Season 1 episode 16
Will blows up a truck and collapses a lung on a narrow isolated mountaintop road. The landslide caused by the explosion strands a “flakey” group of travelers. The cast includes future TV regulars; John (Three’s Company’s, Jack Tripper) Ritter, Jeff (Taxi’s, Bobby Wheeler) Conway, and the lesser known, but lovely, Lisa Eilbacher. The adults in the group, Frank Maxwell and June Dayton are also TV regulars. Throw in movie star, Cameron Mitchell and you have one of Movin’ On’s more powerful casts.
Without Will to help, Sonny has a tough time wrangling this group, but he manages to save several lives anyway.
Tense pacing, a great, lonely mountaintop location, and good action make this my favorite episode, so far.
It’s 1999 and I’m in production on a wonderful movie of week titled “Holy Joe” for CBS and directed by a dear friend of mine Larry Peerce. We were shooting in Wilmington, NC and, as it was Sunday, we were having a lovely barbeque… I had some Russian Wild Boar flown in from a recent California hunt… the sausages, ribs, and loins were so tasty it was impossible to keep people away from the grill. In keeping with our North Carolina location…. superb collards…. sweet potatoes… baked beans…. cole slaw and heavenly corn bread were in abundance. Lounging on a hammock nearby was our Emmy Award leading actor…. John Ritter. In our film, John plays a priest with a normal, everyday family with everyday problems who sees a miracle that transforms his life. Some of you may remember Meredith Baxter was his co-star. Anyway, John is nibbling on a boar rib and sipping a cold one. He looks over at me and says, “Do you remember, when we first met?”
“No, John. Can’t say that I do. Maybe a few months ago when we first discussed this project with CBS?”
“OK. When did we first meet?”
“Think, Mr. Producer. I was in my 20’s.”
“Come on John, really? Have another beer.”
“Yes. It was on your series… Movin’ On… in 1975. I was in an episode called “Landslide.”
“Yes, yes, of course, I remember… NOW… with Cameron Mitchell and Lisa Eilbacher.”
“Right you are…. Give the man another beer.”
For the entire filming of “Holy Joe” all John wanted to talk about was “Movin’ On”… Claude and Frank… and, yes… the show’s third star… which as I recall… we couldn’t keep John away from. The episode was filmed on wilderness roads… where Sonny, Will and our other cast members are trapped by a landslide in the Arizona Coconino Forest. The stunt drivers had a very tough time negotiating those dangerous switchbacks…. but, all John wanted was to be up in the cab of the Kenworth…. showing little concern for the sheer drops.
John was an extraordinary acting talent… great fun and a wonderful man.