THE TIME TUNNEL-Visitors from Beyond the Stars, The Ghost of Nero
THE TIME TUNNEL
VISITORS FROM BEYOND THE STARS
Writer-Wanda and Bob Duncan
Tony and Doug land after the opening narration. Doug figures they must be 100 years into the future. They have come down onto a hard floor in a room with equipment that is over 300 years ahead of their own time's. Doug figures it might be 2268. They shake. Doug and Tony move across the room to find the operators of this place. Suddenly, there is a high pitched noise and they are stopped in their tracks! Two silver suited, silver faced (is there any other kind of alien on this series?) aliens appear. They are wearing red rings around their heads and Robinson space suits from LOST IN SPACE. This, the shortest opening teaser ends!
A word or more about this opening teaser and the cliffhanger tagged onto KILL TWO BY TWO. KILL TWO BY TWO has the following teaser which will lead to next week's VISITORS FROM BEYOND THE STARS: Tony and Doug fly through time after the events of KILL TWO BY TWO are over. They come down onto a hard floor of an alien spaceship. They stand up and do not say anything. Suddenly, two aliens appear (silver suited and...you get the idea) from thin air. Doug and Tony turn and see them--a different edit of the above. The aliens talk backward. Tony and Doug go to them and ask, "Who are you? What is this place?" The aliens move them over to a translation circuit board--which has a silly looking robotic shape etched into it against the wall. The aliens find out Tony and Doug are intruders from another dimension. Tony tells them they are from Earth. The aliens tell him they are under orders of leader Lentos and will raid planet 1-6, the first advance against the planet. When the boys ask to see what the planet is they will attack and steal all materials from, the aliens show them Earth on a device near the far wall (and it looks more like a globe or globe map with no clouds and only lines like a map--very unreal when we find out what the Earth really looks like from space). The music is a bit different from the version of this segment which we will see in Act One, not the teaser. Doug moves at the aliens, despite Tony's warnings they cannot do anything against them. They shoot a strange gun-like device at him and he falls. Tony checks him. The alien walks toward them and, in what builds to be an extreme close up, coldly says, "When we leave the Earth...we will leave no life on it...it will be a dead planet." END OF CLIFFHANGER and an eerie one it is at that...very atmospheric even if the rest of the episode didn't live up to that.
Now most of the above cliffhanger from KILL TWO BY TWO was seen in VISITORS FROM BEYOND THE STARS in the first act. A totally new edit of the material must have been used as the cliffhanger to give it more appeal. The teaser material just after Tony and Doug land and stand up to the end of the teaser where they are frozen is not used in the cliffhanger tagged onto KILL TWO BY TWO. This is not the usual way of the series and it seems very strange.
Act One, the longest act ever, opens with DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL music playing. Doug and Tony's paralysis ends and they watch the aliens talking. It sounds like they are talking backwards (oh no! Are they from JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN?). This is because that is what it is---the tape of their conversation has been played backwards--like to turn it backwards and see what the actors were saying which was then recorded backwards (?). One alien points the gun at them. They force the men over to an alcove that has a robot shaped outline against the wall. This is a translation circuit. One alien calls them intruders from another dimension. Doug explains they are time travellers and landed here by accident. Tony tells them they are from a planet called Earth. The aliens want to test them for composition of what they know to be Earth beings. The aliens are talking very slow and deliberate. They check the muscle and bone structure of Tony and Doug against what they know Earthlings to be. We hear FANTASTIC VOYAGE sound effects while the aliens declare their tests and find they have the same internal organs and glandular system as the remote data they have on Earth. They are project Alpha 1 under space director Lentos for a test raid on Planet 1-6. They will land on it and they show Tony and Doug the planet on one of their screens--Earth. It looks like a globe map. Tony stops Doug from trying to attack the aliens but he tries anyway and a sonic blast from the alien's strange projector gun stuns him to the floor. He falls. Tony brings Doug up to the alcove. The alien Centauri (although we really don't learn their names until the fourth act unless I just wasn't listening to them--it's not easy to keep attending to the aliens--they talk in monotone and want to put you to sleep or give your attention to something else!) says, "Resistance is impossible." Tony tells them they are from 1968. The alien says at the early stage of development. He calls their teleportation primitive and demonstrates their own more advanced method of teleporting. When the pair of aliens vanish, they can still talk to Tony and Doug. They reappear and put the boys under restraint--they can't move but can talk. Tony tells Doug someone's air force should be on them soon--they are on a spaceship. The aliens move over to a device set in the far side of the wall and put the gun onto it and then touch the pole tops of the device. They seem to be taking on an electric charge from it. The gun is programmed on their planet. It helps them learn the language better and they now talk more fluid. Doug notices. The aliens explain they come from a hungry planet---their protein was exhausted centuries ago. They raid planets for protein extraction to survive---survival is their only morality. Centuari comes up close to them as he says, "If necessary, when we leave Earth, we will leave no life on it. It will be a dead planet."
