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Out Of Time

The Time Tunnel comes to an end in a tangle of super-intelligent fish and things exploding. Don't end, Time Tunnel. Maybe there's some more episodes hidden somewhere that only Irwin Allen has seen?

Crashlanding in North Africa in 1883, Doug and Tony think that they're caught up in a simple battle between British soldiers and the local Arabs. It soon becomes obvious that a lot more is going on - alien invaders are poised to destroy the Earth, so that their leader can prove himself as a prince of his people. There's far too much slow-moving nonsense back at time tunnel HQ for this to be one of the better episodes, but the stuff back in 1883 is very good. The alien prince is a nicely hissable villain, and Doug and Tony's appallingly accented "English" friend, a soldier gamely battling against aliens, is straight out of a comic book. Great fun. If only we could dispense with the endless talking back at HQ! And the stock footage. Usually it works very well, as a way of adding scale that a low budget TV series could otherwise never have had, but in this one they go way over the top. Every five minutes we cross over to some stock footage soldiers and Arabs fighting; and in the wrong screen ratio too, so they're all ridiculously tall and thin. Hell of a shame, as the story itself is a good one, and deserves better than being reduced to probably near half what would otherwise have been its length.

And then we're out of 1883, and into a place of futuristic computer equipment, hidden in a cellar. Yet again this is mostly a very good episode, hamstrung as ever by guess who. It's certainly a great story. Doug and Tony find themselves in 1978, in a little town that's been taken over by aliens as a base of operations. The aliens plan to suck all of the oxygen out of the Earth's atmosphere and take it home with them (if they have that kind of technology, can they not manufacture their own oxygen?!), and it's up to Doug and Tony to stop them. The aliens have the town's population held in suspension, and can take over any of them at any time, so it's a town of zombies, aliens and mistrust. Cool. And then it's over, and with it the series. I shall now enter into a period of mourning.

But first, though - pictures!

Doug and Tony watch a battle, and presumably think "Here we go again".

There then follows a pretty awesome battle with a pair of Arabs, that proved impossible to cap without excessive blurring - so you'll just have to take my word for it. The bit when Tony (and his stuntman) snatch a hurled spear out of the air, and promptly use it as a quarter staff, is particularly terrific. You've got to love Physicists.

And then fish people attack!

Led by the Obligatory Kevin Hagen. The Obligatory Kevin Hagen orders that Tony be taken out into the desert and killed.

He is saved, however, by the intervention of this man. Namely King John/Pat Garrett's deputy/the Union officer from the Civil War episode. With a spectacularly bad English accent. He suspects Tony of being an Arab spy, so Tony tells him the truth about who he really is.

This has the usual effect.

Tony and the captain watch a detachment of soldiers fight off an Arab assault.

The captain then demands that Tony take him to the enemy base for a nice spot of revenge.

Meanwhile, Doug is still back at alien HQ, and has been put into a shiny mind-reading device.

Whilst Tony has taken the captain and his obviously gun-fodder sergeant back to the aliens' base. The captain is annoyed, as he wanted Arabs. When his obviously gun-fodder sergeant gets offed by the aliens, though, he agrees that fish people are probably just as good.

The time tunnel lot zap Doug out of the mind-reading device, but don't bother doing anything useful with him, like bringing him home. Instead they send him to Tony. Doug is no doubt really grateful to be dumped in the middle of the desert, in the midst of an army of angry alien fish.

The captain poses for 1883's Dashing Heroes Monthly.

Not to be outdone, Tony has a go at it as well.

Then, because the alien fish are too much for them to handle just at the moment, they find a convenient fort in the middle of the desert, and hang out there for a bit to fight a massive onslaught of stock footage.


Ever on the look out for even greater peril, Tony manages to get himself knocked out next to a huge pile of gunpowder barrels, which somebody promptly lobs a grenade at.

Fortunately Doug notices, and gets rid of the grenade. This leads to ten minutes of hanging onto Tony, with no apparent sign of ever letting go.

The gang decide that the fort is doomed. There is just too much stock footage. They therefore decide to load up on explodables, and head out to attack the alien fish. Always supposing that Doug ever lets go of Tony.

Operation: Fish requires much galloping about on shiny horses. We must be properly heroic at all times.

Tony goes to dismantle a giant alien ray gun with some grenades. Surely an utterly brilliant way to spend an afternoon.

But instead he winds up beaten unconscious by some surprisingly vindictive fish.

You have no idea how happy it makes me to be able to type that sentence. I don't think I've ever used it before.

Doug is distraught, but agrees that Operation: Fish must continue.

Tony winds up in the funky mind-reading device. It can't be easy standing in that thing whilst trying to pretend to still be unconscious.

Alien fish plotting.

Doug and the captain set about blowing stuff up a lot.

They blow stuff up here.

They blow stuff up there.

They blow stuff up in a cave.

And they blow the doors off alien HQ.

The Obligatory Kevin Hagen is most put out, and threatens to annihilate Tony.

But the bomb that he put in time tunnel HQ earlier (I couldn't be bothered to cap that bit) is ticking down to zero, and General Kirk chooses this moment to send it back where it came from. This causes much panic and pandemonium.

