THE TIME TUNNEL
It is day as Tony and Doug tumble out of the vortex after we hear the opening narration. They see many dead soldiers in what appear to be Civil War uniforms. Doug realizes this is not the South nor Eastern US. He checks one of the dead men's ID: a private Augus Schmidt, enlisted 1868 in St. Louis, Missouri. Doug says they are right in the middle of nowhere. He spots three Indians riding horses at them. The pair run but the Indians give chase, dismounting when the chase enters a more forestry area. Crazy Horse, Yellow Elk, and Knife are the three pursuers. Tony and Doug hear some kind of signal. Just as Tony thinks they've given them the slip, he literally runs right into them! Doug fights and Tony is stopped from behind, one of the Indians putting a knife to his throat. As they fight, one of the Indians, Crazy Horse it seems, puts a knife right at Doug's stomach. This ends the cliffhanger (that was tagged onto REVENGE OF THE GODS) which makes it appear that the Indian is stabbing Doug. The teaser continues on from here. Doug tells them they are not soldiers; Tony explains they have no weapons. The pair are taken to the dead soldiers. One of the Indians is a bit flabby, being shirtless. This is not really very believeable--if Indians were supposed to be outdoor people, especially the Sioux---then they would hardly be flabby. I suppose some might have been but it just looks wrong. Crazy Horse questions them a bit but seems already convinced that they are soldiers or spies, even so they are white and he says, "You will die," to them and orders the other two Indians to tie them up. The music that tops off this teaser ends with one long group of notes or one long note.
Act Two has the tunnel crew watching the US Cavalry. Kirk places the uniforms and mounted soldiers at somewhere between 1868 and 1890. This amazes Ann as he realized they only had mounted Dragoons in the Civil War, this mounted soldier leading them is not a Dragoon. He wonders what the song is they are whistling. They have a time fix but no location in space. Kirk calls the Indian Bureau and asks the History Dept. to send someone who knows the Indian war period. The year comes in as 1876 but the image is lost, much to Anne's annoyance. At night, Crazy Horse introduces himself to Tony and Doug, talks of a Yellow Hair, and questions them at length. They don't understand who Yellow Hair is (why not? Doesn't everyone know about Custer?). Shots ring out and distract the three Indians away. A young soldier named Tim McGinnis (who is supposed to be 15?!), the only survivor of his outfit--they were the dead men Tony and Doug saw, cuts Doug free and cuts the ropes around Tony's feet. Tony urges them to go ahead while he gets free but as they do, the Indians recapture him. Tim tells Doug he is from the B Troop of the 3rd Cavalry on dispatch from a General Kirk (?!), telling Doug the Indians will want to show Tony off at their camp. He informs Doug they can bring help from the 7th Cavalry--a one day walk to them. Doug refuses, getting an idea to cut that time down. He starts to go off, Tim wants to go with him and Doug smiles and lets him, patting his head. Doug and the young soldier sneak up on the three camping Indians (wait, aren't Indians, at least in these movies, supposed to be real sensitive to what is out in the woods and sounds and all that?). The pair steal two horses after Doug knocks one Indian down; Tony sensing it is Doug and Tim, uses his body to block the other two. Tim and Doug ride off.
