THE TIME TUNNEL
THE DEATH TRAP
Music-Robert Drasnin-contains fight music used in many later episodes
After the opening narration, 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 fro Philadelphia for his inauguration. In the complex, the others figure if Lincoln did die in 1861 than someone impersonated him from 1861 to 1865. Frankly, none of this makes any sense since he was shot in the theater--the one they are seeing--in 1865 and therefore no one impersonated him but the staff must mean that if Jeremiah kills Lincoln then someone impersonated him. Kirk recalls an early attempt 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. Less importantly, there are several Technicians and lab coated scientists and jump suit wearing engineers in the background. One is a red headed lady. 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. 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. 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.
Act One begins with Doug on the ground and the titles. Carver aims to shoot Doug but Pinkerton stops him only for the reason that he wants to question Doug. He sends Scott after the others. They will stop the train by alerting the train dispatcher. Jeremiah and Matt bring Tony to their house, a small wooden one. They tell him what happened to Doug and hear a train whistle. Matt looks in on their 11 year old brother, David. Tony gets the date from Jeremiah--Feb. 22, at first wondering if Lincoln's inauguration was 1860. Jeremiah insists the three of them can still Lincoln. Tony insists the opposite, "It's impossible!" Jeremiah tells him that they would have succeeded at Harper's Ferry with John Brown but a traitor exposed them. Jeremiah has made a bomb that blows when the firing pin strikes a spark. He worked in the arsenal for 8 years. When the train is to be switched to the Washington line they will blow it up. Jeremiah asks if Tony if with them, claiming that a bit of blood makes him scared. David comes out and the brothers order him to get dressed. He will bring his clothes out into the kitchen area but Jeremiah tells him to get dressed in his room, then they will eat. He puts his glasses on. Tony, preoccupied, has his hand over his mouth, thinking far off.
The NY Tribune of Feb. 25, 1861 claimed there was an attempt on Lincoln's life but they did not name by whom. Kirk finds two items of different conspirators. Alan Pinkerton was the one who told them the conspirators used code names but in other reports he was not mentioned as being involved at all. Kirk mentions it as all being controversial. Kirk has the Leslie's Weekly which had drawings and articles to make Lincoln look foolish (I've seen one of these drawing for real--it is of an elongated Lincoln). Ann has a report by Wardhill Layman that at the advice of Judd, Lincoln was to travel undetected through Baltimore without his family.
Pinkerton questions Doug, who tells him he was sleeping in the barn. They are in the depot which is cobwebbed up and not used much. Pinkerton tells Doug he has no money and no ID. He warns him he will be hung without a confession. He wants all the information Doug has on this. Doug only can tell him the ringleader's name-Jeremiah and admits this man wants to kill the President. Pinkerton tells him he should have denied it all...said it was a mistake. They hear a train and it is the President's. David goes to get coffee for Tony and Matt and burns his hand a bit (he also used the word "reckon"). He is wearing suspenders. Jeremiah leaves, warning Matt not to let anyone leave. Tony tells Matt they are wrong about Lincoln. Matt, only because Davey is in the room, says they do not talk politics in this house. David denies this, "Sure you do. Least ways I always hear Jeremiah..." To get David out of the house, Matt tells him to fill the wood box with kindling but David tells him he did it yesterday. Matt kicks him out anyway. Matt tells Tony, "Sometimes you have to kill even if you don't want to." Tony asks about David--what will happen to him. Jeremiah's game is murder Tony goes on and he feels Matt is just as responsible as Jeremiah. He will feel like a murderer. Matt goes and gets a rifle and looks at Tony as the train pulls into the depot--Train 16 which moves past telephone poles (no one would have noticed if it weren't for VCRs). Telephones were almost invented in 1860 in Germany. Phones didn't quite make it then. In 1876 Bell uttered his famous words to Watson and by 1878 telephone cables were put up and by 1880 there were sixty thousand phones in the US. None is 1861 though. Unless this is a parallel dimension Earth where the German man's work continued and he made the phone complete in 1860 and...no? Oh, well, guess not.
