THE TIME TUNNEL
REIGN OF TERROR
REVIEW-For the second episode in a row, the time travellers deal with a French related problem--both top notch episodes. John Zaremba, White Bissel, and Lee Meriweather must get full credits for making the three technicians very human in this episodes and in almost all the other really well written shows (they do seem very real and very human even if the often mentioned criticism that they have little to no backgrounds given on the show). Such episodes that liven them are WALLS OF JERICHO, THE ALAMO, ATTACK OF THE BARBARIANS, and others. Even if the episode itself is not very good or historically accurate, the trio make the characters their own and make them likeable and warm. This is no easy feat since they have the stand around and talk scenes. Alternately, poor James Darren and Robert Cobert have all the run, jump, and fight scenes and thus, their characterizations, what little they were given to work with, suffers. In REIGN OF TERROR, they fair admirably. and in a rare move, they are together for the entire episode. Doug is the pessimistic one and Tony the optimistic one.
The episode, one of the best, if not the best, begins with the opening narration as they 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 (played by David Opatoshu, who almost steals the entire episode and injects what humor he can) 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! End of cliffhanger from DEVIL'S ISLAND and beginning the teaser. The man stops Tony from helping Doug there and then, telling him they pluck innocents off the streets--Robespierre's orders to do so if the jails are not full of aristocrats to kill. Tony attacks the cart and frees Doug and they both fight men and run. The men shoot rifles at them. End of teaser.
Ann cannot bear to watch the guillotine fall and Kirk sympathizes with her. It is 1793 early fall, near the center of Paris. Before the Revolution, the shopkeeper defended his Queen's honor when someone lied about her; she ordered his release after he was in a fight. The shop keeper is captured sheltering Tony and Doug. Tony feels bad and wants to help him, believing they can. Doug is more realistic--they have to help themselves, besides they don't even know the shopkeeper's name. Tony gets the name off the sign of the shop--Blanchard. Tic Toc takes a chance and sends Kirk's tunnel irradiated ring to the past, given to him by his ancestors (something Tony and Doug would recognize--Ann says, with a smile on her face that she would recognize it). Tony and Doug trying to find out more about the shopkeeper's whereabouts run into the ring but are stopped and arrested by a "Committee of Public Safety" officer named Querque, the same man who arrested Blanchard. When he turns around, we can see that he looks just like Woody Kirk!
The truth never seems to work for Tony and Doug, at least in the adventures that we see. Querque doesn't believe they are Americans. He presents the ring as proof Marie Antoinette had an affair with the Swedish diplomat Von Fairson of the Swedish Embassy. Doug recalls Fairson was with Washington at Yorktown. Querque thinks Doug and Tony were trying to retrieve the ring since it is proof of this. Tony and Doug fight the guards and for once, when together, they lose. Woody feels guilty under Ann's accusatory stare, claiming his ancestors came from Scotland, not France. Ray tells Woody, calling him by his first name---that a man is not responsible for the actions of his forefathers. Woody gets upset, "He's not my forefather!" This scene is humorously played by all three and in no way detracts from the episode, in fact, it enhances it. The double-lookalike-ancestor cliche is well played here. To escape, Tony and Doug make Blanchard undress to his underwear, use his clothes to fake that he has hung himself (another Allen first--someone appears in their underwear!). They get out and Blanchard gets Doug and Tony uniforms to emulate French soldiers.
Ann and Ray lose the picture due to the fact that Querque has put the ring on. Kirk says, "He would be wearing it!" They can still hear the audio but the image shifted just before they lost it--to Querque. Kirk, angry, doesn't care how the man will react, he wants Ray to switch Querque to them and since he has the ring on, he will come to the tunnel. Ray, reluctantly, does so. Querque vanishes almost in front of a guard.
Querque comes out of the tunnel. Kirk talks him into putting his gun away, At first, he wondered if he was in Austria and mentions he doesn't believe in witchcraft, telling Kirk his is the Age of Reason. Kirk wants to prove to the man that Marie will be beheaded without the ring used as proof. If this is so then doing anything in the past wouldn't change it? This is something the show never really fully addressed. If the ring weren't sent back, wouldn't Marie be safe--they not having any proof at all to behead her. And when it is sent back, that is how the event plays out--the ring is proof, thereby, she is beheaded. Is that how it is or is it that no matter what, she will be beheaded, ring or not? THE TIME TUNNEL seems to follow the second idea and as in DEVIL'S ISLAND where if Dreyfus went with them even if Doug and Tony changed something--which usually they do not believe they do--then Dreyfus would be caught and leave the island the way recorded history told he did. If Kirk kept his ancestor in 1968, as it looked like he might for awhile, wouldn't that also mess up time? Kirk asks Ann to switch the image time fix ahead to October 15th to show Querque that the woman will be beheaded. Ann says, "Oh no, please don't make me, Woody." Kirk sympathizes again with her and tells her he will do it himself. Surprise! Woody can work the tunnel controls! The beheading is shown only via shadows appearing--not the actual beheading. This makes it all the more scarier. Tony, Doug, and Blanchard sneak into Marie's cell. She tells them she did love the Swedish man and will never lie about it. Were they more than friends? The show isn't really specific enough on this area, unless I've missed something. She asks them to save the Dauphin--her son, Charles. Doug and Tony figure it is possible. No one ever knew what became of the boy (probably killed in real life) so there is a chance they can help him get away. Kirk has Ray send the ring back and as it goes, Querque runs into the tunnel. Kirk stops a guard from following since the tunnel was activated. Querque appears back in the past--his present and immediately begins plans to capture Tony, Doug, Blanchard, and the boy Charles.