Dr. Charles Whitebird, a pure blood Sioux, from the state university was contacted by the Indian Bureau and he arrives at the tunnel complex, an unassuming but big man. He looks out at the tunnel image screen and sees various tribes on a government reservation: Arapaho, Santee, Blackfoot, Sioux, Hunkpapa (a branch of the Sioux), Grand Teton (western division of the Dakotas and the Sioux). He comments that these are the best films he's ever seen on Indians. Ray says, "Those aren't films..that is the living past." Kirk goes on to tell him that the technique and engineering are classified. They get an image of Tony trying to get out of the tippee he is in at the Indian's large camp during the bright morning now. When Sitting Bull, very old at this point, and Crazy Horse catch him, he tells Sitting Bull, "The land belongs to all of us, it's my land as well as yours." This sickening short speech, the first of many by Tony, who suddenly seems American Indian himself (is that what they were implying?), is something that shames the show and this particular episode. This first one sounds like some kind of song Tony should be singing, "This land was made for you and me!!!" Sitting Bull tells Crazy Horse he has the killing fever in his blood but Crazy Horse mentions Tony's snake tongue. Both agree he is a strange white man. Tony doesn't know who Yellow Hair is but Sitting Bull insists everyone knows Yellow Hair. The Indians embarrassingly talk in mono syllables, incorrect usage, and Tarzan like non-sentences---as in many, many movies from the 50s and earlier, even a few in the early to late 60s. I often wondered how Tony and Doug could understand the languages of everyone they encountered in the past--I chalked it up to something the tunnel does--some kind of language translator but in MASSACRE the Indian talk is really cliche and quite prejudiced against the Indians being anything but ignorant. The episode is kinder to them in other ways though. Sitting Bull makes Tony a prisoner of Crazy Horse who makes an Indian puts wood on the stakes for a fire to kill Tony. Tony calls Sitting Bull brother and tells him he will show him how to die, takes his place on the stake, and stands there as Crazy Horse starts the fire...ready to burn Tony to death.
In Act Two, Sitting Bull stops the burning at the stake. Ann gets an image of mid summer June 25th, 1876 and then they see George Armstrong Custer who is thinking of the Presidency while talking to one of his majors named Tom Custer. George Armstrong Custer was a Brigadier at the age of 21 he says because he's stretched his orders. Company Commander Reno and Capt. Benteen disagree with Custer about attacking the Indians--they were not to attack until Gibbons and Cook arrive--that is the order from Major Terry. Reno is report to General Terry---Custer calls him a coward. He claims revelry is at three thirty, boots and saddles at five. They have 100 rounds of ammo. Doug and Tim ride in to the camp. Custer goes over his plans--he is Yellow Hair--well, duh! Cook's unit was attacked and wiped out...only Tim survived. They were ambushed. Custer thinks Doug is a newspaper man who can give him glory but when Doug explains he needs help for Tony, Custer tells him he cannot do this right away...even if Tony isn't already dead. When Doug informs him that the army is to help civilians, Custer has him arrested--he can't chance that he will talk of where the camp is. June 24th, 1876, Whitebird recalls is when Custer first set up camp near Muddy Creek. They are trying to get a spatial (Ray explains, "That is a geographical fix.") fix. Tim cuts Doug out of the tent, telling him he is going against his oath as an officer. He diverts the sentry, asking him for tobacco to chew, "it gets a fellow done not having a mouth full of tobacco." Although, Charles has made a lifetime study of the area, it is too big for him to immediately make out where it is. Tony is told he must fight--win and he will be adopted, lose and he will die. Weapons include a tomahawk and a knife. Yellow Elk fights Tony.
In act three, Tony bests Yellow Elk in the fight, throwing his knife and tomahawk away quickly. Tony uses karate and this may explain why he wins. This is a plus for the show since Indians almost always lose in movies and TV shows, despite the fact that (erroneously) that almost all of their tribes are supposed to have these fights to the death as part of their heritage! A book called THE CELLUOID INDIAN mentions MASSACRE as being partly okay in its portrayal of the American Indians since it was somewhat sympathetic to them and their plight, however, also mentioning (correctly so) that the way the Indians were portrayed was stilted and unrealistic, making them both noble savages and bloodthirsty villains at the same time. This is partly true. MASSACRE, however tried--more on this later.
Anyway, Tony wins and it is very silly that he puts the knife to Yellow Elk's throat and then buries it in the sand...although perhaps he was overcome by the fight and at first wanted to kill. This type of ending is more akin to a Capt. Kirk fight in STAR TREK. Tony eulogizes that brother should not kill brother (see IDOL OF DEATH for more Tony sermons on killing...some of which don't seem to match up with his ways here). Sitting Bull tells him, "Truly, you are a brother." The tunnel staff see Doug trying to get away from the Calvary. Kirk has told them Custer was tough on anyone who crossed him but Whitebird admits not as tough as the Indians would be--his brothers (this is hogwash--there have been plenty of stories of Indians not hurting captives as much as of them killing, torturing them,....and each other but it was the white man who brought scalping to the New World...and white man who also tortured and killed).