Lincoln comes down from the train and asks about the delay and the newest rumor. He is not so sure that having had his friends persuade him to make this secret trip...a smuggling plan...was the right thing to do. Pinkerton tells him the rumor is real now and not just a rumor. An informant gave him the meeting area and he insists the train wait here until he is sure the way ahead through Baltimore is made safe. They are in the North section of Baltimore--a section of the town which is largely abandoned (thus, no need for extras and the town looks very empty---some fan critics of this episode must have missed this line since they mention the town's bareness). It is empty to make way for a new road. Pinkerton tells the President of a stove in the depot.
Doug's hands are chained and he is brought out, telling Lincoln he is innocent. Lincoln wants to talk to Doug and has the men take him back into the depot. Matt tells Tony to sit down, his pacing is making him nervous. Jeremiah returns and takes the bomb. Lincoln wasn't to come until later in the night. Matt smiles as Jeremiah charms him with talk and fellowship. When Tony mentions that Doug will die if the depot blows up, Jeremiah says, "He'll die for the cause." Tony tries to run out but Matt blocks him from the door. Jeremiah takes the rifle, "Livers turned yellow, so I'm gonna kill you now and save any further trouble."
Act Two begins with Matt arguing to keep Tony alive. He argues that Tony's done nothing wrong--only disagree with Jeremiah. Matt tells him if he kills Tony, he will not be with Jeremiah in this. Jeremiah tells him, "You'll stop me." Matt says, "I intend to try." Jeremiah gives in to him. Tony goes on about innocent people being killed. David comes back in and Tony taunts Jeremiah to tell him, "Won't David be proud of his brothers." Jeremiah tells David that Tony is bad but the boy doesn't understand. Lincoln can't believe Jeremiah's plan but thinks it could succeed--the killing part anyway. He thinks it is mad to be against him since he is opposed to slavery, too. Doug tells Lincoln that Jeremiah is a follower of John Brown, believing in immediate results. Lincoln believes slavery will cease to exist in some time in the future. He tells Doug that Brown was hung and so will anyone else be, who revolts. Men of reason will abolish by reason. Doug wishes he could believe that--four states have already seceded. Doug knows war is inevitable but that Jeremiah will not succeed in killing him. Lincoln ponders, "You think my death could alter the course of history." He tells Doug that no sister state will war on a sister state. Doug asks what if the states that have left refuse to rejoin the Union. Lincoln notes that Doug's talk seems to imply he has an insight into the future and Doug replies, "I do." He starts to tell Lincoln, "You'll..." Lincoln stops him, "Not about me, about the nation." Doug tells him in a century the nation will thrive. They hear a shot. Tony is gagged and tied up. Matt fakes he is hunting rabbits in town and has one dead rabbit in his hand--half the rabbits in the county are here he tells Pinkerton and his men. Jeremiah watched this. He uses this distraction to plant his bomb. We hear music that will later be used on LOST IN SPACE in KIDNAPPED IN SPACE.
The tunnel image reveals Jeremiah's planting of the bomb under the depot floor outside. Ann panics and runs to talk to one of the techs about transferring Doug. They do not have a clear fix. Kirk tells Ray, "I don't want Doug placed in a time zone different from Tony." Ann tries to get an image on Tony. Tony and Doug being in different time zones would be quite a story in and of itself.
Pinkerton returns and tells them about the rabbit hunting. Lincoln comments, "Perhaps you've heard I'm a patient man?" "Yes Mr. Lincoln, I have," Pinkerton answers. Lincoln quips back, "It's a myth!" This is the funniest line here and shows Lincoln as not as deified as the rest of the episode. Ford Rainey is quite good as Lincoln, much better than most TV shows about Lincoln, certainly much better than the Lincoln shown on STAR TREK--the one who was supposed to have been culled from Kirk's mind. The President wants to go and he will wait in the train---while doing so, writing his speech. It is not yet written. Scott covers Doug with a pistol. Outside, the clock to the time bomb clicks away.