As you can read, the above is a bit different from what was presented to us in the cliffhanger, making this a bit of a cheat. We saw Doug go down and then the alien made his little speech about leaving Earth dead. In the above Act One, it is all rearranged differently.
The tunnel staff watch the space station (?) space craft flying, in a circular fashion toward Earth. It appears this is stock footage or model work from a Roger Corman movie WAR OF THE SATELLITES, also used in LOST IN SPACE-THE SKY PIRATE and much later in DEADLIEST OF THE SPECIES. Ray finds it difficult to believe but Kirk mentions there have been unidentified flying objects seen and reported since back to the time of the Bible and tells him to check the computer for proof. Ray finds Doug and Tony are at 112 west latitude, 34 degrees north, North Arizona. Ann runs for an Arizona survey map. The alien tells the boys they are only a convenience alive---they find that others on other planets that they have raided cooperate willingly, others must be controlled, and yet others who cannot be controlled must be destroyed. The alien tells them it is 1885. The ship circles itself toward Earth. The aliens land and soon, they and the boys are walking on a farm. No ship is seen landing. A farmer, who we later learn is Jess Crawford, comes out with a bucket of water, "What kind of crackpots are you?" Tony stops the aliens from killing the farmer, telling them if they start by killing, the people on this planet will burn and destroy everything before the aliens can use it. They agree but to show them their power, they set a barrel on fire using their strange gun. The farmer gets mad as the aliens order him to get food stuffs, grain, and livestock and hand it over to them. There is no one else in the house. The farmer grabs a pitchfork, telling them the Apaches ran off with his stock, the drought ruined his crops and he's had a belly full. Tony grabs the pitchfork and punches the man down so as to save him from the aliens' gun. They are going to bring him into the house but the aliens order Tony to stay outside with them. The entire set here is magnificent and very outdoor-ish. Doug brings the man inside.
When Tony questions their conditioning to kill, the aliens tell him they only kill when necessary. The town is Mullins, Arizona and the aliens tell him to ride into town and deliver an ultimatum to a delegation of the town leaders--come to meet with them in one hour or the town will be destroyed. The leaders, if they come, must turn over the town to them. Tony doubts he can do this but they don't care---in two hours, if he is not back, the two men in the house will die. They tell him to ride due east, follow a road he will see south. Tony runs to a horse and rides off. On the way, he sees a bare chested Apache giving smoke signals atop a ridge rock cliff. The Native also flashes signals with a mirror of some kind. Tony rides into town--another great set.
Tony tries to convince the Sheriff (no name credited for the character--a real problem with Irwin Allen's first three shows---many of the characters are not even fleshed out enough to have names!) to help him. He has just sent Sam (whose name we also don't find out until later), his deputy, out to get the men in the saloon to help the army. The army warned the town about an Apache attack and the women and children of the town have been evacuated--thus, the need for an empty town. Tony tells the sheriff about supernatural creatures, "I know how that sounds" and "I don't know how to convince you," are phrases Tony uses. Sheriff tells him the Indians cut the telegraph lines two days ago and warns Tony not to panic the town even more or he'll be put into jail. He also told Tony the farmer's name is Jess Crawford.
Ann gets the computer study on the UFOs. In Look Magazine (Look In?--just kidding) it was reported that a couple saw and entered a UFO in October 1966. On September 3rd, 1965, more than 60 people saw a UFO in Kensington, New Hampshire, reported by Look also. In Life magazine photos of UFOs seen in Perth, Australia were published. There have been hundreds of sightings by sober, hardworking people. Kirk says so many that the Air Force financed an independent university study. Ray wonders how something like what is happening in Mullins can happen and not leave any reports. Kirk finds reasons--perhaps no one who saw it would come forward.
Men in the saloon talk about the situation with the Indians. Williams, the bar keep, a cowardly type who utters old time platitudes when in fear, feels they should just buy off the Indians and give them beads! The Sheriff and Sam feel that there are too few Calvary men at Smith's Flat. As Tony comes in and asks for help against the creatures, just as he was about to get an answer (and I can bet what I would be), an explosion rocks the saloon. The men rush out as the barkeep warns them--there is a fire and they should get over to the firehouse or the fire hose. Tony, alone, leaves as men with buckets run past him. We see stock footage of a fire burning a wooden house. Sheriff stops Tony at gun point and when Tony tries to tell him it was the aliens, the Sheriff tells deputy Sam to lock Tony up good.
Act Two---the aliens are setting up their plans and endlessly discuss these with each other and the leader (the voice of which sounds like John Hoyt who not only does this---but also plays the alien leader in the present of 1968). Their primary base is established and the secondary is under attack. The aliens? Or did the aliens attack the secondary base--the town? Who knows or can follow what these dullards are saying! The gun is their control system. Doug tells the farmer that Tony saved his life. Doug plots: he will go around outside while Jess fires the rifle up inside the house. Doug tells him to stay inside but does he listen...? Noooooo. Doug figured the only thing they have that they can use against them is the unpredictability (that and a can of right guard will get you through the door!). Doug sneaks out and hides. He picks up a rock to attempt to attack the alien with the gun. The farmer runs at the alien with his rifle in hand but the alien--Centauri blasts him down with the gun. The aliens claim this is Doug's human resourcefulness and they will have to change him to their will.
