THE TIME TUNNEL
CRACK OF DOOM
Tony and Doug fly through time. We see an island in the ocean...Pacific probably. As they flew through time we hear a nice crystal like sound in the music which makes this a neat landing sequence. Doug falls first this time. Tony sails through the air. They get up, their arrival having been witnessed by a native of some kind. Doug comments on their "nice, hospitable place." There are blasts of lightning, earth tremors, and blasts rising from a volcano. Tony smells sulfur and also feels they must be somewhere near the equator. The ground shakes and the two fall. Doug says there is a one hundred percent surety the volcano will blow and fairly soon--ten seconds or a few months. They hear the wild screams of a boy and rush to him. They see him being held by two natives, the half naked boy struggling to get free. The two other natives are trying to throw him into a volcano pit of lava (in what looks like stock footage from Irwin Allen's remake of THE LOST WORLD). This may be where the cliffhanger from last week ended--it is where the Sci Fi channel ends the cliffhanger but doesn't show the usual wording of Next Week See This Fantastic Adventure in THE TIME TUNNEL. Of note, the music seems to be a bit different in the teaser from what was heard in the same sequences in the cliffhanger from last week (THE LAST PATROL). The boys try to stop the natives from tossing the short haired youth (really more a young man or an older teenager than a boy) into the pit of red hot lava. Doug asks Tony to translate the native leader (and also the man who saw the time travellers arrive). Tony believes it is Malayan language. The leader speaks English and tells them no one lives on this island anymore, he and the other men who are trying to appease the "gods" by sacrificing the boy, come from Sumatra. The two time travellers are told that only a human sacrifice will appease the fires. The leader calls them devils and that they already know all of this---he blames them for the volcano, "Now we shall make it stop!" He takes out his knife as other natives come and grab the boys. They start to move them out to the lava pit with the intentions of throwing them in.
The music as the natives try to throw Tony and Doug in, reminds me of a made for TV movie called CROWHAVEN FARM (a very scary horror film with witches; a very well done shocker far above others). An almost bald older man stops the natives. He calls the lead native Karnosu and introduces himself as Dr. Rick Holland who has been here a little over a week. The time travellers tell him they are American scientists. Holland seems protective that this study of the volcano is his project. He questions them about their boat--but they tell him they don't have one. He goes on to think they are shipwrecked survivors, coming from the Sundas Straight, southeast Java, north is Sumatra where the natives come from. Holland mentions the island's name--Krakatoa. Ray sees them through the tunnel viewscreen, "Of all the places in the world...!" Kirk says, "The greatest explosion in history and they're right ontop of it." It is summer of 1883. Kirk orders Jerry to get research on the event. Ann narrows it down to late August. Ray tells them Doug did several papers on volcanic activity and he will know the precise moment of the eruption (apparently not---see later!).
Tony tells Holland, "Doctor, we have some questions to ask you---now they may sound strange..." They ask him what day of the month it is and answering as best he can, he waves them off to leave him alone. They ask the exact date. Last May, Holland explains a big explosion happened, "...don't you Yanks ever read the newspaper?" It was heard in Octavia 100 miles away. They try to explain to him what they know. Tony: "Doctor, we happen to know that Krakatoa is going to blow up--this whole island will go." Doug: "It'll be the biggest explosion in 3 thousand years." Holland tells him that will happen in 20 or 30 years from now but Doug insists it is just a matter of hours. Holland only cares about proving his findings to the British Royal Society. The pressure, Doug tells him, is going to build up. Holland is using an instrument that looks like a camera on a tripod. There is a quake and tremor--they hear a woman screaming for her father--Holland. Tony and Doug rescue the woman--Eve, Holland's daughter (Ellen Burstyn barely faking a British accent)---by picking a tree up off of her. Holland introduces them, "My daughter Eve and a darned good scientist in her own right."