Act three opens with Tony breaking his ropes and running out the door, leaving it open. Jeremiah and Matt hide near some wood and a garbage heap. Matt was worried that Jeremiah may have been captured. Jeremiah tells him they have to circle around the depot to get back to the house or they'll be seen. Matt is told by him that they will have to take David to the city for a few days, lay low while troops search the area after the blast. David finds no one in the house. Tony runs through the town to the depot. Pinkerton tells his men to arrest every suspicious character and all the town rabble...by the time they are released, Lincoln will be in DC. Carver will get to the engineer of the train and tell him to get ready to leave. Tony runs near to the depot and sees Lincoln sitting in the train, telling Pinkerton and his men about the bomb. They take him inside. Doug tells them that the rabbit hunter could have been a ruse. Pinkerton wants to cuff Tony. Tony punches Carver, jumps over the bench, and runs out. Doug hits Pinkerton's gun arm down so as to avoid Tony being shot. Pinkerton hits Doug down. Tony finds the bomb quickly and tries to stop it. He can't so he throws it (?) onto the junk heap. Pinkerton gets him and at gun point orders him inside.
Ray tells Kirk that in 280 seconds they will have enough energy to switch the bomb. When Kirk suggests this, Ann looks at him as if he's mad. He claims a primitive bomb should be able to be jammed.
Jerry appears briefly.
Pinkerton won't believe Tony at all despite his rope burns. Lincoln returns to the inside of the depot and Tony tells him about the bomb and wants to show him as the President suggests. Lincoln orders they should go find the bomb. Pinkerton almost admits Tony could be telling the truth. David looks for Matt and Jeremiah. By the way, so was I--where did they go? That must have been some long way around! He picks up the bomb and vanishes as the tunnel picks him up in a flash--accompanied by really cool music! The tunnel blows with smoke and flashes and sparks. David is in the tunnel mouth. We see an interesting rare point of view from David staring out at the tunnel complex through the mouth of the tunnel. The tunnel is lighting and dulling up and back and forth. It is quite impressive looking again--as always. Ray warns Kirk not to go into the tunnel--the radiation. Kirk worries that the boy is inside but Ray tells him the boy is shielded. In five minutes they will be able to cut the power and go in to the boy...Ray comments on this retrieval only. Kirk yells at David to come out. Ann tries to get through to the boy, telling him she knows Jeremiah and Matt and they want him to come out. Ann pleads, "Please trust us, David!" Ann asks him to show her the clock, calling him darling. Kirk orders Ray to send him back or they'll all die. Ann gasps, "We can't!" Kirk says, "Sorry, Ann." Kirk means for Ray to send him back but Ann asks Ray to wait. She tells the boy it is a bomb but he spouts back that she is lying. Kirk adds, "When the dial gets to zero, it'll explode!" Ann, Ray, and Kirk continue to try to get him out of the tunnel but he is too afraid, calling for his brothers!
Act Four has Ann trying a different tact: yelling at him. "David, do as I say!" Ann tells him to jam the dial, to turn it back. Ray snaps that they can't hold him much longer. David takes out something from his red coat pocket (a pocket knife?) and tries to stop it but it won't stop. Kirk tosses him a tool kit and he uses a screwdriver to stop it. The power builds up and the hum rises. Sparks, smoke, and flashes and David is gone. He appears with more of that wild music (which will reappear in other episodes, notably TOWN OF TERROR). Jeremiah and Matt arrive home, finding both Tony and the boy gone. David has put the bomb down near a horse trough (a drinking stand for horses) and returns to them. He hugs Matt and explains about the clock--"they said it was a bomb." Matt lies and tells him it isn't. He continues to talk of a cave but Jeremiah tells him that there are no caves around here. He claims he was in a thunderstorm and then in a cave and everyone wanted him to come out (while the boy's fear seems realistic enough throughout the show, this scene sounds a bit too much like Dorothy's last scene in THE WIZARD OF OZ movie), then he was in another storm and was back. He tells them where he put the bomb. Jeremiah wants him to take him to it but David tells him no. Matt tells him it is a good thing that they can't kill the President now. Jeremiah argues and tells Matt that it is time David knows what is going on--he's old enough. Matt tells Jeremiah all the older brother cares about is his pride and wanting the credit and praise. Jeremiah slaps him and leaves. Outside, the brothers follow him. Matt and Jeremiah fight over the small delivery steps in a delivery area. David watches and helps Matt up as Jeremiah leaves---after beating Matt down. Matt's lip is bloody.
