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"And the walls came tumbling down..."

The Time Tunnel finds religion in a duet of episodes that both centre around idols and icons. This is both a good and a bad thing. As ever, the worst failings are a result of being hauled back to time tunnel HQ every five minutes; but that's not to say that the plotlines can't dig themselves into holes every so often as well.

At the end of last week, Doug and Tony were battling soldiers in a tent somewhere, and the scientists back home were arguing over how literally you can interpret the Bible. Then all of a sudden we're caught up in the middle of an old style Biblical epic, the way that Hollywood used to make them. It's bizarre. I suppose it goes to show how useful old sets can be, because for once it doesn't look as though we're creeping around the same studio, but dressed a little differently. "The Walls Of Jericho" looks like a completely different production. The guest cast is of remarkably high calibre, and James Darren seems to have upped his game accordingly. Also, Doug's contribution is kept to a minimum, which really does help. I'm sorry, but it does. He's usually more wooden than the scenery. It all gets a little proselytising in places, which should have been pruned back in the planning stages, but other than that, this is a really impressive episode. For the most part.

And then we're off again, this time into the South American jungle, where Cortez and his men are killing the locals all over the place. Doug and Tony join forces with a young tribesman, seeking a golden mask that is of great importance to his people. Cortez hopes to use it to give him power over the locals, but Doug, Tony and their new friend plan to get to it first. Elsewhere the HQ crew get in the way every five minutes, and insist on having their own really lame bit of plot running alongside. I do wish they'd just give up and go away.


Doug and Tony land in the middle of a storm.


Whereupon Doug is immediately whisked inside a tent by a nearby guard. What is it with nomad types hauling Doug away to their tents?! What exactly do they see in him?!


Fight!


Fabulously dramatic entrance!


More fighting!


Sadly Doug and Tony are no match for the locals.


A towering man with a suitably dramatic voice announces that he's Joshua, leader of the Israelites. Tony immediately goes all weak at the knees, explains that they're from the future, and promptly gets himself and Doug assigned to sneak into Jericho and spy on the natives.


Damn.


This, needless to say, results in a trip to the dressing up box. An oddly mixed distribution of clothing, though. Tony's in the full Biblical robe, but Doug's wearing trousers and a long coat. This seems to be solely to make things easier when he gets captured later, which shows remarkable foresight on Joshua's part, when he was handing out the costumes.


The headman of Jericho prepares to sacrifice a young girl, in the hope that this will help him deal with the pesky Israelites.


However Doug cannot stand by and see women hurt. Tony apparently can. :D Consequently Doug hurls himself into the midst of the local soldiery.


Fight!


Hugely outnumbered, the boys are soon overpowered.


Tony appears to have half the garrison clinging to him. There's at least four of them. Not enough though, as he manages to tear free and run off into the city, where he hides in the only house with an unlocked door.


As somebody else comes in, he less than brilliantly attempts to hide behind a string of beads.


Startingly, his cunning hiding place is discovered almost immediately.


Tony, don't fall in love with Bible characters. I'm sure there are probably laws against it.


Meanwhile, Doug dangles in the dungeon. He's getting used to this sort of thing by now though, so there's really no need to worry about him.


Elsewhere, Tony is once again fitting in so well with the natives that you'd think he'd spent his whole life there. James Darren really can wear anything, can't he.


He listens to Rahab's life story, although he seems to know it better than she does. Tony's latest useful skill is a quite spectacular knowledge of the Bible. He apparently has the whole of the Old Testament memorised.


Anxious to free Doug, he's introduced to Rahab's father, the architect who built the castle and its dungeons. Before he was blinded he was a great architect, says Rahab. Indeed he was. So great that he also built the Wooden Horse of Troy a few episodes back. Not so great that anybody bothers looking after him, though, as he spends the entire rest of the episode stood right there, in the middle of the floor.


Tony sneaks into the dungeon.


And fights off Doug's guard. No mean feat in one of those robes by the look of things.


They slip off out of the dungeons, but trouble is afoot. Doug's escape is soon discovered, and a reward is announced for the capture of the two spies. Rahab's servant is quick to inform on her employer, who has them hidden on her roof.


This is a scene that works very well, and seems to be from a completely different production. Not that The Time Tunnel is rubbish by any means, but it's very much the old, conveyer belt style of show. This scene, in which Rahab's servant explains her reasoning for going after the reward, seems far better written and acted than usual.


It's not easy saying a meaningful farewell to your girlfriend while somebody untangles sixty feet of rope three inches away.


Tony gives Rahab a red sash, because the Bible says that he did. Just as well that he remembers all these little details, isn't it.


Doug climbs out of the window, only slightly hampered by the huge woollen overcoat that must make it near impossible to shin down a rope.


However the guards arrive before Tony can follow. Sportingly they don't cut the rope, but just let Doug get away. Somebody must have missed a few lessons at the Bad Guy Academy.


Rahab is also captured, leading Tony to spring to her defence as gallantly as it's possible to spring with an entire garrison once again hanging onto your arms.


Fight!


Unsurprisingly, given the twin obstacles of a heavy robe and an army holding onto him, Tony doesn't get very far. Again this almost seems to be from a different production. The threat to Rahab is far more real than is usual for this show, and the resulting fight is short and quite brutal.


