I knew (thanks to Sarah introducing me to his work) about the writer Donald E. Westlake, of the Dortmunder series. And I knew about the legendary flop Supertrain -- a Fred Silverman NBC show set on a massively expensive train that tried to combine The Love Boat with thriller plots.
I did not realize until just now that Supertrain was co-created by.... Donald E. Westlake!?!?
Somebody should really ask the guy about his involvement in one of the most fabled flops of all time, a show so bad that it was notorious even among Silverman's unmatched late '70s crop of flops. Hello Larry and Pink Lady and Jeff were at least somewhat cheap to make. This was advertised as one of the most expensive TV productions of the era -- mostly because of the train, certainly not because of the B-list cast (I never thought I'd see a cast list that made Bernie Kopell look like a superstar by comparison) -- and it bombed completely and totally.
It looks fascinatingly horrible, though. Traditionally, trains are the setting for mystery/suspense plots; unlike cruise ships, they don't suggest glamour and romance, but the confined spaces and limited number of hiding places make it perfect for anything involving murder (which is why Alfred Hitchcock's movies have a zillion train scenes). So they apparently tried to fit the train setting by doing train-appropriate plots, except this meant they wound up doing plots like this:
So nobody who watched The Love Boat would want to watch that, yet nobody who wanted actual good television would watch it either. Proving again that, though it's hard to admire Aaron Spelling, you've got to at least respect the guy: he knew how to create a winning formula and his imitators really didn't.
Oh, and I got through this post without using the term "trainwreck" to describe Supertrain. Good for me.