Tony shows Pinkerton the garbage heap. The bomb is gone. Pinkerton gives it up, telling him he called his bluff and this man acts predictable until he says, "Either you're the most persistent liars..." he orders Scott to shoot to kill anyone who gets near the train, guard the President. David seems to see as Tony and Doug show Pinkerton the house. The pair are chained to each other by their wrists. The ever unseeing Pinkerton continues to doubt them, "A doubt's a doubt." RG Armstrong is quite good in almost anything he is in. He played the evil Uncle Lewis in FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE SERIES, a wonderful series, the best horror series there is, much better than X FILES. It is difficult now to watch him and not think of Uncle Lewis, who, although guest starring in only a handful of important episodes, wasn't in very many (bar the opening credits in seasons one and two). The veteran actor though makes you forget almost all his other roles and he sometimes seems to become the character he is--dimwitted as the character may be.
Inside Pinkerton finds incitements to riot, John Brown quotes about revolting, other abolitionist reading material, and a paper whose editor calls Lincoln the toady of the Southern cause. Pinkerton sees Davey's slingshot but also finds, at Tony's urging him to look under the sink, the leftover parts similar to the ones Jeremiah used to build a bomb. Pinkerton tosses Doug and Tony the key to the chain...they've been chained together by the wrists. Finally. He adds, "You two can go on about your own business." What exactly is that? Getting into trouble? Tony and Doug find Matt and Davey, the later who tells them to leave Matt alone--to get away from him. Matt implores them to stop Jeremiah, he wants to stop Jeremiah himself or with them. He pleads with Tony, "I saved your life. You owe it to me. You owe it to him." Tony agrees. Matt sends David to the house (bad move--what if Pinkerton was there?). Jeremiah wants to find the bomb and restart it. Pinkerton tells his men about the conspiracy plot and mentions the newspapers. Doug, Tony, and Matt split up to find Jeremiah who is at a wagon wheel that was left behind. Tony and Matt find him together. Jeremiah punches Matt down and beats Tony back using the rifle.
Jeremiah runs and finds the bomb. He sees Lincoln getting back on the train and takes aim with the rifle. He doesn't seem to be able to shoot but then re-aims. Doug jumps him and they fight. They fight over the rifle which Jeremiah tries to get again. Doug flips him but Jeremiah chokes Doug down onto a cellar door. Doug fights him up but Jeremiah kicks him into an arriving Tony as Tony and Matt get to the scene. Jeremiah threatens he will have to kill Tony and Doug if they interfere. Matt tells Jeremiah, who regains the rifle after all, that he will have to kill him too. Doug puts his hand on Matt when Matt claims he will have to die also. Jeremiah looks down, "I can't." He adds, "Maybe killing Lincoln is not the way." Doug tosses the bomb, the tool falling out, and it blows, shaking the ground a bit. The train leaves, not one of the men on board hearing the explosion--why? No one investigates and Matt and Jeremiah return to their house where Davey is waiting--won't Pinkerton send people to it to arrest them? Before he leaves, Matt, holding the rifle, gives Doug and especially Tony, one last look. Kneeling, Doug finds the tool that could have only come from the time tunnel. Bending down, Tony looks at it. The two men stand up and vanish.
CLIFFHANGER: Tony lands near a fort but outside in a semi-sandy, semi-brush area. Mexicans in blue shoot at him. Doug lands further up the hill and rolls down it in an effective stunt--in slow motion. The men in the fort atop the battlements, shoot a Mexican dead who was aiming at Tony. Some Mexicans run up the hill after Doug, Tony issuing a look out warning to Doug. They end up in another fight. The fort men call to them to run for the gate. A Mexican soldier grabs Doug at the last minute as Tony and he had gotten free and were making a run for the fort gate. Tony turns to see this and starts to run back for his friend. Doug fights but a soldier goes to stab him with a bayonet but is shot. The gate opens as Tony helps Doug and one of the men from the fort helps them inside. They rush at the gate as Mexicans, now wearing red it seems, come riding. One Mexican soldier falls off his horse--shot by the men in the fort. This seems an odd place to freeze frame--over stock footage but that is what they do! Personally, they should have freeze framed over Doug just as the Mexican soldier is about to stab him...but they may have needed extra footage to fill in the 53 minutes or maybe they realized if they did that, the cliffhanger would have been so much like many others!
