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Massacres! Espionage! Terrorism! Coffee!

The time tunnel has some kind of Western fixation, it must have. Naturally I approve of this wholeheartedly. Who can dislike a show that mixes sci-fi, Westerns and enthusiastic silliness, with James Darren and lots of explosions? The command crew have way outstayed their welcome, though. I'm beginning to wish great violence upon each one of them.

The first of this batch of episodes is a bit peculiar. It's enjoyable of course - The Time Tunnel is always enjoyable - but I'm not one hundred percent clear on what's going on. Having crash-landed in a street somewhere behind the Iron Curtain (Tony and Doug can't read any of the street signs, so they can't tell what country they're in - although they are able to read a newspaper that they find!), they see a glowing canister on the road. It burns Tony when he tries to touch it, and then a second one appears and explodes. Finally a third melts to reveal a message from Time Tunnel HQ. They're in 1956, and are required to attend a meeting intended for two Western agents. Which is where things get a bit odd. A scientist is building his own time tunnel, and some shadowy power that's pulling strings behind the scenes in 1968 wants Doug and Tony to go and spy on him. Hence the message back to 1956. So presumably the CIA was watching the meeting in 1956, and kept note of the two men who took part in it, on the off chance that years in the future they would turn out to be time travellers, and could be contacted to be told to attend the meeting? Okay. Anyway, they go to the meeting, and pretend to be defectors eager to help build a time tunnel. Then they blow it up and run away.

They run all the way to 1861 in actual fact, where some followers of John Brown have decided that the best way to end slavery is to murder Abraham Lincoln, which will... I'm not sure. They did explain their reckoning, but it was a bit cracked. Basically, murdering Lincoln will fire everybody up and create the right political atmosphere to bring about the end of slavery. If they close their eyes and wish very hard. Doug is arrested on suspicion of being part of the plot, whilst Tony gets hauled along by the plotters, who think that he's one of them. He promptly gets all fiery, as is his way, and finishes up tied to a chair. As usual, then, things are not going especially well for either time traveller. One of the crackpots plans to blow up Lincoln, and it's up to Tony and Doug to stop this, whilst under guard and affixed to various items of furniture. Child's play. ;)

And then they're off again, this time to the Alamo, the day before the Mexicans attack. Doug is seriously injured (or he is for a bit. He seems to forget about it around the time of the first commercial break), so Tony sets off in search of a doctor. Doug winds up tied to the scenery, a state of affairs that is becoming so familiar that one wonders why he ever bothers getting untied, whilst Tony gets himself nabbed by the Mexicans. With the team back at Time Tunnel HQ interfering even more than usual, and being even more stupid than usual into the bargain, I actually started to lose patience with this episode - and that's a terrible thing to say about a Western. Fortunately it's hard to stay annoyed for long with something that has James Darren as the lead. I really do want to blow that whole time tunnel building sky high, though. Just in case I haven't already made that clear.


A glowing canister, containing a message for Doug and Tony from home. How, though?! It arrived the moment they did. Time Tunnel HQ don't have a clue where they are until after they've landed, so how did they manage to have a message ready for them? And how did the people sending it know?

A shadowy man. He's wearing a uniform, so possibly military intelligence? Whoever he is, he appears to have a supply of letters ready to be sent out just in case secret time travellers happen to land in the exact year that he needs them to. Although how he knows when to send them is a mystery.

Doug and Tony are similarly baffled.

The message tells them to go meet a shadowy man in a shadowy alley for shadowy reasons. Naturally Tony jumps at the chance.

A shadowy man in a shadowy hat in a shadowy alley. He sends them to help a scientist work on a top secret project, somewhere in the city.

Doug and Tony are amazed to find themselves in the middle of another time tunnel project. Remarkable how a man on the other side of the world, twelve years ago, managed to build exactly the same tunnel as theirs, isn't it. With all the same equipment in exactly the same places.

A slightly loony scientist. He asks them if they are able to believe in a project dedicated to time travel.

Strangely enough they have no trouble getting their heads around the concept.

A brilliantly obviously evil general.

The Obligatory Kevin Hagen. Again. Well, they don't call him the Obligatory Kevin Hagen for nothing.

Doug and Tony wonder what the bloody hell is going on, and what exactly they're doing here. Other than saving money by re-using an existing set.

Having been told that they're to pilot a shiny glass capsule through the time tunnel, they are not exactly overjoyed. They can see that the project is doomed to failure, so decide to find a way out. So far so good. "Finding a way out", however, turns out to mean dashing madly towards the nearest thing that looks like a door. Oddly, the guards soon notice their subtle attempt to escape.

The evil general cackles at them evilly.

But is stopped from shooting them by the mad scientist, who doesn't like to have his toys taken away.

Ergo, Doug and Tony prepare for a voyage in The Teacup Of Doom.

Things do not go well, and they become stuck in time. Whilst bad news for them, this is good news for sci-fi fans, as Mad Scientist gets progressively more insane, before unexpectedly turning into Servalan from Blake's 7.

"Maximum power!"

Doug and Tony are returned to 1956, albeit slightly charred.

They recover in a suitably science-fictiony room, that glows inexplicably red. Unfortunately for them, they discuss their own time tunnel, whilst the mad scientist is listening in.

He demands that they tell him everything.

"Ve vill rule ze vorld!" Yes, he does actually say that...

Doug and Tony realise that they're dealing with a complete loon, and decide to play along for the time being.

They pretend to repair the time tunnel. This involves lots of rather nice looking banks of instrumentation, with little flashing lights.

And lots of dramatic sweat. That's always been a favourite of the Time Tunnel make-up team.

With everything set, the boys pretend to prepare for another test flight; but everything is rigged to explode.


More boom! Then they disappear into their own time tunnel, which has, as usual, suddenly regained the ability to pick them up just as soon as the adventure is over.

This time they land in a barn, where they watch some dark and shadowy plotters do some dark and shadowy plotting.

Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that the constant voyaging through time has begun to have a strange effect on Tony's hair, which is growing bigger with every moment.

A dark and shadowy plotter.

Mr Pinkerton, infamous Wild West detective.

Tony has coffee with some dark and shadowy plotters, during one of their less dark and shadowy moments.

A slightly less dark and shadowy plotter.

And the slightly less dark and shadowy plotter's home-made time bomb.

A rather nice train.

Containing Abraham Lincoln.

Doug gets to meet the President, although perhaps not in quite the circumstances that he would have wished. It's not as bad as it looks, though, as those handcuffs have a lovely habit of slipping off whenever they feel like it.

Elsewhere, Tony has managed to get himself at the wrong end of a gun again.

And tied to a chair again.

This time with the world's most pointless gag. The only way that's stopping him from communicating is if the only person he can find to talk to is a lip-reader.

Abraham Lincoln's hat.

Doug's not got a lot to do this week. Actually, neither's Tony. I rather think they must have filmed this episode at the same time as another one, to save some time.

Tony tries setting fire to himself in order to get free.

Whilst the plotters do some more plotting, in as dark and shadowy a way as they can manage in the middle of the afternoon.

Tony, who has cleverly managed to exchange one prison for another, tries to tell Lincoln and co that there's a bomb.

He manages to escape briefly and throw it away, but it immediately gets found by a small boy.

Who, due to the interfering lot back at HQ, then finds himself zapped into 1968. Seriously, stop doing this. It was rubbish the first time.

Anyway, then Pinkerton agrees that Doug and Tony probably aren't dangerous, mostly just because the end of the episode is coming up. The boy and the bomb come back to 1861, because their detour in time was even more pointless and unnecessary than the usual ones are, and the plotters decide that maybe they won't kill Lincoln after all. Then they go home. It's not exactly the most dynamic ending so far. Still, things are never dull in Time Tunnel Land for long, because seconds later...

It's 1836, and there's a fort!

And heroic cowboy types! And a cannon!

Doug's in a bad way, however, after a bash over the head from a Mexican soldier outside the gates.

Colonel William B Travis!

Jim Bowie! Actually it's Jock Ewing, but for now it's Jim Bowie. No Davy Crockett, though. I wonder if that's because they figured Fess Parker was still too burned into people's minds?

Tony tries to explain to Colonel Travis that the Alamo is doomed. Colonel Travis, naturally enough, does not really want to hear this, and orders Tony locked up to prevent him from destroying morale.

Tony promptly gets feisty, as is his wont, although how he's planning on fighting an entire fort full of men - or, indeed, where he's planning on escaping to - I have no idea. Still, ridiculous odds or not, he seems to have more success than the entire Mexican army have managed so far.

Never underestimate a man in a green pullover.

Things ultimately do not go well, however, and Doug gets another bash over the head. This time he's really ill.

Fortunately help is at hand from a sympathetic cowboy type, who tells Tony about a doctor in a nearby town. Look at that gorgeous antique pistol. :)

Doug gets progressively more sick and wobbly. Oh no!

Tony experiments with some brilliantly rubbish hiding places as he attempts to sneak out of the Alamo. Then he gives up and decides that subtlety is boring.

I wonder if he ever boasts about the time he got the drop on a Western hero?! Although he probably doesn't boast about how his escape led to Jim Bowie being mortally wounded.

That would probably qualify as an "oops".

The escape attempt goes about as well as usual, anyway, as he jumps out of the Alamo, and straight into the clutches of a comedy evil Mexican.

Back in the Alamo, Doug has decided that he's not going to suffer from severe head injuries anymore, as they're boring. He's going to tell his sympathetic cowboy type all about the fate of the Alamo instead, just to cheer him up. Nice one, Doug.

Elsewhere, the comedy evil Mexican has presented Tony as a gift to a Mexican general.

Who plots some fun for them both with a riding crop.

The doctor that Tony has been sent to find turns out to be conveniently waiting in the general's room. Having decided that he doesn't want to stay and play with the general and his riding crop, Tony leaps out of a window instead, before meeting up with the extremely obliging doctor, and heading back to the fort.

Meanwhile, never ones to stay out of the way and mind their own business, the time tunnel team have snatched Colonel Travis. Leaving aside how boring this trope has become, this time their meddling reaches new heights when they fast forward their time scanner screens to show Travis not only the fall of the Alamo, but also his own death. Why?! This serves no purpose to the plot, or in helping Doug and Tony. It's just downright unkind. Not to mention extremely irresponsible.


Having got the doctor back to the Alamo, Tony realises that Doug didn't actually need him anyway; and there's nothing else for him to do either. Even very obliging doctors aren't much use when everybody's dead.

So they just decide to stand around uselessly for a bit until the time tunnel crew realise that the episode is ending, and zap them into the tunnel again. This time they land up in a desert, where Tony promptly gets himself shot in the head.

Oh no! Next time on The Time Tunnel, thrills and spills in Afghanistan, France and Mediaeval England. Guns! Bombs! Bows and arrows! There's never a dull moment with time travel.

I do wish they'd find me some dinosaurs, though.

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