THE TIME TUNNEL
After the opening narration, 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 says it is a Cyrillic alphabet (the type used in Russia and several other East European countries.) 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 (this is where the cliffhanger ends). The teaser continues on for a very short time as the boys are thrown by the blast into the buildings. This is one of the shortest times between the cliffhanger and the end of the teaser.
Act One opens with a freeze frame as Tony and Doug try to stand up against the wall of the building. The titles are on the image screen as the tunnel staff watch through the tunnel. Soldiers pass Tony and Doug. Kirk tells them Central Intelligence has a good reason for pushing them to send a message to Tony and Doug. There is a large light on in the tunnel complex behind everyone but it is still darker than it would be in later episodes like MERLIN and RAIDERS. Kirk calls General Parker in Washington--it is critical to get the information they are seeking. Ann leans over, "Doug and Tony's lives are of critical importance, too!" Ray tells Kirk they have a chance to try it again--more successfully using a parabolic time curve under reduced power. Ann mans the controls but is not happy about it. Jerry hands the new message unit to Ray and Ray places it in the tunnel mouth. A countdown is started and we hear, briefly, some FANTASTIC VOYAGE sound effects. Tony and Doug walk the street. Tony wonders why the tunnel staff don't try voice contact--it's worked before (earlier Ray told voice contact will not work with this time zone for some reason). Kirk is wearing four stars on his uniform. Tony and Doug see another probe under a bench. Doug assumes there have been corrections based on the last three tries (was there a try we haven't seen or did this happen way before SECRET WEAPON started?). It melts and inside they find a message. Meet a contact named Alexis on June 16th at midnight on Vrenia street. They arrive after 12 and Tony wonders if Alexis didn't wait. A man comes out of the dark, telling them ten minutes can make a difference between eating and being eaten. Alexis asks which one is Smith, Tony takes that name; Doug takes the name Williams. (Dr. Smith, Guy Williams?). The man is wearing a hat and tie. He gives them a small device to contact him and they can use one wavelength on it to contact him. They hide deeper in the alley. The pair are to spy on project A-13 or 8-13 as US spies. They are to pose as scientist defectors, spend the night in Hotel Pisscapol (?). At seven AM, a car will take them to A-13. After Alexis leaves, Tony and Doug conjecture on what happened to the real Smith and Williams. Tony argues they are not spies or even trained as spies. Doug figures it is important enough for Kirk to send a message---it must be that they should go along with it. The car picks them up the next morning. Blindfolded they are taken into a building. When the blindfolds are taken off, they see a time tunnel. Behind them are arrows pointing the way out of the room and a different back wall. There are different computers and consoles but it is a time tunnel--almost exactly like their own. Doug says, "It can't be not in Europe in 1956."
Act Two begins as they examine the complex. Control banks are similar, a lot of computers are missing. Anton Biraki greets them as Smith and Williams. He seems like a happy man and sounds German (when I was younger, I thought this was supposed to be East Germany under Russian control or something similar). Tony tells him he worked with Phillips and Newman and in the States. Biraki warns them of Colonel Hruda, a bald uniformed military man. He tells them not to be unnerved by the military man who comes and says, "I have no admiration for defectors." Biraki tells him there is no one else in their country (Russia? Duh.) that has the same technical knowledge. Hruda tells him that such a statement is a criticism of our way. Hruda carries a stick. The Colonel wants someone of their own country to be assigned to do this. He reports to someone. The two men argue in private with Hruda claiming Tony and Doug cannot be trusted. Biraki asks, "What does trust have to do with the fourth dimensional time curve?" He sounds a bit like Tina Turner. A note on these two--their scenes together begin to wear on one's nerves. Apart they are fine. Nehemiah Persoff (of guest roles in almost every 60s series) is fine as Biraki, making him very likeable in both the present of 1968 and the past of 1956. It seems as if he will be the one to help Tony and Doug, seemingly liking them. Hruda is okay and Mike Ansara is much better in this than he would later be in THE KIDNAPPERS episode. It is just that their talk is so hitting us over the head with the military vs. scientist type stuff. Later, it is shown why--both are as bad as the other--both the scientist and the army man are equally not to be trusted or liked!