Doug tells her, "We're here quite by accident," but Eve seems suspicious of them. She can't tell them the exact date--August 24th or 25th and refuses to let Tony and Doug see her journal. They may want to steal Holland's records. Doug tells her all they want is the date--she can look it up. Holland believes them and he and Eve go to the boats on the beach (a set which seems to be also used later in PIRATES OF DEADMAN'S ISLAND). Eve feels her father never learns--others have cheated him before. Holland claims he doesn't care about the credit and doesn't think the pair are spies after his research. He tells her to give the boys the date. In the tunnel, we see a female tech. Kirk wonders where Jerry is with the research as they view the volcano, the image off Tony and Doug for the moment. Ray tells Kirk volcano's aren't his field. Jerry returns: at 10:02 AM on August 27th, 1883 is when it blew---and Ann tells them this is very close to the time fix the now have. Ann worries about losing Doug and Tony so they switch back to watching them. Doug asks an irritated Holland for a map and he sends him to the tent for one. Doug looks at it, "We're better off than I thought--we only have time if we leave now." They try to find where it is safe to go. As Ray watches them on the screen, he says, "Everything they need is right here if only we can get it to them." The blast, Ray says, will be 25 times greater than any H Bomb ever set off on Earth, noise will be heard 3 thousand miles away, dust and debre will circle the Earth two and a half times, casualties were enormous, mostly from the tidal waves that resulted. Kirk looks at him, "Ray, we could check it ourselves." He goes on to suggest Ann could switch the image ahead in time to the blast. Ann wonders about the risk of losing all contact with the boys. Kirk is smoking (bad habit!!). When Ray asks if there is no place for them to retreat to, Kirk answers, "Then we're going to have to take our biggest risk of all---we're going to try to have to move all those people through time." The others look at him like he is mad; Jerry protesting that is impossible.
Ray orders Ann to move the image ahead, Kirk double orders her. The spatial coordinates move also and they see a huge wall of water. A tidal wave that Ray assumes can sink 5000 ships heads at Java. They switch back. Just then, Doug is deciding to warn the team to move to Java for safety! Some researcher on volcanos he is...was?!?! The fix slips forward and they see Java inland as the water hits and kills hundreds. It looks like night but it is day...the volcano making it night! On Java, 36 thousand died! The view dams collapsing, water knocking people over, destroying a town. Ray comments, "One of the greatest tragedies of all time and they're heading right into it!"
Doug on the beach views lightning and tries to convince Holland to leave. Holland merely tells him the lightning is from thunderstorms not the volcanic activity. Doug explains it is from volcanic eruptions. At the tunnel, they find the higher elevation of Sumatra is safest--Sumatra was hardly touched at all. Holland tells them to get off the island if they want to but he only cares for his work. Jerry wants to try to use the isolation technique; Ray is skeptical--a lot of work needs yet to be done before it can be perfected. Jerry wants to try the RC7 computer to do this. Tony asks Eve to help convince her father to leave. She says, "This research is vital to my father," and goes on to express he has had so many disappointments, he trusted people who've cheated him. She says, "His work is the only important thing in his life. My advice to you is to forget about us." The native boy hides as lightning and quakes go on. Doug and Tony remeet. Doug wonders, "Why don't we think of ourselves for a change," and take one of the two boats--that way the Hollands and the natives can still leave. Before they can, the teenager takes one of the canoes.
Holland talks to Karnosu. The native thinks Tony and Doug are devils and the cause of the eruptions and tells the doctor this. Holland tells him to leave as he did in May. Karnosu explains this is his home--where he was born, although no one lives on the island now. Holland mocks him lightly, telling him that he left in May due to the explosion then. Holland tells the native (and this is unexpected since we suspect he may have evil intentions), "If you do anything to harm those men, I'll have your neck when we get back to civilization." Karnosu hears this and tells Holland so, then leaves the area. The sky gets dark. Doug and Tony find the canoe gone and Doug realizes they can't leave the Hollands stranded.
Ann looks at the image screen through the tunnel then at her controls, "There's something very wrong with their time table." Ray agrees---the eruption seems only a few hours away. Jerry talks to Ray who tells Jerry to explain about what to an almost impatient Kirk. Jerry says that moving in time requires rapid acceleration and to do that they need to focus a great deal of energy into one small area. The trouble they are having is that they are moving both men simultaneously and with two men the energy is dissipated, erratic. If they focus on one man and pour an enormous burst on him, they might retrieve. Ann considers an overload and Ray tells them a feedback could affect the entire complex. Ray tells Ann it is her department (what is that?). She checks out the figures on a computer ticker tape (?) machine and printer while Jerry takes over her controls. Kirk, Jerry, and Ray watch the smoke coming up out of the volcano. Tony and Doug report to Holland and claim it doesn't matter who took the canoe---they must go even if as Doug states he and Tony "have to drag all of you off." Holland shows Tony and Doug his records which prove the tremors will grow weaker and weaker. Suddenly, the entire ground shakes! Smoke and fog fill the area even more than they already have! Karnosu holds onto a tree. Eve and the camera fall; Holland falls near the tent set up. Doug yells, "It's too late! This is the big one!" Should we believe him?