Ann reports on Mullins. It is a ghost town, abandoned in 1885 and no one knows why. It is still a mystery in 1968. Kirk feels that mystery is about to be solved. They try to locate the jail Tony is in both on the survey maps. Kirk hopes Tony will stay put so they can get him out. While Sam reads the newspaper with zeal, Tony claims he has to get out. Then Tony hits upon an idea: he tells Sam he is a reporter of Harper's Weekly. He wants to enlist Sam's aide to cover the fire. Tony tries offering him five dollars. Sam wants the recognition and the money it appears. Tony asks for Sam to hand him a pencil and paper, promising not to tell the Sheriff. Tony grabs Sam's arm and knocks him against the cell, choking him, taking the keys and getting out. Tony gets a rifle and as the Sheriff comes in, sees Sam recovering, Tony covers the Sheriff. He will take him to Crawford's place. The Sheriff is a stubborn mule as most anyone Tony or Doug have to convince of something but even more dangerous, "You take me out of this town when it needs every man it can get, and the first chance I get, I'm gonna kill you." As they ride out, we see stock footage of Indians fighting the Calvary--the last barrier between the Apaches and the town. Apaches kill many of the soldiers, some shoot back but most are scalped as we see an Indian remove a fallen man's hat--it looked like a cowboy hat!?! The Indians kill all of the soldiers. Tony looks away from the Sheriff to see what is happening and the Sheriff uses a piece of wood from the ground to hit Tony away. They scuffle and Tony ends up on his back with the rifle at his throat in the sheriff's hands, choking! Tony holds onto the rifle!
Act Three begins with Tony telling the Sheriff he is condemning the town to death. Tony gets control of the rifle and after a fight, gets the Sheriff to stop. The Sheriff tells him to go ahead and shoot but that will bring every one of the Indians down on them. The Sheriff gets on his horse and leaves. He won't see the town overrun by Apaches who go riding cross country with a madman. This "madman" could only have been a reference (and a very poor and relentlessly unfair one) to Geronimo, who, yes, did kill and steal, but who had seen his people degraded, lied to, killed without mercy. Geronimo was born in Arizona and also led "renegades" and "outlaws" throughout it. They also were pursued by soldiers and believing every hand was against them killed almost everyone they came upon--after one of many escapes from forced reservation life. Settlers tried to reach the safety of forts but many did not make it. At one time, one of Geronimo's own people betrayed him and at another, Geronimo's men captured a young boy and took him to live with his people--after killing his parents.
Tony returns to the farm and tells the aliens the bad news. Doug tells Tony that Crawford had to be destroyed and that the aliens are not evil creatures--yes, they attacked the town but gave ample warning. The aliens tells Tony to stand near them and Doug. The four of them vanish in a blast. At the saloon, the men discuss the Indian problem. Williams tells them to be reasonable with the Indians (great, and he's represented as a coward) when the aliens arrive, Tony and Doug in tow. One of the townsmen, Johnson (and we find out his name later when Williams mentions it), wearing a cowboy hat fires bullets at them. The aliens blow him up in a cloud of sparks and smoke. The aliens demand livestock for ten Earth miles be turned over to them. The Sheriff tells them he is in charge. They burned one fourth of the town and killed Jess Crawford whom the sheriff says was... "the slowest man to anger." If he says so but it didn't seem that way to me. Williams tells them he will do anything they ask. Doug speaks for the aliens and asks for all food that Williams has. They direct Tony to tell everyone in town that the food should be moved into the streets and Doug is still considered a hostage.
Ray looks at Doug from the tunnel, "They've taken his mind away." Kirk asks Ann about the plans of the area and the town, feeding them into the computer by remote may work they figure. Tony looks in the window as Williams brings food. Another man, who seems to have been alienized--he doesn't utter a word--and seems in a trance--tells them Williams is lying about the food he brought being the only food in the saloon. Williams asks that they leave him something but Doug punches him down into a table. The aliens transfer the food in a blast. Tony runs to the Sheriff's office where he is packing, "Going somewhere, Sheriff?"
The man responds with, "You know I thought you were crazy before mister. I gotto apologize. Indians are one thing but these creatures, they're another." Sheriff claims if he can get to Tucson to Fort Whipple (?), he might be able to send help.
There isn't time Tony implores. Tony tells him they keep gaining strength and that gun they carry is giving them more and more power. "They've made Doug one of them and they'll do the same to everyone in this town if we don't stop them!"
As they talk, Sam comes back inside and move to the corner of the room. He turns around to face them with what he was doing--getting down a rifle from its hold, "They aren't gonna harm us."
"Watch out!" Tony yells as the deputy fires on them both! They duck!
