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The Time Tunnel is an American color science fiction TV series, written around a theme of time travel adventure and starring James Darren and Robert Colbert. The show was inspired by the 1964 movie The Time Travelers (AIP/Dobil), and was creator-producer Irwin Allen's third science fiction television series, released by 20th Century Fox Television and broadcast on ABC. The show ran for one season of 30 episodes. A pilot for a new series was produced in 2002 but did not proceed to a series.
The production used sets, stock footage and props left over from the large number of period dramas made by the 20th Century Fox film company. Even black-and-white shots of the Titanic sinking were tinted for use in this color production. Only a few actors were costumed for a given episode, interspersed with cuts of great masses of people similarly dressed from original features. Only one set was constructed for the show, that of the Time Tunnel main control room. For the pilot episode, a large control room set was built, and a longer Time Tunnel was created using optical matte shots. After the pilot episode, location changes occurred for the production of the series; Colbert and Darren shot their scenes in another studio, on the 20th Century Fox backlot, or on location, while those who portrayed the Time Tunnel personnel filmed all their scenes on revised and smaller (due to the production having to utilize a smaller sound stage than used during the pilot filming) Time Tunnel control room set. Some episodes featured space aliens who wore costumes and carried props originally created for other Irwin Allen television and movie productions. Prop sets were similarly re-used. The prop computer looked realistic because it was an array of memory modules from the Air Force's recently decommissioned SAGE computer.
Continuity errors and errors in historical fact occurred in the series. In the premiere episode, "Rendezvous with Yesterday", Captain Smith of the Titanic is called "Malcolm" when, historically, his name was "Edward". The names of the secondary officers are also fictitious, though Walter Lord's best-selling non-fiction book about the event, A Night to Remember, had been released nine years earlier. Tony states that he was born in 1938. A few episodes later in "The Day the Sky Fell in", he states he was seven when Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 1941, which would make the year of his birth 1934.
The theme song for The Time Tunnel was composed by John Williams (credited as "Johnny Williams"). GNP Crescendo later released an album featuring Williams' work and the score composed by George Duning for the episode "The Death Merchant".
The series won an Emmy Award in 1967, for Individual Achievements in Cinematography. The award went to L.B. "Bill" Abbott, for his photographic special effects.