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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Time Tunnel: Volume Two
The Time Tunnel: Volume Two
Fox // Unrated // June 6, 2006
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Randy Miller III | posted June 2, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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Short-lived but still memorable, cult favorite sci-fi series The Time Tunnel (1966-67) remains one of writer/producer Irwin Allen's best-loved creations. Even so, his work on more popular shows of the era (including Lost in Space and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) is perhaps what he's best known for---not taking away from his work on films like The Sea Around Us (1952) and The Towering Inferno (1974), of course. Though The Time Tunnel never lived past its first season of 30 hour-long episodes, the show's combination of history, drama and suspense ensured the viewing public would remember it long after the final episode aired.

The first volume of The Time Tunnel got the show of to a fairly decent start. Part of the reason the series worked so well from the start was its simple yet effective formula, which centered around doctors Tony Newman (James Darren) and Doug Phillips (Robert Colbert) and their adventures through some of history's most important events. Dr. Newman's trip began when "Project Tic Toc", a top-secret, $7B time travel experiment, was investigated by the U.S. Government for not producing enough bang for the buck. To prove the project's worth, Dr. Newman simply tried it out on himself without the consent of his colleagues...and ends up aboard The Titanic less than a day before its destruction. Naturally, no one heeds his warnings about icebergs and such. After Dr. Phillips ventures back to rescue him, both are trapped in time due to the Tunnel's inability to handle both people at once. Essentially, our reluctant heroes are doomed to drift through history until someone figures out how to get them safely back home.

This second volume picks up right after the first left off---remember, these collections don't represent season divisions, just halves of one longer stretch of episodes. Like the first collection, this four-disc set includes 15 episodes featuring a variety of settings, colorful characters and even a bit of nail-biting action. Presented in their original broadcast format, the included adventures of doctors Newman and Phillips are as follows:

Complete Episode Listing
(15 original episodes on 4 double-sided discs)

[NOTE: Episode summaries can be found at TV.com]

Disc One*
"The Revenge of Robin Hood" (12/30/66)
"Kill Two By Two" (1/6/67)
"Visitors From Beyond the Stars" (1/13/67)
"The Ghost of Nero" (1/20/67)

Disc Two*
"The Walls of Jericho" (1/27/67)
"Idol of Death" (2/3/67)
"Billy the Kid" (2/10/67)
"Pirates of Deadman's Island" (2/17/67)

Disc Three*
"Chase Through Time" (2/24/67)
"The Death Merchant" (3/3/67)
"Attack of the Barbarians" (3/10/67)
"Merlin the Magician" (3/17/67)

Disc Four*
"The Kidnappers" (3/24/67)
"Raiders from Outer Space" (3/31/67)
"Town of Terror" (4/7/67)

* - Includes Bonus Features (listed below)

Fans of The Time Tunnel should remember plenty of these episodes fondly, but the fact is that the second half of this series doesn't hold up as well as the first. Perhaps the novelty of the show's premise was simply wearing thin, but there's no way that episodes like "The Kidnappers" and "Town of Terror" hold up in comparison to "Rendezvous With Yesterday" and "The Day the Sky Fell In". To be fair, though, these final 15 episodes aren't without their share of highlights, including the excellent "Kill Two By Two" (which takes place on an island in the South Pacific near the end of Word War II) and "The Death Merchant" (a Civil War episode set in Gettysburg). Even so, the majority of these episodes just aren't as consistent as the first half of the series---and for those who didn't think they held up at all, that's saying something. Even so, the power of nostalgia is a funny thing, easily outweighing logic with fuzzy memories and suspension of disbelief. The Time Tunnel still deserves a place in television history---but for those who never caught it the first time around, you may not be able to jump right in. Without laughing plenty of times, at least.

