THE TIME TUNNEL
TOWN OF TERROR
Writer-Carey Wilbur (for shame, sir!)
Dir-Herschel Daugherty (indeed!)
No opening narration. Tunnel staff view Tony and Doug flying through the time vortex crystals. They see them flip over and over and land. Ann sharpens the focus but they can't probe just yet. Kirk doesn't like the looks of the place they've come into. Tony and Doug see sophisticated machinery and instruments in a basement. A man is hiding watching them, then attacks them with a wrench. Tony falls forward but Doug struggles with the man, falling. The man drives the wrench at him but Doug moves. Doug punches the man and the man hits a computer banked wall. He falls and when Tony checks him, he finds the man is dead. Doug figures that impact couldn't have done that to him. Tony and Doug go up steps to a wooden door to find someone. Behind them they hear a moan--the man! He rises up. Doug figures the man wasn't as dead as Tony thought but Tony is insistent, "I tell you he was. Look at him--he's a walking dead man." The man goes to a control desk and puts his hands behind his body, leaning against the control board with his back to it. There is a severe explosion and he is gone. End of cliffhanger. Doug wants only to get out of this room and he and Tony go to a room above--a room with jars of scientific material and chemicals. They see a window and we hear bits from the pilot score. Another door closes and is locked. It appears to be a small town hotel but how does it tie in with the science complex below, the two time travellers wonder. They call for somebody, Doug rings the bellhop bell. An old lady--Samantha's mother in law on BEWITCHED--comes in and is funny, adding some humor to this droll episode. She--Sarah Petting--tells them she was setting biscuits into their trays and that she has no cellar and there is no locked doors. She opens the door and they go into the first room and do not find the cellar or the door they came through from it! Just a wall. The small old lady touches each of their foreheads and they are stopped in time or something--they can't move and don't realize it. She then turns into a creature in a black cape and a strange green-gray face with beard! It is humanoid but not human--it has arms and legs. She-it-he walks to the other door and goes down--to the basement! After the theme song, we hear the narrator cry out, "THE TIME TUNNEL!"
THE TIME TUNNEL staff watch a frozen Tony and Doug, figuring it is some kind of forcefield which interferes with them. It is the North Atlantic Coast. Ann figures a lateral space transfer which may break them out of the field. Ray orders double power outputs. The alien with the beard contacts via screen a spaceship (shots of THE SKY PIRATE alien craft from LOST IN SPACE which in turn may have been taken from a Roger Corman movie called WAR OF THE SATELLITES). The voice of the alien leader that answers him is Vincent Beck (Wogan, Megazor) wearing a Lemnoc mask. This alien looks a different color with a smaller beard or moustache. In one hour, they will remove all oxygen from Earth. In eight hours time it will a total transfer. Ann tells the others they can only move the boys a few feet without interference so they do. Doug, in the middle of a sentence, stops--a nice touch. He and Tony wonder how they got in the new room--to their point of view, the old woman and the pantry they were in just vanished away. Doug: "Someone or something is playing a weird joke on us. I just don't understand why." They peer into the cellar and see the alien, calling it an android--why? Tony and Doug find they are locked in. More alien chatter as Andro one calls Andro leader. The leader's sensors in the spacecraft have shown the forcefield that Tony and Doug were in was breached (if he is so far away how come he found out before the Andro One?). They use the oxygen test device. Tony can't open the windows in the room they are trapped in, and can't break the glass. Doug tries a chair but it bounces off. They hear a hiss and think it is gas. Tony thinks the room is hermetically sealed. They looks at a barometer which tells them sea level pressure (normal is 29.98) but it is down four points. They figure the aliens are taking air out of their room. Doug clears the bench and they use it as a ram on the window, smashing it. Air comes in and they go out. Alarms ring out. Andro One calls all personnel and tells them, "...they are in the village..." Sounds like THE PRISONER (number one, the village). We hear more DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL music. It is some kind of New England town with no sign of life. They run but two people, a young couple, Pete and Joan watch from hidden points. Two men come running after Tony and Doug. Pete wonders if they can help each other. The town looks like the seaside town in SHELL GAME from LAND OF THE GIANTS. Doug stops Tony from moving out to two "live people" just in time to save him from their firing of ray guns. They see a sign for the town: Cliffport, Maine, population 700. More pilot music and the boys run...right into a forcefield around the town. They are electrified (similar to how Barry was in LAND OF THE GIANTS-GHOST TOWN--which also featured a people less town and a forcefield around the entire town). The boys fall!
