Broadcast History
Episode Guide
Express To Terror
And A Cup Of Kindness, Too
The Queen And The Improbable Knight
Hail To The Chief
A Very Formal Heist
The Green Girl
Where Have You Been Billy Boy
Unproduced Episodes
Lost Episodes
Creative Team
Route Map
Building Supertrain
Grand Central Set
In Action
NBC in 1979
Fred Silverman
Side Tracked
Home Video
TV Guide Review
NBC Publicity
Publicity Stills Collection
Super Stuff
About The Author
Sources and Links

Nobody Rides The Train Anymore...

     The May 12-18, 1979 edition of TV Guide magazine carries a cover story titled, "What Viewers Love/Hate About Television."  Though "Supertrain" is not mentioned in this article, one can easily deduce what column the series would be placed.  "Supertrain" had already aired what was its last first-run episode back on the first Saturday of May 1979 and the show is not found in NBC's listings for the week of this issue of TV Guide.
     In the TV Update news column, mention of NBC's plans for the then-coming 1979-80 TV season are detailed in an item titled "NBC Suprises with Only Six New Shows; CBS Adds Seven."  The news article runs down NBC's announced new programs for 1979-80 that included:  "The Man Called Sloane" that was another attempt by the network to place Robert Conrad in a successful series.  Next to McLean Stevenson was anyone else given so many opportunities by NBC in the late '70s???  One of NBC's few minor ratings successes would be spawning a spin-off with Claude Akins in "The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo" coming from Glen Larson's "BJ and the Bear" series.  The TV-miniseries "From Here To Eternity" was listed as returning in 1979-80 as a regular weekly program called "From Here To Eternity: The War Years" and starring William Devane, but not the miniseries' star Natalie Wood.  Though "Battlestar Galactica" would not be back on ABC for a second season, Glen Larson was given another chance with a sci-fi adventure series this time for NBC in "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" starring Gil Gerard.  Another recycled idea involved bringing Shirley Jones last seen in "The Partridge Family" back to TV again as a widow raising kids on her own in "Shirley"...though without the Top 40 Bubble Gum Hits or the ratings that made that other show popular for a number of seasons.  Finally, NBC was turning the Joe Don Baker TV-movie "To Kill A Cop" into weekly series format under the title "The Force."  Baker's series would air in 1979-80, but re-titled "Eisched."  NBC had its usual luck of this era and only "Lobo" and "Buck Rogers" would survive into a sophmore season for the network.  The remainder of the shows mentioned performed poorly and most didn't last the full season.
     So you're asking, "What about 'Supertrain' and its second season?"  If NBC is surprising as TV Guide states and given all that money spent, certainly more re-tooling is in order and we'll see "Supertrain" back, right?  Wrong.  Similar to NBC's massive expenditure, ABC had a "Supertrain" of sorts themselves in the 1978-79 season.  "Battlestar Galactica" would likley be considered a close second to "Supertrain" in the cost-versus-success department that year.  Produced for ABC-TV by Universal Studios and Glen Larson, "Galactica" does get a bit of second chance.  Returning in early 1980, ABC runs a dozen installments of the notorious "Galactica: 1980" finishing up with another cancellation notice in the spring of that year.    NBC apparently decided to leave bad enough alone and no further attempts would be made for the ill-fated "Supertrain." 
     Among the casualties for the season just finishing that May of '79, TV Guide reported that "Supertrain"; "Cliffhangers!"; "Whodunnit?"; "Highcliffe Manor"; "Presenting Susan Anton" and "The Duke" would not be back and had officially been cancelled.  Shows introduced during the 1978-79 season that would be around that next fall included Greg Evigan's "BJ and the Bear"; "Real People"; and "Kate Columbo."  Though "BJ and the Bear" would end up with three seasons to its credit and "Real People" survives into the '80s, "Kate Columbo" was not so lucky in her second attempt.  Curiousity seekers may find examples of the little-seen "Columbo" spin-off on Universal Studios' DVD releases of the Peter Falk "Columbo" series.  Among the bonus/extras on certain "Columbo" DVD sets, you find a few "Kate Columbo" episodes.

Easily the best of the rash of "Trucker and His Monkey" shows populating network television in the late '70s was NBC's "BJ and the Bear"...okay so it was the only such show.  Greg Evigan would find success as B.J. McKay from 1978-81...a long run for any series airing on NBC in those days.  Produced by Universal Studios and Glen Larson Productions, one wonders why this rarely seen today gem isn't available on DVD?!?  Hint!  Hint!


Among NBC shows flunking their freshman year was the unique continuing anthology "CLIFFHANGERS!" produced by Kenneth Johnson and Universal Studios.  One segment featured a modern-day vampire stalking California in "Dracula '79"; Susan Anton was searching for clues about an upcoming earthshaking event in "Stop Susan Williams" and how about cowboys of the Old West and underground futuristic aliens in "The Unknwon Empire"...they were all part of "CLIFFHANGERS!" but you were too busy watching "Happy Days" and "Laverne & Shirley" on ABC to notice that year.  Kenneth Johnson's most successful credits include involvement in "The Bionic Woman"; "The Incredible Hulk"; "V"; and "Alien Nation" on network television.