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

Crime TV on DVD