VIDEO: Before Maglevs, There Was 'Supertrain'

A giant train powered by a nuclear reactor driven by 'The Love Boat' crew -- and somehow it flopped?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    'Supertrain' premiered in 1979, as evidenced below by Gene Shalit's hairstyle in the below video.

    We posted about the Superbus earlier today, and while poking around for more info, we discovered that back in 1979, NBC had Supertrain, which is just a whole new level of craziness. Imagine a giant train, powered by a nuclear reactor, driven by the cast of Love Boat. What could possibly go wrong?

    In the TV show, Supertrain was so wide that it needed its own special set of rails. It could travel from New York to Los Angeles in 36 hours using its "atomic engine," and housed a hospital, a swimming pool, a piano bar, a movie theater, a disco, and a gift shop. In reality, NBC spent $5 million on a full-scale Supertrain set, as well as building several different fully functional scale models of Supertrain. Say what you will about the show, but the models were sweet:

    As for the rest of the show, well... At the time, it was the most expensive TV show ever produced, but it only ran for 9 episodes during the 1978-1979 TV season.

    Critics said that the show depended mostly on the gimmick of a giant atomic train, which would have sold me on the show personally, but it didn't work out for the public at large. Despite a brief attempt at a revamp, NBC wasted no time in cancelling Supertrain, but not before it became arguably one of the most expensive TV flops of all time.