Blanchard, dressed as a monk, obtains passports for 4, a special forged pass to get in to see the Dauphin as his art teacher, with Tony and Doug still dressed as soldiers. He will pose as an artiste who will tutor the boy in art (Blanchard says, "I have resigned from the priesthood"). Using the pass, they get in to the sensitive boy whose other tutor Simon beats (as the boy tells Blanchard). Their departure takes too long and Querque arrives, alerting the slow witted Simon to the fact that they are escaping. They just barely get away, Tony and Doug having to fight a handful of soldiers and Simon, against the foreground of a very shaky streetlight. During this fight, one of the boys, Tony probably, seems to miss his intended target and rams right into the floor! Next, they use a cart (pretending it is heading for the guillotine) to get past guards. Blanchard opens the back to check on the boy, Tony, and Doug---the cart lets loose a loud creak! No one notices, not even the foursome!
Ray sees Ann is tired and tells her she must be exhausted. He wants to call for relief for her so she can get some sleep. She refuses---not until Tony and Doug are safe. Kirk comes back from somewhere beyond the complex, asking if there are any new developments---clearly he's been away from the main room. This short sequence makes one believe that the events we see in each episode are just segments of what really happens. If Ann has relief (I'm talking about a replacement shift, here, folks), then replacement staff must be on when Doug and Tony are in more safe environments--she, Ray, and Kirk have to sleep some time. It also makes me think that other times, time is relative, meaning Kirk can go away for a short time and return to see how things are going. Perhaps between each adventure there are quieter times and places for Tony and Doug or less disastrous stop overs and less deadly adventures. Certainly some of this is backed up in CHASE THROUGH TIME when we see another technician on duty, Dr. Alfred Styles who is killed by Raul Neman (also called Nimon in early press material).
Back to REIGN OF TERROR. Where most TIME TUNNEL episodes run out of steam, this one picks up the pace even more. Ann tells Kirk that there is less interference from the ring and Ray figures the radiation is wearing off, getting weaker. Kirk wants Ray to bring Querque back again so he can work him over and cancel the order to capture or kill Tony and Doug. Ray tells him it won't work and that even if it could, they cannot spare the power--they must conserve it now for a transfer. Ray doesn't mention he was opposed to the plan from the start. Kirk confesses he just returned from Research and they told him that a small branch of his family did migrate to Scotland from France--Querque is his ancestor as Ann points out. Kirk laughingly says, "...this has cured me of any ancestor worship." Ann and Ray laugh, with Ray patting Kirk on the back (see what I mean about that warmth and camaraderie).
Just as the episode seems to be winding down, there are more surprises. Tony and Doug sneak Blanchard and Charles aboard the ship past an officer (why? I thought they had four pass ports. Perhaps because there was a hunt on for the boy. Good thing, too, since Querque shows up looking for three men with a boy). This officer turns out to be a young Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte will not let Querque stop the ship, standing up to him. The ship begins to set sail. We expect Tony and Doug to vanish but instead they have already jumped ship to distract Querque away from the ship. No need, Charles and Blanchard are safe. Tony and Doug aren't yet: they run, pursued and shot at. They race down a dead end alley. In what is one of the most memorable scenes of the entire series--the soldiers take aim at a defenseless Tony and Doug and fire. Tony and Doug vanish just as the bullets come at them...and the bullets hit the wall that was behind them. The guards react. Kirk's ring vanishes off the finger of Querque.
A dark episode which is entertaining from start to end. No complaints here although I am sure someone can find something. It was just plain fun! It is also interesting to note that Blanchard may have been totally wrong about Marie--his heroine that he stuck up for may not have been as honorable as he would have liked...yet as a likeable character...he continues to serve her by getting her so out of the country. TIME TUNNEL did generate some good characters. Leith Stevens once more supplies a fantastic score, not unlike some of his scores for the very early second season LOST IN SPACE episodes (especially sounding like bits of BLAST OFF INTO SPACE). It makes for a nice change of pace for THE TIME TUNNEL even if it is not as beautiful sounding as that of BLAST OFF INTO SPACE.
