Friday, December 29, 2006

Crime TV Themes: PETER GUNN

Spotlighting the great themes from mystery/crime TV shows ...

PETER GUNN
One of the most ubiquitous melodies of all time -- and most-requested since we began this series -- the cool jazz theme for Peter Gunn (1958-61) was written by the great Henry Mancini (1924-1994), award-winning American composer, conductor and arranger. Among his television themes was the haunting theme to The NBC Mystery Movie, and his film scores included the suspense classic Charade and the Pink Panther series.

Created by Blake Edwards, Peter Gunn starred Craig Stevens as the title private eye. As described by Thrilling Detective: A highly-innovative and influential show, it also boasted Mancini's hit theme song, as well as witty dialogue, snazzy clothing and elaborate (for television) camerawork. A sort of Miami Vice for its time, but with far more substance and very good, sometimes excellent, writing.

Episode guide at epguides.com/PeterGunn

OPENING TITLES


More themes:
STARSKY & HUTCH
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE
BONES
THE ROCKFORD FILES
ALIAS

Monday, December 11, 2006

Mystery TV Themes: STARSKY & HUTCH

Spotlighting the great opening titles and themes from mystery/crime TV shows ...

STARSKY & HUTCH
This buddy-cop show (1975-79), produced by Aaron Spelling, starred Paul Michael Glaser as the brash Detective Dave Starsky and David Soul as the thoughtful Detective Ken Hutchinson, chasing bad guys in Starsky's iconic red Gran Torino. The original theme (1975-76 arrangement), which highlighted the grittier side of the series, was written by Lalo Schifrin (Mission: Impossible). The second theme (1976-78 arrangement), highlighting the more playful aspects of the series, was written by jazzman Tom Scott. The third theme, credited to Mark Snow (Hart to Hart, T.J. Hooker), sported a more dramatic edge.

MAIN TITLES SEASON ONE (Lalo Schifrin)


MAIN TITLES SEASON TWO (Tom Scott)


MAIN TITLES SEASON THREE (Mark Snow)


Starsky & Hutch themes courtesy Mark Little's MyThemes.TV
Official Sony Starsky & Hutch site
Episode guide and more at TV.com

Watch episodes free online at Hulu




More themes:
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE
BONES
THE ROCKFORD FILES
ALIAS
NBC MYSTERY MOVIE

Monday, December 4, 2006

Mystery TV Themes: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE

Spotlighting the great opening themes from mystery/crime TV shows ...

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE
In this influential spy series (1966-73, 1988-90) a super-secret government agency called the "Impossible Missions Force" is given secret anonymous covert missions, often relying on high-tech equipment and elaborate deceptions. The original series won several awards, with a rotating cast that included Steven Hill, Peter Graves, Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Greg Morris, Peter Lupus, Leonard Nimoy, and more. Fifteen years after the original, Jim Phelps (Graves) was pulled out of retirement to assemble a new team of agents.

One of the most copied tunes of all time, the familiar theme to Mission: Impossible was created by composer and conductor Lalo Schifren. Best known for his music for film and television—ranging from Dirty Harry, Enter the Dragon and Rush Hour to Mannix, Medical Center, Starsky & Hutch and Planet of The Apes—the composer and pianist has also had historic impact in the jazz and classical worlds. See his bio here.

Mission: Impossible theme at Mark Little's MyThemes.tv
Episode guide(s) at TV.com.
History of the series at the Museum of Broadcast Communications
Mission: Impossible DVD news at TVShowsOnDVD.com

MAIN TITLES (Original Pilot)


MAIN TITLES (Season Five)


MAIN TITLES (1980s Revival)





More opening credits:
DRAGNET
EQUALIZER (w/ CALLAN)
GET SMART
HARDY BOYS / NANCY DREW MYSTERIES
HART TO HART

Monday, November 27, 2006

Mystery TV Themes: BONES

Spotlighting the great themes from mystery/crime TV shows ...

BONES

Inspired by real-life forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs (a thriller novelist in her own right), forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel) teams up with FBI Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) to solve a series of unsolved crimes by identifying the long-dead bodies of missing persons by their bone structure. The series airs on FOX.