The 1968 time tunnel staff watches the 1956 time tunnel complex. Ray comments that by now their time tunnel might be more advanced than ours in response to Ann's thought about it looking primitive in 1956. They wonder why Tony and Doug would take on this mission. Jerry puts his two sense in and says he would have since the message had General Kirk's signature on it and not Dr. Swain's. Kirk doesn't like that and says, "Jerry!" Jerry cowers back to his post. Ann claims they shouldn't have put Tony and Doug in this, "They're in enough danger just being lost in time." She reports on the time tunnel they are seeing with Ray helping pass on the word to Kirk who can in turn pass it on to Parker: they have an advanced time lock indicator, a location probe, a time synchronizer integrator. For all they know Biraki had and still has an operational time tunnel. Biraki, grayer, comes into Admiral Parker's office in the day time in Washington. He wants to help the US and tells them about a time mechanism he had in his country and regrets to say it is still operational and being used as a threatening weapon. Now he will resolve his guilt somewhat by helping them...make one time mechanism for the US. Parker tells him he is investigating these circumstances. Kirk, in the complex, is smoking (yuck!--not the only Irwin Allen character to do so--Admiral Nelson also smoked). They wonder if Biraki is telling the truth and comment that he could be an important addition to their staff. Ann mentions the radiation bath which they cannot see anywhere on the 1956 time tunnel of Biraki's--Ray wonders if they added it in later. Biraki has a two seat, time capsule ready for some time--it took him ten years to develop it. It has antennae. He couldn't find a team that could make the trip--he needed someone like Tony or Doug--someones who could make instant interpretations and complex computations required. Tony and Doug are shocked to understand they will be the ones to make the trip into the time capsule. Biraki laughs, "Your modesty requires that you say nothing." This scene is funny for that line alone. Colonel has heard from his ministry--two new men from the university will take out the time capsule into the tunnel. Biraki tells him he needs scientists not students. As they argue, Doug informs Tony (hey, why didn't Tony know this already--didn't Doug and Ray fill him in on this) that he and Ray spent several years developing such a capsule--the results were near disaster. It taught them all instrumentation must be in the tunnel itself. Tony sits down in one of the chairs and Doug comments, "Those are death seats." Tony stares at him and gets up quick in another bright funny moment. Col and Biraki disagree. Tony thinks this is the psychological moment to confront Hruda and they approach him. They explain they should not be the first to make this trip--it should one of their countrymen. Gee, aren't they humanitarian? Colonel tells them he controls all propaganda on this project and that there can be no change in personnel at this late date. Tony and Doug talk among themselves--although they were blindfolded when brought in, they realize they are on street level. They try to break out, hoping to meet the guards one at a time. They find the back wall door locked. They move through the complex, which now seems empty. Tony hits a guard; two others hold him and one other has a gun pointed at Doug. The Colonel arrives and says, "You have already seen too much. So I have arranged for you to leave another way...a much quieter one." He is pointing his gun at them.
Act Three continues this as Biraki arrives and claims full responsibility in front of witnesses--the soldiers! He tells the Colonel that the two men are just in fear of the trip. Biraki tells Tony and Doug to have faith in him--"You don't think I would abandon you somewhere in time." Doug wonders what would happen if he just tells Biraki the capsule won't work. The pair decide to summon Alexis's (or is it Alexi?) signal device. Ray explains the approach of the capsule is fundamentally wrong--he and Doug proved that--it could kill them. Kirk will call Washington--they will switch Tony and Doug soon. Hruda is enjoying a laugh over Tony and Doug's fear--with Alexis---he is working for the Colonel! The Colonel asks about Biraki. Alexis tells him the man is a scientist, not a practical man. Hruda tells him the two Americans had to be replaced. Ray snarls at himself, "We've delivered Tony and Doug right to them." Parker agrees with Kirk on the phone--get Tony and Doug out. Jerry puts power at maximum, calling Ann, "Doctor." The signal fades. Alexis arrives at the project--8-13 for a purpose and he tells Tony and Doug what that purpose is--to turn them in. Hruda laughs at them, telling them Alexis is paid by the US to do a service for them...on their payroll but working for his country..."we find it much more convenient that way." Doug punches Alexis and throws him over the console. Doug jumps over and begins choking Alexis to death. Tony jumps in and punches two guards away. The two are held. Hruda tells him he knew everything from the start...he wants to know who they are and tells Biraki they are not the men they expected. Biraki doesn't care--he will take full responsibility (AGAIN!). Scientists, he reasons, will not destroy a great advance and besides, their lives depend on them performing well for him and the Colonel.
