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Project Tic Toc is running once more on Horror
By James Whittington, Sunday 15th March 2020

For his third TV production, legendary producer Irwin Allen turned to the theme of history, past and present, The Time Tunnel.

The concept is nice and straight forward: Project Tic-Toc is an experimental Time Machine project which has been created at huge cost by the United States Government. So far, their efforts have designed and built "The Time Tunnel", a sort of multi-dimensional corridor you can walk down to enter "the living past or future" in any point of time. But after a decade the Government want real results after such an investment and ask for volunteers to prove that the project works. Up steps Dr. Anthony Newman (James Darren, yes, THE James Darren) who defies all attempts to stop him from being the first down the tunnel. Dr. Douglas Phillips (Robert Colbert) goes in to save Dr Newman but both become lost in time. Over the 30 episodes this team will encounter some of the most important moments in Earth's history, past and present though mostly past) and must try and return to 1968 (the year the series was set) to save the project and, more importantly, their own lives.

Packed with heroics and end of episode cliff-hangers, The Time Tunnel is a prime example of 60s cult TV. By revisiting major historical events and some predictions for the future the series traversed time with confidence and intelligence. From the very first episode, Rendezvous with Yesterday, the show started off with a bold introduction and cinematic visuals. The core cast which also included Whit Bissell as Lt. Gen. Heywood Kirk, John Zaremba as Dr. Raymond Swain and Lee Meriwether as Dr. Ann MacGregor offer moral support to our brave heroes as well as the odd moment of light relief.

As you'd expect, American history, especially around World War II is a regular ingredient such as witnessing Pearl Harbour in The Day the Sky Fell In, Kill Two By Two where the travellers are captured by a Japanese sergeant and Invasion which is set in occupied France.

The time-travelling duo don't just stay in the USA for their adventures, 19th century Asia, thirteenth century England and bang in the middle of the Trojan War which allows the stories a lot more scope and unpredictability.

The format of each episode, though usually similar in construction offer a lot of drama and soul searching adding depth and a lot of pathos instead of the traditional campy drama some shows from this era would allow themselves to enter into.

Some notable Hollywood stars get their chance to shine including Tom Skerritt, Jim Davis, Susan Hampshire, Carroll O'Connor, John Saxon, Robert Duvall, and Land of the Giants favourite Heather Young. John Williams (credited as Johnny Williams) was back for Allen to compose the them to the series.

A revamped version of the show popped up in 2002 but failed to be picked up for a series and again in 2006 the rumour mill started to churn but nothing came from it.

The Time Tunnel helped to inspire so many sci-fi shows such as Quantum Leap and Stargate SG-1 but as they say you can't be an original and this is one of the best ever from a master of the genre.

The Time Tunnel weekdays at 8pm on Horror.


Related show tags: LAND OF THE GIANTS, LOST IN SPACE, THE TIME TUNNEL
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