Benteen catches up with Doug and tells him the Indians would be tougher on Doug than Custer was. Benteen is calmer than most others who have come up against Tony and Doug in the past (and the future, ha, ha, ha). Charles locates a familiar rock underpass from the tunnel complex--called Indian Arch. This is the route that Custer took to Little Big Horn and if they get some kind of surveillance maps he could probably locate it. They lose Doug's image, get it again, then get Tony's image. Tony tells Indians about the future and urges them to talk, don't fight. The council comes to an end. One thing about this council--it is a council of three apparently. There should have been more chiefs and indians present! And certainly Tony wouldn't have been one of the main speakers at the council (even if it was allowed!).
Stock footage of the Custer army camp is used to good effect again, as Doug returns to Custer. Custer tells him he would have him court martialed and shot if he was a soldier. He adds, "I've half a mind to do it anyway." Doug explains to Custer about the future. Doug tries to get Custer to let Tim stay behind but he'll use him as his trumpeter and messenger (sad music here, sounding like Herman Stein from THE DERELICT via LOST IN SPACE--). Tim protested Doug's request. Doug and Benteen talk--he has a 7 year old son. Doug asks Benteen to do him a favor--get Tim assigned to Reno. He calls Custer daft and Benteen agrees. Whitebird wants another look at the Indian camp, perhaps he can recognize something. The braves are getting ready for battle. Sitting Bull doesn't listen to Tony. This seems to be in spite of the council and what they would do from out of it...very improbable. They most likely decided at the council what Sitting Bull now reveals. They talk more. Sitting Bull will send Tony to Yellow Hair (who? Oh, Custer.) with a message of peace offering from him. Charles explains to Kirk that Sitting Bull didn't take part in the battle---apparently he waited in his tippee for a reply of some kind...but no peace offering was ever before recorded in history. If Custer was not going to attack, the natives would have given peace; if he attacked, they would kill him and the others under his command.
At this point, Kirk asks, "Who is the savage and who is the civilized man?" This is more a statement than a question, Kirk reflecting on how the native Sitting Bull was offering a peace plan to Custer--who doesn't listen---and Kirk's statement and he are presented as sympathetic and sensitive to the Native Americans. Whitebird, even more thoughtfully, counters with, "There were savages on both sides." This short scene, at least for me, countered all those negative, unrealistic portrayals (including in part, this one) of American Natives I have ever seen and sent me wondering what they were really like. For that, MASSACRE is owed a great deal. Crazy Horse tells Sitting Bull it was a mistake to send a white man to Custer. Outside, as if to prove Whitebird's statement, Crazy Horse sends Yellow Elk with a tomahawk---after Tony--to kill him.
Act Four starts as Ann cannot hold the image as Tony rides to an arch and Ann misses an estimation of when he was riding past the arch...the screen went blank and they couldn't see the exact moment Tony went under it. They have the spatial setting for that arch. Kirk tells Ann to reverse her field---I won't comment. Instead of Tony, they pick up Yellow Elk, who was chasing Tony. Elk exits the tunnel and runs at the consoles, tomahawk raised. Guards grab him; Kirk allows them to let him go as Charles Whitebird wants to talk to him. He tells Elk the truth. He is in a place of great mystery, a place beyond the sunrise. He goes on to tell Elk that it is better to live and if the new ways are good, then they should learn them. He tells him that Sitting Bull will teach them how to and so will men like Tony and Doug. Yellow Elk gives him his tomahawk and goes back into the tunnel. Ann has a timelock for Yellow Elk and sends him back to the exact time and place. He appears and the familiar time tunnel popping musical sound doesn't occur (and it will not occur when ultimately Tony and Doug pop out at the very end). Ann and Ray look at Whitebird. Perry Lopez does a wonderfully subdued acting job here and for once we do not have a madman expert or a killer of some kind (see IDOL OF DEATH, ONE WAY TO THE MOON) or some expert that has a very direct bearing on the events in the past (see KILL TWO BY TWO). He was just an expert trying to help. It is odd that Lopez wasn't given credit for this role in the press kit.