Luckily, this slightly weaker batch of episodes is smoothed over by another fantastic DVD treatment from Fox, including an excellent technical presentation and a few entertaining bonus features---and though the overall organization of this 4-disc set is a bit on the sloppy side, the near-perfect A/V quality alone more than makes up for it. From top to bottom, it's a solid package that Allen fans should enjoy. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Quality Control Department

Video & Audio Quality:

Plain and simple, The Time Tunnel looks excellent on DVD. The original source elements are in great shape: all 15 broadcast episodes boast strong color and clarity for their age and budget, especially when viewed in comparison to vintage promotional materials included with this set. Digital problems, such as edge enhancement and compression, don't seem to be an issue in the least. A few problems with the source material were spotted along the way, including a scene from "Raiders from Outer Space" with several prominent vertical scratches (click here for an enlarged detail of a screen capture). Overall, though, this is one of the better classic TV treatments on DVD, and fans will be thrilled to have these original episodes in such pristine condition.

The audio presentation is crisp and simple, as the original English 1.0 mono mixes have been preserved instead of resorting to gimmicky surround presentations. All 15 broadcast episodes include optional French and Spanish dubs and subtitles, as well as English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging:

They're certainly not fancy, but the anamorphic widescreen menu designs (seen above) are nice to look at and easy to navigate. Each 50-minute episode has been presented with roughly 12 chapter stops, while no apparent layer changes were detected during playback. I didn't care for how the episodes and extras were arranged, while the double-sided disc presentation is also a mild drawback. This four-disc set is housed in two thinpak cases and tucked inside a matching slipcover---so while the ugly packaging doesn't capture the show's feel, at least it doesn't hog shelf space.

Bonus Features:

Spread across each of the four discs, there's a nice cross-section of extras here that fans should enjoy. First up on Disc 1, Side B are Interviews with Whit Bissell (Lt. General Heywood Kirk) and James Darren (Dr. Tony Newman), running a bit over 13 minutes combined. Newman gets more face time (10 clips, 11:20 total) and speaks about topics including how he got the part, his thoughts on other actors and even a few memories of the green turtleneck sweater, while Bissell briefly discusses topics like the show's themes and overall accuracy (3 clips, 2:13 total). Disc 2, Side B includes a fairly interesting Still Photo Gallery presented in anamorphic widescreen.

Disc 3, Side B continues the trend with a few more Interviews; this time, we hear a few words from Robert Colbert (Dr. Doug Phillips) and Lee Meriwether (Dr. Ann MacGregor). Colbert chats about the show's production quality, stunts and his theories about how the show would've continued on (5 clips, 6:23 total), while Meriwether (6 clips, 8:11 total) speaks about topics including the show's concept and her memories of creator Irwin Allen. Disc 4 ups the ante a bit, as Side A includes the full-length 2002 Time Tunnel Pilot (50:41, above left). Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, this updated version of the series looks and sounds good…but that's about it, really. It's fairly easy to see why this pilot never got picked up by the networks, but it's incredibly tough to judge the potential of an entire series based on just one episode. Regardless, this is an appropriate inclusion that fans of the original series should be happy to have, so check it out for yourselves and see what you think.

Last but not least, Side B of Disc 4 includes the full-length Time Travelers TV Movie written by Irwin Allen (72:44, above right). Originally broadcast in 1976, this film is presented in slightly rougher shape than the earlier Time Tunnel episodes---it's generally clean and dirt-free, but the 1.33:1 image is fairly soft. The plot centers around an outbreak that resembles one from the late 19th Century, so Jeff Adams (Tom Hallick) and Dr. Clint Earnshaw (Sam Groom, who guest starred in two episodes of The Time Tunnel) travel back in time to find the cure. It's actually a bit more defined than Allen's original series and shows some promise, and it's no surprise that the similar themes should appeal to fans of his work. Overall, this is a solid collection of extras that support the series well.

Final Thoughts

There's no doubt that The Time Tunnel hasn't aged very well, but nostalgic fans who enjoyed the first volume should have no problem jumping back in. Though it was certainly a short-lived series, the 30 total episodes made The Time Tunnel a cult favorite that has earned a second life on DVD, thanks to the excellent treatment from Fox Home Entertainment. Boasting a superb technical presentation and another interesting set of bonus features, this four-disc set is well-rounded and entertaining from start to finish. Overall, The Time Tunnel: Volume Two is a fairly solid DVD package, strictly for disciples of classic sci-fi and worth the price of admission. Recommended.

Randy Miller III is an art instructor and office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance design projects and works in a local gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, general debauchery, and writing things in third person.
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