Act Four begins with a fast paced, well staged but brief fight as Tony and the Sheriff work together to avoid Sam. The Sheriff throws things and distracts Sam. Tony, closer, jumps up and punches Sam down after the deputy tries to brain him with the rifle (which falls apart into two or more pieces). Sam is knocked out (again!?) and they pair looking at him, see three dark upraised marks on his neck. The Sheriff asks if Doug attacks them, what will Tony do? Tony tells him the aliens have to be stopped. Doug and Centuari appear at cattle--what they say are the last of the herds. In a badly done sequence, the cattle are frozen in time and then will be sent to their planet when the proper coordinates are set. Why are the aliens using ships if they can merely transport the cattle via teleport. Perhaps they meant they will load the cattle onto their ship. The cattle appear to be bulls or cows at different times. When the stampede was frozen we hear music from WILD ADVENTURE on LOST IN SPACE. The aliens report about their second test objective.
Williams is asked by Tony and the Sheriff to help them in their plot. Tony tells him, "There is no place to hide." He needs some food as an excuse to go to the aliens. The Sheriff has a week's supply of dried beef. He will fire through the window. Sam is in the jail cell (which reminds me of the later BILLY THE KID set--only in BILLY it was much darker). Williams will be look out while Tony goes in to talk to the aliens. Tony tells the cowardly man to stay in the street and fire a warning shot if the other alien returns.
The tunnel gets a fix on Tony but Ann can't locate Doug, "Could they have killed him?" Tony says if he can't make, the Sheriff should fire his gun into the window anyway. He brings the food from the jail to the aliens. Centauri and Doug reappear outside the saloon--gee, why--when they went to it the last time, they just appeared inside--perhaps they wanted to check on how the other food gathering was going. Williams doesn't fire the rifle but puts his hands up to Doug and the alien, "One good turn always deserves another." He tells them that the Sheriff and the stranger--Tony--are after the aliens machine device. We hear DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL music as Will is crying, thinking the alien was going to kill him. I also thought this. The alien does seem to walk away, after enjoying watching Williams cry and squirm but Williams was still alive.
The Sheriff fires his gun at Doug from outside but Doug enters the saloon. Doug, once inside, attacks Tony savagely and the fight goes over to the bar--Doug goes over the bar! They use chairs. Doug pushes Tony into the other alien--Taureg---this makes the alien drop the gun and Tony gets it. It is a projector. They hear the alien voice of Lentos, the leader. Tony tells the aliens to return everyone to normal. To do this, Centauri claims he will need the projector. Tony, at the Sheriff's insistence, smashes the "thing." Doug comes to his senses and is himself again. The aliens move together and talk alien (backwards again). They have lost their power.
The tunnel will try for a transfer. Suddenly, two aliens appear in the complex. They look slightly different in different type of uniforms. Ann asks, "Are they same as...?" Kirk says, "No."
"We come in peace to investigate the disappearance of one of our spaceships." This alien, the leader (Lentos? We don't find out) tells Kirk they picked up the time tunnel signal and they located their spaceship in the past. Now they demand cooperation. Kirk yells, "You have no right to demand anything."
The leader comments on the tunnel's computers being ancient, the data processing system being primitive, and the molecular electrons being in the elementary stage. They also claim the Earth people are in their very early stage of time development. The leader tells them humans from Earth have finally reached the Moon. There is female tech. The leader tells them if the 1885 spaceship was destroyed, they can easily destroy the Earth now, Ray tells Ann. The leader tells them if their ship was destroyed in 1885, the will indeed, destroy Earth in 1968. When Kirk says they have had nothing to do with its coming or going, the leader tells him to prove it. The alien summons electric flashes and lightning, also wind! Ann yells---about fixing the image and stabilizing, "I can't! I can't! I can't!" Finally, with Ray and Kirk doing this, they see the image of the spacecraft flying on its way. The leader tells the staff his people often pass through the galaxy of Earth but they no longer have a need for materials." The leader and his aide (Warren Stevens in silver cameo) vanish and when they do, the leader in particular, leaves behind powdery footprints.
The Sheriff tells Tony and Doug he is going to clear out of town. He won't tell anyone or report what he saw at this place (what about Williams--surely he'd tell someone?)--he doesn't want to ruin his chances of getting another job. Tony and Doug vanish just after the Sheriff leaves.
CLIFFHANGER: Tony and Douglas fly through time and land in front of a stone wall with trees, vines, and a few rocks nearby. They are near some type of villa with snow on the ground. They figure the Alps--Northern Italy or Austria. They spot troops walking in the mountains and think they look like World War One uniforms. As whistling rockets or shells head their way, Doug grabs Tony's arm and leads him into a basement window of the villa. They go inside and the quietness is unnerving: they explore the area and it is creepy. They see a hole which seems to be blasted into the concrete or brick. A large blast hits close to the basement and the boys are knocked down, unconscious. One beam hits across their bodies. The camera, a rare moving one, zooms in on Nero's name on the tomb as it appears to be. The slab opens and inside is a skeleton. A sword flies out and another rare shot of the point of view of the ghost is seen as the sword moves at Tony and Doug's prone bodies. The sword points at Tony, then turns Doug over. It moves Doug's head once and then back again.
