Time Tunnel: The Complete Series (DVD) Review
Falling through time in style holding a boxset with more extras than could possibly be imagined in this day and age.
Filmed and taking place in the 1960s, The Time Tunnel is a sci-fi television series that represents the best of the genre even though it only ran for a single incredibly long season (by today’s standards) of thirty episodes.
Underground in a huge top secret facility, American scientists are putting the finishing touches on a machine that makes time travel possible. At the last moment, their funding is pulled and one of the lead scientists Dr. Tony Newman (James Darren, known to Star Trek: DS9 audiences as lounge singer Vic Fontaine) decides to take matters into his own hands and prove the device works. Without authorization he runs into The Time Tunnel and leaps into the past arriving on the Titantic just hours before the disaster. With no proof of where he came from or what he knows he tries to warn those aboard of the impending doom.
Fellow scientist Dr. Doug Phillips (Robert Colbert) follows in pursuit, back to the Titanic to save Tony’s life. Without the knowledge needed to bring them back to the present those sitting back in the present have no choice but to throw them from one random destination in time to another in the hopes they will someday be able to return home. That’s just the pilot.
The Time Tunnel has had many followers of the same basic principals. 1990s Sliders for example used the randomly thrown between dimensions idea successfully for years, but Time Tunnel is the show that perfected the principle in the first place. From The Alamo to the Siege of Troy, Doug and Tony meet historical groups and battle for their own survival all while being observed through the tunnel on a giant screen by the other scientists back in Arizona. Occasionally able to receive items for supply, essentially they are on their own and unable to communicate both ways.
This Time Tunnel DVD release stands as a beacon to how a TV series should be released in box set form. With so many current shows having bare bones releases with little to no extras this set is filled with content. Nine discs with thirty episodes of the show, the original unaired version of the pilot added with the aired version, a TV movie from the early 70′s with a similar plot and the pilot for the Fox 2002 unaired series are all here and so much more. Given the age of the material it’s a welcome pleasure to have such a huge amount of bonus features found from the time the show was made. The full list of extras includes:
Unaired Pilot Episode (Original Version): The original version of the pilot also included.
2002 Unaired TV Pilot: The FOX TV pilot that never made it to air.
Time Travelers TV Movie: Another Irvin Allen production about a doctor that must travel to the past to find a lost cure to a re-emerging contageon.
‘Coming Up’ Montage: Around 2 mins per, over 1 hour 15 mins long the end of episode next next adventure teasers played back to back in their US broadcast order.
Cast Interviews: 4 to 11 minutes each. Recently conducted with all the major cast members Whit Bissell, Robert Colbert, James Darren and Lee Meriwether.
Irwin Allen’s Behind-The-Scenes Home Movies – UK Edit (No Audio): 50 minutes of personal handheld footage showing the filming of just about every single scene in the pilot episode.
Promotional TV & Radio Spots: Network aired trailers, radio announcements and a syndicated TV promo all from the era.
Visual Effects Camera Test (No Audio): 2 minutes long showing the practical effects of the tunnel itself being tested.
Stills Galleries: Concept art, production stills, comic-book gallery, storyboards and merchandise images.
Original US Broadcast Information: A multi-screen spreadsheet showing airdates, episode names, numbers and their real orders.
Genre fans would be curious to know that if The Time Tunnel’s unaired 2002 Fox pilot here was picked up chances are there wouldn’t be a SHIELD series premiering this month. Why? The 2002 pilot was made in direct competition for a single airing spot with Joss Whedon’s Firefly which, when made, gave even more genre kudos to the Buffy creator who then went on to write The Avengers. For a time travel show this makes for a great real world example of the domino effect.
The sheer amount of extras should be enough to convince anyone Time Tunnel: The Complete Series – Limited Edition Collector’s Set works as a perfect single, all encompassing gift item. As a fun little extra, the outside square hard cardboard box even has a detachable holographic cover of the logo with the two silhouettes spinning around that fits in perfectly with the series. For the insides the plastic case that holds all the discs together is very unique in it’s design and would stand out to anyone even with a large pre-existing collection. The left and right sides are completely rounded making for an easy grip and quite the impression.
It’s incredibly hard to find a downside with this release. Even the long wait for the show’s arrival on DVD in Europe has been countered by the staggering amount of content this release includes. Not just all thirty episodes of the show, but items like making of footage from when the show was made and unaired pilots are like gold dust to true fans, so not being forced to double dip in some manner is a true surprise- and a welcome one at that.
The episodes of Time Tunnel have aged incredibly well. Star Trek: TOS fans would feel right at home watching these and any fan of the genre should have this in their library as soon as possible. Criminally overlooked at the moment and rarely re-shown on television, The Time Tunnel is filled with action, suspense and science fiction with an extras collection that isn’t easily beaten.
A well earned score.