THE TIME TUNNEL
THE ALAMO DIR: SOBEY MARTIN
WRITERS-BOB AND WANDA DUNCAN
REVIEW: This episode starts off with the familiar narration that opens a majority of the episodes (some of the later episodes do not have this narration). As usual the tumble down is one of the most startling parts of the segment. Doug takes a real beating from the opening to the closing--in a slow motion effective shot, we see him roll down a steep hill, separated a bit from Tony. And also as usual, a fight breaks out. It must be noted that this fight and most others in this episode are even more violent than most of the fights in the series (both before and after, although after had a great deal of violence-see IDOL OF DEATH, VISITORS FROM BEYOND THE STARS, KILL TWO BY TWO). Doug is hit on the head by a Mexican soldier (and again later by an American one!). He and Tony get inside the fort which it turns out is really the Franciscan stronghold called the Alamo. Apparently, Davy Crockett died "yesterday" and this is difficult to verify--some histories of this event claim Crockett died on the final assault. In any event, in what must be one of the longest (and also most dramatic) teasers in the series, the tunnel crew figure they have nine hours to get the boys out (they also figure the slaughter took place at 5 o'clock but in truth, it may have been later---it is recorded that it took place at night).
Col. Jim Bowie, the man who invented the Bowie knife, is here also. His character is given really hokey lines and he comes off as dull and boring. When Travis confronts him, he backs down; when Tony escapes, he falls off the wall (again, this is probably not historically accurate, in fact, some sources now believe that the defenders--while very brave and holding off Santa Anna from other American forces by keeping him busy at the Alamo--probably ended up surrendering in the long run--only to have Santa Ana have them shot---while one of his lesser officers would have spared them; one man did escape--Travis gave them a choice to leave or not--and knew reinforcements wouldn't be coming at a point earlier than in this episode). Bowie is not well thought out here and Jim Davis, usually adequate, is not really very good at breathing life into him.
Travis is a bit too hard headed. Rhodes Reason is a good actor and carries him off well, especially when the Colonel is taken by the tunnel by mistake to 1968 (and Kirk mentions it is 1968). Here, Travis sees his own death as Ray moves the time lock ahead a ten minutes. His bravery comes to the fore as he dies fighting, defending the Alamo (which probably didn't happen that way but the defenders were still courageous). Travis, like others before and after him, calls the tunnel's science magic and voodoo.
Oh, and (sarcasm here) how brave of the production not to depict Davy Crockett...I guess they couldn't handle 3 historical presences in one hour (Crockett probably survived until the finale). Reynerson must be one of the most genial men Tony and Doug ever met in their travels. It is truly sad when he dies--he was a sympathetic character and almost made this story worthwhile on more than an adventure-level.
What I cannot understand about this episode is why Tony, after having numerous problems in the pilot and other episodes, trying to change history (even Doug tells him, "You should knew better than to try to change history"), confronts Travis with the news that the Alamo will fall in the way that he did. Tony isn't very smart in this one. His bargain with Rodriguez is laughable (and Rodriguez does so). He only survives due to the Doctor Armandez who also saves the only woman we see at the Alamo. Rodriguez seemed to know the doctor was sympathetic to Tony but not to the Americans on the whole.
Somehow, I recall reading that women and children were spared if they were in the chapel and at least one TV version (a much better version than this TIME TUNNEL one) depicted this. Although some criticize this episode for Tony and the doctor getting into the fort, it was historically true that Travis felt a few men could get past enemy lines--however, Tony does this twice!
I liked the idea that Ray had to reconstruct the Alamo layout from the image they were getting on the tunnel screen. With so much that really happened at the Alamo, I cannot understand why the writers (not my favorite of the Irwin Allen staple of writers) chose to have Tony's silly trip into town--I guess for more individual action. The fight Tony has with the Mexican Garcia (played by Alberto Monte--who later starred as Chavo in LOST IN SPACE's CASTLES IN SPACE) is one of the most exciting fights on the show...and it is violent! "Why don't you call for help---I'm not tied up now" is a funny quote from Tony as he antagonizes Sgt. Garcia.
A great deal of the music for this one, and indeed, other stories, seems to have come from VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA's first seasoners. A few (END OF THE WORLD comes to mind) have early VOYAGE second season music. My mind kept equating the first season music with the black and white images of VOYAGE's first season--and well, at least, it makes one think of something old and past!
More historical accuracy could have made this outing much, much better. It is still above average when compared with almost any of the alien episodes (VISITORS FROM BEYOND THE STARS, TOWN OF TERROR, and RAIDERS FROM OUTER SPACE). On the plus side, while some records quote only 4000 Mexican troops attacking and surrounding the Alamo, at least two current sources quote 6000, as did this TIME TUNNEL adventure. The series VOYAGERS! in 1983 was to have had an episode called REMEMBER THE ALAMO which would have been more entertaining than this. As this TIME TUNNEL stands, it is below par when compared to almost any other rendering of the Alamo battle.
VISITORS TO THE TIME TUNNEL TIC TOC: none
TUNNEL MISHAPS: Travis is grabbed up by the tunnel instead of Doug. I often wonder if the tunnel has some mind of its own or if some other force that wants Doug and Tony in these situations, saving more lives, is intervening. And a question I have: since Doug shot and killed a few Mexican soldiers who may not have died if he wasn't there...and in the first time loop probably didn't die...didn't that change time....or is it that Doug was always a part of the Alamo attack and defense? The show really never addresses these questions adequately (although tried in ATTACK OF THE BARBARIANS).
ANN SCREAMS: ZERO TIMES THIS EPISODE. In fact, she is my favorite character in this one. Ann is really professional in this story. Kirk leaving Tony and getting Doug was a tough decision.
MISCELLANEOUS INFO: The word Alamo comes from the Spanish word for cottonwood tree, a tree native to the region. VOYAGERS! had an aborted ALAMO story called REMEMBERING THE ALAMO.
CLIFFHANGER: 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 seconds of THE ALAMO). Then in NIGHT OF THE LONG KNIVES, the cliffhanger continues and goes into Doug being taken and dragged off while Tony just lies in the dirt, seemingly dead.