When I was a kid, I loved watching Doctor Who (natch) but also my other favourite show was Lost In Space. This was on ITV and we saw it in black and white (not having a colour telly until 1972). I remember being out one Christmas and catching sight of an episode of Lost In Space in full colour on a television in a TV shop - what a revelation that was. I suspect my parents had to drag me kicking and screaming away from it!
Anyway, as well as Lost in Space, Irwin Allen also made some other shows. There was Land of the Giants which I could never quite get into, and also Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea which was better, but the one which I really liked was The Time Tunnel.
The premise is pretty simple, two scientists, Doug Phillips (Robert Colbert) and Tony Newman (James Darren), get themselves thrown about in time via the Time Tunnel, which is operated from 1968 by General Kirk (Whit Bissell), Dr Raymond Swain (John Zaremba) and Dr Ann MacGregor (Lee Meriwether), sometimes assisted in the early episodes by Jerry (Sam Groom). They seem unable to bring the scientists back home, but at the end of each episode throw them off and onwards somewhere else.
I have always considered that The Time Tunnel is what Doctor Who could have been if the latter show hadn't discovered the Daleks early on, and realised that the science fiction element was the way to go forward. For the best part of its 30 episodes, The Time Tunnel stays resolutely rooted in the past, with every significant moment in the history books being the location in which poor Doug and Tony get dumped. Each episode follows a similar pattern, they arrive (tumbling head over heels into whatever place it is), are immediately set upon by whoever the natives are, whether pirates or cavalry or indians or townsfolk or whoever, as a result of which Doug and Tony are split up, and the remainder of the episode is them trying to figure out where they are and what's happening, while the folk in the Time Tunnel back in 1968 have to locate them in order to get them out of there before whatever historical event it is happens.
They also seem able to send whatever they want through to whatever time the travellers are in - a ring, detonators, a sort of flashing rod thing - and even people can be sent there, like a doctor. Others can be transported back to 1968 with ease - a pirate, a kid with a bomb - and yet despite all this they are totally unable to bring Doug and Tony back no matter how hard they try.
It all gets a little laughable when you watch the episodes in succession, as these elements are highlighted and made very obvious.
There is a story editor credited on the show, but I've no idea what he was doing as the scripts vary wildly in all regards. Bob and Wanda Duncan have the idea that for the Time Tunnel to get a fix on Doug and Tony, they need to know the precise date and location to do that. Other writers don't worry about such things. Sometimes there needs to be a 10 second countdown to switching them out, other times it's done instantly ... all these things are little niggles in the wider enjoyment of the show. There's one episode where someone steals a component from their equipment to stop them interfering ... and they have no replacements! So the whole of this complex under the Nevada desert has no replacement parts at all? That if something goes wrong, then, they are totally stuffed! It beggars belief really.
However it is some of these episodes which work the best - possibly because they are not strictly tied to historical fact. The Merlin episode is nice as the magician is powerful and can pop back and forth between the Time Tunnel and the events in the past.
It does become apparent, though, that the series is working with a small number of sets and locations, and that they crop up time and time again. There's the Western Town, the jungle, the beach, the tent, the rocky desert area, and various house and hotel interiors. After a time, it seems that the travellers repeatedly arrive in the same place! The stock footage is always well integrated though, and whichever films they took it from, they always try to ensure that it matches what the show is doing, even down to the right costumes and settings for the stock to be included into.
The final episode is perhaps the best of all of them, featuring some crystalline aliens in black cloaks who are intent on stealing all the oxygen from the Earth. This was one I remembered as a child, their shakey hand outstretched to touch you, and if they did, then you could be turned into an alien yourself. it's well done and very creepy. It's a great shame that this is the final episode, and moreso that there is no ending - Doug and Tony just get thrown on somewhere else. I do wonder why they didn't take the opportunity to film a sequence where they do get back, where the people in 1968 greet them, and it's the end of their journey. This could then have been tagged onto whichever was the final episode made, whenever that was ... but this sort of forethought tended not to happen unfortunately.
A list of all The Time Tunnel episodes is on IMDB here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060036/episodes