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Falling from the Sky! Flight 174

Though based on a real-life event, this air crash drama shows little suspense. Cast, heavy on unknown Canadians, lacks star value of various "Airport" and airplane-terror films; still, "Falling From the Sky! Flight 174" shows canny instincts from network execs counterprogramming NBC's female-oriented "A Woman of Independent Means" and, for that matter, CBS's Monday comedy bloc.

Though based on a real-life event, this air crash drama shows little suspense. Cast, heavy on unknown Canadians, lacks star value of various “Airport” and airplane-terror films; still, “Falling From the Sky! Flight 174” shows canny instincts from network execs counterprogramming NBC’s female-oriented “A Woman of Independent Means” and, for that matter, CBS’s Monday comedy bloc.

Most imagination here comes from the title, with exclamation point replacing the colon that’s virtually mandatory in TV docudramas.

William Devane stars as Bob Pearson, pilot for Canadian World Airlines which is, in 1983, converting to new 767 airliners and metric system of weights and measures.

Best — and scariest — moments of film come in the beginning, as members of ground crew try to figure out if plane’s fuel tanks are properly filled — whether new capacity is measured in liters, pounds, gallons, or kilograms, and how to convert measurements from one system to the other.

Other than Devane, cast has little to do save look worried, panic, or maintain stiff upper lip. Plane lands safely, ho hum, with writer Lionel Chetwynd trying to pump up suspense by placing a young boy on a bicycle in jet’s landing path, and having Pearson run back to cabin with no obvious motivation after crew and passengers have been evacuated.

Most interesting passengers are John Novac as an uptight businessman, and Jeremy Wilkin as a retired Air Force officer who maintains his cool.

Production values look cheap, acting is adequate, and film is probably 30 minutes longer than it needs to be. Still, as a time killer, it doesn’t insult audience’s intelligence.

Falling from the Sky! Flight 174

(Mon. (20), 9-11 p.m., ABC)

  • Production: Filmed in Vancouver, B.C., by Pacific Motion Pictures Corp. and Hill/Fields Entertainment. Executive producers, Leonard Hill, Joel Fields, Ron Gilbert; producers, Tom Rowe, Lisa Richardson; director, Jorge Montesi; script, Lionel Chetwynd, based on book "Freefall" by William and Marilyn Hoffer.
  • Crew: Camera, David Geddes; editor, George Appleby; production designer, Sandy Cochrane; sound, Ralph Parker; music, Ian Thomas.
  • Cast: Cast: William Devane, Scott Hylands, Shelley Hack, Kevin McNulty, Gwynyth Walsh, Gloria Carlin, Suzy Joachim, Nicholas Turturro, Winston Rekert, Mariette Hartley, Philip Granger, Philip Hayes, David Lewis, Sheelah Megill, John Novak, Joel Palmer, Molly Parker, Jeremy Wilkin, A.J. Bond, Tom Butler, Fulvo Cecere, Fred Henderson, Greg Rogers, Marcus Turner, Garry Davay, Lois Dellar, Alf Humphreys, Mitch Kosterman, Gloria Macarenko, Roman Podhora, Wendy Van Reisen, Marc Baur, Jeff Irvine, Paul Jarrett, P. Lynn Johnson, Akiko Morison, Bob Pearson, Callum Rennie.
  • Music By: