Home Television Drama Time Tunnel, The

Time Tunnel, The

1 9 6 6 – 1 9 6 7 (USA)
30 x 50 minute episodes

Two young scientists, Tony Newman (James Darren) and Doug Phillips (Robert Colbert), are working on a secret government project miles beneath the surface of the Arizona desert.

Their mammoth goal is to harness the time curve and build a tunnel to launch mankind into the past and the future.

Forced to demonstrate the untested tunnel to the Senator who is holding their purse strings, Tony Newman finds himself successfully sent back in time. Unfortunately, the machine is not able to bring him back.

His colleague Doug Phillips jumps into the tunnel to help him, leaving both of them trapped onboard the Titanic just before that fateful date with the iceberg.

The two scientists are doomed to travel from one historic hotspot to another, always knowing the horrible outcome of the events they are witnessing but powerless to alter anything while their colleagues struggle to bring them back in the nick of time.

You name it, they witness it: The wild west, the French revolution, Custer’s last stand, The Trojan War etc.

Occasionally they are even thrown into the future – so that director Irwin Allen could re-use his Lost in Space sets and costumes.

Allen also directed Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea and Land of the Giants and many of the same production values were evident in The Time Tunnel.


The tunnel itself was a nine-foot drum covered in cellophane and Christmas tinsel. When filmed through a wide angle lens, the drum became a kaleidoscope of “time fragments” flying through the shaft. The actors were suspended by wires in front of a blue screen and added in later.

Despite all their adventures, Tony and Doug never had a hair out of place or a suit or polo neck sweater even slightly ruffled.

Historical accuracy flew out the window early on, and an obligatory fistfight or two had to be written into each episode, it seems.

Time Tunnel series writer Robert Duncan once commented about the show: “We approached one of the leads with the idea of providing more substantial material, only to have him ask us to keep his speeches short. He wanted simple lines like “Let’s go!” or “We have to get out of here” so we did.”

The Time Tunnel slipped into history on 1 September 1967.

Maybe one reason The Time Tunnel is so fondly remembered is the subliminally sexual quick-cut sequence that comes every time there’s a Time Tunnel emergency.

First, you see the pulsating power-core of the complex, then the deep inner corridor, a close-up of the power core, and then the camera rests on the tunnel itself, spitting sparks and smoking profusely. Hello?!

Dr Tony Newman 
James Darren
Dr Doug Phillips 

Robert Colbert
Dr Ann Macgregor 

Lee Meriwether
Dr Raymond Swain 

John Zaremba
Lt General Heywood Kirk 

Whit Bissell
Sergeant Jiggs 

Wesley Lau

Sam Groom



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