When Parker questions Biraki in 1968 about Alexis, Biraki tells him the double agent is dead from some accident (this may or may not be true). In 1968, Parker questions Biraki about Tony and Doug, asking if he knew a Phillips or Newman. He denies it but recalls a Smith and Williams-two Americans who were a big help but who died in an accident. Kirk is told and in a daze he hangs up the phone and tells Ann and Ray. Is Biraki lying? They bring the tunnel up to 80 percent maximum and try for time lock.
Tony tells them the capsule cannot be moved in time. Hruda wants to dispose of Tony and Doug. Operational control will be lost in the capsule once it enters the limbo of time. Tony asks Doug their chances--1000 to 1. Tony shuts his eyes. The pair agree to take the capsule in. Biraki keeps insisting they have nothing to fear (but fear itself--opps, sorry). Estimated time vector is 20 years ago--June 16th, 1936, 22 hours, 30 minutes, 30 seconds, 30 microseconds solar time (what a bunch of nonsense!). They will not move in space but in time--they will appear on the same spot but in 1936. Doug smiles as Biraki fantasizes about the wild garden meadow and wild flowers they will see where this building now stands. Doug tilts his head. Biraki finishes his speech with, "Go with all my hope."
They go into the capsule which is at the mouth of the tunnel. They buckle in and the overhead door slides shut (sound FX of LOST's second season door sound and other door sounds on VOYAGE and GIANTS). A 90 second countdown begins; Doug talks to his time tunnel as the 1968 staff watches on the screen. Jerry pulls off his headset and records the time vector Doug gave--the time target for their tunnel to get the capsule. Why couldn't Doug and Tony get out of the capsule once it was in limbo? Guess they weren't in the time vortex yet. A wild TV scanner in the time tunnel complex is rotating some kind of ring figure...and after a bit it gets distracting, then just interesting. Ray orders a 14 second timelock on the capsule at full power to retrieve. When Jerry asks, "Retrieve?" Ray snaps, "If you're hard of hearing get off the control banks!" Kirk returns as Ray is powering up for the timelock and tells him so. Doug and Ray proved this capsule won't work--thus, they can't just let the capsule take them here..to the present. Doug orders Tony not to touch the machines...to leave all controls at dead neutral. Thanks to Biraki's time tunnel, they now have an exact solar time lock on Tony and Doug.
"This time we're bringing them back home," Ray says.
The time curve hits June 16th, 1956--22 hours, 30 min., 30 seconds, 29.9 to infinity microseconds, not at 30! Biraki gives his time tunnel (or rather orders the techs to give it) more power. Kirk orders the time tunnel of 1968 to give more and then at last, full power. Capsule is dark in limbo of blackness. Tony and Doug feel cold and sweat. Doug mentions a time limbo, they will never get to 1936. Lights pass over the capsule, Tony, and Doug, who both feel faint. Tony wonders what will happen. Doug explains it matters which time tunnel is stronger.
Act Four begins with the struggle between time tunnels in what amounts to an interesting battle unlike any other on TV. The 1968 staff watch the capsule tilting on their image projector screen--as always through the time tunnel's swirls. The capsule is shaking in the darkness. Biraki orders maximum power. Ann gasps, "We're killing them!" Ray orders, "Let them go! Reduce power." The pair seem dead as the capsule returns to the Biraki time tunnel opening. Biraki's probes tells him it worked but his tunnel never sent them into time--without the radiation bath Biraki's time tunnel cannot work. Tony and Doug regain consciousness and are recovering in a small room where they talk about this. The room is bugged with Biraki and the Colonel listening. Unfortunately Doug reveals the radiation bath is needed before finding the wire that tells them the room is bugged. Hruda tells Biraki he should have cut his legs off five years ago. Biraki, in a rage, rushes to Tony and Doug. When Tony congratulates him, the man yells at him not to patronize him. He also does not want Doug's pity. Biraki slaps Doug so Tony grabs him but the guards hold him and another points a gun at Doug's stomach. Biraki reveals his true self now, "It was not easy to be kind to you. Now you will get a taste of my real feelings. I will prefect the time mechanism and we will be the masters of the world!" He calls them and their country stupid and foolish and wants to know about the radiation bath process. He orders the guards to convince them to tell him.