Watch Bones on MySpace.
Official FOX site for Bones.
Episode guide and show info at TV.com.

Season One Titles


Season Two Titles


More themes:
THE ROCKFORD FILES
ALIAS
NBC MYSTERY MOVIE (Columbo)
GET SMART
KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Mystery TV Themes: THE ROCKFORD FILES

Spotlighting the great opening themes from mystery/crime TV shows ...

THE ROCKFORD FILES
Hailed by Thrilling Detective as "the best private eye series to ever grace the television screen, and arguably one of the greatest private eyes of all time," The Rockford Files (1974-1980) starred James Garner as private investigator Jim Rockford, who preferred to talk, rather than slug, his way out of a tight spot.

The breezy, whimsical theme to this classic series was a Top 10 hit co-written by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter. The duo first partnered in the late 1960s, and began working for producer Stephen J. Cannell when they wrote the theme to his cop show Toma in 1973. Their big breakthrough, the theme to The Rockford Files, won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement in 1975. Post, of course, has since been awarded four more Grammys, and created many singable themes, from Hill Street Blues to Greatest American Hero (a No. 1 hit) and Newsradio.

Watch episodes of THE ROCKFORD FILES free online at Hulu


Watch episodes free online at Netflix

Theme, episode guide and show info at fan site The Rockford Files Homepage.
More about Mike Post and about The Rockford Files at the Museum of Broadcast Communications.




More themes:
ALIAS
NBC MYSTERY MOVIE
GET SMART
KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER
DRAGNET

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mystery TV Themes: ALIAS

Spotlighting the great themes from mystery/crime TV shows ...

Alias - The Complete Collection (Seasons 1-5 + Rambaldi artifact box)ALIAS
(2001-2004 arrangement)
(2004-2006 arrangement)
The minimalist but energizing theme to the "spy-fi" series Alias (2001-2006) was written by series creator J. J. Abrams. The show starred Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow, a CIA agent caught up in counter-espionage (and, apparently, counter-counter-espionage), wearing colorful disguises while working undercover assignments all over the world. Abrams' other TV credits include Felicity, Lost, What About Brian, and Six Degrees. He directed the recent Mission: Impossible III and is currently developing a reboot of the Star Trek film franchise.

Alias opening theme courtesy Mark Little's MyThemes.TV.
Complete Alias now on DVD.
Episode guide and show info at the fan site Alias-TV.com.



More themes:
Mystery TV Themes: NBC MYSTERY MOVIE
Mystery TV Themes: GET SMART
Mystery TV Themes: KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER
Mystery TV Themes: DRAGNET
Mystery TV Themes: MONK

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mystery TV Themes: NBC MYSTERY MOVIE

Spotlighting the great opening themes from mystery/crime TV shows ...

THE NBC MYSTERY MOVIE
While The NBC Mystery Movie was not the first series to employ the "wheel" format, rotating several different series in the same slot, it is certainly one of the best-remembered. The haunting theme music was composed by Henry Mancini (1924-1994), Academy Award-winning American composer, conductor and arranger. His film work ranged from The Creature from the Black Lagoon and Touch of Evil to the Pink Panther films. He was nominated for an amazing 72 Grammys (winning 20), and nominated for 18 Oscars (winning four). He won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for two Emmys.

The NBC Mystery Movie aired 1971-1977, anchored by three main series: The most popular of these, the multiple Emmy-winning Columbo, featured Peter Falk as the disarming yet brilliant LAPD homicide detective. McCloud starred Dennis Weaver as a modern-day western Marshal transplanted from New Mexico to the streets of New York City. McMillan and Wife starred Rock Hudson and Susan St. James as a San Francisco Police Commissioner and his wife.

In subsequent seasons, the wheel grew to include other sleuths to varying success, including Hec Ramsey, starring Richard Boone as a turn-of-the-century Western crime fighter, and Quincy, M.E., starring Jack Klugman as a Los Angeles medical examiner. Quincy, in fact, spun off in early 1977 as a regular weekly series, to have a successful run of its own on NBC.

