This is another fact-based TV drama about an aircrash, this one concerning the January 1982 disaster of Air Florida Flight 90 from Washingon D.C. to Fort Lauderdale. The Boeing 737-222 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., resulting in 78 fatalities.
Jeannetta Arnette (yep, of The Redeemer), Barry Corbin (WarGames), Stephen Macht (most recently of the USA Network’s Suits, but since this is B&S About Movies, we’ll mention Nightwing, Galaxina, The Monster Squad), Dinah Manoff (Grease and Child’s Play; the daughter of Lee Grant of Airport ’77), Richard Masur (the sled dog guy in John Carpenter’s The Thing), and Donnelly Rhodes (of the SyFy Channel’s Battlestar Galactica reboot and The Neptune Factor). The rest of the familiar TV actors and film-character actor cast includes Ken Olin, Jane Kaczmarek, Chad Low, Kate Vernon, K Callan, and Kathleen Wilhoite (the sassy waitress Carrie Ann from Road House). Donnelly Rhodes and Dinah Manoff also appeared together in the TV-sitcom Soap.
Director Robert Michael Lewis gave us the successful TV Movie one-two punch of The Astronaut (1972; produced by Herve Bennett of Crash Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232; reviewed this week), and Pray for the Wildcats (1974); at that point, Lewis continued almost exclusively in the TV Movie realms, venturing into the theatrical world only once: with one of Sam’s favorite films S*H*E: Security Hazards Expert. Screenwriter John McGreevy 120-plus resume also started in ’50s TV series, but he also gave us the Fast and Furious precursor, drive-in classic, Hot Rod Girl. By the late ’60s he worked on TV’s Family Affair and Mayberry R.F.D. Among his 30-plus TV movie credits, he gave us one of the best juvenile delinquent TV drama of the ’70s, The Death of Richie (1977).
Needless to say, with the team of Lewis and McGreevy — and regardless of the up-against-it TV budget — this is a well-research docudrama that sticks to the facts and doesn’t go off into composite characters or “fact-based” situations. True, because of the budget, you may see a few “flaws” in the realism of the crash scene, but with this familiar pro-cast selling the material, it’s easily forgiven.