Ahead in 1968, Biraki tells Parker and McDonnell, "Even when I was building my time mechanism, my greatest admiration was for the United States." He asks Parker about the US and if it has its own time mechanism. Parker tells him he is asking the questions. Biraki complies and tells him that it was from Smith and Williams that he learned about the radiation bath. Just then Kirk calls and tells Parker about Biraki--he hated the US in 1956 and may still hate it, using "research by torture" as a method. Parker hangs up with Kirk and allows Biraki to continue. Biraki lies, telling him his radiation bath was completely developed and now, he wants to meet the weapon his country will use by helping the US build their own time device. McDonnell and Parker tell him they will prepare a report and McDonnell claims he will call Biraki at his hotel this evening. Biraki only wants to get into the US time tunnel to learn what he can. McDonnell has Biraki followed and watched (sounding a lot like his later persona Inspector Kobick!). Kevin Hagen is given a very small part but he makes the best of it and comes off very good--something he can do in anything he is in--even the later RAIDERS FROM OUTER SPACE.
Doug tells Biraki about objective proof the capsule won't work. Biraki tells him he has rectified the power error so it is not a question of power. Biraki wants to try to the capsule again if Tony and Doug don't obey him or if they do. Tony and Doug think this time he'll kill them without the radiation bath--or so they say--perhaps to get Biraki to think they will use the radiation bath to save themselves. Doug says all right to his idea for the radiation bath. He asks for materials and will rearrange components. Biraki confronts Doug and Tony in yet another of the many ironic scenes in this episode, "Tell me, have your scientists come anywhere near sending a man into time?" They don't answer and Persoff's expressions reveal a great deal about the evil of the man and his limited patience--the actor is very, very good here. He tells Hruda they will do what he says--they will be sent into time and they will choose to live.
Later, Tony connects a cable to a computer control. Doug connects it to one of the consoles. Biraki tells Hruda (and I doubt he'd admit this---anyway Hruda probably would know it) that the two Americans have refused to explain the theory behind what they are doing but once it is operating he will get everything he needs. The devices are calibrated and polarized. Biraki closes his eyes in triumph. Doug smiles, "Thank you for giving us the opportunity to test our theory." There is a countdown of ten as Tony and Doug go into the capsule. As it hits zero, sparks burst from the capsule, blasts rock the 1956 tunnel, and Biraki yells that they have reversed computers. All the foreigners fall down and the boys use this to effect their exit from the capsule. The boys run out, Tony stopping long enough to do something to a console. The pair run and the consoles explode--just as the men are getting back to their feet. Alexis falls--is he dead? Is this the accident that killed him? We are never told! Guards also fall.
Kirk and the others in 1968 watch on the tunnel. Kirk smiles, "Well, I'd say Biraki exaggerated a little when he told General Parker his country had an operational time tunnel."
They view Biraki in 1956 talking--to himself (?)--saying, "I will get even with them."
Ray feels Biraki's goal was to do to them what was done to him. Kirk informs Parker who has Biraki arrested, telling not to bother to sit down as he enters the office again. Biraki tells them the US destroyed the tunnel he made in 1956. When Parker tells him Tony and Doug are still alive, Biraki seems genuinely puzzled, thinking they died (perhaps in the original time line--if there was any original time line run, Smith and Williams did die there--as it was never Tony and Doug until 1968 sent them back to 1956...or were Tony and Doug a part of these events they travel back to all the time?). Biraki wonders how they survived--how they got out of the complex. We see it: Tony runs out a door; a guard points a gun at him to stop--Doug runs out and hits the guard down. The pair of men vanish and fly into the time vortex.
This episode was pretty good, intriguing us with another time tunnel and a battle between the two. McDonnell and Parker seem superfluous since Biraki could have visited the time tunnel in 1968 and could have been arrested there at the end of the story. Paul Sawtell, the writer of many VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA episode scores, scored this episode. It sounds like a great deal of VOYAGE's first season episodes and is adequate, not stupendous.
