Thursday, August 5, 2010
Time Tunnel - Rendezvous With Yesterday (1966)
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, United States Senator Leroy Clark (Gary Merrill) launches an investigation of the project. The Senator thinks 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 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. A 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 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, carrying a newspaper describing the sinking to occur. Unconvinced, the captain of the Titanic throws the newspaper overboard. However, the system was still being developed and the tunnel operations staff are 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 already changed it. 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. It was in some ways a forerunner to later TV series such as Quantum Leap, Stargate SG1, and Sliders; although one of these did not directly deal with time travel on a weekly basis, it employs time travel episodes and concepts. 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 large secret panel; when it opened a car could quickly go through the entrance. Once the panel closed all anyone 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.
Project Tic-Toc shifts the travellers to another time to keep them from dying in the icy waters. Tony arrives outside of Tic-Toc headquarters in 1958, where no one knows him. He is shifted to save him from being shot by security. 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. Tony and Doug are shown reunited in a compartment of a manned rocket that is about to launch.
TIME TUNNEL - RENDEZVOUS WITH YESTERDAY
IRWIN ALLEN (1966)
20TH CENTURY FOX