The two men come over Tony and Doug to shoot them with ray guns but the boys fight them--some quick recovery! They beat them easily. The guns vanish, the men vanish to be replaced with two more alien figures which also vanish. The siren stops. Tony throws a rock at the electro magnetic forcefield which Doug assumes surrounds the whole town (gee, shouldn't they really check that out?). Tony wants some way to warn the outside world. Phone? The couple watch, we see the spacecraft again, Andro leader and Andro one talk again, ho hum. This is a sorry version of the all time classic INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (which starred Whit Bissel in a small role!). Andro Leader says, "I want them dead!" Good alien talk (sarcasm there). Oxygen will be teleporting to their home planet in 20 minutes time or it will be too late for them. Tony and Doug walk past boats and a good town set. They go into a building and find people--but all are frozen in suspended states. Like stone. They see the old woman. This is how the aliens use bodies to appear human. The couple come in and confront the boys. Ann can't lock the probe on the boys. Kirk asks to use all reserve power if she has to. Blasts in the tunnel reveal feedback.
Pete tells the boys, "These things--you and Joan and me are the only real people left in this town." They hid in Pete's boat and heard the aliens talking about this takeover. What the heck were they doing in the boat--better not to intrude on their privacy. Doug asks about what weapons they can use against the aliens and then asks, "What era is this? What year?"
Pete is confused, "You don't know what year this is?" Tony explains, "Look, I know you won't understand this but we come from another time." Pete answers, "We understand..." Tony says, "No, you don't..." With dialogue like this, it is easy to see why this episode won't work or entertain. It is sheer lunacy and in a way, is so bad, it is fun to watch almost like PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. If any episode should be made fun of on MYSTERY SCI THEATER, this is it! They tell Tony it is Sept. 10, 1978. Doug claims, "That is close to our time." The old lady vanishes when the foursome leave the building. They go to the General Store--more suspended people. Pete claims it is like this all over town--every house and store they went into. They look for and find dynamite--in a General Store? Alarms go off again and three aliens walk toward the General Store. There is something odd about the sequences with the aliens walking about calmly in the middle of an American town--sort of like a cross between Andy Griffith and the X Files. This episode is worth it only to see the scenes of the aliens outside in the town--it is quite surreal and quite a kicker. The aliens head in and seem to take a long time getting inside! A tech fixed a console in the time tunnel complex. They will try to pick them up in the store. They get an image but haven't fully picked up past that forcefield. They sharpen the focus. Another tech sits down at a desk and an alien appears behind him. It moves at him, now in 1968, and shakes its finger in a weird way--another reason to laugh at this episode--the aliens move their hands in a shaky fashion (gosh, even the old lady didn't shake her hands!) when they are about to take over someone!
The monster vanishes, going into the tech apparently. The tech has a device and puts it in a console. He sits down, the alien appears out of him and vanishes. A power surge from the reserve might penetrate the forcefield without any feedback dangers. Ann calls for reserve (why? In the past they didn't have to call out via phone for this) and finds the line dead. Kirk finds his line dead also. Ray tries the corridor phone to Communications Repair. Ann feels faint but she is the only one at this point. Female and male techs behind her don't. Ray tells them all outgoing communications are dead, the doors and exits sealed and jammed tight and can't be opened. Why not jump from one bridge to the other? Sorry, just teasing.