Doug hauls Tony out of the mind-reading device, by grabbing a fistful of The Amazing Green Pullover Of Time. Has he no respect?!

Then everybody fights everybody else.

Which causes wholesale destruction of the equipment in alien HQ.

The bomb blows up, taking half a mountain with it.

Delighted with the proceedings, Doug and Tony decide to accompany their new friend to Khartoum.

But the time tunnel lot have other ideas, and whisk them away, leaving a very confused captain and some very pretty horses.

And off go Doug and Tony to an underground room filled with equipment.

They get attacked, and realise in amazement that they've killed their opponent.

However the dead man then gets up and behaves in a generally strange manner.

Is baffly.

Awesome science lab!

Doug and Tony are greeted upstairs by a zombie landlady.

The zombie landlady touches them, which seals them inside a forcefield.

She then turns into a sparkly purple alien with a Village People moustache.

Landladies do that. All the time.

The time tunnel crew zap Doug and Tony out of the forcefield. They don't then zap them home of course. They just zap them into a slightly different bit of the evil aliens' evil headquarters. Time tunnel HQ is helpful that way.

Upon hearing that the humans have broken free of containment, Lord High Sparkly Purple Alien demands that they be executed.

Trapped in a room, with the oxygen being sucked out, Doug and Tony use a metal bench to escape through a window.

This causes the sparkly purple aliens some considerable consternation.

Again, you'll just have to take my word for that.

Outside, two locals who have so far avoided the aliens see Doug and Tony run off, and wonder if they can help each other.

Meanwhile, Doug and Tony are being shot at, as usual.


And running into forcefields, as usual.

Ray gun!


In a village hall filled with people in suspended animation, Doug and Tony meet Pete and Joanie, the town's last two animate citizens. Tony asks them if there are any weapons knocking about - guns or dynamite, for instance. Pete says yes, over at the general store.

Can I just say that I love America? Over here, the most exciting thing that you'd find in a general store would be postage stamps.

But here there's a whole box of dynamite, and after a bit of rummaging on a shelf...

... blasting caps, timing devices, and handy duct tape.

Doug and Tony then try to explain to Pete and Joanie who they are, which has the usual effect. Then Pete and Joanie run off, and Pete is promptly zombiefied by the aliens.

One comes after Joanie as well.

So she helpfully stands still and screams. Fortunately for her, Doug and Tony are rather more useful in a crisis, and save her.

But then the aliens turn on their oxygen-napping device, and the atmospheric pressure drops.

This causes a storm to break out.

And also prompts another of Doug's clingy moments. Let's all link arms and run together! It'll be such fun!

Doug plants a rather lovely bomb at alien HQ.

This is a great sequence. All creeping about, avoiding aliens and zombies.

Or not avoiding them, as the case may be.


I love that the aliens have foot lockers.

Pete arrives, freshly zombiefied. He pretends to be Tony to try to lure Doug out of hiding.

Doug, lurking in the shadows and not knowing who's where or what's what, is nearly caught out.

But Tony gives away his own position to save Doug.


Pete goes after Doug, who realises he's now in the aliens' power.

And then has no idea whether or not this is the real Tony. So he bashes him, just to make sure.

Fortunately Tony is the understanding type.

Once again, the set designers have done a splendid job.

But it all has to blow up anyway. The aliens' plot is foiled, and Doug and Tony get zapped away once again, to continue their adventures.

Except, since it was the last episode of the series, there was originally no cliffhanger ending; so in a later addition when the show went into syndication, one was added onto the end of the episode. They chose, since one didn't already exist, to make this a teaser for the Titanic episode. The result is to make it look as though Doug and Tony get zapped right back where they started, and are doomed to repeat the same adventures over and over again. Which would suck, to put it mildly. I think we can safely assume that they didn't go back to the Titanic again, but whether they did or they didn't, I don't hold out much hope of them ever getting home. That time tunnel lot are about as much use as a chocolate poker. Presumably they're still out there somewhere, flipping about from century to century. Or at least they were until the eighties, when the Republicans axed their budget.

To sum up, then. This is a great fun show. It has its failings, but the good outweighs the bad. Robert Colbert is as wooden as the sets, but James Darren more than makes up for that, with some glorious enthusiasm during the fight sequences, and an endearing habit of inconveniencing the scenery. Doug and Tony have a strong relationship, which makes a good base for the show. I especially enjoyed how willing Doug was to beat Tony senseless in order to cure his severe head injuries during the Civil War. You'd be amazed how rare it is to find a friend who's ready to do something like that. The stories are almost universally good - or began life as good ideas, at any rate. If they'd only got rid of that wretched control room, this could really be a stand out show. As it is, it's well worth watching, and I'm sorry that there was only one season made. TV could use more of this sort of stuff. It's the kind of show that I really miss seeing nowadays.


( 3 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 9th, 2011 01:53 pm (UTC)
You could build yourself a wall of lights and buttons, with plywood and little coloured bulbs. Then it would wobble, and you could pretend you were under attack from spaceships.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 10th, 2011 08:50 am (UTC)
Feel free to lurk. :) It's a great fun series, and I'm glad I dug it out to watch again. I wish James Darren had done more of this kind of thing. It really seems to suit him!
( 3 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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