The Time Tunnel - Complete Collection Blu-ray Review
Before Quantum Leap
Time Tunnel Series Review
Irwin Allen's 1966 TV series The Time Tunnel followed the imaginative creator's short-lived time-travel ideas.Allen worked on a number of fantastical projects - including the 1961 feature Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, which he would adapt to a relatively long-running show in the mid-60s. Enjoying the format, Allen would go on to later produce Lost in Space and Land of the Giants shows, conquering space, sea and, well, giant monsters, with some fun - albeit camp - success along the way.
He didn't find quite the same magic with the 1966 series, The Time Tunnel, however, crafting what should have been a perfect show for exploring the past (and future) in new and imaginative ways, and boasting a bigger budget and more extravagant effects design, but struggling to nail the formula across the first season (which was a whopping 30 episodes) leading to its subsequent cancellation.
There are some nice ideas brewing here, but The Time Tunnel never really coalesced into a reliably strong show.
The premise involved a group of scientists who think they may have cracked time travel but haven't fully tested their time machine when their Government backers threaten to shut them down, prompting one gung-ho scientist to run through the machine and land himself on the Titanic on the eve of its sinking. The only way to rescue him? Send another scientist in with him, leading to this not so dynamic duo skipping around from battles in the Old West to Trojan Wars, to Pearl Harbor to rockets going to the moon and volcanoes erupting.
It's all very pre-Quantum Leap in style, with the later 80s show copying the same loose ideas and even the stylistic habit of ending every episode with the cliffhanger of what new pickle the protagonists have ended up in. However, The Time Tunnel, but for the unfortunately relatively rare episodes where it broke free of its historical constraints and told a future tale, or a fantastical tale (Merlin!), is all too shackled by an 'observer effect', which more often than not leaves its hapless duo running around whilst history happens in the background, not really seeking to change it, instead merely seeking to survive it. Where Quantum Leap made it more interesting, was by giving its protagonist a place and function in each new 'leap', so important that he potentially wouldn't get to the next leap if he doesn't complete his 'mission'.
There are some nice ideas brewing here, but, perhaps because back in the 60s it took a few seasons for shows to find their footing and to find the right formula, The Time Tunnel never really coalesced into a reliably strong show, instead drifting randomly through potentially disappointing stories and only occasionally hitting something approaching a gem. And with its protagonists about as wooden and clunky as you'd expect from the time (and far less colourful than in some of the counterpart shows), it's no surprise that Allen would fall back on throwing a whole family into space to spice things up in his next enterprise.
Time Tunnel Blu-ray PictureThe Time Tunnel - The Complete Collection comes to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray courtesy of Koch Media and Revelation Films, who afford it a 1080p High Definition video presentation culled from HD Digital Restoration Masters created from the original film negatives, presented in the show's original airing aspect ratio of 1.33:1 'fullscreen'.
Considering the vintage, The Time Tunnel looks extremely good in HD. Sure, it's had some noticeable polishing work done, with little evident grain suggesting that the they got quite excited in the old DNR department, but it's still a very clear and clean picture, boasting some strong detail and rendering the series better than it's ever looked before.
Better than it's ever looked before.
The colour scheme is strong, with some vibrant - unsurprisingly quintessentially 60s - tones and contrast, with solid enough black levels. There are plenty of effects shots which don't fare as well, with the specific effects techniques clearly leaving the image somewhat incapable of being cleaned up or polished any better than this - and the focus and clarity in some of these shots looking somewhat off.
About as good-looking as you could ever expect from a show that's over half a century old, this presentation is sure to please long term fans.
Time Tunnel Blu-ray SoundThe accompanying soundtracks come in two flavours, the original mono LPCM 2.0 track, and a remixed DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Although the latter is a more full bodied experience, affording the 60s show a little more space to breathe across the array, it doesn't always render the dialogue as well, giving it a slightly echoey edge which isn't present on the original mono track. It's not persistent, but it may leave you veering towards sticking with the mono, which is the default selection anyway.
Solid lossless tracks that promote the series better than ever before.
Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, whilst effects are nominal but pretty-much in-line with what you'd expect considering the vintage - giving you rumbling volcanoes and honking fog horns, galloping horses and some slightly hollow gunshots. The score is a highlight, with John Williams on fine form, despite the derivative nature of some of the in-episode music. Overall these are solid lossless tracks that promote the series better than it has ever sounded before.
Time Tunnel Blu-ray ExtrasThe extras package is where the release really hits a home run, delivering a tremendous selection of additional features that truly make this the complete collection. Aside from the original unaired pilot episode, which is presented in HD, we also get the rare unaired 2002 TV pilot for the reboot series, and the Time Travellers TV movie too, making for some excellent additions which easily add an edge to this package.
A tremendous selection of additional features.
There's a selection of Cast Interviews and also Irwin Allen's vintage Home Movies, although the latter comes with no audio. The Camera Test also comes without audio, and we get a look behind the Visual Effects too, with the set rounded off by some Promotional TV and Radio Spots, and a Stills Gallery.
Time Tunnel Blu-ray VerdictThe definitive collector's package.
The 1967 TV series The Time Tunnel was a colourful addition to creator Irwin Allen's imaginative TV output, sitting slightly below the other more famous entries, but still boasting that same nostalgic 60s warmth that permeates them all.
Koch Media / Revelation Films' Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release affords the series remastered HD video and audio, both of which are the best the series has ever looked and sounded, as well as a tremendous extras package which includes a number of related TV movies and pilots, really making this the definitive collector's package.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £34.99
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