Doug says, "I wished we had some help against those aliens." Bad dialogue police where are you? Tony says, "The townspeople aren't going to be any help." For some reason the three aliens heading at the General Store, at least in the copy I viewed, never seemed to get there. Pete and blond Betty...uh, Joan...think Tony and Doug are odd as the pair of men talk up to air, calling General Kirk, Ann, and Swain. In the complex, a female tech and a male tech faint. Kirk makes them get down. The doors are sealed, they all have a heaviness in their chests, and the barometer atmospheric pressure is down a few points. All air inlets are working but the oxygen seems to be leaving. Kirk looks into the tunnel as he says, "As though something is removing..." he gets an idea and rolls up a paper, lights it up on fire and it goes out. The tunnel here looks good as always, deep and round. The smoke from the fire goes into the tunnel. Oxygen is being taken out via the tunnel. Ray tells them to shut down but Ann worries about Doug and Tony (she almost always puts Doug first). Ann protests but Ray hits a switch but it won't shut down. They try the master switch. Tony and Doug still call upward. No use. They thought the time tunnel could bring the townspeople back to life. Pete grabs a hook (Peter Pan and Capt. Hook!) and thinks that Tony and Doug are aliens for what they just did (wouldn't you think that too?). As they explain Joan gasps, "Don't listen to em'--they'll turn us into statues, too." Doug tells Tony as the couple run out, "Let em go, Tony." Huh? Uggg! Bad dialogue! Capture them all, bad dialogue police!
An alien appears, takes over a man in the store, and moves his hand at Doug. Tony grabs it and Doug punches the man who falls. An alien rolls out of him and vanishes. Pete and Joan are in town, the wind is picking up, we hear pilot music again. It is very creepy and surreal again, as an alien comes out of a door. The couple pass netting for fish and go to an area. The alien is behind a patio support beam and puts his waving, shaking hand out and waits until the blind (?) couple walk near him. He uses one index finger to touch Pete's forehead. Pete freezes but turns, not totally stiff for some reason. He watches as Joan screams (loudly) and runs off. After ionization of air complete, the aliens begin teleporting of Earth's "free"---?---oxygen to Andros. Two men on the time tunnel floor are out. Kirk tells a female tech to get on the floor--it is better there! All techs are told to get down. Kirk moves Ann down. We hear the Paul Sawtell music from THE DAY THE SKY FELL IN. Kirk makes Ray get down, he and Ann nearly passed out over the consoles. He calls Tony and Doug via voice contact, "This is time tunnel calling. Reply." Tony and Doug walk outside. Kirk calls, "Tony."
Tony turns to Doug, "What?" Doug says, "I didn't say anything." They make contact with Kirk. He explains they are in trouble, "I think...we think..." Kirk says. Doug tells him to disconnect the tunnel with them but they can't. The aliens have locked them to 1978 and in 15 minutes, maybe 20, Kirk figures--they'll be dead. He passes out into a chair. Tony and Doug hear Joan screaming and they run toward her. Joan is trapped at a wharf (Worf?) near a seaside restaurant (good set). The alien is moving right at her with that shaky waving hand and finger! It makes the episode.