Even after the cancellation of The NBC Mystery Movie, Falk resumed the role of Columbo several more times over the following 25 years.


OPENING MAIN TITLES


Listen to the Mystery Movie Theme at TV Theme Tunes Online
NBC Mystery Movie profile at Museum of Broadcast Communications
All sorts of Columbo info at The Ultimate Lieutenant Columbo Site

Watch episodes free online at Netflix:
COLUMBO (Seasons 1-7)
MCCLOUD (Seasons 1-7)
MCMILLAN AND WIFE (Seasons 1-6)
QUINCY (Seasons 1-8)




More themes:
Mystery TV Themes: GET SMART
Mystery TV Themes: KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER
Mystery TV Themes: DRAGNET
Mystery TV Themes: MONK
Mystery TV Themes: IT TAKES A THIEF

Monday, November 6, 2006

Mystery TV Themes: GET SMART

Spotlighting the great themes from mystery/crime TV shows ...

GET SMART
This classic spy sitcom (1965-70) starred Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, Agent 86, and Barbara Feldon as Agent 99. It is hard to find much information about arranger, songwriter and conductor Irving Szathmary, whose memorable theme to Get Smart adroitly captured the flavor and tone of the popular spy parody. The brother of comedian and actor Bill Dana (who actually appeared in a few episodes of Get Smart), the Composers and Lyricists Database says Szathmary's specialty was called "symphonic swing," and he created instrumental arrangements in the 1940s for Muzak.

Get Smart opening theme courtesy Mark Little's MyThemes.TV.
Complete Get Smart now on DVD at Amazon.
Episode guide and show info at the fan site The Get Smart Page.

TV LAND: THE CONE OF SILENCE


OPENING TITLES


More themes:
Mystery TV Themes: KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER
Mystery TV Themes: DRAGNET
Mystery TV Themes: MONK
Mystery TV Themes: IT TAKES A THIEF
Mystery TV Themes: SWAT

Monday, October 30, 2006

Mystery TV Themes: KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER

Spotlighting the great themes from mystery/crime TV shows ...

KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER
This short-lived televison series starred the great Darren McGavin (1922-2006) as rumpled newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak, a man who kept stumbing onto stories his paper could never possibly print. While it may not have fulfilled the promise of the two original TV movies, The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973), the series had one distinct advantage over its predecessors: That haunting, almost disturbing opening theme by composer Gil Melle (1931-2004). A man of many talents, Melle was also a jazz/fusion and classical musician and recording artist, painter and inventor. (Bios at his official website GilMelle.com, Jazz House and Wikipedia.) He wrote some 125 scores for motion pictures and such television projects as Columbo, Night Gallery and the original Six Million Dollar Man telefilm.

Kolchak opening theme courtesy Mark Little's MyThemes.TV.
Series overview, episode guides and downloads at SciFi.com.

Related links:
Mystery TV Themes: DRAGNET
Mystery TV Themes: MONK
Mystery TV Themes: IT TAKES A THIEF
Mystery TV Themes: SWAT

Friday, October 27, 2006

Munsters marathon on TV Land

TV Land celebrates Halloween this weekend with a 25-hour marathon of The Munsters starting tomorrow morning (Saturday, Oct. 28). Things kick-off 6 a.m. (Eastern) with the classic "Rock-a-Buy Munster," where Herman eavesdrops on one of Lilly's conversations and gets the idea she's pregnant. (Hijinks ensue.)
Hear the theme song here

Related link: LAW & ORDER: MUNSTERS

Monday, October 23, 2006

Mystery TV Themes: DRAGNET

Spotlighting the great themes from mystery/crime TV shows ...

DRAGNET
The "Dragnet March" ("Danger Ahead") by composer Walter Schumann (1913-1958) is one of the most recognizable themes in history. During World War 2, Schumann was musical director of the Armed Forces Radio Service; after the war, he returned to L.A., where he was a conductor and arranger for the motion picture and television studios. (He wrote stock music for several Abbott & Costello films.) Schumann also recorded several albums of choral music. His 1954 theme for Dragnet won him a 1955 Emmy Award.

