doug. The Time Tunnel transfers Machiavelli back to his own time (January 3, 1519,) and then moves the two travellers to a new era.

Note: In this episode, Machiavelli says that he is working on his book, The Art of War. This should not be confused with the book by Sun Tzu, which bears the same title when translated into English.

Attack Of The Barbarians March 10, 1967 1287 East Asia 26
Tony and Doug–wearing their usual attire despite having left the previous era in soldiers' uniforms–arrive somewhere in Mongolia or North China and are captured by Mongols and taken to the tent of Batu Khan (Arthur Batanides). Batu–a grandson of Genghis Khan–feels he is the rightful heir of Genghis, but he has to overcome Kublai Khan. Doug is thought to be dead, so Tony is tortured on the rack for information on the weaknesses of the nearby enemy fortress. Batu and most of his guards leave once Doug passes out. Tony wakes up and carries Doug away from the camp, where they are found by Marco Polo (John Saxon). The travellers seek safety in the fortress, where Tony falls in love with Princess Sarit (Vitina Marcus), the only daughter of Kublai Khan. Batu comes up with a plan to kidnap Sarit and marry her, thereby uniting the various Mongol tribes behind him in his quest.

Batu's men succeed in kidnapping Sarit, but she is freed by Doug and Tony. Batu's forces then launch a massive assault on the fortress. Doug and Tony are able to make artillery shells by mixing gunpowder and potassium nitrate in empty water jugs. General Kirk is able to send back igniters to make the bombs successful. The tide is turned in the battle, and the travellers are transported to a new era.

Merlin The Magician March 17, 1967 544 Cornwall, England 27
Merlin the magician appears in Time Tunnel HQ and freezes the personnel. He then brings the two travellers out of their "time limbo" (between destinations) back to the Time Tunnel control room in suspended animation so that he can instruct them to do what he asks, though they may die in the effort. He then sends them to Cornwall in the year 544. There, they fight off a band of Vikings and encounter a young man named Arthur Pendragon whose father has been killed by the Viking raiders. Merlin appears and orders the travellers to protect Arthur at all costs. A band of Vikings then attack and Doug is felled by a sword while Tony and Arthur are captured. Merlin prevents the Time Tunnel crew from moving the two travelers out of this time, going so far as to injure Dr. Raymond Swain with an electric shock.

When Doug awakes, he is in the castle of King Leodegrance of Cameliard and is being cared for by the king's daughter, Guinevere (Lisa Jak). Merlin heals Doug and has Guinevere fetch the doctor new clothes. Tony escapes from his bonds and frees Arthur, but they are later recaptured. Doug goes to look for weaknesses in the Viking-held castle, and he and Guinevere, who followed Doug, are captured as well. Guinevere is imprisoned in a room by the Viking chieftain Wogan (Vincent Beck). Arthur, Doug and Tony are imprisoned in a cell. Merlin frees them from their bonds, but tells them that they must free themselves from the locked room, since there is a limit to how much magic he can perform at a time. Doug and Tony blow the door of the cell off by improvising a pressure cooker from water, a pot and two thumb screws. Doug gathers Leodegrance's troops and brings them back to fight, but Merlin says that the vikings will not be frightened by these "gentlemen knights," so he changes their clothing to that of vikings, which is the last way Merlin can help them in this venture. The knights storm the castle and drive the vikings out while Tony kills Wogan in a sword fight. Arthur declares he will make Doug and Tony his first knights, but they are transferred by the Tunnel.

The Kidnappers March 24, 1967 8433 Planet orbiting Canopus 28
An alien appears in the Time Tunnel control room and kidnaps Dr. Ann McGregor. After the kidnapping, a punch card is discovered that has a set of time and space coordinates. The two travelers are directed to those coordinates. When they arrive, they find out that the aliens wanted them, as the first time travelers on Earth, and Dr. McGregor was just the bait to get them here. Rather than submit, they decide to fight against having all of their knowledge drained, leaving their bodies as empty shells. Several attempt fails, but they finally succeed when they discover that the aliens have a significant vulnerability: they derive their energy directly from the light of their sun and so they are inactive at night.

Note: This episode gives the distance to Canopus as 98 light years when it is actually 310 ± 20 light years.

Raiders From Outer Space March 31, 1967 November 2, 1883 Near Khartoum, Sudan 29
The two travelers arrive in the middle of the Battle of Khartoum between British and Arab forces in the Sudan. This chapter is loosely based on the campaign of General Gordon. In their efforts to hide from the battling armies, they encounter two aliens who take them prisoner. The alien leader (from Aristos) then contacts the Time Tunnel control center and tells them not to interfere. Rather than kill them, the aliens are ordered by their leader to bring the two travelers back to their base. After explaining their plan to conquer Earth, the aliens order Dr. Newman to be taken out in the desert and killed with a dehydration ray while Dr. Phillips will be put in a machine to extract all of his knowledge. But the alien ordered to kill Dr. Newman leaves when they are encountered by two British soldiers. Dr. Newman is thought to be an Arab spy, so he leads them to the alien base where one of the soldiers is killed. The Time Tunnel is also able to move Dr. Phillips out of the alien machine to where Dr. Newman is. But in response, the aliens send a bomb in to the Time Tunnel control room that will explode in sixty minutes unless all personnel are evacuated to the upper levels of the complex.