The Andros 2 multiplies and Doug and Tony fight the two (with that fight music from THE DEATH TRAP--as if the music director knew this would be the last episode and decided to throw in music from a variety of the best episodes). They help Joan who gravitates to hug Doug, "I..." Kirk checks Ray and Ann on the floor. Ann asks, "How long can we hold out?" Kirk says, "We'll hold out. Tony and Doug are going to cut themselves loose from the tunnel from their end." He goes to watch Tony, Doug, and Joan as they fight their way through lightning, wind, and thunder. A low pressure area caused this storm center. Kirk calls again, falls again. Filler? "Hurry, hurry." Doug hides Joan in a small stock house. They can't take her in to battle the aliens. The aliens can't come out since they aren't built to take this punishment. Great. Wimpy villains. Tony and Doug go out in a gale wind to go to the hotel. They go in through the window they broke (pilot music again). There is also a strange bit of music that is usually used when they vanish--it is used here as Doug plants the time bomb. As they set it in the cellar, outside, Pete calls for Joanie in the wind. Boy, are Pete's pant's legs high--as if he is expecting a flood or something or maybe the wind made them ride up high with wear or something. Anyway, bright girl Joan calls for him to join her and he gets in and closes the door, "Hi, are you all right?" NOW, Joan gets the idea he could be an alien and backs away. Pete says he stood still and the alien didn't touch him, "Here, pinch me, its real." No comment. She does. Pete says, "Now am I real or ain't I?" I don't know how much more of this I can take. He hugs her and she tells of Tony and Doug's plan. He tosses her and touches her head--but at this point, she's been so stupid, we actually feel she deserves it. This switch on INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (alien possessed boy betrays girl instead of alien possessed girl betrays boy) could have been interesting but the talk is so bad...it is really so silly.
Pete freezes her and goes to the hotel. In the basement, the boys creep around (haven't they had enough time to plant ten bombs?). Some of the alien controls are on the back of locker cabinets. Why? Pete finger points at Tony, turns into the old lady and says, "Young man!" He turns back into the alien. Tony runs and hides. Doug hides. I want to hide my TV set. They hear Pete who calls to them and comes in. He calls, "Help me Spock, help me." No just keeping me awake. "Help me, Doug, help." He calls this in Tony's voice. He calls Doug, "Mr. Phillips." He attacks Tony who warned Doug it wasn't him. Is this Pete taken over or not? I don't think so. Pete calls help; Doug moves out. Pete moves at him with his shaky hand.
Doug avoids Pete's finger and hides, then hits Pete and punches him. Pete turns back to the alien. The real Tony calls to Doug and touches Doug but Doug punches him too! Tony asks what we are thinking if we still care, "What was that all about?" Doug says, "I had to be sure." They run out, the complex of the aliens' blows up. The boys find Joan. It's all over and that releases everyone else from the aliens' control. The threesome go out--it is sunny and the wind has stopped. Kirk recovers as the time tunnel staff also come alive again, the oxygen not being taken from them anymore. The town has birds, noises, and people. Tony looks up to see the clear, blue sky. It has some clouds but they are white. Pete comes running and hugs Joan; Sarah, the old lady comes running and says, "Land sakes, I'm on fire!" Our punishment, this episode over, Tony and Doug vanish.
CLIFFHANGER--PROMO--SCENES TO NEXT WEEK--Doug and Tony fly through time. We then see scenes from the first episode-RENDEZVOUS WITH YESTERDAY: The tunnel staff and Senator Clark watch the ship on the image projection screen. The captain tells Tony, "Good afternoon."
Tony tells him this is the Titanic and he must tell him something--"this ship is the Titanic."
"Is that what you had to tell me?"
Tony goes on, "What I mean, sire, is the Titanic sank, it struck an iceberg and was lost."
Doug hands the captain a newspaper, "Captain, I know you didn't believe my friend here and you won't believe me but you can believe your own eyes--this ship will strike an iceberg tonight at 11:40 and go down. The story's all here in tomorrow's paper."
Capt: Take them below and this time see that they stay there.
The time tunnel staff watch as the Titanic hits an iceberg.
Tony: Captain, do you think we could all be of more help on the decks?
Captain: Yes, yes of course. It occurs to me now you may even know whether I will die tonight.
Doug: Yes, sir, I'm afraid you will.
Passengers panic, many crowd the decks, and throw things out the windows of cabins they cannot get out of.
The captain gives orders to his men--to Mr. Thomas he tells that only women and children are allowed in the life boats. To a Mr. Martin, evacuate all life sections immediately.
Doug comes to get Tony on a crowded deck, "Tony, trouble on A Deck. Follow me.
Doug and Tony go up to the other level but an explosion occurs and they fall over a chain rail head first toward the ocean.
