Friday, July 6, 2012

The Time Tunnel: Proposed Second Season Television Series

James Darren and Robert Colbert, stars of The Time Tunnel.
“We were doing our last or next-to-last Season One episode, we were about to go on hiatus, and Irwin telephoned me on the set,” recalled actor James Darren. “Like I said, we had a pretty special relationship. I don’t think he and Bob did, to be honest with you, not that it meant anything, but Irwin and I just got on well. And so he called me on the set and told me that Time Tunnel had been picked up for another season. And he said, ‘You can tell Bob and whoever else you wanna tell.’ I was thrilled. I told Colbert, I said, ‘Irwin just called me and told me that we were picked up’ and blah, blah, blah. But then later, [it was announced that] Time Tunnel was being taken off the air.”

In late June 1967, tabloids began reporting on television actors with an itch to get involved on a larger scale. Robert Vaughn, for example, had a hankering to direct an episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. for the up-coming season, while James Darren (according to a news blurb in TV Guide and Tom McIntyre of the Weekend TV Editor) wrote a plot synopsis for a second season episode, centering on Doug and Tony’s encounter with Jack the Ripper.

The Lodger movie poster
“As I think about it, I may have suggested that to Irwin, but I really can’t swear to it,” recalled Darren. “I didn’t write a script because I don’t consider myself a writer. It might have been just something that I talked about to him about, because that was a fascinating thing, the story of Jack the Ripper. I saw the original Laird Cregar movie [The Lodger, 1944], I saw the Jack Palance movie [Man in the Attic, 1953], and even though in a sense it’s kind of sick to find him fascinating, because he was a horrible person, it is an interesting story.”

“Had The Time Tunnel gone a second season, the possibilities would have been expanded,” Darren added. “We could have gone into a parallel world. We could have bumped into ourselves from another travel. The possibilities were limitless. Writers often run out of ideas but with Time Tunnel, we would have still come up with ideas.”

“I believe, had the series ran longer, by the third season there would have been more control over where we would have gone and we probably would have been in contact with the Time Tunnel [personnel] more often,” remarked Robert Colbert. “There probably would have been a couple recurring characters, arch nemesis and maybe even meet up with other time travelers.”

In the September 9, 1967, issue of TV Guide, a letter to the editor from William Cook of Orange, California, expressed his disappointment over the summer reruns. Knowing the series was not going to be renewed for a second season, pondered why the producers did not chose to film a special closer for the final telecast. “Why can’t more television shows follow the fine example set by The Fugitive? Instead of just ending the season with another rerun, why couldn’t shows like The Time Tunnel film a special episode and save it for the end of the season with the scientists coming out of the tunnel?” The answer was simple. If the series had closure, the networks feared people would not tune in to watch the syndicated reruns.

Second Season Proposals
Over 30 plot proposals were drawn up for consideration for the second season, many involving far out plots including the destruction of the human race and major holocausts. The possibility of the stories becoming darker in nature (compared to the first season entries) is evident in the brief summaries reprinted below, reprinted from a custom made "pitch" book for Irwin Allen. Allen commissioned an artist to create original art to accompany the brief plot proposals, and I personally had the rare opportunity to hold this collectible gem in my hands for a short time and review the contents. There appears some evidence, however, that two "pitch" books were created and the second in a private collector's hands. That collector, however, has remained elusive when answering my e-mails. That said, what I am about to present are a few (not all) of the more intriguing plot summary proposals for the second season that was never put before the cameras.

Lost Civilization
Tony and Doug land in the primordial ooze of a prehistoric swamp out of which come charging antediluvian dinosaurs. Running from the threat, they are stunned when they come upon the ruins of metropolitan skyscrapers. In taking refuge here from the dinosaurs, they come upon a cultivated and cultured man and woman who are under attack by the retrogressive semi-humans of this degenerate era. The man and woman are also time travelers. They are from 10,000 A.D. Tony and Doug help these two sympathetic people escape from their attackers back into the future, and themselves escape back into the limbo of time.

Note: William Welch wrote the plot titled “Prehistoric Future” as a first season episode. Contracted on April 11, 1966, this was Welch’s first assignment for The Time Tunnel, pre-dating his other contributions to the series. This was the only teleplay written and not produced as a first-season entry. Re-titled “Lost Civilization,” it appears Irwin Allen planned to produce the teleplay as the premiere of the second season.