NEXT WEEK SEE THIS FANTASTIC ADVENTURE IN THE TIME TUNNEL.
THE TIME TUNNEL
THE GHOST OF NERO
The opening narration goes on as Anthony and Douglas fly through time and land in front of a stone wall with trees, vines, and a few rocks nearby. They are near some type of villa with snow on the ground. They figure the Alps--Northern Italy or Austria. They spot troops walking in the mountains and think they look like World War One uniforms (they also see trucks that look like they have Red Cross emblems on them). As whistling rockets or shells head their way, Doug grabs Tony's arm and leads him into a basement window of the villa. They go inside and the quietness is unnerving: they explore the area and it is creepy. They see a hole which seems to be blasted into the concrete or brick. A large blast hits close to the basement and the boys are knocked down, unconscious. One beam hits across their bodies. The camera, a rare moving one, zooms in on Nero's name on the tomb as it appears to be. The slab opens and inside is a skeleton. A sword flies out and another rare shot of the point of view of the ghost is seen as the sword moves at Tony and Doug's prone bodies. The sword points at Tony. This is where the teaser ends but the cliffhanger went on for a bit more, into what is now act one.
The sword then turns Doug over. It moves Doug's head once and then back again. (THIS IS WHERE THE CLIFFHANGER ENDED). The freeze frame here elicits the titles. We hear THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL music quite a bit during this and also during this episode, mixed in with stirring bits from JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (usually when someone is being possessed or the ghost is stirring up wind). The sword floats back into the coffin. Doug and Tony get up. Tony hears something and he and Doug find Nero's tomb. They hear the ceiling crack a bit and soldiers may come in. Someone calls to a Corporal and tells him to search the cellar and take no prisoners. Tunnel staff get an image on the screen. Kirk looks at them, "Another instant." Ray tells him some other life force is interfering with the readings. It is 1915. A German comes into the cellar, Tony and Doug hide behind a large barrel. When the man gets too close to the tomb of the Roman emperor, the sword rises out and stabs him dead. Tony and Doug check him; the sword is gone. More Germans come. Doug and Tony run through a door and up. A soldier finds the dead Corporal and calls for the Major. Tony and Doug stop in some kind of old hall. Major Neistadt comes down and says to kill whoever it was that did this. Gunnar Helstrom as Neistadt is very odd, very good and very annoying and irritating as a villain, not very colorful but adequate. We do believe he will kill any of the three main heroes without a care. He also sounds funny, as if he is not really German and this adds to the oddness of this horror episode.
In the dilapidated corridor, Tony and Doug lean on a wall to hide and it opens into a dark secret passageway. Tony lights a match in the new area. On a shelf is a row of skulls. Also here is a rack and matches. Someone has been here. There is also a series of catacombs. Doug guesses smugglers or bandits used this place and there must be a way out. Tony comments, "Those Germans are shooting first and asking questions later." Germans unblock a door which had beams fall across it after the boys went through it. The boys find their own blocked door. Armor moves as they try the steps. Doug looks at the armor--it's from the time of the Caesar's---ties in to Nero's casket. Bombings continue and shake the villa. Doug says one direct hit is all that may be needed to bury them alive. They try the stairs up. A book case opens and they go into a lavish study. It closes and is locked. They hear Germans say they will search the villa. They look out a window--to a 40 foot drop. An old man comes in with a stick, calling them thieves and looters. The boys tell him their car broke down. America is neutral in this war. Tony grabs the old man's pistol from him. He tells them he doesn't know of a secret passage. They can't find an opening but the old man tells them his name (Count Enrico Galba) and that he will save them if they trust him and tell him their names. They do. Galba opens the door and gives the Major the gun. The Major calls Galba Herr Galba and they spar words, Galba telling the Major he is a Count and that the German Kaiser Wilhelm II has told the army to treat nobility with respect. The Major adds, "With exceptions..." There are no other exits from the room. When the Major broaches the problem of the dead soldier, Galba says, "Soldiers are dying everywhere." Galba tells him Tony and Doug are the only guests left here...when his own servants fled, they stayed on to help him. The Major locks them in, warning if they try to escape they will be shot, with the Kaiser's blessings. Galba noticed his insignia--corps artillery. From the villa the Germans can see every point in the mountain pass--they will use the villa as a spotter post and with the two sides bombing each other, the villa is right in the middle. Tony moves books off the shelf and finds the release for the secret door. He thinks he may be able to find a truck outside if the Germans have one. The Major looks out the other more main window with binoculars. He sees donkeys driving carts (?). The Germans (who seem like Nazis at this point) plan to completely destroy the Italian army. Galba and the Americans will be killed. Tunnel staff keep getting strange interference which keeps them from stabilizing the fix. Villa Galba, the old man's ancestral home, on Oct 23, 1915 will be destroyed. They narrow the range of the fix, reset the controls. Kirk recalls there was no action until June or July which makes them narrow their fix even more between July and October 23. Ray almost seems not to be surprised that Tony and Doug are on the day the villa is to be destroyed as supplied by the History Computer. Ann says, "The villa may be destroyed at any minute. Doug and Tony will be killed."
