The Time Tunnel Volume 2

Scientists Tony Newman (James Darren) and Doug Phillips (Robert Colbert) become embroiled in a government experiment and find themselves travelling through history attempting to prevent changing whatever present they land in while vanquishing forces that would interfere with the progress of time (think of it as a passive Quantum Leap with silly weapons and space monsters). All the while they are attempting to return to their own present. The second season finds Tony and Doug encountering Merlin the Magician, Robin Hood, and Joshua at the Battle of Jericho. The strange liberties that are taken with fact and fiction pay off in two most unusual stories — in the first, Machiavelli is transported to Gettysburg and in the second, the ghost of Nero haunts a villa in the Italian-Austrian Alps in late 1915. Featuring blunt dialogue, ridiculous staging and ludicrous costuming, The Time Tunnel invites the cynic-minded to deride it. They ignore the charm of Allen spectacles: the embrace of mindless entertainment, the discard of episodic commentary in favour of a broader sense of the fantastic. The series’ end, confounding as it may be, bends The Time Tunnel’s narrative reality to a Flann O’Brien-esque nightmare loop. This collaged flash of brilliance, tagged onto the tail end of an ordinary episode, appears by no means accidental. It transfigures what might have been an unexpected shortened run into something bizarre and heartbreaking, at long last humanising the scientists with an assigned fate far more terrifying than Wells’ Time Traveller’s: absent is "gratitude and mutual tenderness.” Among the bonus features is an unaired pilot for a 2002 revival. In the interest of PC gender reorientation, Tony is now Toni (Andrea Roth). Where Allen’s sense of majesty and wonder never took itself lightly, it is here stripped and replaced with an unbalance of sappy melodrama and supposed comedy. The disc also features interviews with the cast and a 1976 Allen-penned TV movie, Time Travellers, involving time-tripping researchers and the Great Chicago Fire. (Fox)