Dragnet started as a radio drama (1949-1957), which Jack Webb created after he had a small role in the semi-documentary film noir He Walked by Night (1948). Like the film, the radio series kept the low-key, documentary style, made use of actual police cases, and even had the same L.A.P.D. technical advisor. The success of the radio show led to the first Dragnet TV series (1952-1959, 263 episodes), starring Webb and several partners. A top 10 hit during its first run, the show was also a feature film in 1954. The show was brought back for another 100 episodes (and a TV movie) in 1967-1970, again starring Webb, with partner Harry Morgan. Webb died in 1982, but the show was revived twice more -- as a syndicated TV series (1989-90) and as the short-lived 2003-2004 ABC series starring Ed O'Neill (also called L.A. Dragnet). This most recent version had a spiffy new theme by Mike Post that riffed off Schumann's original march.

Three versions of the theme at Mark Little's MyThemes.TV

More about composer Walter Schumann:
Space Age Pop Music
IMDB

More about Dragnet:
Badge 714
TV.com

50s opening


2003 opening


Related links:
Mystery TV Themes: MONK
Mystery TV Themes: IT TAKES A THIEF
Mystery TV Themes: SWAT

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mystery TV Themes: MONK

Spotlighting the great themes from mystery/crime TV shows ...

MONK
Airing on the USA Network since 2002, Monk has the distinction of having two completely different Emmy-winning theme songs. Composer Jeff Beal's original, boppy instrumental piece won the 2003 Emmy for outstanding main title theme music. The second opening theme, "It's a Jungle Out There" by Randy Newman, won the 2004 award for outstanding main title theme music. The popular series—one of the highest-rated original scripted series in basic cable history—stars multiple-Emmy-winner Tony Shalhoub as sleuth Adrian Monk, who battles his intense phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder to solve impossible crimes as a consultant for the San Francisco Police Department.

Listen to both themes online courtesy of the USA Network. Listen to additional pieces of the original score at Jeff Beal's official site. Find lots more about Monk—including an episode guide, exclusive webisodes, games, and info about the novels—at USANetwork.com.





More opening credits:
IT TAKES A THIEF
JUDD, FOR THE DEFENSE
KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER
THE LONE RANGER
THE MAGICIAN

Friday, October 13, 2006

Worst. Themes. Ever.

In researching my new weekly salute to "Mystery TV Themes" (so far, we have highlighted "S.W.A.T." and "It Takes a Thief"), I have started to come across some truly awful stuff. For example, this original theme to "Magnum" is a mess. And why, oh, why did producer Glen Larson write this ridiculous theme for the "Six Million Dollar Man"?

(But it is cool to watch Steve Austin fight a robot.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Crime TV Themes: IT TAKES A THIEF

Spotlighting the great main titles from classic mystery/crime television shows ...

IT TAKES A THIEF
Jazz artist Dave Grusin provided the snazzy theme for this 1968-1970 adventure series. A young Robert Wagner starred as Alexander Mundy, a smooth, sophisticated playboy and burglar recruited by the government. As described by TV.com: Alexander Mundy was a cat burglar and professional thief who had style, class and talent. He made only one mistake -- getting caught. While serving a sentence in San Jobel Prison, he was contacted by representatives of the US Government spy agency, SIA. They offered to get him out if he would put his talents to work stealing for the government. Accepting the offer, he worked closely with an SIA department head, Noah Bain, who was his boss, aide, associate, friend and watchdog. During the second season he was now a free agent and his new SIA contact was Wallie Powers. Alexander's dad Alister became a semi-regular who was also a retired thief, from whom he had learned all his skills, and who occasionally teamed with his son on special jobs.



Watch episode online free at Hulu


Summary and episode guide at TV.com.
Two versions of the theme at Mark Little's MyThemes.TV.

More opening credits and themes:
MANNIX
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE
MONK
NBC MYSTERY MOVIE
PERRY MASON

Monday, October 9, 2006

Crime TV Themes: S.W.A.T.

Spotlighting the great themes from mystery/crime TV shows ...

