THE TIME TUNNEL
NIGHT OF THE LONG KNIVES
WRITTEN BY WILLIAM WELCH
REVIEW: After the narration, Tony and Doug cascade down to a very hot and dry place. They are outdoors and the sun is their immediate enemy. Doug suggests digging a pit for them to lie in but Tony hopes they are not digging their own graves. This plan doesn't work out too well since it is too hot and the ground too hard. In any event, riders come out to them and in protecting Doug, Tony is shot in the head (this is where the cliffhanger to this episode ended during the final moments of THE ALAMO). Then, Doug is taken and dragged off while Tony just lies in the dirt, seemingly dead. (This is where the teaser ended--only a few moments after the cliffhanger ended in THE ALAMO). A word must be said about the setting here: while THE TIME TUNNEL is often slighted for its use of extensive stock footage from FOX movies (and they do use stock footage--and lots of it during this one), there are plenty of seemingly outdoor scenes, especially during the teaser, of Doug and Tony both amid lush backdrops--these cannot be stock footage or at least not simple stock shots. We see Tony and Doug running amid huge rocks, mountains, a vast desert, etc. The vista provided in this episode far outweighs any outdoor sequences, visually anyway, than most other series and the other three Irwin Allen series. It really looks expensive (of course it could have been filmed just a short ride away from the studio). There is extensive use of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA first season music as well as what sounds like music from the excellent movie JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. The JOURNEY music seems to be used when we see the men of Afghanistan plotting and hiding and later when we see the Major's men hiding and trying to rescue Kipling (this music is not from JOURNEY but from a similar piece in KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES by the same composer but more on that later). Also--there is music from LOST IN SPACE---I call it the shock music--it is a brief bit of music which here, is used just as Hira Singh (the always brilliant Malachi Throne) is killed. There is also a very short piece that sounds like the sensitive music used in LOST IN SPACE's THE DERELICT and a variation was used in LAND OF THE GIANT's SECRET CITY OF LIMBO (used when a uniform wearing Tony goes to Col. Fettretch's office after Kipling is captured). The rest of the guest cast is flawless and they act their best, Perry Lopez doing an excellent, understated, controlled performance as Major Kabir (Perry did just the opposite and appropriately so in VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA's SAVAGE JUNGLE).
Ben Wright, the Cabinet Minister, seen for all of five minutes (if that) in the London talk sequence, worked on THE OUTER LIMITS, the original. He was the overbearing authority figure Luminoid in A FEASABILITY STUDY and was the peaceful Grippians' refugees' voices in MOONSTONE. In addition, he appeared as an Earth general in NIGHTMARE and a millionaire in WOLF 359 (several of the show's best segments). He also worked on the original 1O1 DALMATIONS and narrated CLEOPATRA (1963 version) as well as working on the GUNSMOKE radio show! There is a mini bio of him in THE OUTER LIMITS-THE OFFICIAL COMPANION book. And he really is British, lending credence to his TIME TUNNEL role.
Kipling is the correct age in this story but his insight is, well, not that of Kipling it would seem. When all is said and done, this is really just an adventure story, one of the better ones. The titles to this story seem huge, something which THE TIME TUNNEL did more than any other Allen show.
Doug is captured in India and taken to Afganhistan and he tells the leader Singh the truth about time travelling (which, as usual, he doesn't believe). A word about time travel and suffering. If THE TIME TUNNEL is any indication what time travel would be like, then count me out! Doug suffers a great deal here and comes very close to having his throat slit, tortured slowly, and knifed. THE ALAMO had him knocked over the head twice and other episodes of the series (DEATH MERCHANT comes to mind) are not nice to the time travelling duo. Singh's first plan is to kill Doug, send him to the fort, outraging the English--that way they will be goaded into attacking and he can ambush them (which he does later anyway) but for some strange reason, he changed this plan--use him as a hostage and kill Doug later. This change makes little sense.
An old man named Kashi (Peter Brocco) helps Doug, who seems genuinely concerned for the man's safety (not that Doug doesn't always seemed concerned for others, he does; however it is usually a helpless female type). When he helps Doug escape I cannot understand why wouldn't allow Doug to take him with him or, if he really knew a secret way into the mountain--a short pass to the fort, why he didn't take Doug that way! As it turns out, it is better that he didn't---the old man, also blind, is caught and turned out to the fort after torture and eventually dies. His death scene with Doug at his side is a memorable one. Before this, Doug's escape is nearly stopped before it begins as three men come in to stop him. This fight sequence is one of the better staged fights of the show, not overly long but as a real life fight is, short and tense. Again, violence is predominant in this episode, however, if one were time travelling to the times and places that Tony and Doug do, violence has to be shown---history is violent and to ignore that is to ignore how terrible it is. Many soldiers on both sides die in this episode, many in the aforementioned stock footage from another movie (and this movie KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES has its soundtrack on CD--THE MARVELOUS FILM WORLD OF BERNARD HERRMAN-apparently Vol. 1 of a series of the great Bernard Herrman's music). All the music on it was used in THE TIME TUNNEL! It is exactly like THE TIME TUNNEL-NIGHT OF THE LONG KNIVES soundtrack! At one point, Doug, while rescuing Kipling, has to jump onto a guard, knife in hand--he must have used it on the man but we are not shown this.