Atlantis (1961) movie poster
In the year 6,000 B.C., Tony and Doug are drowning in the black waters of the Atlantic. With the help of the staff back at the Time Tunnel Complex, they manage to reach the island shores of a fabulous civilization. Suspected of causing strange Earth movements, they are threatened with death but are saved by Tau and Rana, a young husband and wife. In return, Tony and Doug succeed in rescuing their benefactors from the awful fate which now overtakes Atlantis. The fabled civilization explodes in volcanic fury and sinks to the bottom of the sea.

Note: It was suggested that stock footage from George Pal’s Atlantis: The Lost Continent (1961) be used should this episode be put to film.

Inferno of Terror
In the year 2,150 A.D., Tony and Doug find themselves aboard an Alien earth-boring vehicle, plunging at nightmare speed toward the molten core of the Earth. In addition to the danger ahead, they face instant death from the Aliens aboard whose mission is to extract life-forces from our world. The scientists back at the Time Tunnel Complex vainly combat the Alien control under which the vehicle is operating, but it is Tony and Doug who finally succeed in defeating the Aliens and save the planet.

Hannibal (1959) movie poster
Tony and Doug, in a narrow Alpine defile in the year 216 B.C., are helplessly trapped in the path of a trumpeting charge of Hannibal’s armored elephants. They are about to be executed as spies sent by the Roman enemy. Advised by the Time Tunnel, Tony and Doug make an apparently miraculous military prediction to Hannibal. Because of both ego and curiosity, he allows them to prove their innocence and good will by infiltrating the Roman lines and rescuing Hannibal’s daughter, Genevre, from the brutal Roman General, Scipio. Tony and Doug accomplish the rescue during the climactic battle between Hannibal’s elephant troops and the Roman legions.

Note: The plot was no doubt conceived after reviewing stock footage from the 1959 motion picture Hannibal, starring Victor Mature, which Irwin Allen had access to courtesy of the Liber Film Company. In the movie, after making his historic crossing of the Alps with elephants transporting supplies and troops, Hannibal marches on Rome in a war of revenge. During his advance, he captures Sylvia, the niece of Roman Senator Fabius Maximus but, instead of holding her prisoner, he shows her his powerful army and herds of elephants, then sets her free. He is sure she will report what she has seen to his Roman enemies. Hannibal defeats the Romans at the battle of Trebbia and sends a message to Sylvia that he is marching on Rome. Sylvia succumbs to her love of Hannibal and the great war lord discovers that, in war, there can be no room for romance.

When Worlds Collide
Tony and Doug find themselves on a strange planet which is disintegrating all around them; great chunks of matter are being torn from its surface by the increasing, incredible magnetic attraction exerted by the approach of an immense fiery star which is steadily increasing in force. The surface of the planet splits in mile-deep fissures, mountains crack apart with their tops exploding off into space. Only the counter-magnetic force of the Time Tunnel, zeroed in on Tony and Doug, enable them to survive in order to rescue two astonishingly human-like inhabitants.

Original art from the Press Kit.
Return of the Ice Age
Tony and Doug find themselves a hundred years in the future in New York City which, together with the whole Temperate Zone, is in the deadly grip of a new Ice Age. A permutation of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun has resulted in immense icebergs crushing New York harbor from the sea, and in glaciers descending on the City from the North. The Time Tunnel’s computer system predicts that the glaciation has reached its maximum advance and within a few days will begin to recede. Tony and Doug, inside the City’s subway system, help the civic leaders fight off the attacks of roaming polar animals and to bring destructive panic under control so that the City can survive these last critical hours before the ice will begin to return to the North.

The Thing in the Web
Tony and Doug are thrown back in time to 100,000 B.C., landing amid the monstrous forms of prehistoric life in the Great American Desert. Captured by the aborigines and threatened with death, they will be spared if they can destroy the Thing in the Web, which is about to destroy the local tribe. Using the power of the Time Tunnel to distract the Thing, Tony and Doug manage to reach its underground lair, but then suddenly find themselves enmeshed by the gigantic, unbreakable metallic web spun by the spider-like creature.

Note: As a cost-cutting measure, it was proposed to reuse some of the webbing and giant spider props/footage for this episode as well as “The Weird World,” an episode of Land of the Giants put before the cameras early in the season.