Galba tells Doug if he were ten years younger he would take up a command of regiments against the "Huns"--the Germans. Doug tells him an army shelling opened up the tomb below--Nero's tomb. It is opening again. Galba tells him it is an old wives' tale. Nero's crypt cannot be here. As a child, he heard of a curse of Nero, who swore as he was dying. The Sergeant--Mueller--hears a noises. A door knob turning. Tony has not come back yet. In the hallway, light and wind hit the Sergeant, also dark spots. He laughs creepily and takes the key out. He goes in to the room where Doug and Galba are, calling Galba, Emperor Galba--and that his ancestor declared Nero a public enemy and forced him to flee from Rome. Galba scoffs, "You're drunk!" Sergeant punches Doug down and tries to strangle Galba, "Now you will feel the revenge of Nero!"
Doug runs at them and pulls Mueller off and is flipped and kicked. Mueller chokes Doug down and will kill all who help Galba. Tony returns and kicks Doug away from the Sergeant who resists even strong attacks from both Doug and Tony. Mueller throws a vase at Tony, Doug hits him away from his friend. After quite a struggle, both Tony and Doug punch him in tandem and he falls. The Major and men come in and the Major waits to show them that their story of Nero and the Sergeant doesn't fly: a little wind and they are afraid. Next time, his soldiers will shoot them if they attack. Doug insists the Sergeant is drunk. JOURNEY music as the ghost leaves the Sergeant's body. He asks what happened. Doug tells the other two not to try to explain what happened. Galba says, "Icy cold hands..like a dead man's." Tony thinks maybe the Sergeant was acting on the Major's orders. Galba says, "Better to face a living threat than..." Bombing stops. Tony feels they should wait until dark. When Tony and Doug were fighting the German, the interference rose to incredible peaks, Ray tells Kirk, as if some unexplainable force is preventing a clear time fix. Ann reads the account of Nero's death, his last words were "I shall return to kill all descendants of Galba."
Kirk scolds them, "The two of you..scientists and yet you're seriously discussing the possibility of the existence of a ghost."
Ann says, "If that was a ghost that took possession of the German, than it presents a murderous threat to Doug and Tony." Ray admits they need help. Ann suggests a Dr. Steinholtz of Carton University. Tony, at one of his more gentle moments, talks to Galba, telling him he fears the Germans and the bombardment but not a ghost. Galba tells him he makes him ashamed. No Galba was ever a coward, "If it is my fate to die at the hands of an invisible monsters, than I'll die." The three begin to go into the secret passage; Doug walking very stiff (as if he is in an episode of DARK SHADOWS) as he carries the candelabra.
In 1968, the other three watch the others go into the secret door. Steinholtz tells them in the past, when he has encountered psychic phenomena, he also recorded enormous electrical energy surges on instruments. Kirk and Ray tell the Doc what has happened. The curse of a dying man often comes up in the doctor's work. Ann tells them Nero fled to a Northern Province where he was killed. They also heard a door being pounded and tell the doctor this. He tells them a poltergeist is powerless against locked doors. Kirk tells him they just want to get rid of it.
Tony opens a door and we hear more DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL tunes. The door closes. The wind attacks Galba and Doug. Steinholtz wants to study the ghost. Doug lights a candle and he and Galba hear sounds. Galba uses a cane on something he feels attacking him. Doug puts a hand on his shoulder, accidentally scaring him (something Will often does to Dr. Smith in LOST IN SPACE--such as in the teaser to WRECK OF THE ROBOT and in other sequences in other episodes--notably GHOST IN SPACE). Armor flies at Doug, who ducks. He uses a stand to fight against the invisible menace. Galba tells Doug to save himself. Bombs begin anew. The villa shakes. The pair go up steps and dust falls. They leave. Tony comes in. Wind hits him and knocks him down. JOURNEY and DAY music play, making this a creepy scene. He stands up coldly. Steinholtz sees Tony, "The ghost force has taken possession of him."
