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The most expensive television disaster ever?
February 8, 2007 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Supertrain. A show about a supertrain that costs an assload of money and has no real direction or over arching story? why the hell not? link clips(youtube)
posted by tylerfulltilt (35 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I found a YouTube of you
And it hijacked my world at night
To a place in the past
We'd be cast out of
Now we're back in the fight.
Oh, now I'm back on the supertrain
Oh, back on the supertrain.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:39 AM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I always figured The Big Bus was a parody of the aeroplane disaster movies in much the same spirit as Airplane! subsequently was. I've never heard of this show before, it seems to me now that it was parodied quite effectively three years before it was conceived of.
posted by vbfg at 7:47 AM on February 8, 2007


That old-school website is just so appropriate.
posted by delmoi at 7:51 AM on February 8, 2007


Great post.
posted by taliaferro at 7:51 AM on February 8, 2007


"The series returned to the air with a new day and time slot, Saturdays at 10pm (Eastern) on April 7th, 1979. That night the sixth episode, "Pirouette," featured a new Executive Producer Robert Stambler and a slimed down crew".

They really didn't like their crew much.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:55 AM on February 8, 2007


That train was so sexy. It had all the moves.

I'm gonna go get my hair permed now. Thanks.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:56 AM on February 8, 2007


I wanna know more! Why no clips of the cast?

Did they have a dining room? Did privileged guests get to eat at the Conductor's Table? Cause I can totally picture Abe Vigoda, Loretta Swit, and Paul Lynde all dining together.
posted by sourwookie at 8:06 AM on February 8, 2007


Careful! This thread's tags might catch the attention of Heimatsicherheit.
posted by sourwookie at 8:09 AM on February 8, 2007


rangers, this is your new supertrain megazord
posted by phaedon at 8:12 AM on February 8, 2007


Oh, I thought it was a show about a train that cost an assload of money, a city project gone wrong. That might have been interesting.
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:14 AM on February 8, 2007


At high-speed, the front of that engine would begin to lift off the track- the way that nose is designed. Hilarious.
posted by wfc123 at 8:20 AM on February 8, 2007


Oh, I thought it was a show about a train that cost an assload of money
and has no real direction. Yeah I was a little puzzled by that at first - like, how can a train have no direction?!
posted by Flashman at 8:24 AM on February 8, 2007


MagnificentObsessionFilter
posted by leapfrog at 8:40 AM on February 8, 2007


great, now Kibo's going to show up
posted by paul_smatatoes at 9:15 AM on February 8, 2007


What the greasy everliving fuck? Someone needs to stop hoarding the good stuff, this isn't making sense yet.
posted by Skorgu at 9:24 AM on February 8, 2007


I remember asking my Mom if I could go to the movies to see The Big Bus. She misheard me and thought it was a porno. True story!
posted by drinkcoffee at 9:42 AM on February 8, 2007


Episode 5: Superstar

A mystery fan and a movie producer in hock to the mob have to sell a script to a superstar. If she doesn't buy it, the producer will be getting off the Supertrain in a coffin!

Ha ha, what the fuck?
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 9:45 AM on February 8, 2007


Ah, 1979. What a year.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:53 AM on February 8, 2007


Just seen the clip. That opening bassline rules. Drop the brass fanfare, add a decent beat and you've just invented techno fourteen years early.
posted by vbfg at 10:03 AM on February 8, 2007


I've never heard of this show before, it seems to me now that it was parodied quite effectively three years before it was conceived of.

Yes, The Big Bus parodied disaster movies. No, Supertrain was not a disaster movie. It was more like Fantasy Island or The Love Boat on wheels.

As a kid, my impression was that they had wasted all the model work and technolust on a bog-standard TV drama, in which what drew me in had no bearing at all. Just a terrible mismatch of demographics. As a means to get people to watch a bog-standard TV drama, I guess they needed a better gimmick.
posted by dhartung at 10:03 AM on February 8, 2007


'Supertrain" was the beginning of the end for programming "genius" Fred Silverman. NBC spent even more ass-loads of money to woo him away from ABC, where he had wow'ed America with such deathless brilliance as "Laverne & Shirley".

