THE TIME TUNNEL
Writers-Bob and Wanda Duncan
Alfred Dreyfus was convicted on a charge of treason in 1894 but his conviction precipitated a national conflict that almost ended in civil war for France. This conflict eventually lead to separation between church and state for France. Dreyfus, captain of the artillery of the Jewish faith was accused of having written an anonymous schedule (a bordereau) containing a list of secret French military documents that to were to be delivered to the German embassy in Paris. In 1894, Dreyfus was found guilty and sent to Devil's Island for what was to be the rest of his life. Two years after the trial, Lt. Col. George Picquart, head of French military intelligence, uncovered evidence indicating a French infantry officer was the writer of the letter. Picquart was told to remain silent and was dismissed from service. Relatives and friends of Dreyfus supposedly also uncovered similar evidence. In 1898 another Lt. Col confessed he had forged the documents and he committed suicide a short time after confessing. In 1899, Dreyfus was still found guilty by the highest French court of appeal but reduced his sentence to ten years. Ten days after the second court martial, a new more progressive government of France nullified the verdict and pardoned Dreyfus. In 1906, he was fully rehabilitated and restored to his rank, decorated with the legion of honor and served in WWII as Lt. Col. Picquart was also reinstated after the real spy, the man he pointed out as the real culprit, confessed. Anti Semitic forces (many in the military) had a field day with Dreyfus's first guilty verdict but the second verdict was so unpopular that public demand called for a liberal oriented government to be voted in. All of that was said because these interesting events would not have been known by me if I weren't pointed in the direction of research by the entertaining episode of THE TIME TUNNEL---DEVIL'S ISLAND.
At first, DEVIL'S ISLAND seemed rather routine, almost like it would be a retread of the VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA episode THE LAST BATTLE. It was hardly that but much more. After the narration, Doug and Tony, our hapless pair, land on a beach just as two men, resembling them (one named Marcel Duvechar or something and the other named Andre Demire or something) jump into the water to escape. Tony and Doug are believed to be them and are captured by officers of some prison. They are not listened to and are taken with other prisoners to see a guillotine. The Commandant smiles wryly, "Gentlemen, welcome to Devil's Island." This is where the cliffhanger tagged onto the end of MASSACRE ended. The teaser goes on from there as the commandant explains that they are on the smallest of the three islands and that they are to be placed in the second barracks, are here for the rest of their lives, and that sharks surround the island. They should cooperate he goes on and their lives will be long. Doug tells Tony, "We're going to have to just concentrate on keeping alive." End of teaser.
The commandant as well as the cold hearted guard Lescoux (the always chilling Theo Marcuse) are mean and awful people to have lock you up---especially in foot locks. A word about the guest cast---I don't TIME TUNNEL or for that matter any Allen production ever had as good a cast. Aside from Theo Marcuse (Dr. Gamma in VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA's ELEVEN DAYS TO ZERO) there is Royal Dano (who hardly speaks any lines but coughs a lot--bringing the Commandant to say, "No noise or rations will be cut.") Royal has what amounts to a bit part, a cameo and he plays the prisoner who dies--and whose death saves Tony from Lescoux who was about to shoot him. Royal's character was the one Doug wanted to pass water to but Andre Boudaire, an army Lt. here due to his search into graft in the army and due to being betrayed by a man he considered his best friend ("I trust no one!"). Andre is played by the always excellent actor Marcel Hillare (LOST IN SPACE-CONDEMNED OF SPACE & JUNKYARD IN SPACE). Oscar Bergi, also always creepy with good acting, appears as the two faced commandant. With his rounded jaw and flagging cheeks, he really is the sly devil of DEVIL'S ISLAND. Bergi played Col. Lascoe in VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA's first season NO WAY OUT (odd since his character's name in NO WAY OUT and the name of the character played by Theo Marcuse in DEVIL'S ISLAND are almost the same). Whether or not the other actors were really French, they look and sound French, unlike actors in ATTACK OF THE BARBARIANS trying to pass for Oriental (with Arthur Batanides the exception there).
Alain Patrice was very good as the young prisoner Claude--referring back to THE LAST BATTLE---I almost expected him to be a spy of some sort as the character Tomas was in that VOYAGE episode. Alain seems very French and his youth was a welcome freshness to this episode. I haven't seen him in much else besides this. Claude tells Tony he has a wife back home waiting for him and his later fight on the beach with Tony is quite believeable. Claude's crime is he was critical of France's colonial policy--and he's been on Devil's Island for three years--the first time on the small island.
Steven Geray also seems very French (probably because he is!) and does a sympathetic turn as Perault, a man who wants to see his two grand daughters for the first time ever on the main land--if they can escape. He is sympathetic but looks tough enough to be able to survive the fever Perault had to. Two others weren't so lucky: one went mad due to the insects and mosquitos; the other was captured by native Indians and died slowly.
Ted Roter looks like Capt. Dreyfus and brings just the right amount of heir and honor to the man to be convincing. Full credit to all around and to the three back at Tic Toc for turning in an emotion filled yet subtle performance, acting almost as one for a change. In addition to all of this, Tony doesn't act so stupidly in this one and Robert Cobert does his finest job of acting on the series in this one. His emoting and facial expressions convey his every move and thought here and in other episodes. Perhaps it is why he doesn't have to say much. In the scene when he thought the commandant was going to help him he seems to start to say, "I tell you, this isn't the place I'd pick for..." for what? A vacation? Tony and Doug never get a break. They always land in some dangerous place.
