The Time Tunnel-1966

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I took a stroll down memory lane recently. I love writing because of this show. And I love history because of this show. When I was a boy watching this show I didn’t notice the plot holes you could drive an eighteen wheel truck through. But I did notice the story.

The Time Tunnel was the third television series created by Irwin Allen. First came the film Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea on July 12, 1961. A television series based on the film and utilizing the same name ran on the ABC network from September 14, 1964 to March 31, 1968. Just after the series began to air Irwin Allen turn his attention from inner space to outer space. Lost In Space aired on the CBS Network during the televisions seasons of 1965 to 1968. But in 1964 Irwin Allen started writing a forty-five page outline for a series that would eventually be called The Time Tunnel.

Irwin Allen commissioned Shimon Wincelberg to write the pilot script for the series. Wincelberg also wrote the script for the pilot for Lost In Space so Irwin Allen knew what to expect. Wincelberg also wrote for other series of the era such as Have Gun – Will Travel and Route 66. Only a handful of Allen’s original ideas would survive the re-writing process. He also added a number of new characters that would survive the re-write process and make it to the series, however still another re-write would take place.

The ABC Television network was interested but requested some changes before they would commit to the purchase of the series. The ABC television network was in a three way race and they were in third place. They wanted 1966 to be the year color came to TV. Up till then almost all the shows on TV were filmed in black and white and broadcast in black and white. But with the special effects the script called for the series would be very expensive to produce. Enter Jack Bloom.

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Harold Jack Bloom spent most of his life writing scripts for TV. He wrote for The Man From U.N.C.L.E, 12 O’clock High, and Have Gun – Will Travel. He occasionally dabbled with film scripts. The Last of the Pharaohs, and the James Bond film You Only Live Twice are just two of the films he worked on. If you are a James Bond film fan you may be wondering where his credits are. Harry Saltzman and Cubby Brocolli would initially ask Bloom to write the film, but would find the script lacking. Roald Dahl would be brought in to spruce it up. He decided that many of Blooms ideas were worth keeping. Bloom did get some credit – “For additional material”.

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Harold Jack Bloom

Shimon Wincelberg only had one time traveller by the name of Peter Phillips. Bloom added a second traveller whose name was Tony Newman. Bloom also changed Peter Phillips first name to Doug. He made other changes too. General Kirk was originally a doctor. The bigwig from Washington who came to kill the super secret project was originally a woman. But by the time Bloom was through making changes this hatchet wielding person was now a man. He also added Dr. Ann MacGregor and Dr. Ray Swain. With these changes the budget could be met, and the series produced. He added Dr. MacGregor and Dr. Swain because as Wincelberg had it “Dr” Kirk would be doing all the work.

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With the script now settled on it came time to cast the show. James Darren(Gidget , The Guns Of Navarone , City Beneath The Sea ) was cast as Tony Newman. Robert Colbert (Colt .45, Maverick, Death Valley Days) was cast as the second time traveller.

James Darren      Robert Colbert     Whit Bissell

      James Darren                        Robert Colbert                            Whit Bissell

                John Zaremba     Lee Meriwether

                           John Zaremba                               Lee Meriwether

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Whit Bissell ( I Was A Teenage Werewolf, I Was A Teenage Frankenstein, The Creature From The Black Lagoon) was cast as General Kirk while the roles of the scientists went to John Zaremba (Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers) and former Miss America (1955)Lee Meriwether. This show was fantastic entertainment for a child of nine or ten years of age, but it was also obvious that the show didn’t place a great deal of emphasis on accuracy. In the pilot episode that was aired (the original pilot episode ran too long but was included in the DVD set that finally came on the market) the name of the captain of The Titanic was Malcolm. History tells us his first name was actually Edward and went by the nickname “E.J.”. The Time Tunnel introduced kids to the RMS Titanic, Halley’s Comet, and the island of Krakatoa. The cancellation of the show is still a matter of debate in some circles. But the fact remains that by early 1967 The Time Tunnel was just scraping by in the ratings. And for one unnamed ABC executive scraping by just wasn’t good enough. He wanted to cancel The Time Tunnel and replace with it with a show called Custer (named after the United States general who did so well at the battle of Little Bighorn). One day in the spring of ‘67 Time Tunnel was renewed. The next it was dead and replaced with Custer. Custer died a quick death, doing far worse than The Time Tunnel and lasting only a handful of shows. But the damage had been done. The Time Tunnel had been cancelled and all actors had moved on. The sets had been struck (demolished), and The Time Tunnel would remain a glimmer in Irwin Allen’s eye. Of all the series he created (there were four) The Time tunnel was his favorite. In the seventies he tried to breath new life into the failed series. Even after his death his wife tried to reboot the series in 2002. Again, the attempt failed. The Time Tunnel will remain a cheesy series with really lousy writing. But it will remain a gem in the heart of its many fans.

Just in case you think the music sounds familiar well…it should. The Time Tunnel was one of his first major jobs. John Williams, the man who wrote the scores for Star Wars, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind wrote the music for The Time Tunnel. Only as Johnny Williams.

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The Twilight Zone–Episode “The Lonely”

This episode originally aired on November. 13, 1959. The writer was Rod Serling, and starred Jack Warden, John Dehner, and Jean Marsh.

Authors Note: When I watch any TV show from when I was small, or simply too young to watch, I am always on the lookout for stars that would become popular many years later. There is such a person in this show. They received no credits in the show as it was aired, and no credits on VHS or DVD packaging. In short there was no telling who might pop up.

38. Jack in the that goes nowhere

This the second episode that was produced, yet the the seventh that was aired. Most TV shows are aired in the sequence they are produced. This particular episode was filmed under the scorching sun of Death Valley. When members of the crew started to drop like flies from heat exhaustion specific scenes had to be re-shot back at MGM studios. Some scenes had to be re-written as well so they could take place in the shack behind Jack Warden.

Jack Warden was riding high when he did this episode. He did a film with Henry Fonda called “12 Angry Men” in 1957, then followed that up in 1958 by doing a film called “Run Silent Run Deep” with Burt Lancaster, and Clark Gable that was directed by Robert Wise.

Jean Marsh had been doing small roles on the British stage, and on TV. She made her debut on Broadway in early 1959, and quickly followed that up by making her debut on American television the same year.

Jack Warden plays James Corry, a man convicted of murder, and sentenced to fifty years imprisonment on a penal asteroid. He is only in the fourth year of his sentence. Earth has decided to farm out all their undesirables. A supply ship from Earth comes once every three months to check on its prisoners. And when it does visit it visits for only minutes. One of the supply ships is commanded by a man named Allenby, a fellow who thinks there must be a better way of dealing with prisoners because when you’re sentenced to a penal asteroid you’re the only person on that barren hunk of rock.

40. Allenby  Allenby, played by John Dehner, does what he can. For prisoners like Corry he risks his career and job by smuggling in what he can. For Corry he’s smuggled in old car parts so Corry would have something to tinker with. But Corry is starting to crack. He needs someone to talk to. Adams and Turley, who are Allenby’s crew, carry a large crate to the shack. They don’t know anything about it aside its for Corry. Adams doesn’t think anybody should do anything for prisoners, and he doesn’t mind letting his commander know how he feels. Allenby smuggles an android to keep Corry company.

At first Corry isn’t very grateful. He thinks it mocks him. But quickly Corry discovers this “robot”, as he describes her, is his salvation. He is no longer alone. He can talk to her, and her to him. Eventually Corry stops thinking of Alicia (that’s her name) as a robot or android. She looks human, smells human, sounds human. Corry starts thinking of her as a flesh and blood woman.

36. Jean and the eyes

Corry teaches her astronomy and soon after that checkers. Jean Marsh is perfect as Alicia with her gorgeous eyes. She experiments with different hair styles, and as the episode progresses she looks more and more beautiful. After a few months Corry begins to care for her, and starts calling her by name. As time passes he falls in love with her.

When Allenby and his crew return 11 months later they bring news that Corry has been pardoned. But he can only bring 15 pounds of gear with him. In this screen capture Corry is pleading with Allenby to be allowed to bring Alicia to Earth. Allenby is adamant. Fifteen pounds and not an ounce more.

32. Allenby, Adams, Corry

John Dehner is on the left, Jack Warden is on the right, and that fellow in the middle wearing an out dated Air Force helmet is Ted Knight. Ted Knight played the bumbling, brainless Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore show. In ten years time he’ll be the anchorman at a Minneapolis TV station called WJM, but right now he’s a nobody. His doesn’t even rate a show credit, and he’s taking what jobs he can to simply pay the rent.

Corry has just discovered how much Alicia means to him. Allenby is distressed because it means taking away the one thing thing that kept Corry sane. Adams (Ted Knight) figures out that Alicia was in that big heavy crate he helped deliver one year ago (even at this stage Ted Knight is not the sharpest tool in the shed). Allenby fears Corry will lose touch with reality permanently, and is forced to shoot Alicia in the face. Corry comes to his senses, and the threesome run back to the spaceship. The shack, the car, and what’s left of Alicia are left to rust, and in time, decompose.

34. Alicia shot

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Star Trek–The Show You Never Saw–Part 2

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The Mass Firings – The Real Reasons

NBC really didn’t care that they were putting a lot of people – talented and untalented – out of work. They didn’t care one bit. All they cared about was the almighty dollar. So when 99 % of the cast from the first pilot were shown the door they couldn’t have care less. But they what they really wanted was for Gene Roddenberry to give the axe to two very specific characters – the characters known as Number 1, and Mr. Spock. Gene really wanted Leonard Nimoy to portray Mr. Spock. Gene felt so strongly about the Spock character that he had the first of many legendary meetings/fights with NBC. The kind of meetings where forced smiles, the gnashing of teeth, skyrocketing blood pressures abound, and death threats are either muttered or thought.  At the end of the Spock – No Spock battle a compromise was reached. Spock could stay. But Gene was informed that he absolutely, positively, categorically, could not focus very much attention on him. Gene gladly agreed. He also planned to ignore this edict from on high.

Now came the thorny problem that quietly became known as “The Number 1 Problem”. Gene specifically wrote the character of Number 1 with his girlfriend/mistress Majel Barrett in mind. The fact men hated her, and women absolutely loathed her were far down the list of logical reasons to fire her. NBC hated her, and that was as good as any other reason.  Majel described how she felt during an interview for the book Star Trek Memories. “Gene wrote the role for me and me alone. It was devastating to hear NBC wanted me out, and my efforts were not appreciated. Gene said over and over ‘We’ll work you into it. Somehow or another, you’ll be in the show’”.

Next came one of the more ridiculous reasons that would have to be addressed if there was to be a second pilot. In the first pilot there were a handful of scenes in which there were “green Orion slave girls”. The NBC censor who was always twenty or thirty years behind the times decreed “Cut out the dancing girls. No more bumping and grinding”. So shall it be written, and so on.

Jeff Hunter, who had been the captain in the first pilot, was also one of the few who survived the mass firing ordered by NBC. But he wasn’t in the second pilot. Jeff had been what is termed a “problem” actor. He demanded this and he demanded that. But the real headaches began when Jeff’s wife got into the act during the lull between the pilots. Upon viewing the first pilot she couldn’t say enough negative things about it. Then came the demands, and the counter demands, which were very quickly followed up with “Jeff wants this” and Jeff wants that”.  After Robert Justman and Gene discussed the matter it quickly became apparent that no actor, male or female, was worth all these headaches. Very quickly Jeff’s wife talked her husband out a job. Now the USS Enterprise had no crew, no doctor, no engineer, and no captain.

Now a ship had to have a captain, and Gene had a list of twenty or so actors that could fit the bill. So Gene called his first choice…Jack Lord (Jack Lord of the original Hawaii Five-O). Only this was a few years before Hawaii Five-O. Jack had seen the first pilot and liked it. He also wanted a fifty percent share in the show, and there was no way on gods green earth Gene was going to let that happen, so he quickly hung up and dialed his second choice who was William Shatner. When Gene called Bill Shatner he (Shatner) didn’t have a clue who Gene was. The fact remained that Gene was talking to one of the best Canadian actors of the time. During the conversation Bill Shatner agreed to come down to the studio, and view the original pilot with Gene. After the viewing a conversation ensued about the pros and cons of the pilot, and Star Trek in general. At the end of the conversation Gene apparently said something to the effect “You’re him ! You’re my leading man !”. However, during the entire conversation Bill Shatner never once enquired about the name of his character. It is entirely possible that the characters name wasn’t discussed. It’s far more likely was that Gene simply hadn’t decided on the name for his main character. On May. 18, 1965 Gene dictated a memo he called a short list of potential last names for the character – January, Flagg, Drake, Christopher, Thorpe, Richard, Patrick, Raintree, Boone, Hudson, Timber, Hamilton, Hannibal, Neville, and Kirk. Another name was penciled in near the bottom. It was North.

By the summer of 1965 the services of the two guest stars were secured. Sally Kellerman would portray Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, and Gary Lockwood would portray Lt. Gary Mitchell. Their characters would suffer from some unknown from some unknown form of radiation, and mutate into gods. This sounds rather easy, but in fact it was it was anything but.

Their mutation involved having silver eyes. And the task of locating “silver eyes” fell to Robert “Bob” Justman. The effect Gene had envisioned for the guest stars was an effect most optical houses shied away from. The effect had the reputation of simply being uncomfortable, to heating up the surface of the eye, causing actual physical damage to the surface of the eye, and the side effect nobody wants –lawsuits. Hard contacts were the only kind of contacts available (remember…it’s 1965) so two lenses would be stuck together with a tiny piece of tin foil sandwiched between the two lenses. When Sally was fitted for her contacts there were no problems. However, Gary’s fitting took forever. And because the tiny pinhole he was supposed to see out of was slightly off center, he had to raise his head and look down his nose at you. He looked a bit unearthly, and the effect worked.

While this was going on new crew members were recruited. George Takei was offered the role of Lt. Sulu, and James Doohan became Chief engineer Scott.

On July. 21, 1965 filming began, and it went rather smoothly. Gone were the pigeons that lived near the rafters, and the rattling of the plumbing that had plagued the filming of the first pilot. Gene and Sam Peebles, who wrote “Where No Man Has Gone Before” made sure this pilot had everything the first lacked. Sally Kellerman oozed sex appeal, and when that wasn’t needed, there was plenty of action. Near the end of the pilot, and of shooting, there is a sequence when Shatner and Lockwood are really duking it out. They were having a great time showing NBC just what they could do, and what action really means. All was going well till Shatner tossed Lockwood aside, and Lockwood lands at Kellermans feet. When Lockwood landed at Kellermans feet his pants split wide open. And not just a little bit. The split was so large it exposed the fact Lockwood wasn’t wearing any underwear, and his manhood. Lockwood, not missing a beat, looks at Sally and says “Smile sunshine, you’ve just had your picture taken”. Sally is far from flustered by what has happened. With a wonderfully wicked expression she responds “With that little itty bitty Brownie ?”. Lockwood runs off the stage at near warp speed to recover any dignity he has left, as well as get his pants repaired. Filming has stopped, most of the crew are in stiches, and Shatner is killing himself laughing. Suddenly there is a buzzing sound. Large black wasps had made the roof area vacated by the pigeons their home. And the heat generated by the studio arc lights had driven them into a frenzy. With Sally and Shatner square in their sites they attacked. Big, burly, union men scatter, screaming like little girls. Sally is stung numerous times in her behind, and Shatner, soon to TV’s reigning stud, is felled by a series of stings in the area surrounding his his right eye. His face immediately inflates to the point where he looks like he just lost several prize fights. It’s Friday, no more filming can be done, and everybody is sent home. When filming resumes on Monday Shatner still looks as if he’s getting over a bad case of the mumps, or was the victim of an extremely thorough mugging. So the next chance you get to see “Where No Man Has Gone Before” take a close look at Shatners face. It’s still pretty plump.

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Resources used in this post

Inside Star Trek The Real Story By Herbert F. Solow & Robert H. Justman

Star Trek Memories by William Shatner with Chris Kreski

TV Guide Official Collectors Edition Star Trek 30 Years later

The Art Of Star Trek by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens

Memory – Alpha Star Trek Wiki http:// en.memory-alpha.org/