As we hear the cavalry march music (which sets up the mood very nicely) and see some stock footage of soldiers, we also see several outdoor medium shots of riders that cannot be stock: Doug, Custer, and Tim among others are on horseback. All of it fits nicely. Tim calls the officers to set up camp. Custer tells Tom he has a premonition--he never has before--Tom reminds him he doesn't believe in such things. Custer explains luck has carried him this far and wonders if he has used it all up, "Is this the day the luck runs out?" He thinks about going back to Fort Lincoln after the battle. Benteen couldn't help Tim get transferred to Reno. Doug asks him to keep trying. Tim overhears and gets mad at Doug, asking him if he is trying to ruin his military career.
Oddly enough, Tim, who up to now was a somewhat likeable character tells Doug to stay out of his business and if he, "...can just kill a couple of Indians or three," he will do well in the military. It depends, he goes on, on what eyes see him in action---in front of the proper eyes he can go to trooper to corporal striper, to sergeancy, to....Doug finishes for him, somewhat distraught, "General, right?"
Tony arrives and Doug and he reunite (one of many reunitings during the series). Tony tells Custer that Sitting Bull will stay in his tippee and wait for Custer to come to him to talk peace (in reality, Sitting Bull watched the battle sitting on his horse but did not take part). Tony tells Custer that a wise man would listen to Sitting Bull and talk peace but adds, "I know you won't," telling Custer he is not a wise man. This was the first good job in this episode from Darren. I liked the way he handled Custer. Despite this, Custer declares them both renegades, suspicious of how Tony got out of the Indian camp with his scalp (ironically enough, Custer was not scalped in the massacre--one of the only ones who wasn't). He orders Benteen to kill them if they try to get away again. Later he will have them tried and hung. Doug tells Tony to forget Custer, "He's lost in his dream of glory." Smoke signals alert other Indians to begin the attack ride. More stock of Indians. Reno's trumpeter is sick and Custer suggests brandy and hot water will cure him. Custer, in one of his only smart moves in this episode, tells Tim he must go with Reno even though Tim declares he'd rather go with Custer. Custer tells him he must obey orders. Tony and Doug ride at the rear of the column and we hear an appropriate score from what appears to be a western movie but Joe Mullendore did most of the score for this episode, evident when Whitebird first recognized the Indian Arch.
Sitting Bull tells Crazy Horse, "War brings war, peace brings peace--I will stay in my tippee."
Tim rides to Tony and Doug, he will stretch his orders just as Custer has done from time to time (and earlier in the episode when he first appears Custer has admitted this to Tom). He will ride with Custer! Doug fakes that something is wrong with his horse. He and Tony punch the guards down. Tim yells at them--they should not be fighting each other but fighting the Indians---he just doesn't get it, does he? In all, he is a soldier. Doug orders him to come with them but he claims he doesn't take orders from him---Doug yells at him louder, "Well, you do now!" The two men and Tim ride off---and I wonder why none of the rest of the soldiers see them do so. Despite this, this scene is well done and I like the fact that Doug is protective of Tim (something Tony will be in THE DEATH MERCHANT).
From a vantage point on a hill, the trio see Reno's men attacked by hundreds and thousands of Indians (stock footage and if you look closely during either this or the battle with Custer's men, you can see a stunt man rider fall off a horse and either his horse or another horse steps on him on his back or side but not his backside! This didn't look staged and may have been an accident but it is difficult to tell--if it was faked then it is the most realistic Cavalry vs. Indians fight footage I've seen). Tony thinks it is lucky that Reno and some men got away at all. Oddly enough, he never questions why Sitting Bull sent out the attackers and how Sitting Bull knew Custer and Reno were going to attack. Tim wants to go join Reno (?) but it appears the worst is over for his men--the Indians are now concentrating on Custer's forces. Doug tells him he hopes Tim will make the sergeancy. As Tim leaves, several Indians grab Tony and Doug!