Ann: Doug! Tony!
Kirk: Freeze them! (Ann hits a switch and the boys freeze on the image screen).
A freeze frame covers the scene. We see the same words used in every cliffhanger: NEXT WEEK ...SEE THIS FANTASTIC ADVENTURE IN THE TIME TUNNEL!
NOTES: TOWN OF TERROR is sheer trash from start to finish with almost no redeeming values at all. It is, taken not too seriously, a laugh at episode--a veritable laugh fest. If this is what the second season would have been like---it was better that the show was canceled. MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER deserves this episode and this episode deserves MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER. It is sheer garbage and almost every word spoken is utter nonsense. Lots of filler, lots of vanishings. Little sense or characterization. And aliens who are supposed to be androids...are they taking over the humans' bodies or are they using the humans' looks? How do they possess humans? How can they go to 1968 and back to 1978 with such ease but can't find four people in a small cut off town? The comedic value of the stupidity of this entire hour is beyond belief. Too bad it has to end on such a sour note. The only half decent thing is the town set. Many articles quote how THE TIME TUNNEL ended on a cyclic note--that the cliffhanger to the next episode really showed how Tony and Doug appeared on the deck of the Titanic in some odd time warp, doomed to relive all 30 adventures over and over again. This is not true. If it were, the tunnel staff would have seen it and realized it was some kind of time trap...unless they were also part of the time circle somehow. An imaginative idea but with no real facts to support it. This rumor was passed along from source to source. The truth that is most likely is that it was just to serve up the next week's rerun of RENDEZVOUS WITH YESTERDAY.
FURTHER NOTES ON TOWN OF TERROR: It has been reported elsewhere (also erroneously) that the aliens in TOWN OF TERROR wore masks from THE DREAM MONSTER of LOST IN SPACE. This is also not true. They did use LOST IN SPACE masks and hands but these appear to be from THE PHANTOM FAMILY (of Lemnoc) and possibly the hands of the monsters were from TWO WEEKS SIN SPACE.
There were five THE TIME TUNNEL MOVIES--and two different versions of each--totalling ten in all. There were five two hour versions and five ninety minute versions. The differences can be found in the opening edits from RENDEZVOUS WITH YESTERDAY.
1984 or so: When Boston syndicated THE TIME TUNNEL along with the other Allen shows VOYAGE and GIANTS, it has impressive promos. One was different scenes changing to each tick of the clock in the beat with scenes from a variety of episodes including INVASION, RENDEZVOUS, and others. See below:
A PROMO was shown during LAND OF THE GIANTS-THE BOUNTY HUNTER in reruns in the mid or late 80s using the TIME TUNNEL theme song to quick cutting scenes of the show in time with the ticking of the clock in the theme: we see Doug and Clark on the elevator circles and electric passing through it as if it is doing down very fast; some kind of fight as guards hold Tony and Doug in the interrogation room in SECRET WEAPON; the comet blowing Jerry toward the tunnel while Ann, Kirk and Ray hold onto the consoles as the wind blows them and the comet is coming from END OF THE WORLD; Tony and Doug fighting soldiers in the foreign time tunnel complex in SECRET WEAPON; Biraki slapping Doug in SECRET WEAPON; the SECRET WEAPON complex console blowing up; Tony's face being smushed by G-forces, Doug's face also on the rocketship floor, the rocket blasting off in ONE WAY TO THE MOON; Tony and Doug flying in the time vortex; Tony holding a gun on the radio operator in the Titanic (this might also be a Nazi from INVASION); Doug gets up after landing in RENDEZVOUS WITH YESTERDAY amid the fire of the furnace room; the men running across the bridge over the atomic furnace, then we see the point of view from the other side of the bridge; we then see the time tunnel complex viewed from inside the tunnel mouth itself. A narrator says, "Enter THE TIME TUNNEL Sunday afternoons at 1:00 on WHLL Boston, channel 27."