Tony walks after Doug and the old man; Doug thinks they lost the ghost force. Galba says, "We're the ones who are lost." Tony moves through cobwebs in an eerie scene as he follows the unsuspecting Doug and Galba. The old man gets a pain in his chest and falls, knocking over a shelf. Tony, creepily, picks up a bell and rings it as he stalks the other two. Quite violently he throws it at Doug's back as his friend is helping Galba up the steps. The ghost and Tony's readings are almost exactly the same. Steinholtz suggests shock therapy--a one million volt for one milli-second could get it out of Tony. Kirk authorizes this power surge, which Steinholtz has told them has worked with others. Ray commands them to lock coordinates and align power circuits (we hear the LOST IN SPACE Jupiter II hum build as Ann counts up to one million volts). A female technician is in the background and she has long hair, wearing it down instead of the usual up as Ann and the other technicians usually do. We hear the pilot music as Tony is zapped and falls. The interference is gone and the ghost also. Kirk wonders if they can try a retrieve and get Tony back to them. Doug locks the door behind him and Galba, who recovers. Doug: Locked doors seem to keep it out. The Time Tunnel retrieves...readings are constant. Image is lost. Ann and Ray go to a console and tremendous wind hits them both. The complex shakes, the tunnel shakes, wind and papers fly around. Steinholtz says, "The ghost is somewhere in this room." We hear JOURNEY music mixed in with music from LOST IN SPACE-INVADERS FROM THE 5TH DIMENSION--the sequences with the aliens and the music is every much as fitting here with the ghost as with the aliens, in fact, more so. It works well. There are lights, tables fall with papers and books. The plan: send the ghost back to time and place of Nero's death. Ann goes to a blond technician at a computer type-machine to get the exact time. This scene is very odd--as Ann does not talk to her at all and there is no dialogue. The blond seems to be an extra. We also hear more of that alien music and Ann looks suspiciously at the blond lady. Ann gets the info and gives it to them. They lock the setting and activate the image. They see a very brief, blocked Ancient Rome setting in a city with hundreds of people. The ghost attacks the imager and the complex shakes, everyone thrown to computers. Steinholtz tells them (finally--why did he wait so long?) ghosts retreat before fire. Kirk goes to a phone and picking it up merely says, "Flame thrower guns!" We see one of the towers and the bubble lights on the roof. Both shake, computer reels shake and some very unusual camera work in this episode continues the chills. the guards arrive with flame throwers. Kirk orders, "NOW!" They fire.
Guards use flame throwers to get the ghost back into the tunnel mouth. The image keeps changing to 1915 from 68 AD--the day Nero died. Ann keeps changing it back but it keeps going to 1915. Suddenly everything in the attack stops. The ghost has gone---back to the villa Ann tells them. Kirk adds, "And the villa is due to be bombarded at any moment." Doug and Galba are in the study as bells ring and fly, books fly off the shelves at them, and we hear more JOURNEY music. Galba stands in front of Doug, trying to call upon Nero to destroy the Germans--the Huns--"Your revenge is a petty thing. Achieve the greatness you failed to when you lived." In answer, he is choked. Vases are thrown at them and smash into the fireplace. Galba uses his cane but falls near the fireplace. Doug punches something invisible and an indentation on the couch reveals something fell from this. The two run to the secret passageway door. They find Tony and they try to revive him. The Major watches the Italian army marching up the hills in the Alps. This time instead of a donkey and cart, we see jeeps and trucks as they walk into a trap. The Sergeant tells the soldiers to find the prisoners who are not there. Tony tells the other two he doesn't remember getting down the steps. The trio go to the cellar and hear more bombs. They fight the Germans who are coming into the cellar. Tony and Doug grab the guns away and the guns fall. One soldier jumps Doug, another pushes Tony, who falls into the barrel, then grabs dust and tosses it into the face of the attacker. They fight. Galba rushes to stop a soldier from hitting Doug with a beam in the head by rushing out at the man, pushing him down, taking the beam and beaning him with it in his head. Doug and Tony, in the fight, end up on the floor with the other German getting his rifle and aiming it at them. The German is shot through the window. Two Italians come into the window. Doug asks the Italians to get Count Galba to safety at the village hospital. Galba bids his pals goodbye. He puts his hand on Tony's shoulder and pats hit; then hugs Doug with both hands and pats him too.
A word on Eduardo Ciannelli as Galba. He brings color and life to Count Galba, making him more interesting than both Tony and Doug. John Hoyt, fresh from VISITORS, is also good as the doctor. But Ciannelli steals the show, his Galba being both funny and believable. His villa is a very well decorated set and his character is well dressed and groomed. This hour would have been quite dull without him in it. His goodbye to Doug and Tony and is as dramatic as this episode can get and it is very good. Also, his scenes with Tony are gentle and touching without being overly sentimental. THE TIME TUNNEL is not a show that discriminates against the elderly, making several major characters.
Tony and Doug tell the Italians about the Germans using this villa as a spotting post and the Italians already know and ask how many. The boys lead them up to the Germans. The tunnel staff get an image again, wondering what happened to Nero's ghost. Kirk says, "We may never know." The Major is telling his men to abandon the villa, tell the artillery men to give them five minutes to do so, and then they may destroy the villa--the prisoners will die in the bombing. The Italians rush in. Mueller is shot dead; so is the other German soldier--weren't there more of them? The Major shoots one of the Italians (the nice one who talked to Tony and Doug in the cellar!) and pushes the other one and escapes out the door.
The Major freaks out! He runs to the study, opening the door. The ghost attacks him, he fires wildly, shouting there are no such things as ghosts. He turns and an Italian is there (he pushed open the blocked door) and shoots him dead. We hear JOURNEY music again as the ghost possesses him and then DAY music. The Italian turns to look out the window in a strange end sequence. Tony and Doug rush in--no guns aren't they putting themselves in unnecessary danger? The soldier says he will drive the huns out and in the end Caesar will return. Tony asks, "What is your name, Corporal?"