In the tag, Yellow Elk comes to them and speaks to them of the Great Tunnel in the Sky with Lights Like Fire. Tony asks, "What kind of tunnel?" Duh! Figure it out, Tony! The Indians let them go at Yellow Elk's insistence and he tells them they must hurry off at once.
In a subdued, well filmed scene, Tony and Doug walk among the dead of Custer's forces--and see Custer. Oddly enough there is no blood, thankfully enough too! It must have been quite a bloodbath in reality. Custer was shot in the chest and the head in reality. There is no dialogue. Tony and Doug just stare and look around, sad. Then they vanish--and without the usual popping sound, it makes this scene all the more surreal and gritty at the same time. Very odd.
I really like this episode for some reason. It has many flaws---many pointed out above but it is a more straight forward adventure than some others. Tony and Doug have their routine separation, captures, chases, fights, etc. but here it seems somehow relevant to the issues of prejudice and cruelty in warfare and in what the white man has done to the Native Americans. Tony's splattering of platitudes and pop counseling really gets on one's nerves here but there is plenty of good scenes with Doug, Tim, Benteen, Custer, Tom, Whitebird (and again, as an adult, I can appreciate the tunnel complex sequences more than the action ones in the past time), and Kirk to more than make up for Tony's silliness. The Indian scenes could have been more historically and socially accurate but this was TV in 1966 after all. To get even a partial sensitive Indian story was a gem.
Of the truth, only a horse called Comanche survived the real massacre and returned to a fort. Captain Marcus Reno was able to retreat though he lost about 100 men (I am guessing that Tim was not one of them since Reno seemed to be retreating as the episode ended). Six of Custer's men survived but were taken to the Indian camp and killed there. Crazy Horse was rumored to have been homosexual; Sitting Bull's real name is Tatanaka Yotanka. The episode is also quite remiss in that it fails to mention the massacre of the innocent women and children (about 200) by a one Colonel Chivington. His soldiers were having too much fun to stop even though Black Kettle had put up an American flag and a white flag! This was but one of the many surprise attacks on the Native Americans, butchering by the soldiers and whites. Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull were hounded as they fled to Canada with all their people, believing it was the only way for them to be safe. Crazy Horse was put under arrest on September 7, 1877. It is said that he tried to escape and was shot---another report claimed he was stabbed, gutted. Reports vary and state only that the full story has not been told---most versions mention that it was doubtful he tried to escape at that point. 1879: Sitting Bull was killed in the process of being placed under arrest. Wounded Knee followed. It is said Sitting Bull was one of the most able, honest, and idealistic statesmen in Indian history. Settlers of England, France, Holland, and Spain as well as the governments of those countries, were responsible for the spreading of the act of scalping, sometimes leaving the victim alive to be returned to his people. In the early days only the Iroquois scalped and not among the New England and Atlantic Coast tribes. Some say Custer shot himself rather than be taken by the Indians rather been face mutilation by the Sioux. It was said he was the last one alive but this is not true--there six other men alive who were killed later by the Indians at their camp. Little Bighorn River is in Montana.
Since REVENGE OF THE GODS, Tony and Doug would be separated many times, usually captured, only to be reunited just before "the big event" of the climax. NIGHT OF THE LONG KNIVES and ATTACK OF THE BARBARIANS seem almost virtual remakes of MASSACRE with NIGHT faring better than BARBARIANS, which is possibly the worst historical episode.
CLIFFHANGER: 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 to the next episode-DEVIL'S ISLAND would go on from there.
NOTE: This is one of several times we see various other technicians in the background, even at times (THE KIDNAPPERS) at one of the front consoles. HOWEVER, this time we see a blond female technician, similarly unglamourous looking as Ann with hair up, big black glasses, and long white coat. But at least she was working and looking like she was doing something important. She is with a man in a red suit which looks like Kowalski's on VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA.