Hey, look, gang! It’s our first TV movie up for discussion! This one is from producer Irwin Allen, the “Master of Disaster.” Of course, when this originally aired on CBS on February 14, 1975, Allen’s moniker was just beginning to come about. Allen had produced The Poseidon Adventure (which Mad Magazine lampooned mercilessly as “The Poopsidedown Adventure” in the September, 1973 issue, their best-selling single issue of all time) and had then gone on to produce and co-direct The Towering Inferno (which marked the first big-studio co-production deal). In fact, when this film aired on television, The Towering Inferno was still playing in theaters, as it had only been released two months before and had proven to be a monster hit.
At some point up in there, Allen had entered a television development deal with Twentieth Century-Fox. As part of the deal, he would produce three TV movies that would act as pilots for series. This was the first one to air, but none of the networks picked it up as a series. Of the other two pilots produced under this deal, Swiss Family Robinson aired a few months after Adventures of the Queen and got picked up as a series by ABC, where it lasted for one season. In 1976, the last of the pilots to air, The Time Travelers, was also ignored by the big three networks as a possible series. You may ask why big-name Hollywood producer Allen was even dabbling in television anyway, especially after his two back-to-back monster hits. Lest we forget, Irwin Allen made a name for himself IN television, by producing the cult TV hits Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, Land of the Giants, and The Time Tunnel. So it was really no big deal for him at all whether he worked in television or in the movies. He was bimedial, to coin a word.
Adventures of the Queen has the delightful aroma of 1970s made-for-TV deliciousness. It has one of those casts that make you think, “Who IS that guy? I know I’ve seen him before!” Of the faces that you can actually put names to, Robert Stack plays the captain, here in full stalwart mode five years before Airplane. David Hedison, star of the original The Fly (back when he was going by the first name of Al), plays the ship’s doctor. Other cast members of note include Bradford Dillman (here billed as Brad), star of many a TV movie and the wonderful Piranha; Lara Parker from the Dark Shadows TV series and Race with the Devil; Sorrell Booke, otherwise known as “Boss” Hogg on The Dukes of Hazzard; and that guy who played that deputy on the Sheriff Lobo TV show—you know, that guy with the biggest forehead EVER? You know, the one that’s like Clint Howard times three? Yeah, he’s in it too.
The plot has to do with terrorists who take over the Queen AND plant a bomb on board, so that after they’ve gotten what they wanted (in this case, the oddly exact sum of $20,150,000) and transfer to another ship, the Queen will still blow up. I’m not gonna tell you how it all turns out, but if you remember that this was the pilot for a TV series, I’m sure that you can figure out what will go down. Actually, Adventures of the Queen is sort of like an extended Love Boat episode, except with machine guns and no Isaac, Julie, or Captain Stubing. In the right frame of mind, it can be a blast. I dug it pretty hard.