At the Tic Toc control center, 1968, their time lock is not refined and they place the setting as anywhere between 1852 to 1930 and since there is no change in the penal uniform used on Devil's Island they cannot narrow it down that way. In addition, records were destroyed in the mid 1930s. Ann gets a good idea: use the numbers on the shirts of Tony and Doug to find out the year--the numbers represent how many prisoners came to the island. Kirk tells her to call Major Hicks at the Paris Embassy and to tell them "what we know." Hicks supplies them with a map of the place (good thing they didn't have to make one as in THE ALAMO). Doug's sneak mission to tell the commandant the truth--that they are Americans here due to a faulty scientific experiment that went awry--is a bad one. Instead of calling San Loren HQ, the commandant puts Doug in the sweatbox (and as Ann later points out in French Guyana near the equator it can get up to 150 degrees). Honestly, Doug, would you trust a face like the commandant's? Doug trusted...and for once he got burned for it.
When Dreyfus arrives on the island, it sets off a number of things: the tunnel crew figure it must be March 15, 1895 and this allows them to get a time fix; the surviving three prisoners now want to help Tony and Doug escape due to wanting Dreyfus to get away; and Tony is able to get water from Dreyfus to Doug in the sweat box. A guard was going to give Doug some water but the cruel Lescoux stops the guard. When the guard and Lescoux talk, Doug overhears some important information. When Dreyfus meets the Commandant, the evil man is playing with a toy guillotine (Bergi does his best scene here--but there are so many--he is very good).
Tony and Andre go to see Dreyfus on the sneak, Andre perking up since he knew Dreyfus, served with him, and Dreyfus recalls him. Perault sees a boat on the shore and the prisoners: Claude steals some food from the mess hall, Perault will sow a sail--he used to be a tailor. While Doug and Tony were separated the tunnel crew try a power split for the first time to retrieve them (Tony is at .016 by 3.0197 and Doug is at 936.1 by 7668 or something like that). Doug and Tony discuss the fact that they cannot include Dreyfus in the escape--he never escaped from Devil's Island, therefore any escape that includes him will be doomed to failure! They wonder how they are going to tell the other prisoners--he is their whole motivation for wanting to try. The tunnel tries their move and pick up Andre Bodaire instead!
If he isn't returned, the commandant will have one prisoner shot every hour--starting with Tony and at 12 o'clock. Hillare takes over all the sequences when he goes to 1968. He asks if they can bring all the others to them but Ray explains the tunnel isn't perfected yet. Kirk and Ray seem very sympathetic to him, not really wanting to send him back...and he adamantly refuses to go back...until he realizes the men will be shot if he doesn't. They give him a good meal, some info (there will be a prevailing high easterly wind at 5 to 15 knots variable; to escape Devil's Island they have to go far North to Trinidad to the British; Dreyfus must not go with them; to tell Tony and Doug to stand at the NW corner of the shack at 8:13), and send him back. As the tunnel hum builds, Kirk tells him to walk straight into the tunnel. He waves. The tunnel sequences were well lit in the early half of this episode but somewhere in the middle of act three the tunnel complex gets very dark again--perhaps they are emulating night and day in the center?
As the plan goes into affect, Doug realizes it is a trap, something which Bodaire found out when he watched the tunnel screen. However, he is dazed and disoriented---his trip just a bad dream to him now. He cannot remember what happened. He does break up the fight between Claude and Tony. When Doug voices his fear of a trap--it was all too easy---so Dreyfus can be shot by the Commandant and his men---Bodaire does remember that Dreyfus cannot go. Tony tells Dreyfus the future--he will be exonerated and freed from the island. The man thinks it is just his vote of confidence but he will be freed. Doug and Tony find the guards (all two of them!?!) who are positioned with a cannon just over the rocks the boat will pass. The two will shoot them dead but Tony and Doug stop them. The fight scenes are all very well done but the one move that I see a great deal on Irwin Allen shows and possibly other shows is a man pulling another's leg out from under him---through his own legs. It looks ridiculous and I doubt it could actually work. This move was used by Admiral Nelson in BLOW UP on VOYAGE. Tony and Doug are on the beach as the boat leaves in the fog. As the others watch, their own time traveling clothes pop on and they vanish into thin air. End of an excellent episode (well, besides the upcoming cliffhanger to REIGN OF TERROR, yet another great episode).
Some of the music used in the first half is from the first season of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA and some music in the second half is from the first episode RENDEZVOUS WITH YESTERDAY.
CLIFFHANGER: Tony and Doug fly through the time vortex. Tony lands first, separated once again from Doug. He hides as a soldier passes--he's learned! Doug lands hard and hits the side of a building. The tumbling down sequences are always very fun. A cart of some kind passes with soldiers leading it. They call him citizen and take him into the cart, hitting him. Tony meets a shopkeeper who befriends him. Together they see the cart pass and the shopman tells Tony there is another one--another aristocrat headed for beheading at the guillotine. When Tony gets a good look at the man on the back of the cart since it is very dark, he sees it is Doug!