"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."
The Time Tunnel wasn't one of Irwin Allen's most successful series - it only ran one season - but thanks to syndication it managed to gain a fairly loyal following even after its two accidental time travellers were left back where they started at the end of the final episode, so Fox's two volume remastered set of the series is certainly welcome. The show's ambitions were never really matched by its budget - although it was a costly Technicolor series (shot by the Oscar winning cinematographer of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Winton C. Hoch, no less, while The 7th Voyage of Sinbad's Nathan Juran directed several episodes and John Williams contributed the memorable title music), part of the fun would be spotting the rehashed costumes, standing sets, music (particularly Bernard Herrmann's King of the Khyber Rifles and Franz Waxman's Prince Valiant) and stock footage from films like Helen of Troy or 300 Spartans for the various historical periods Robert Colbert and James Darren would fall into while Whit Bissell, Lee Meriwether and John Zaremba tried hopelessly to bring them back to present day 1968 in the impressively designed giant underground time tunnel complex.
This first half of the 30 episode run sees the series still concentrating on the historical stories rather than the science fiction ones that took over as the ratings started to fall, but they're not recommended as history lessons. Hokum is the order of the day as they find themselves at various times stowaways on the Titanic, caught up in the Alamo, deposited on Krakatoa on the worst possible day for a visit, mistaken for emissaries of the gods in Troy, locked up in Devil's Island with Dreyfus, at the Little Big Horn with Custer, the Khyber Pass with Kipling, in France during the Revolution and on the eve of D-Day and, in perhaps the best of them, in Pearl Harbor on the day James Darren's father died. Along the way they meet the odd interesting guest star - Michael Rennie as the captain of the Titanic, Ellen Burstyn sporting a bad English accent and Nehemiah Persoff as a communist scientist who may have invented a Russian time tunnel among them in this volume - before finding themselves stranded in another time in each episode's movie-serial style cliffhanger ending.
The special effects aren't state of the art, but like the stylishly designed title sequence, they're pleasingly colourful, not least the iconic slo-mo shots of the two heroes 'trapped in the infinite corridors of time.' It's hokey, but it's still good nostalgic fun, and the remastered episodes certainly look a lot better than the ones that showed up on TV over the past couple of decades. Sadly the extras feel like elements assembled for an abandoned documentary - 67 minutes of Allen's home movies of the shoot, camera tests and stills and merchandise galleries - though it does contain the extended original pilot