"You're letting your psychotic fascination with railroads lead you into a suicidal gamble for the future of this company!"
— Unnamed Corporate Executive, "Express to Terror" note
Hour-long comedy-drama series which debuted as a Midseason Replacement in 1979 on NBC. An attempt at emulating ABC's success with The Love Boat, Supertrain was essentially the same show with the Pacific Princess swapped out for the titular "Supertrain", a super-broad gauge, nuclear-powered bullet train that could cross the United States from coast to coast in 3 days.The show was an abject disaster for NBC, who had produced the series by itself (initially with Dan Curtis in charge) and spared no expense in building both the elaborate sets and the complex, fragile model trains (one of which crashed during production and had to be replaced at great cost). Worse yet, once the series premiered, viewers simply weren't interested; attempts to retool the series by adding more suspense elements failed, and the series left the air in July 1979 after just five months and nine episodes.It's often been named the biggest flop in US television history, not just because of the derivative content but because it (combined with the US boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics) came so close to taking NBC down with it. It's never been released to syndication or home video, and this is unlikely to change anytime soon.
This show provides examples of:
- Bigger on the Inside: Fairly obviously, and noted by several reviewers.
- Camp Gay: The train's hairstylist, right down to the hairdryer belt holsters.
- Cool Train: The main reason for the show's huge budget.
- Follow the Leader: A pretty shameless ripoff of The Love Boat, though being a mystery dramedy rather than a romantic comedy.
- Gratuitous Disco Sequence
- Just Train Wrong: For starters, it was a broad-gauge rail that went for three thousand miles, it was Bigger on the Inside by a long shot, and despite being billed as a bullet train, a quick calculation puts its speed as less than 80 MPH. That's just the tip of the iceberg...
- As noted by The Other Wiki, the so-called "Supertrain" was much slower than the affordably-priced Amtrak Acela Express, French TGV and Japanese Shinkansen bullet trains.
- Pilot Movie: The very first episode was 2 hours long.
- Pre Cap: As appropriate for its era. Had the benefit of showcasing the numerous celebrity guest stars for each episode.
- Recycled Soundtrack: NBC would reuse the theme for the Game Show Chain Reaction.
- "Strangers on a Train"-Plot Murder: One episode featured a literal "Strangers on a Train" plot with Dick Van Dyke as the psycho who suggests a murder swap with another passenger.
- The '70s: The WHAT-ies? We can't hear you over the Disco Funk!
- Traintop Battle: Shockingly enough.