"Benito Mussolini." Mussolini walks out of the room. Tony and Doug look at each other and then vanish.
CLIFFHANGER: Anthony Newman and Douglas Phillips tumble in the time crystals and land in a dark place which is being pervaded by thunder and lightning and wind. Behind them is a tent. Ahead is a desert with palm like trees. There are torches. They look ahead but guards in strange dress hear them and see them from inside the tent. The guards come out, one grabs Doug back from behind. Tony sees this and fights the other guard. The battle goes into the tent. Tony uses a shield against the warrior. Doug vs. a swordsman warrior; Tony punches his attacker. After an exciting fight, both fall and end up on their backs, about to be run through. A bearded man walks in, wearing robes. He stops them from being killed and tells them he is Joshua, commander of the Israelites. Tony tells him, "We come from the future, Joshua." Joshua command the warriors to leave and says, "The Lord appeared onto Moses and me in a cloud of dust. After that all miracles are one miracle." What that last statement means is anyone's guess.
Ann and Kirk spar over the Bible story; Ann doesn't think it means they should take the story literally. When Kirk cites not only the Bible but the living proof on the tunnel, Ann claims it merely proves the existence of a man called Joshua. Kirk seems mystified (odd since he didn't believe in ghosts in GHOST OF NERO) while Ann doesn't really believe (odd since she did think about a ghost being real in GHOST OF NERO). Ann calls the story legend and poetry.
Ray comments to himself but out loud, "I always wanted to believe what I secretly doubted--at last, I'll know." (Odd since Ray doesn't believe, later, in MERLIN's powers.) Ann comments as well, "As a scientist I don't permit myself to believe." Kirk looks upset with her saying this and moves up, away from her. She talks a bit to herself too, "We'll see whether or not the walls came tumbling down." This, the strangest cliffhanger yet, freeze frames here, on this---not an action scene but a talking one...true, it does give us some inkling and curiosity about what is to come and it also does not give us more fights--which could, at times, become quite boring (REVENGE OF ROBIN HOOD falls into that category).
HISTORY LESSON AND NOTES: Both GHOST OF NERO and THE WALLS OF JERICHO are special to me in a way. They are some of the first TIME TUNNELs I was able to see more than once. They were being rerun in New Jersey in the mid to late 1970s and I caught NERO on audio tape. For the longest time, I wasn't able to see JERICHO since it was on while I had catechism class...talk about ironic. The vague references to this villa and the Alps lead one to wonder. Galba may have been fabricated by the authors. In the Italian Alps, the only important through routes were offered by the valleys of Adige, Tagliamento, and the Sava Rivers and in the East the Darva River. The southern longitudinal valley runs along the Lake Como, Italy along the upper Adda River to the valleys of the Adige and Isarco Rivers and from there along the Drau River in Austria. There is a Klagenfurt Basin, settled and cultivated, a depression in between the Central Alps and the Southern limestone Alps, south of which are the Carnic Alps. Italy declared war on Austria Hungary on May 23, 1915. The chief military front on the Austro Italian front in 1915 were four indecisive battles between Austro Hungarian and Italian armies on the Isonzo River (June 29-July 7; July 18 to Aug. 10; Oct 18-November 3; Nov. 10-Dec. 10). Other sources state Italy entered the war on the Allied side on Aug. 27th, 1916 after being undecided for two years as to which side to support. One source estimates 112,000 died in the war. Other sources are more specific: Italy had been formally allied with Germany and Austria Hungary since 1882, the Italian Government declared neutrality in Aug. 1914. In spring of 1915, after they signed a secret treaty of London with Germany and Austria, Italy declared war on Austria and Turkey. War was not declared on Germany until a year later! Thus, in 1915, Germany and Italy was not at war, although Germany could have been defending Austria and Turkey against Italy. The Italian role in WWI commenced with the occupation of the seaport town of Vlone in SW Albania. A large force was dispatched into the Trentino region in Southern Tirol. Of Mussolini, we know he was expelled from Switzerland in 1904 and later from Austria. He was a member of the bersaglieri or Italian army infantry corps until wounded in Feb. 1917. He was executed on April 28, 1945. How about a sequel called THE GHOST OF MUSSOLINI VIA NERO? No? No.
In all a good episode. Some so called fans insist this did not belong on a science fiction show like THE TIME TUNNEL. Well, TIME TUNNEL is more fantasy than science fiction and if writers cannot stretch the limits of such an unlimited concept and do some different type of stories such as THE GHOST OF NERO, WALLS OF JERICHO, and others, then the concept would be wasted. As it is, THE GHOST OF NERO is a solid scare fest with mild violence and a few good chills, not akin to THE TWILIGHT ZONE or ONE STEP BEYOND but like the latter, an atmospheric entertaining hour of hokum. This episode has a bad reputation but it is not a bad episode. Gunnar Helstrom has played villains in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE.
DOCTOR WHO had Nero as a character in THE ROMANS. VOYAGERS! went to Nero times and also WWI.