S.W.A.T.
An Aaron Spelling production, S.W.A.T. aired from Febuary, 1975 until April, 1976. The cast included Steve Forrest, Robert Urich and Mark Shera.The disco-fied theme song for this short-lived spinoff of The Rookies went to No. 1 on the pop charts for Rhythm Heritage in 1976. The group's Michael Omartian, who co-produced and arranged the track, went on to an illustrious career as a Grammy-winning producer for Christopher Cross, Donna Summer, The Imperials, and dozens more.

More info (and episode guide) at TV.com.
Theme online at Classic Television Images and Theme Songs.
S.W.A.T. DVD news at TVShowsOnDVD.com

OPENING CREDITS




More themes:
PETER GUNN
ROCKFORD FILES
SIMON & SIMON
STARSKY & HUTCH
T.J. HOOKER

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Diagnosis -- MURDER!

Penguin celebrates the DVD release of the popular mystery series Diagnosis Murder by offering 15-percent off any or all of the tie-in novels on the Penguin website. The first six novels are available now; the seventh, The Double Life, comes out November 7. Offer valid for all orders received before and on Dec. 31, 2006 or while supplies last.

I must confess, I missed out on Diagnosis Murder when it was on TV -- so the DM novels I were more or less my introduction. They well-written mysteries, and also completely accessible to a new fan like me.

As of yesterday, we are now the proud owners of Diagnosis Murder season one; I can begin catching up! (They even include the original 1991 Jake and the Fatman episode that introduced the Dr. Sloane character.)

Related links:
Mr. Monk and the Syndicate
MR. MONK AND THE AMAZON REVIEW
WATCHING THE DETECTIVES

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Complete GET SMART

TVShowsonDVD.com reports on the upcoming mammoth DVD box set containing all five seasons of '60s spy spoof Get Smart. The site lists off the extras here and here. For the first year, it will only be available from Time-Life. From the press release:
Get Smart: The Complete Collection DVD set will be available exclusively from Time-Life via the Time-Life website (www.getsmartondvd.com) for the first year. This super-sized, specially packaged collection contains every original, unedited episode from all five seasons of Get Smart—a total of 138 episodes on 25 DVDs! Get Smart: The Complete First Season will soon be available as a five-disc set with over two hours of bonus material, also through the Time-Life website and additionally through direct-response television commercials, with Seasons 2-5 to follow.
The series will be available in retail stores until Fall 2007.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Mr. Monk and the Syndicate

MediaWeek's Programming Insider reports that the detective series Monk is now headed for syndication. NBC Universal Television Distribution has sold the show to local broadcast stations covering more than 80 percent of the country for a fall 2008 launch. The dramedy, starring Emmy-winner Tony Shalhoub, currently airs on USA.

Related links:
MR. MONK AND THE AMAZON REVIEW
WATCHING THE DETECTIVES
OFFICIAL MONK

Friday, July 28, 2006

LAW & ORDER: MUNSTERS


Been watching season one of The Munsters again. Did you ever notice how many of these episodes are crime stories? Think about it: They were always running afoul of con-artists, gangsters and bank robbers.

It's getting so the streets aren't even safe for monsters anymore ...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

DARREN MCGAVIN: 1922-2006

Last night, actor Darren McGavin passed away. His great roles include gruff news reporter Carl Kolchak chasing impossible stories in Kolchack: The Night Stalker and the grouchy dad in the perennial 1983 classic A Christmas Story.

Find out more about his life and career at www.darrenmcgavin.net, and at the links below:

Prolific Actor Darren McGavin Dies at 83 ABC News
Darren McGavin, 83; Played Reporter on TV's 'Night Stalker' Washington Post

An entire generation of X-Files fans can thank him, too -- X-Files creator Chris Carter has regularly acknowledged he was inspired by Night Stalker. McGavin even played a brief role on the show, where his character turned out to be the original agent working the files.

McGavin co-starred with Don Knotts -- who, I'm sure you've heard, also passed away yesterday -- in the Disney family comedies No Deposit, No Return (1976) and Hot Lead & Cold Feet (1978).

