Where Have You Been Billy Boy

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Where Have You Been Billy Boy
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Episode Nine
Where Have You Been Billy Boy
Saturday May 5, 1979 8pm (Eastern)
Saturday July 28, 1979 10pm (Eastern)

Starring in alphabetical order
Hans Conried
Barry Gordon
Nicolas Hammond
Kathryn Holcomb
Rick Hurst
Clifton James
Elaine Joyce
Rue McClanahan

Story by Bill Taub and Max Hodge
Teleplay by Brad Radnitz and Max Hodge
Directed by Barry Crane

     This episode is the last first run broadcast for "Supertrain." The show departs the NBC schedule for a few weeks, returning to the same Saturday night 10pm (Eastern) time slot in early June '79 for a series of repeat broadcasts. The "Billy Boy" episode is also the last one broadcast in late July of 1979 by NBC, ending the run of "Supertrain." 
     The final episode is unique in that it is the only one of the series to employ a "laugh track," yet another further example of the constant tinkering going on with this troubled series.  This episode also features the the color-tinted opening/closing credit sequences that debuted with the "Pirouette" episode and are also found on the "A Very Formal Heist" and "Green Girl" episodes.
     During the performance by Disco Flo and The Rhythm Skaters, the music played is very similar if not the same as later used on NBC's daytime game show "Chain Reaction" that aired a few years after "Supertrain."  Both "Supertrain" and the theme for "Chain Reaction" are credited to Bob CobertIlene Graff's Penny Whitaker watches over the Supertrain disco dancing contest and intros Disco Flo, but beyond that is largely left out of this episode.
     The episode opens with a great shot of Supertrain departing eastbound from Los Angeles at dusk.  Though Supertrain is touted as the luxury way of the rich and famous to travel across America, for some reason this trip has a prison being transfered.  Perhaps some investigation into government spending is needed here or if Supertrain is government subsidized as we're led to believe in the "Hail To The Chief" episode maybe they have to carry the convicts gratis as part of the money deal?  Anyway, enter title character Billy (Barry Gordon) who seems to have had the bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and is now saddled with a bum murder charge.  Gordon plays Billy with all the nasally whine and exaggerated self-esteem and hypocondria issues of Woody Allen at his 1970s best.  After complaining about the menu selection available in his jail cell room accomidations, Billy is allowed to venture to the dining car for a meal.  Not long into the meal, Billy and the agent transfering him, played by Rick Hurst, are interrupted by Rue McClanahanMcClanahan, then best known for her supporting role on "Maude," is playing a major anti-everything liberal who feels that poor Billy is the victim and needs everyone's recognition and pity.  Her outburst in the dining car draws the other passengers attention and ends up causing Billy's keeper to choke on a chicken bone and pass out.  A comedy of errors kicks in and suddenly in an effort to assist the agent and get the other passengers under control, Billy has the agent's gun in hand and with McClanahan's help takes the collection of diners hostage.
     What follows is a predictable situation where the hostages are told of Billy's bad luck and innocence and all quickly come to feel sorry for him and side with him in his attempt to get justice by hijacking Supertrain.  Obviously, you can't take Supertrain to Cuba as it would be bound by its tracks running from New York to Los Angeles...though given some of the logic holes in the series one wonders why such a demand wasn't made and executed for this episode.  What does happen is a list of demands made, including one that Supertrain no longer make Matherville a station stop.  The mythical town is reportedly where Billy ran into trouble.  Billy also demands that bus be made available and that he and his group of hostages are allowed safe passage across the border to Mexico.  Supertrain travels the least distance in this its final episode, making it only out of Los Angeles and across through Arizona and into New Mexico by the end of the story.
     All does not go as planned, when Clifton James gets wind of Billy Boy's hijinks and decides to finish him off.  James' sheriff character, we find out is also the one who first arrested Billy and considers him a major menace.  Clifton James is very familiar with this hillbilly Southern sheriff character, having played it previously in two James Bond movies and "Silver Streak" among other places.  Meanwhile one of the hostages, Elaine Joyce has gone into labor and only Billy is able to deliver her baby.  Imagine this kid's pride in being able to tell people he was born on Supertrain! 
     The other hostages include Nicolas Hammond as a frustrated groom who would have been employed over at CBS at the time in the short-lived "Amazing Spider-Man" live-action series; his bride was played by Kathryn Holcomb; fresh from appearing in NBC's "Quark" in 1978 is Hans Conried plays his typical complaining snooty old man character.

     In pre-production, this final episode of "Supertrain" worked under the title, "The Taking of Supertrain."

Barry Gordon does his best Woody Allen-imitation as the title character Billy Boy in the final episode of "Supertrain"
Though it is hard to see here, behind Supertrain is what appears to be the Los Angeles "Supertrain Station" according to the building's signage.  Los Angeles Union is seen in the "Superstar" episode as the departure point on the West Coast.  For the final episode, it looks like Supertrain is leaving a new modern station.  The scene continues with a fantastic shot of Supertrain speeding away from the L.A. skyline at dusk.  This is the only occasion we are shown this building in the series.
Though we see her at the beginning of this episode, Ilene Graff's character is kept out of the bulk of the action in this final run of "Supertrain."  Penny oversees the train's disco contest and then introduces Disco Flo and Her Rhythm Skaters.  Yes, it was truly 1979 folks!  Graff is seen below congratulating the winners of the disco dancing contest.
"He's Taking Us All Hostage!" proclaims soon-to-be "Golden Girl"-Rue McClanahan pictured center with "Supertrain" regular Edward Andrews (left) and fellow guest star Hans Conried (right).
TV Guide May 5-11, 1979

-TV Guide May 5-11, 1979 featured James Stephens and John Houseman of CBS' "The Paper Chase"
TV Guide "Billy Boy" Episode Synopsis:

A policeman escorting a murder suspect chokes on a chicken bone, giving his prisoner a chance to fly the coop.
The Competiton:

ABC ran a first-run episode of "Fantasy Island" featuring guests Fred Grandy and Toni Tennille.
CBS aired the 1975 theatrical movie "Take A Hard Ride" starring Jim Brown, Fred Williamson and Lee Van Cleef on the network's CBS Saturday Night Movies.