Original art from the Press Kit.
Beast of Evil
In the year 3,000 B.C., Tony and Doug find themselves in Ancient Greece, their lives in jeopardy. They have been thrust into the public arena to face death by sacrifice to a monster – half-man, half-bull – on orders of a pagan High Priest who has reserved the same fate for Ariadne, the daughter of a political enemy. The Time Tunnel helps turn the tables on the pagan High Priest by enabling Tony and Doug to work a few miracles. Ultimately, they have to slay the monster in order to rescue Ariadne and themselves.

Plunge to the End of Time
In December of 1969, Tony and Doug are magnetically attracted aboard an immense space vehicle whose control room alone is as big as the Time Tunnel Complex. Commanding this strange vehicle from the Andromeda Galaxy is Marek, whose purpose is to penetrate creation to the end of time. Also captured by Marek are three other strange scientist-beings, each from other Star Systems, one from Wolf 359; and a woman from Lalande 21185. Tony and Doug win the confidence of these strange beings, and organize a mutiny against Marek. They succeed in turning the space vehicle around before it runs off the end of time, and in sending their fellow prisoners and themselves back home to safety.

Note: It remains unknown who wrote the plot synopsis for this story, but “Wolf 359” was an episode of The Outer Limits, based on a story by Richard Landau, who was also involved with story proposals for television’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

Moby Dick (1956) movie poster
Graveyard in the Sea
Tony and Doug discover themselves alongside a dozen other 18th Century sailors in a small whaling boat, eye to eye with the greatest whale of them all – Moby Dick. A mighty flail of the giant’s flukes smashes the boat and sends them all into the heaving ocean. Saving themselves from the whale only puts Tony and Doug at the mercy of the maniacal Captain Ahab, against whose cruelty Tony and Doug try to protect the weaker members of the crew. It takes the death of Ahab, dragged down to the bottom of the sea by the great white whale, to release Tony and Doug from their nightmare at sea.

Note: Stock footage from John Huston’s Moby Dick (1956), starring Gregory Peck, was going to be used should this episode go before the cameras. Irwin Allen had access to stock footage courtesy of Moulin Productions, Inc.

Original art from the Second Season Press Kit.
The Golden Fleece
Tony and Doug are thrown back into legendary times and find themselves between Jason’s fierce Argonauts, who believe the time travelers to be hostile, and the dragon which is guarding the Golden Fleece. Tony is forced to fight Hercules who defeats but spares him. Doug engages the dragon which is finally vanquished by lethal electrical bolts sent through time by the staff at the Time Tunnel. In return for Hercules’ generous act, Tony and Doug fight a rear-guard action against King Aeetes so that Jason and his Argonauts can escape with the Golden Fleece.

Note: Stock footage from Jason and the Argonauts (1963) was going to be used should this episode go before the cameras. Irwin Allen had access to stock footage courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation and Morningside Productions.

Missile From Centauri VI
In the year 2320 A.D., a ballistic missile launched from some distant galaxy strikes a lonely desert area of Arizona, not too far from the Time Tunnel complex. A second missile comes in on target. The Earth is under a probing attack from the unknown. Using a newly-developed technique, the staff at the Time Tunnel Complex succeeds in locating the site of the launch and transfers Tony and Doug instantaneously to that point. There they succeed in spiking the hostile fire-control apparatus until Centauri’s galactic orbit swings it out of Earth’s range. Centauri will not come within striking distance again for a million years.

Battle of the Galaxies
In the year 4750 A.D., Tony and Doug are whirled out of their time vortex into a spaceship outward bound from Earth on a reconnaissance mission. They are the only humans aboard the automated vehicle. But suddenly they see, emerging from the swirling galaxies around them, a hostile fleet heading toward Earth. Beings from the invading fleet enter their space vehicle and jam the automatic devices designed to warn the Earth. Tony and Doug overcome the invaders and succeed in sending the warning which will give the world time to turn back the invasion.

Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) movie poster
The Hell Ship
Tony and Doug find themselves in the year 1790 in the midst of the conspiracy of mutiny on the Bounty. Tony is keel-hauled and Doug is trying to help him earn Bligh’s enmity. Both are sentenced to be hanged from the yardarm but are saved at the last moment by the outbreak of the mutiny. They save Christian, and help the Bounty start on its voyage to Tahiti.

Note: Stock footage from Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), starring Marlon Brando, was going to be used should this episode go before the cameras. Irwin Allen had access to stock footage courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Arcola Pictures.

Note about the source material:
All of the information above can be found in Martin Grams' latest book, The Time Tunnel: A History of the Television Series, now available from Bear Manor Media. Excerpts above reprinted with permission.