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Sam J. Jones,
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Good Attempt, but Lost and Squandered Opportunity to be the Next Acclaimed Military Drama
Loosely based on the account of the late George C. Wilson in his book of the same name and right on the wake of the popularity of the movie, "Top Gun" this highly anticipated, made-for-TV series attempted to portray the life aboard a modern day U.S. aircraft carrier.
Apparently, the creators had tons of money for this tale as they were able to shoot aboard the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy for the pilot episode; original flight scenes were shot (the production company had to pay for aviation fuel); U.S. Naval Bases on both the U.S. east and west coasts stood in for the fictional "San Miguel Naval Air Station"; and as they were available, other real Navy ships (both aircraft carriers and others) were able to stand in for the fictional "USS Georgetown." In addition, there was a big advertising campaign by ABC touting it as "Top Gun" for T.V. With the United States Navy and Department of Defense giving this program full support and all that money laying around to shoot this (hopefully) next highly acclaimed T.V. military drama, they were ready to set sail.
So what can go wrong? Sad to say,lots.
The plots and stories left little to be desired (for both military and non-military viewers alike). For the real Sailors who were excited to be extras in the production, their excitement turned into dismay as they saw the finished product in the first few episodes that the Navy had so graciously supported. In other words, they saw that they were being portrayed in a less-than-flattering light. When the Navy saw the final product they subsequently dropped their support (it's evident in the latter episodes).
I was sixteen when I saw this and my dad, a Navy carrier veteran watched with me. He kept saying, "That can't happen!" I even saw the mistakes, even without my dad's help! In portrayals of real life people and/or careers (the Navy in this case) I am a believer in "Artistic License" as it makes the story more interesting. It doesn't mean the subject matter is "less interesting," but it will make for more interest especially for the part of the audience who has little to no familiarity with the subject. But when it starts to go off course and portrays the subject in a less-than-flattering light, or embellishes too much, then you lose the respect of the people you are trying to depict and the ones who are on the "outside" will have no interest.
Life aboard an aircraft carrier needs to be told (and not just in documentaries). A Navy ship can be wonderful platform (look at today's successful post-apocalyptic T.V. series, "The Last Ship" series about life aboard a U.S. Navy Destroyer). Even with artistic liberties, this one could have pulled it off if they portrayed the Sailors and Pilots better, and it would have been a highly acclaimed military T.V. drama. "Top Gun's" popularity would have helped it big time. But it seemed like the creators were only intrigued by and invested more in the visuals of the aircraft carrier and its awesome arsenal of fighter and attack planes. As a result, the characters were very forgettable. They didn't invest well in the writers.
I feel bad for the then young 20-30 something members of the cast. This was a chance for them to be a part of something real special that could have been critically acclaimed. They would have been household names. After "Supercarrier" a lot of them just seem to have faded away from the Hollywood scene; after only five other roles (post "Supercarrier,") and what appeared to be a struggling acting career, one of them passed away at the young age of 34; some continued to act mostly on guest TV roles and B movies until they appeared to no longer be able to get roles; and for those who continued acting into the new millennium, their roles are/were mostly guest parts in TV and movies that people forget after the last credit rolls.
"Supercarrier" may or may not have "jinxed" their careers, but one thing is for certain, it did NOT help as the characters were very forgettable.
The veteran actors of the cast like Robert Hooks and the late Richard Jaeckel would have had added another great work to their resume, but to no avail.
The creators of "Supercarrier" had a good idea and apparently, lots of money and the popularity of "Top Gun" to build on to make this a memorable and highly acclaimed military drama. Unfortunately, they squandered that opportunity when they only invested in the visuals and not in the stories and characters.
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