Unable to attack the aliens effectively with the resources they have on hand, the two travelers and the British soldier return to Khartoum. There, they acquire grenades and gunpowder. When they return to the alien base, they attack it successfully enough to enter, but have insufficient resources left to destroy it. However, just before the bomb explodes in the Time Tunnel control room, they use the Time Tunnel to transfer the bomb to the alien base thereby destroying it. Note:The Battle of Khartoum was fought in 1884-1885.

Town Of Terror April 7, 1967 September 10, 1978 Cliffport, Maine 30
The travelers arrive in a cellar containing sophisticated equipment. When they get to the lobby of the hotel, the proprietor tells them that there is no cellar. When they attempt to show her, she immobilizes them. The Time Tunnel is able to move them, freeing them from their immobilization. They flee and are pursued. A force field around the town prevents their escape, but two young people, Joan and Pete, soon encounter them. The travelers find out that the townspeople have been immobilized and aliens are using the forms of the townspeople to appear as humans. The aliens are almost ready to begin transporting all of the oxygen from Earth's atmosphere to their home planet. The travelers ask where they can get some dynamite and Joan and Pete tell them. The travelers use these explosives to destroy the alien control room, destroying their ability to remove Earth's oxygen and freeing all of the townspeople. In the last shift they end up back on the Titanic.

Movies excerpted

Novel versions

Prolific science fiction author Murray Leinster had published a 1964 Pyramid Books novel titled Time Tunnel with cover art somewhat similar to the television series' Tunnel., although the actual plots were quite different — the 1964 novel was set in France, the tunnel was built by a professor, and it only established a fixed connection between 1964 and Napoleonic era 1804.

In any case, in 1967 Leinster wrote a loosely based novelization of the television series, entitled The Time Tunnel and also published by Pyramid. This was followed later in the year by Leinster's TIMESLIP! Time Tunnel Adventure #2.

After the original run

In 1967, a feature length film, Aliens from Another Planet, was produced using a compilation of three of the TV episodes.

Despite the series having only been on the air for one year, the number of websites and fan reminiscences concerning it attest to the series having made an impression on its audience.

The series was re-shown on American television in the early-mid 1990s, and it was re-shown on British television after the success of the 1997 Titanic movie due to the Titanic-related content of the first episode. It was also parodied by Alexei Sayle as Drunk in Time on British television. In the U.S., it can now be seen on the Encore Action cable network at various times.

The first 15 episodes were released on DVD in North America on January 24, 2006. The second volume, containing the final fifteen episodes, was released June 6, 2006. It also includes the unaired 2002 pilot and the made-for-TV film The Time Travelers as special features.

The Time Tunnel is being shown on the American Life cable channel, as of September, 2007.


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

2002 Remake

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. Executive Producers were Kevin Burns and Jon Jashni. Sheila Allen was credited as one of the producers. It was not picked by Fox, in order to make room in its schedule for Joss Whedon's Firefly.

The new series had a much much darker, serious tone. Doug Phillips (David Conrad) is the main character, and Tony Newman is now Toni Newman, a female minor character. The unaired pilot episode is available on DVD from Fox Home Entertainment on The Time Tunnel: Volume Two, Disc Four.

In this remake, the (21st century) Time Tunnel is a Department of Energy research project into "hot fusion", which produces nearly limitless energy. When they initiated the reactor (an event not shown in the episode), it caused an unintended "time storm". For four hours—240 minutes—the time storm was uncontrollably whipping around in the past and changing 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 Phillips has been recruited because he has a detailed knowledge of the Battle of Hürtgen Forest. The head of the Time Tunnel likens their team to FEMA, in that 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 amount of time in which to fix what is wrong and to be retrieved by the Time Tunnel.

The team (Doug, Toni, Flynn, J.D. and Wix) must go back to WWII in 1944, to the Battle of Hürtgen Forest in Germany. They are to retrieve a person who was moved there by the time storm from 1546. During the mission, Doug Phillips meets his grandfather, a soldier who will be killed in this battle. Doug knows this, but cannot tell him and save his life because it would change history. Toni Newman tells him that she used to have three brothers and two sisters before the time storm accident, but is now an only child. They find out that the displaced person is a (very confused) medieval monk who is carrying bubonic plague. A number of the team have to pretend that they are Germans and switch uniforms. Two of them say they are Colonel Klink and (Sergeant) Schultz. 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 that Phillips was a bitter man before the "240", but he now has a family. Flynn told Phillips this information to give him incentive to keep the timeline the way that it is.

Reality changes due to the time storm

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 USA. The title sequence shows New Jersey disappearing and the territory being divided between New York and Pennsylvania.
  • The title sequence shows the USSR winning the race to the moon as the American flag dissolves into the Soviet flag.
  • The New York Yankees are now the Boston Yankees.

2006 Remake

The SciFi Channel (a US cable network) announced in 2005 that it was going to 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 materialized.


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