"Supertrain" was going to be his crowning glory, and instead helped to completely tank NBC's schedule that year. Silverman eventually left in disgrace, replaced by Brandon Tartikoff, who masterminded NBC's phoenix-like return to the top with hit after hit in the 1980s. Silverman's supporters claim that many of the shows Tartikoff got the credit for, like "Hill Street Blues" and "Cosby" were "in development" under Silverman, but even as an independent producer he never produced anything of much notice again.
posted by briank at 10:07 AM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


No, Supertrain was not a disaster movie

Yeah, I just got the impression of some committee (or a lone madman) coming up with a whacky scenario that can't possibly be even remotely interesting no matter how hard you try - and then taking it to the next level. Still, I guess it was the 70s and silly shit often paid off. I realise it's not an actual disaster movie / series. You just know that would have been a recurring story line though....
posted by vbfg at 10:07 AM on February 8, 2007


I heard it was fueled by cocaine, black light and crushed up disco balls and it ran on roller skates.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:10 AM on February 8, 2007


Just seen the clip. That opening bassline rules. Drop the brass fanfare, add a decent beat and you've just invented techno fourteen years early.

It's basically "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer. Go figure.

Also, the YouTube user linked to? Boy, he loves him some Supertrain.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 10:45 AM on February 8, 2007


In 1979 there was no technology more "super" than steam-powered trains, apparently, judging by the stuff shooting out of the side pipes.
posted by davejay at 10:53 AM on February 8, 2007


How have I never heard of this?

And yeah, The Big Bus was the first thing that came to my mind. "Look out! He's got a broken milk carton!"
posted by brundlefly at 11:15 AM on February 8, 2007


Don't forget Ark II!
posted by brownpau at 11:29 AM on February 8, 2007


Yes! braunpau! Ark II rocked my world, and I was so young when I was into it that I forgot the name of the series.
posted by everichon at 11:46 AM on February 8, 2007


Don't forget Ark II!

In my world, that reads as "Don't ever forgive Ark II for doing that to the LandMaster!"
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:54 AM on February 8, 2007


I like how the train stops for all of two seconds in the small town in the clip — not nearly enough time to actually let any passengers get on. Just long enough to take on fresh supplies of cocaine, black light and crushed up disco balls, I guess.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:29 PM on February 8, 2007


Given that it was 1979 and Europe – France, at least – had just initiated its high-speed train initiatives, like the TGV, I can't help but wonder if this television show was some sort of corporate CoIntelPro. GE/NBC would have been a logical contractor for an American high-speed electric train system, but were Jaack Wech and the rest of his crew bought out by automotive and oil interests?

Was the poverty of this entertainment intended to discourage American interest in modern, high-speed rail travel even as it was taking off in other parts of the world?
posted by vhsiv at 2:01 PM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Interesting idea, vhsiv. I have a similar theory about Captain Planet. I've always figured that the show was actually funded by some evil chemical company, seeing as how the bad guys were strange supervillains who seemingly got off on polluting things. As opposed to, you know, evil chemical companies.
posted by brundlefly at 2:46 PM on February 8, 2007


It's basically "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer. Go figure.

Well fuck my old boots, so it is. Thus my tendency to deconstruct rather than pay any of yer actual attention is laid bare to the world.
posted by vbfg at 4:32 PM on February 8, 2007


A "land-locked Love Boat" is how some wag referred to it back then. Welcome to MeFi, Supes.
posted by LinusMines at 8:55 PM on February 8, 2007


The model and matte work for this was just awesome. It's too bad the stupidity of the premise and subsequent execution totally killed the show.
posted by Kikkoman at 10:54 PM on February 8, 2007


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