One thing I am not clear on--is how did the ring that belonged to Marie get to General Kirk? Did his ancestors have it? If it was a gift for Marie, where was the 1793 ring? And did it survive to get to Kirk in 1968 or whenever it was left to him? Or was the ring that Querque had on his finger the one that survived until 1968? Well that last question cannot be since the ring vanishes, presumably going back to 1968---but if it did, then couldn't Doug and Tony or did the ring follow them? It wasn't in the next episode in the time Tony and Doug were in (SECRET WEAPON) but perhaps that is the reason they are so close to 1968--1956 isn't very far off. The ring is either on Kirk's finger again or lost in time. Perhaps it is in someone's sci fic collection somewhere. Another possibility is that in production order the ring is back on Kirk's finger. Production order wise, SECRET WEAPON is not next. PIRATES OF DEADMAN'S ISLAND is. Kirk is wearing a ring in both--it looks like the same ring that they sent--did he have more than one? It seemed to be a one of a kind ring. As usual, although the story was good, we are left with a lot of unanswered questions.
As to historical accuracy, one can only guess. It seems fairly accurate. The Dauphin Louis Charles Capet was imprisoned in 1792, confined to a tower prison cell, kept a year in a filthy, tiny room. A year later after the fall of Robespierre, he was given better accommodations but he was emaciated, covered with sores and tumors, and had lost the powers of speech.
In 1795 a Dr. Desault reported the boy could recover but the doctor later died under mysterious circumstances. Two new physicians saw the boy and three days later, he was reported dead. A child's body was buried in St. Margaret Cemetery with no marker on the grave. The two doctors who visited had never seen the Dauphin before the visit--they only had the jailer's word that the boy they saw was the Dauphin.
It was recorded that the day after Desault's last visit, a man named Ballanger spent the whole day with the Dauphin and it has been suggested he arranged the boy's escape.
30 claimants have represented themselves as the Dauphin. One of the more interesting was Eliazar Williams, adopted son. As a child he was regarded as a half breed Indian and looked like the Dauphin, was considered almost retarded (since he did not have the power of speech), and when he turned 14, his outdoor life had made him very healthy. Swimming he struck his head and after this, his mental capacity seemed improved.
Williams in 1812 performed his missionary and US Government duties admirably in keeping the move of the Iroquois Indians to Wisconsin peaceful. He was a respected citizen and landowner in the Green Bay area. He married a part Indian woman, was a lay missionary to the Iroquois, and became an honorary chief.
In 1848, a deathbed confession, by a man named Ballinger surfaced in New Orleans, saying he brought the Dauphin to America and hid him among the Indians of New York (hooray! My fellow NYers did something good, oh not my fellows--the Native Americans; whoops, sorry). This confession is dubious---copies of it were later found in Williams' handwriting.
In 1853, Prince de Joinville, third son of Louis Philippe, king of France, arrived in NY, looked for, found and then met with Williams and sent him gifts later--it has been suggested the two met and talked about Williams giving him a signed abdication, the Prince having revealed Williams' origins.
In Wisconsin, Williams became a full minister and died on Aug. 28, 1858. Williams' petition to the US Congress to ask the French to acknowledge his claim for him to get a pension from France was refused. Was he the Dauphin?
The French Rev was one of the most horrible times ever--even more graphic than depicted with ships of people sent out and purposely capsized with pregnant women and children aboard, innocent people slaughtered, disease rampant, and more gruesome atrocities. It should be noted that this episode also marks one of the only times, Doug and Tony are together throughout the entire adventure!
One interesting note: I would have to do even more research to find out more about Marie's other child. I did find one painting of her with her son and a small daughter. Her line in this episode, "...you've come with news of my children..." indicates there were more than just the Dauphin. At least one daughter was around but I cannot yet find any mention to her fate. That Marie was involved in some scandal concerning a stolen diamond necklace is truth but that is not mentioned in this episode. While the episode is somewhat sympathetic to her and features her as a noble heroine ready to admit the truth of the matter of the ring, it does not, sadly, give us a point of view from the poor people who were starving and does not tell us why the rebellion was so spirited...if gruesomely so.
CLIFFHANGER: Tony and Doug land in a street of a dark, oppressive city. Doug comments about an unfriendly feel in the air. It could be Southeast Europe, not Northern Europe, farther east than Germany. They spot writing on the buildings and Doug finds it is surrealist (or something that sounds like that) alphabet. Since some of these places haven't changed in 100s of years, they could be anywhere from 1850 to 1900. Two soldiers pass by and one bumps into Tony purposely and pushes him, Tony commenting on an unfriendly feel in the air. Doug finds a newspaper in the garbage--June 16, 1956. Moving on, they find an F-5 probe modification, used to send messages--a rectangular box which lights up. Tony touches it and sticks to it! Doug uses a piece of wood to pry him off of it; Tony still feels the current going through him. This probe vanishes--the time tunnel gave it too much power. The day they solve the problems of control, Doug comments, is the day they will get home. Another appears. They move closer, thinking it is more stable. Doug reaches for it, Tony at his side. It blows up at them both, smoke and a blast seemingly hitting Doug full force and also getting Tony in the blast (this is where the cliffhanger ends). The music used during the freeze frame cliffhanger is not the usual cliffhanger music--it is not either version of the usual music (there were two versions--a longer and a shorter one). This is entirely new cliffhanger music used this once.
COMPARISON ANALYSIS: DOCTOR WHO did a fairly complex and serious version of the reign in REIGN OF TERROR.