THE DEATH TRAP was an entertaining hour, if nothing else. It starts a great deal but doesn't always carry through (why was the tunnel switching to Lincoln's death in 1865 but still reading 1861; why didn't Pinkerton question anyone later--we don't know that he didn't but the feeling of the ending is all's well it ends well). I also saw it as a brother story--Matt, Jeremiah, and Davey are clearly drawn characters at odds with each other but also very loving to each other. Lincoln is a bit too nice and honorable but it isn't grating and Rainey did a good job. The sets, outdoors it would seem, are very good and make for a nice change from the other Allen sets in his other three science fiction shows.
More than four states did succeed by Feb. 22, 1861--they were South Carolina--Dec. 20, 1860; Mississippi--Jan.9 1861; Florida--Jan. 10; Alabama on Jan. 11; Georgia--Jan. 19; and Louisiana--Jan. 26. Feb. 23rd held Texas's succession--the 7th state to do so, a day after Doug tells Lincoln four states have already succeeded but perhaps Doug was taking a guess---and Lincoln either didn't yet know--which is difficult to believe or was too polite to correct Doug.
The war began on April 12th, 1861. Parts of Lincoln's first inaugural address: This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall have grown weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. We are not enemies but friends, we must not be enemies..the mystic chords of memory will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as they surely will be, by the better angels of our nature."
Of the fact that there may have been other assassination attempts against Lincoln, not much was found but that doesn't mean there weren't any. Even if all the research doesn't prove any were made, that doesn't mean there were none. There were death threats after the war was over. During the war, there were rumors of planned kidnappings of Lincoln. John Wilkes Booth had already made two unsuccessful attempts at kidnapping him and swore revenge. Were there more than one conspirator and did Booth act alone? Probably not and more than one book has hinted at this event being the mastermind of a group of people. Lincoln was killed five days after the war was over.
One report, which collaborates THE DEATH TRAP, mentions this: "The new President left his home in Springfield, Ill, Feb. 11. He arrived in Washington early yesterday after a tour through five states. The tour ended in Baltimore. There Lincoln was warned of an assassination attempt on him. He traveled the rest of the way to Washington secretly." Lincoln was trying to maintain peaceful relations with the South, declaring he would not interfere with slavery in states where it already existed, indicating he had no legal authority to do so.
Was Lincoln against slavery? Most likely; however, it seemed more important to him to preserve the Union than it did to end slavery.
John Brown's attack on Harper's Ferry was in 1859. Slaves in the surrounding area, Harper's Ferry, Virginia, did not help Brown's attack. Robert E Lee headed the force of US Marines who captured Brown. Brown had led six men, four of whom were his sons, during the Kansas civil war in 1956. He and his men killed five pro slavery settlers in May 24th, 1856.
Pinkerton Detectives typically carried .45 revolvers (belt), a 2 shot derringer (coat or vest pocket), a 15 shot rifle (horse), and a knife (belt) and ride a riding horse. They were formed in 1850 by Scotsman Allan Pinkerton, formerly of the Chicago police dept. They were made an unofficial force of the federal government and an integral part of big business. Pinkertons failed to hunt down the James gang in the 1870s, they did break up the Wild Bunch. Many of their agents were on the express train full of secret railroad agents. They were replaced, mostly, by the federal organization called the FBI.
This episode also has a great score by Robert Drasnin. The fight Doug has with Jeremiah is sparked by this extra long, new tune which is very catchy and one of the only bits of music within an episode which is unique only to THE TIME TUNNEL and can found only on THE TIME TUNNEL. Among the later episodes which contain this excellent piece are: THE GHOST OF NERO, THE WALLS OF JERICHO, IDOL OF DEATH, BILLY THE KID, PIRATES OF DEADMAN'S ISLAND, CHASE THROUGH TIME, ATTACK OF THE BARBARIANS, and TOWN OF TERROR.
Ann's scene with David and trying to get him out of the tunnel is well played by all involved including the boy actor Christopher Harris. For once, the child is too frightened to play hero and is very, very believeable. Full points to him and Lee in this episode. Her attempts at niceness, then commandeering the boy, are fun to watch as she seems to really care about him and wants to help him but also wants to get to the bomb to deactivate it. Her desire for Kirk not to send the boy back seems to be caring for the boy as much as for Tony and Doug at the depot.
VOYAGERS! had an episode about Lincoln called THE DAY THE REBS TOOK LINCOLN and it, too, was quite good.