James Darren's The Time Tunnel DVD Sets, Volume 1 and 2, Are Worth Owning


, Blogger: Orry's Orations
In 1966, Irwin Allen brought an intriguing science fiction show to television called The Time Tunnel. It starred James Darren, who was fresh off a set of teenage heartthrob roles in Gidget (and two sequels), For Those Who Think Young, and The Lively Set. He was cast here as the brilliant and serious young scientist, Dr. Tony Newman.

Partnered with Darren with Robert Colbert as Dr. Doug Phillips, who was setup as being somewhat older and more experienced.

The premise of The Time Tunnel was that the United States had a secret underground complex where work on the massive Time Tunnel was underway. It would allow people to travel through time. However, after a political big wig shows up and threatens to shut down the project, Newman fires up the Tunnel and begins the voyage through time. Phillips soon follows, and now we're set for all kinds of adventures.

Beginning with the first episode that had the scientists landing aboard the Titanic, viewers were treated to all kinds of historical reviews as well as predictions on the future. Newman and Phillips mostly went to the past, but they also ventured ahead in time.

I remember paying good money several years ago to get VHS copies of 16mm tapes of the series. It was so exciting to see the show again as it is among my favorite shows of all time. Now, of course, this fascinating show is out on DVD for less than I paid for a single one of those videotapes. I have no regrets, though. I adore Darren, and the hours I spent watching this show, complete and sans commercials, was worth every dollar I paid.

The Time Tunnel aired for a single season of 30 episodes which has been released into two DVD packages, Volume 1 and Volume 2. Personally, I hate this splitting up of seasons that is so prevalent these days. Put the darn things together in one set. I suppose someone thinks people will be more willing to buy it in pieces because of pricing.

Both sets consists of 4 DVDs that are in the more slender slim packs. The bad news is that they are duo disks, meaning shows are on both sides of the DVDs. In addition, there's no artwork. The only way to know Side A from Side B is because Side A has a color around the inside rim.

The menu is a little frustrating. There is not a 'play all' button. This is one of those where you first click on the show from the menu, then get an individual show menu where you have click play again before the show starts.

Now this is what really drove me nuts. There is a big delay from when a menu loads to when the item is highlighted so you can hit 'play'. This is on all of the menus, and I have never seen this on any other DVD set. It really is several seconds between the menu appearing and when you can make your selection. It's like that all of the DVDs in both sets.

There are worthwhile extras to add to the episode viewing. The extras tend to be spread out; most but not all of the sides have a special featured included.

The extras include interviews with James Darren, Robert Colbert, Lee Meriwether, and Whit Bissell. There is also an Irwin Allen home movie of the set and filming, which was great except that there isn't any audio. That's apparently the way he had them made. It would have been nice, however, if some type of audio had been added just to make watching more enjoyable.

Two versions of the 1966 pilot are included, too, which is interesting. There's even the pilot for the 2002 proposed re-think of The Time Tunnel. That version starred David Conrad of Ghost Whisperer as Phillips with Andrea Roth as the now female Toni Newman. It's a darker, grittier edition of this series which did not sell.

Other special features such as still galleries are included, too, and there is even another Allen movie called The Time Travelers. It starred Sam Groom, who appeared as a lab tech in several early episodes of The Time Tunnel.

From the sinking of the Titanic to the attack of Pearl Harbor, from run-ins with General Custer and Helen of Troy to encounters with future beings, The Time Tunnel was full of adventure. Though not perfect, the two DVD sets are fun to own and present some very enlightening and enjoyable extras to go along with the actual episodes. As a fan of the series and James Darren, I definitely recommend owning the set.


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I thought the pilot episode depicting the Titanic was awesome. They even depicted the radio-room on the Titanic and "spark and arc" Morse code. Later episodes became weaker and weaker and I gave up watching it toward the end of their short season. I'd like to see the series revived with 'today's' special effects and better writers.



, Blogger: Orry's Orations
Hey Jim, thanks for reading and commenting! It was interesting on the DVD interviews because there were comments about the quality of the episodes as time went on. There was apparently some speculation that Irwin Allen put his all into getting the show off the ground but then began working on his next project and became less involved. Still, most of the performers thought that there were some real possibilities for future stories.

The 2002 pilot was probably more what you're thinking of, but I wasn't impressed. It was like Battlestar Galactica's re-do -- just not my style or true enough to the original.


There is also an Irwin Allen home movie of the set and filming

That includes the scene where Tony and Doug make it back to the Time Tunnels control room only to find it (the control room) overgrown with what looked like prehistoric vegetation.

Years ago I had a view master set of reels of the Time Tunnel which consisted of 3-D pictures from the first show "Rendezvous With Yesterday." The last pictures of the set showed them being teleported from the Titanic and ending up back in the Time Tunnels control room only to find in overgrown with vegetation.

Two things...
Apparently that was going to be the next adventure of the series but for whatever reason never happened, and the picture of the scene on the View Master was as pristine as the others on the set so it wasn't taken from Irwin Allens home movies.

My guess is that some of that episode was filmed but never used.


, Blogger: Orry's Orations
Yes, the home movies are very interesting to watch. I mentioned in my review that the worst part is that there was no sound, something Allen didn't want apparently. Still, I like watching him with Darren, clearly discussing a scene. It's body language and such that fascinates me. Some of it was intense, and then other bits just looked like everyone was having fun, including Allen.


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