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Zooming from one end of America to another, "Supertrain" is a vision of railroading of the future. The super-train, equipped with restaurants, pools, spas, theaters, etc., delivers passengers to wherever they're going. In "Love Boat"-type style, each week's guest passengers have their problems to resolve before the end of their trip. Written by
The Production Designer, Ned Parsons, was working with Dan Curtis on a location cowboy film, when Dan was asked by Fred Silverman to produce "The Super Train" 2 hour pilot. Ned called an illustrator friend to quickly "paint up" a concept illustration for a futuristic train racing through the country side! Returning from location, Dan Curtis set up production offices at MGM Studios. Bob Grand, Production Manager, secured five stages for the train's interior sets. Ned Parsons hired Ed McDonald as his Art Director expecting him to organize a drafting room of quick fingers to draw as fast as possible. Twelve roster senior set designers were given rough set plan layouts, expected to develop these flimsy plans into working drawings. Ned Parsons had begun his Hollywood career as a prop-member on a set decorator's swing gang crew. He was promoted by his family connections to a set decorator position. Then he was made an art director. Having some success, Ned was working with Dan Curtis, wrapping a "Western film," when Fred Silverman placed his call for the train film pilot order. This train pilot idea replaced a Fred Silverman approved projected NBC series that was to be about an air plane's passengers experiences on cross country and trans-continental flights. Ned Parsons hired Bruce Kay for his decorator. Into construction, Parsons and McDonald clashed resulting in Ned firing his Art Director. Because Bruce had a long working relationship with Hub Braden, Ned Parsons hired Hub, replacing McDonald. Ned explained the context of the sets with a drafting room set plan review, including stage walk-through of sets under construction. What a mess! And disaster! Ned asked Braden to draw plans for the rear train car, which was to be a swimming pool and rear train observation deck. This drawing was executed in three days and shown to the construction coordinator for him to order materials. Braden had planned to have set designers redraw his plan/elevation schematics for the carpenters. Told by the Coordinator "just give me that drawing and I'll get the set into work." Ironically this was the first set finished prior to filming. See more »
When the train leaves the station, the platform light fixtures are reflected in the train windows. They move along with the train because the train is standing still and the camera is moving. See more »
Sure it was the 1970's and good taste took a vacation for a few years, but Supertrain did a decent job in providing escapist fare. As a high school junior, at the time, I looked forward to what else NBC might toss against the great broadcasting wall and pray stuck.
I guess that Fred Silverman decided to think `If we can't beat 'em, join 'em' with this dandy series from '79. Take one part `Love Boat', one part far fetched nuclear train, and add some `B' list stars, and you'll be rollin' in the ratings. Wrong!
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