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TV Series
    (February 7, 1979-May 5, 1979)
    NBC
    Edward Andrews as Chief Operations Officer Harry Flood
    Robert Alda as Dr. Dan Lewis
    Nita Talbot as Rose Casey, RN
    Ilene Graff as Penny Whitaker
    Harrison Page as George Boone
    Created by Donald Westlake and Earl Wallace
    An atomic-powered double-decker bullet train traveling between New York and Los Angeles in about 36 hours
    In 1979 dollars, it was the single most expensive television production to that point.
    Many of the amenities were clearly ripped from The Love Boat, to which it was ultimately compared.
    With too many issues to count, engineering – in any sense of the term – was not the production crew’s strong suit.
    Based on the supposed speed of the train (200 mph / 322 km/h) and when it was supposed to complete its journey, neither was math.
    In just those few episodes, there were three intros — the second being a near-total overhaul.
    In effect, it was Fred Silverman’s legacy at the Peacock Network (which wanted him for his Midas touch with the other two networks but nearly went out of business instead).
    It unwittingly served as a metaphor for the lowest common denominator to which future prime-time series seemed geared.
    Silverman reacted to the premiere by kicking the on-set facsimile of the titular vehicle — only to find it was made of cast iron! (He broke his toe.)
    It was incredibly audacious for the time.
    To say nothing of the visuals, the theme music screamed late-1970s.
    Though it drew comparisons to Silver Streak, it also drew its genesis from the little-known comedic-disaster spoof The Big Bus.
    Surprisingly for any series of the time, there was continuity (with stops in Chicago, Denver, and an unknown Texas location in different episodes).
    Train wreck television in all its regal splendor, with plenty of other train metaphors where that came from.
    The Today Show panel of the time (Gene Shalit, Jane Pauley, and Tom Brokaw) were hardly able to hide their disgust at what they were assigned to promote.
    Just in case anyone wants to cry anti-black racism, George the porter did wind up moving up the ranks by the last retool.
    In all fairness to him, Silverman had not yet defected to NBC while it was in development.

Credit: Cool It All Right?


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