Back at the tunnel Tic Toc complex, the screen and time fix switches to London where we see Gladstone and the Cabinet Minister talking about the situation in London. This is to explain to viewers what is happening in India--as if we are stupid. It also serves to heat things up in the complex between the others--only the heat doesn't get turned up full steam. What could have been some excellent conflict between Ann, Ray, Kirk, and Jerry (yes, Jerry is in one this one--his last), amounts to just calm talk and mild disagreement. The problem: the spatial fix goes to London but Tony and Doug are in India and Afghanistan. They have never lost complete contact before nor for so long a time. At first, Ann thinks Tony is dead but Kirk tells her there is still some radiation output. Later, for some reason, the radiation output goes out and Kirk changes his mind--he thinks maybe both Tony and Doug are dead. Ann, to her credit, tells him she knows they are alive. Jerry later agrees with her and wants to go back in time to help Tony and Doug. Kirk won't let him do this. Jerry comes up with another plan "thinking this over in his mind" which is to bypass the breaker system and send a concentrated surge into the tunnel. Kirk asks Ann and Ray about this. Ray won't condone it and Ann tells him if it doesn't work, they could lose contact forever. Ray tells Kirk they could damage the tunnel beyond repair but it is Kirk's decision. Kirk says no to Jerry's plan. Why? We are not really told--he has taken risks before and does again. In any event, Jerry sneaks to a control panel, turns a switch and sends the surge into the tunnel. The others see the surge but never equate Jerry with it. What could have been a good opportunity for some real conflict here is missed entirely. Why not have Kirk realize what Jerry did and have to dismiss him (ala VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA's grim and excellent first seasoner DOOMSDAY when Nelson has to dismiss & probably court martial Corbett who saved them all by going against orders). Jerry never appears again in the series so perhaps he was caught and dismissed or court martialed or something. Certainly we will never know since we hardly see the Tic Toc people once they re-establish contact with Tony and Doug--thanks to Jerry. It must be said that all of these Tic Toc sequences are blended nicely into the tale with a clever build up and nice intercutting between Tony's plight and Doug's escape and Kipling's capture and rescue. It is just that the build up never amounts to what it could have been. We do get a nice shot of the tunnel and complex lab that is lifted out of the first episode but that is all. Ann's loyalty is noted but Kirk and Ray do not score any points in this one.
We hear more music from LOST IN SPACE but this time it is derivative of an earlier movie which LOST IN SPACE lifted from it. It can be heard in THE LOST CIVILIZATION episode of LOST IN SPACE as well as a few VOYAGE episodes (for example THE MUMMY). Doug and Tony remeet and the actors play this up a bit, really giving us the impression that Doug and Tony are good friends who care a great deal about each other and are overjoyed that the other is still alive. Nicely done by both actors. One thing I do not understand if Col. Fettretch was only given the okay to proceed with offensive measures only--aren't offensive measures as opposed to defensive measures, ones that strike first? In that case, isn't rescuing a man from the enemy an offensive measure? I guess that is just quibbling over words, something this episode also does with regularity. In any event, the ending doesn't let down--there is a lot of action but as mentioned, a great deal of violence. In the end, it seems pretty pointless and not very historically accurate. The costumes and uniforms, as in THE ALAMO, seem correct. Kipling did spend time in India from 1882 to 1889 so it is not improbable that he was involved somehow in the events of the uprising depicted in this episode during May 1886. He was also born in Bombay, India. Fettretch and Major Kibir have a good scene toward the end, Fettretch unofficially okay-ing an attack to rescue Kipling. The British did construct a road in 1879 which passed through the Khyber Pass. It was the scene of numerous skirmishes between Anglo-Indian soldiers and native Afghans. One of the most well known is the battle in Jan. 1842 in which about 16000 British and Indian troops were killed. Other truths need more research.
A sore point for me is not showing all sides to the situation--THE TIME TUNNEL seemed to do this with MASSACRE (even if the Indians were portrayed as cliches and stereotypes) but not here. The British were in India as colonists and controllers---couldn't we at least see one India man or woman or even an Afghan man or woman who thought they were doing the right thing and weren't just "madmen" like Singh and his men? The episode loses points for its insensitivity and not looking at another viewpoint--that of rebels who felt their land was being taken.
CLIFFHANGER: Tony and Doug land in the middle of several night attacks on an installation. It appears to be some time during WWII as one of the men at the installation who is attacked (and killed?) is wearing a Nazi swastika. Things blow up and men shoot. Tony and Doug run, are spotted and shot at, and end up going up steps to a closed steel like door--which is locked tight. They cannot get in and so turn to leave but are surrounded by men in the street--men with guns. They put their hands up. (this cliffhanger is picked up in the episode INVASION where the cliffhanger goes on into the teaser where Doug tells us it is D-Day).
OBSERVATION: Was this a slightly similar remake of MASSACRE?!?!