Doug and Tony go to Holland. Tony tells Holland he knew all along. He does: the tells them the pressure is increasing. No one would have stayed on the island if they knew it would blow up. Tony asks if Eve knows but all he can say is, "She's a dedicated scientist." He says he, at first, thought it would take a few weeks for the volcano to blow up but now he figures it will be days now. Doug tells him, "Hours," and at 10 AM tomorrow. Holland wonders how he can know the exact time but it doesn't matter: he must stay. Doug says, "You're mad, doctor." Holland wonders, "Am I?" He wants the data for the world (but it is not stated exactly why? To prevent further disasters?). Tony wants to tell Eve. Holland will see to it that she gets off the island--he says. He asks them what kind of scientists they are and although Doug claims waiting will be cutting it "awfully thin," he agrees to stay until Holland can collect data. They will leave the first thing tomorrow morning. Tony tells Doug something's wrong--the eruption seems as if it will be sooner. Doug gets the journal to find out what he can. Holland tells Eve, who wants to leave now. He asks for her continued help but she still wants to go. He yells, grabbing her arms, "I am not leaving this island and neither are you until I have collected the data I need!" She agrees to stay, seeing how he has become. Clearly, these two are very human, although Holland seems a bit too over the edge in this act only. Eve cares enough for him to want to help him. It is also surprising that Holland is not an out and out villain, in fact, he is, by some standard, a hero; both Holland and Eve are incredibly stupid though---and this just seems to make them more human, if a bit dull and flat (cynicism I guess).
From the readout, Ann returns with news: the isolation plan could work but feedback is possible, even probable. Ray's concerns are not the damage it might do--it can be repaired but "a power feedback could cause a time warp here in the tunnel." Kirk tells them they only have 24 hours. Doug looks in the journal, "The little fool. This could cost all of us our lives."
Eve, it seems, from the journal, made one small mistake. They sailed from England (Greenwich Mean Time), going west. Tony wonders why west from England and Doug explains that they were following the Great Earthquake Belt that rims the Pacific, down the Straits of Magellan, west across the Pacific, crossing the International Date Line. Eve forgot this and the fact that they lost one day. Doug explains Krakatoa blows up THIS morning, not tomorrow. Doug once more claims they will have enough time if they leave for Java right now. They will go tell Holland but natives grab them! Ann watches in a great point of view and close up shot, turning to the others, "There's no time left! They'll be killed! We've got to at now!" Ray says, "I don't know what this will do to us." Ann's spatial fix is best on Tony. She starts to retrieve. The natives holding Doug and Tony stop motionless; Doug is also still. Tony vanishes in a good fade out. Tony flies through the time vortex (always a stunning visual and never dull at all), flipping end over end. The tunnel blows up blue smoke and blasts. Inside, we hear Tony's voice, "The tunnel! I'm back! Doug! Doc! Doc! General! I'm back!" He comes out and runs the rest of the way. He stops short---all the people in the tunnel control room are frozen stiff, not from ice or cold but from something Tony cannot guess at. There is no sound at all, an eerie scene. Tony looks at them all---no one is moving!