Friday, February 10, 2006

HONOR AMONG (TV) THIEVES

Medical info site WebMD has this interesting story, "Everyone Loves Crime— on TV":

"People are anxious in an uncertain world and today they may get the message that bad guys do win and these shows show that they don't," says [Los Angeles-based psychotherapist Robert Butterworth, PhD]. "Modern technology makes it so crime doesn't pay and that is the ultimate premise -- 'we will get you, and we will use whatever tools we have to get you.'"

Related links:
MONK RENEWED FOR TWO MORE SEASONS
TV-TO-BOOK: MR. MONK
ARE YOU MONKISH?

Monday, February 6, 2006

R.I.P GRANDPA MUNSTER 1923-2006

After years of failing health, actor Al Lewis passed away Friday night.

Associated Press reports:
Lewis, with his wife at his bedside, passed away Friday night, said Bernard White, program director at WBAI-FM, where the actor hosted a weekly radio program. White made the announcement on the air during the Saturday slot where Lewis usually appeared.

"To say that we will miss his generous, cantankerous, engaging spirit is a profound understatement," White said.

Both seasons of his classic series The Munsters are now available on DVD. The second season includes features on the stars of the show, including a whole documentary on the intriguing life of Lewis.

Friday, January 13, 2006

MONK RENEWED FOR TWO MORE SEASONS


Mediaweek reports from the Television Critics Association’s annual winter convention, where NBC's panel included the announcement that Monk has been renewed for seasons five and six. On hand at the press conference was actor Tony Shalhoub, who fielded some questions.

Another TCA member wondered whether viewers ever confused the actor with the character, to which he quipped, “I do get offered a lot of Handi Wipes. And I can tell you, after four hundred times, it’s a little hard to, you know, laugh, as if it’s the first time it’s ever happened. But people just think that is so funny.”


USA Network and Sci Fi Channel president Bonnie Hammer defended the network's unusual approach to scheduling (two half-seasons, instead of one season at a time):

"You really have to take a look at what makes sense for the show, build up your audience, keep them, but not throw in repeat episodes, and hope they’re going to come back or remember that after three repeat episodes, there will be a brand new episode."

See the whole story (including other USA and Sci-Fi announcements) here.

Related links:
ARE YOU MONKISH?
TV-TO-BOOK: MR. MONK
MR. MONK GOES TO THE FIREHOUSE

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

MAJOR HURDLE FOR TV-ON-DVD


Even as TV-on-DVD becomes a major force in the entertainment marketplace, studios find that licensing music for older programs is as pricey as obtaining tunes for new series. According to Reuters, the issue is forcing studios to make "radical changes."

... skyrocketing music-clearance fees are becoming major stumbling blocks for DVD reissues, often delaying or even completely derailing releases. Take "WKRP in Cincinnati," for example: The 1970s sitcom used so much classic rock that it would cost 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment a mint to clear the tracks. Fox has suggested that it still is considering releasing "WKRP," but others are not optimistic that the comedy and similar shows of its kind will ever make it into the market.

Reuters says TV-on-DVD business accounted last year for more than $2 billion in sales; reports suggest the figure could reach $3.9 billion by 2008.

Monday, January 2, 2006

TV-TO-BOOK: MR. MONK


My wife and I have been watching Season Two of of the excellent detective series Monk. (Since we do not have cable, we have to enjoy them on DVD.) We are just amazed at how funny and wonderful these stories are.

Tomorrow, the first original Monk tie-in novel hits shelves, Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse (Signet). The book is written by TV writer and novelist Lee Goldberg, co-writer of the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Goes to Mexico" (which we just watched, and it was AWESOME).

The Monk Fun Page interviewed Mr. Goldberg about his adventures writing for television (including Monk and Diagnosis Murder ) and writing the first official Monk novels.

The USA Network has launched an official website devoted to the Monk books, which includes an excerpt and a video interview with the author. (You can also check out downloads and an exclusive Monk mini-webisode created exclusively for the Internet.)

Related link: Mr. Monk Goes To The Firehouse

Crime TV on DVD