A prelude to the cliffhanger notes: cliffhangers usually (there are a few exceptions, mostly at the end of the series) start with Tony and Doug flying through the time vortex, then landing someplace. There is some action, then a freeze frame on the most dramatic (in most instances--in THE DEATH TRAP the cliffhanger that will lead into THE ALAMO ended not with Doug about to be stabbed but with stock footage of a rider being shot off his horse--go figure) point where either Tony or Doug or both are in extreme danger. The next episode re-represents the footage. As Tony and Doug fly through the vortex we hear the narration--Two American scientists are lost in the swirling maze of past and future ages during the first experiments on America's greatest and most secret experiment, the time tunnel. Tony Newman and Doug Phillips now tumble helplessly toward a new fantastic adventure somewhere among the infinite corridors of time. The entire action sequence is repeated up to the freeze frame, only now there is no freeze frame--the action continues for a bit (and in DEVIL'S ISLAND for quite a bit) until the end of the teaser (in SECRET WEAPON this was only a matter of seconds between the cliffhanger ending and the teaser ending). These all seemed to vary in length. Unlike many of the LOST IN SPACE cliffhangers (especially early in the second season) the same music appears to be used in the cliffhangers as in the same teaser opening next week's show.
CLIFFHANGER: Many repeated versions of SECRET WEAPON, airing in 1995 through 1996 and earlier (in the mid to late 80s) do not have a cliffhanger ending. It is possible THE DEATH TRAP aired later than a week in some areas, thus there may not have been a cliffhanger but we can probably imagine there was with 90 percent certainty. Most likely it would have went something like this:
Tony and Doug land behind some haystack inside a barn. This landing seems to be a rough one. They peer over the stack and see several men, some wearing cowboy hats. Ray tells Ann to lock the coordinates. It is 1861 and Ann matches this to Ray's time fix, getting the month: February. Suddenly there is a light flare on the image and it switches to a theater where they see a soldier. They also see President Lincoln get shot. Kirk figures it was Ford Theater. That happened in 1865 but their time reading is still 1861. The men see Tony and Doug and ask them if Abner sent them from Frederick Bell or something. The men are abolitionists who were with or know men who were with John Brown during his raid on Harper's Ferry. Matt Gebhardt introduces them to his brother Jeremiah who was definitely with Brown at Harper's Ferry. They will kill Lincoln who is coming through Baltimore from Philadelphia for his inauguration. THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST LIKELY SPOTS FOR THE CLIFFHANGER freeze frame and titles: DON'T MISS THIS EXCITING ADVENTURE NEXT WEEK ON THE TIME TUNNEL.
In the complex, the others figure if Lincoln did die in 1861 than someone impersonated him from 1861 to 1865. If Jeremiah kills Lincoln then someone impersonated him. Kirk recalls an early attempt (this time historically true!!!) to kill Lincoln prompting Ann to program the history computer. Ray tells Kirk it is almost as if the tunnel is making its own projection independent of the probe on Tony and Doug. We really don't find out why it is doing this. Jeremiah tells the group of men that they will route out the cancer of slavery and in the next 12 hours kill Lincoln, secessionists will be blamed, and the Union will make war on them, ending slavery. THIS MIGHT ALSO BE A PLACE FOR THE CLIFFHANGER as the cliffhanger for SECRET WEAPON which was tagged onto REIGN OF TERROR was long enough to only include a few seconds after it to the end of the teaser.
Pinkerton and his men come in and tells them to put their hands above their heads. The men start firing their guns and four of them are killed as the Pinkerton men race in. Some of the men fight Tony and Doug, jumping them as Jeremiah and Matt lead them toward a loose plank in the barn to escape from. THIS IS THE MOST LIKELY SPOT FOR THE CLIFFHANGER. Tony is hit and the two brothers drag him out. Doug gets a chair down from a hanging beam and uses it on one Pinkerton man, another punches him and he's captured.
SECRET WEAPON seems to be one of the first few episodes made--it is shown along with scenes from ONE WAY TO THE MOON, END OF THE WORLD, and REVENGE OF THE GODS appear at the end of RENDEZVOUS WITH YESTERDAY. This implies SECRET WEAPON was shot earlier in the sequence than aired. Another clue is the large round lights used in the complex--these do not appear much during the time other episodes aired just before and after SECRET WEAPON aired. Yet, the very early episodes and photos from the pilot have these lights. The cold war was examined in VOYAGERS!