Tony moves between the consoles and sees Kirk and Ray. "Doc, can you hear me? Can you move?" He tries with Ann and Jerry. The actors do a FANTASTIC job of being still, not moving at all! Not an east thing to do. Tony looks at the screen and sees the natives and Doug all unmoving. "I don't understand what's happened--it doesn't make any sense." Then he figures, "A time warp." They cannot hear him--they are frozen between two split seconds of time. He wonders if the controls will move or work for him (they really shouldn't but they do) and finds they will. The tunnel's light bridge walkway glows as he sets the tunnel to send him back, reversing it without changing the setting. The back door into the complex control, as a footnote, is silvery and not detailed anymore. Tony writes a note to "doc" Ray Swain. Why can the note and pencil move? Why aren't the also frozen? It is possible because they are not sentient. He writes the time space coordinates--1.76 and 3.20 ten hundred hours, one minute, 45 seconds. He writes he must help Doug and goes up toward the tunnel, ready to send himself back. He has taken the data they need to find a safe haven and stepping up, stops, moves back down, looking at the others one last time, a sad sequence in a way. He turns and goes back into the tunnel, which lights up with smoke. The complex comes alive and everyone is moving. Tony is flying through the time vortex, always a wonderful sequence. He lands and fights the natives off of Doug. Karnosu moves his knife at Doug's face, Doug with his back on the ground's rocks. The native slips and falls into the pit. We don't see him land in the lava but hear him yell. The fight over, Doug orders the natives to leave and they do! Tony shows his friend the data, they must go to Sumatra. Tony will explain more later when Doug asks, "Where the devil did you get this?" Tony looks for Holland. Ray shows Jerry, Ann, and Kirk the note Tony scribbled to them--a note that appeared from nowhere. He also notes that their research was suddenly gone. He surmises Tony was in great acceleration and did all of this between the two beats of a microsecond of time. He wasn't visible to them. Ann looks into the tunnel, "And he went back. Deliberately went back." Ray exclaims, "He had to, Ann, to save Doug." Tony goes to get Eve. Kirk asks for a voice contact. Ray tells him it, "...hasn't worked for us yet." Kirk figures with the good fix they have it might and asks Ray to patch him in. Kirk's voice calls to Tony and Eve overhears it. She asks about it and Tony tells her the truth, "We're time travellers. Krakatoa is history to us." Kirk tells them they must get to the time-space coordinates on Tony's note (I wonder why? They've switched them before from different spots and will again). Tony tells him he was back but then they lose voice contact. Tony looks up into the air from where the voice came, "This is the first voice contact we've had." He didn't get Kirk's answer about the tunnel being able to switch them. Tony tells Eve he and Doug are from the future. Holland overheard Kirk's voice and what Eve and Tony were discussing. The pair run to him---they will leave now. Tony pulls Doug aside on the beach, "I've made arrangements for the time tunnel to get us off." They tell the Hollands they cannot go with them--the canoe would be swamped. Eve shakes Doug's hand but kisses Tony's cheek. Doug gives Holland the data while Tony explains about Sumatra. Holland thanks them both and the father and daughter leave with the natives. Apparently, the natives were hired by or were helping the Hollands. While that is never made clear, it is clear Rick Holland and Eve were very nice people, only not too level headed.
Smoke and lightning pick up again. The tunnel folk watch and do a countdown (Ann). Ray says to stand by for the order to switch them. The switch and nothing happens. There is some good bits of music as we see the interference on the image projector screen--all static on it now. The forces building in the volcano were affecting the tunnel's power output. Ann wonders if they can switch them to some other place if they override the interference (what exactly does that mean?). Ray orders Jerry to get the emergency crew on the circuits. Doug gets his jacket on as he and Tony at the spot, now wait to be switched. Tony tells him about the note and guesses that the tunnel failed to move them---that they've "...just lost the best chance we had to get back." They figure the Hollands should be just arriving in Sumatra--just barely. Tony yelling over the thunder and sounds of escaping gas and building forces tells Doug the ground is too hot to stand on! Doug yells, "There's not much time left!" Gee, is he right this time? Should we believe him? The sky turns black and the volcano blows as Doug pointed out, "There it goes! The whole island!" The island explodes in an inferno! Seconds before, Tony and Doug thrown near a tree, Tony almost on the ground, vanish in one of the best pop outs ever---the fade out of both Tony and Doug is flawless. Tony and Doug cascade through time. Some repeated showings leave out the short sequence of the boys flying in time.
CLIFFHANGER: Tony and Doug fly in time. The boys land on sand amid dead soldiers in red skirts and tunics, silver armor, helmets and swords. Doug lands on his back first, then Tony a few seconds later. One asks the other if he is all right as the tunnel people watch them get up, "You all right?" Kirk wants Ann to narrow down the time fix from, "...sometime before 100 BC...before 500 BC." Doug looks at Trojans and Greeks...part of two opposing armies readying to face off at each other. He says, "We're right in the middle of No Man's Land." Tony looks, "They'll cut us to ribbons." The pair hide behind rocks strewn among a major rocky area. The tunnel people watch Greeks holding out their spears. Ann continues to get the time fix, "600 BC...700, 800, 1000, 1200 BC is the final time fix stabilized." Ray tells the spatial coordinates--389-58---where Greece and Turkey meet. Men lie down with shields and other men on horses ride over them. Men on horses fight other men on horses and some on foot. Tony and Doug watch the fierce battle. Many men on both sides are stabbed by spears, swords, and arrows. As Tony and Doug watch, they are taken unaware--behind them comes a Greek warrior, his sword upraised high, "Die Trojan!" They react and the sword is raised above both men, closer to Doug! The strange unusual freezeframe music is played and the music used in this cliffhanger is different from that played in the next episode's teaser--REVENGE OF THE GODS.
NEXT WEEK SEE THIS FANTASTIC ADVENTURE IN THE TIME TUNNEL.
REVIEW: CRACK OF DOOM is okay. At times, it is a bit like watching the film KRAKATOA, EAST OF JAVA while also reading a good account of the actual explosion in good book (which would give you a better entertainment and historical perspective than CRACK OF DOOM). This is not the best way this material could have been presented. Torin Thatcher is wonderful as always, glad to see him not playing an out and out villain this time (as he did on VOYAGE and LOST). His GIANTS character in NIGHTMARE wasn't evil, just motivated by patriotism. Here, he is motivated by a desire to accomplish something...after having been so taken advantage of by others. He is really more complex than meets the eye and really does not want harm to come to Tony and Doug. Robert Drasnin's music adds to the sequences but it is not as lively as his music for LOST IN SPACE-THE THIEF OF OUTER SPACE. The sets were nice and the sequence with Tony going back to the tunnel is classic---however, it has been ripped off from the movie THE TIME TRAVELLERS...which actually did a better job of presenting the time warp effects...which almost directly parallel what happened to Tony. While predating the disaster movie craze of the 1970s started by EARTHQUAKE and THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, this episode is not very original. It is okay to watch once of twice but gets rather stale quickly.
HISTORICAL DATA: A volcanic island between the main Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra, Krakatoa unleashed the most violent eruption in modern times on August 26th (a Sunday) and 27th. It had been inactive since 1680 and rumbled to life in May. Krakatoa began rumbling and its blasts shook houses 100 miles away. A dark cloud of ash 17 miles high filled the air and blocked out the sunlight. Hot tones and ash fell and destroyed buildings and bridges and made roads impassable up to 100 miles away. Krakatoa stirred up 15 other volcanoes on Java, erupting them as well. The sea was 60 degrees hotter than normal and was blanketed by a floating layer of pumice that slowly became 10 feet thick. The air was also thick with sulfurous volcanic gases. Blasts from repeated explosive eruptions charged the air with lightning bolts and whipped up tornadoes and water spouts to further impede those trying to find safety. Hot ash and rocks showered down from above, the earth trembled, fissures opened, and buildings collapsed. Sunday night---a 50 square mile tract of land sank beneath the sea as did a chain of small islands off Java. As Krakatoa continued to be the most violent, still more volcanoes began erupting on Java and also on Sumatra. The island of Merak---3 miles from Krakatoa--sank into the sea, only to be replaced by 14 new volcanic islands. The finale came August 27th (Monday) in 4 cataclysmic explosions---at 5:30 AM, 6:44 AM, 10:02 AM, and 10:52 AM, possibly caused by the mixing of large volumes of searing hot lava and cold seawater inside the volcano. The third and strongest of the blasts was heard over 29 hundred miles away! The cone collapsed in on itself after the 4th explosion. Two thirds of the island, once 25 miles long and 17 miles wide, sank beneath the sea. The area was plunged into total darkness for two and one half days. The atmospheric shock wave circled the globe several times in each direction, registering on barometers as it passed, and spawned still more tornadoes in Java and Sumatra. Huge tidal waves, tsunamis, between 50 and 120 feet high, swept over the coastal towns of Java AND Sumatra, causing most of the 36 thousand deaths attributed to Krakatoa. The waves traveled as far as South America and Africa's Cape Horn--thousands of miles away. Five cubic miles of debre was hurled into the upper atmosphere and traces of it remained for over two years! The resulting sunlight distortion produced brilliant and sometimes strange sunsets and sky glows. The sun appeared blue in South America and for months green in Honolulu. Red sky glows were mistaken for distant fires. Volcanic dust blocking the sunlight was even blamed for a one degree Fahrenheit drop in average temperatures throughout the northern hemisphere during the 19th century. This comes from THE PESSIMIST'S GUIDE TO HISTORY--I wonder why it was placed in there!!!!! Sarcasm here. THE TIME TUNNEL-CRACK OF DOOM did what not any show would do back then: tackle a volcano episode. Many shows in the present of 1997 wouldn't tackle that task. TIME TUNNEL did it with passable notice and some tension, if flawed in some ways.