Once again, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) tricked everyone into thinking that this was going to be a blockbuster disaster movie.
There's really nothing wrong with this movie, but it does begin with a teaser of the multi vehicle accident and it sets up the characters as well.
Since the movie takes place on Sunday, July 4, 1976, we have to go back in time to Friday, just after the teaser crash.
Told in flashbacks, we meet Erica (Vera Miles) who meets her friend Trudy (Terry Moore) at the local singles bar. Erica feels like a fish out of water here and within minutes, lounge lizard Danny (Herb Edelman) makes a move on her.
Danny is decked out in his finest '70's outfit- shiny polyester shirt and chains and takes Erica out on the dancefloor. While they dance, he continues to put the moves on her and after smoking a joint on the dancefloor, he wants to take her to his boat so that they can be along.
She tells him that she has to go to the bathroom and races out only to be followed by him.
Down in San Diego, Randy (Barry Hamilton) is successful in robbing a grocery store, but at his car he's shot by the manager. It's not a fatal wound and he and his companion Penny (Bonnie Ebsen) take off. He does discover that he's bleeding and she suggests that they see a doctor, but he says no.
On Saturday (the bulk of the movie) Erica gets a surprise phone call from Danny and he continues to put the moves on her and after hanging up, she decides that she's going to head down to San Diego to visit her daughter.
We also meet Albert and June Pearson (Buddy Ebsen and Harriet Nelson) who are finishing up breakfast and he's anxious to get moving since he has a surprise for her.
Pulling up outside the California Highway Patrol station are sisters Laureen and Barbara (Donna Mills and Sian Barbara Allen). They give Barbara's husband (Tommy Lee Jones) the lunch that he forgot and Laureen has yet another serious talk with her boyfriend Sergeant Sam Marcum (Robert Conrad).
Pregnant Barbara is about ready to pop and she assures Jimmy that she'll get in touch with him when and if she goes into labor.
While on the expressway, Erica starts to have car problems and discovers that she's out of gas and gets off at the next exit where she's met by some rowdy bikers. They tell her that they'll give her some gas, yet she's forced into a circle and tossed around by the gang.
Trucker Dale (David Groh) sees what's happening and comes to her rescue chasing them away.
Meanwhile, Penny is on the side of the road hitchhiking and Lee Bassett (Scott Jacoby) pulls over. Unbeknownst to him, Randy gets into the backseat and tells him to drive. Penny keeps pleading with him to go to the hospital, but he tells Lee to keep driving.
Alberts surprise to June is a condo on the ocean (now I don't know if he bought it or not) but she's thrilled and he tells her that he's taken a year off of teaching and they can come to it whenever they want.
Barbara goes into labor and no one can find Jimmy.
Randy eventually dies due to his gun shot and Lee and Penny end up taking a van, which was pulled over earlier by Sam.
June has another episode (although we know that she's dying, but from what we don't know) and hides it once again from Albert. He tells her that he's going to take a nap and since she doesn't want to burden him, walks into the ocean hoping to commit suicide.
Dale and Erica share a romantic dinner and then end up in bed.
I'm telling you, that's some busy Saturday those Californians were having!
Everyone decides the next morning to go their separate ways until they're all reunited in the smash-up.
The good thing about this movie is it shows all of the characters at some point interacting with one another. In fact, while I was watching this, there's a scene with bikers Burnsey and Andy (Sue Lyon and Joel Parks) outside the hospital and Sam gets out of his patrol car then enters the hospital.
Besides Bonnie Ebsen, David Nelson also appears as a cop and it wouldn't be a Robert Conrad movie unless he was strutting around in a very tight uniform. Tight clothes must have been written into all of his contracts.
Overall, the accident scene is expanded just a little at the end of the movie and even to this day, I keep trying to figure out who caused it and on a side note, the days of 2021 are exactly as those of 1976.