And Tony and Rahab are left dangling prettily from the castle walls.


The headman implores his big stone thing to tell him what to do with the increasingly pesky Israelites.


And Tony and Rahab are sentenced to stoning. Fortunately Joshua chooses that moment to make the walls fall down, although I must question the good sense in a move like that when the star is currently chained to one of them.


Doug bursts in and deals with the headman before he can get his revenge. The headman is then squished by his giant stone thing, which chooses that moment to defy the laws of Physics and topple over. Daft plot resolution... silly prop... yep, it is still the same show after all. ;)


Freed, Tony and Rahab cling to each other in the marketplace.


"I'll stay with you forever," says Tony.


Before promptly disappearing. I'm starting to think that the time tunnel crew don't like him all that much.


Leaving Jericho behind, Doug and Tony take a tumble into the jungle.

Sorry. Sometimes a tacky rhyme is too hard to resist.


Hiding, they see a pair of evil Spanish soldiers evilly kill a native.


And discuss how evil the Spaniards are.


The Spaniards then talk together about doing evil things.


Before Doug and Tony, mourning over the poor murdered Indian, further discuss the evilness of the Spaniards.

You may be noticing a theme here. I must say, evil though Cortez's men do seem to have been, I find this rather uncomfortable in a show that's been set in Cowboyville half a dozen times already, with no corresponding sermons. Is it somehow more evil to murder South American Indians than it is to murder North American ones?!


The boys lurk in a different bit of jungle.


Where some evil Spaniards evilly plot to torture a helpless woman. Just as in the previous episode, this sends Doug hurtling to the rescue, despite insurmountable odds. And, just as in the previous episode, the woman's plight doesn't seem to bother Tony at all!


Fight!


The inevitable happens once again.


General Cortez. Who is, in case you hadn't already guessed, evil.

And it's not easy to be evil in a pair of pink-and-purple-striped knickers, believe me.


Cortez and his favourite captain plot evil deeds.


Before Doug and Tony, once again tied to the scenery, tell Cortez (and his stripy knickers) just how evil he is.


Pretty ships!


Cortez takes Tony for a wander in the jungle, largely just so that this can happen.


Not that the insurrection lasts for long.


Further evil plotting from the evil Spaniards. Meanwhile, an old Indian sneaks out of the jungle and rescues Doug, Tony and a young Indian chief.


They discuss the golden mask that the evil Spaniards are evilly hunting.


And agree that they must get to it first.


Although not before, in a rather unfathomable addition to the plot, Tony berates the poor chief for not being bloodthirsty enough. The poor boy has never learnt how to fight, and this is clearly not acceptable to our favourite fighting Physicist.


Something fairly fatal seems to have happened to Tony's Amazing Green Pullover Of Time here. The collar's collapsed, something's torn... but in the very next scene it's back to normal. Are we supposed not to notice?!


The gang hide behind a rather nice stone alligator thing.


Then explode some stolen gunpowder in order to cover their escape.


Crossbow!


Hurtling towards the cave where the golden icon is hidden, they are foiled by some evil Spaniards who have got there first.


The boys are trapped. Although they're trapped on a nice sunny beach, so it could have been a lot worse.


Shiny treasure cave.


Shiny treasure.


Fight!


But once again the fight doesn't go all that well. Not having much luck lately, are they.


Back in 1968, the HQ crew have hired an expert in South American jungles to come and help them pinpoint Doug and Tony's position, so that they can be rescued. This has been a bad idea so often, but they never seem to tire of doing it. This time the expert sees the golden mask (and how does that wretched time screen of theirs always know what to point at?) and demands that it be given to him in exchange for his help.


Meanwhile, Doug, Tony and their friend are ordered to carry the treasure out of the cave.


The time tunnel crew get a fix on the mask. Which of course glows. The way that things always do when transported by the time tunnel. (!) The power of the tunnel also causes powerful vibrations, which again happens all the time.


Consequently the cave starts to collapse, and the time tunnel lot freeze time locally to prevent Doug and Tony getting squashed. Because, again, this is something that they've always been able to do.

I'm sorry, but the lame plotting this week, especially coming after the remarkably high quality Jericho episode, just seems dire to the extreme.


The mask has been brought to 1968, because every bloody thing that exists anywhere ever can be, except for Doug and Tony. This happening repeatedly is in no way undermining the show. Oh no, not at all. The only way to stop Doug and Tony being squashed is to send the mask back, because somehow this will undo the damage, and presumably make all the falling rocks fly back into their places again. The expert refuses to let it go, until suddenly he does, for no other reason than the fact that the episode is nearly over. So back it goes.


The cave-in continues anyway, so what all the fuss was about, I don't know. The heroes escape, the evil Spaniards are trapped, and then Doug and Tony leave. Which is probably just as well, as they weren't doing themselves any favours hanging about in that episode.


They land in a Western town, where evil cowboys are carousing. Taking shelter in a nearby sheriff's office, they come face to face with Billy The Kid!







Coming next on The Time Tunnel, we have cowboys and pirates and pirates and cowboys and cowboys and pirates and excuse me I need to go and lie down.

Pirates! Cowboys! What more do you need from your television? Except for aliens and dinosaurs, obviously. And a better plot than the Cortez one.

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