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Thursday, August 9, 2012

More Honorable Yet.

Continuing on:

"Naked City"

The original theme. Yeah, there were two of them. Both, I think by Billy May.
I know the original one was. It was recorded with lyrics by some singer as
"Somewhere In The Night", and was a bit of a hit. On the show, it was an
instrumental, with a wailing trumpet lead, probably Billy's. It was really lush,
and evocative of New York.

"Naked City"

The replacement theme. I think it was also by Billy May. Not as lush. More
muted horns, but equally evocative of New York. It's pretty much a tossup between the two themes,
and I don't know why they changed in mid-stream.
Both suited the tag line "There are eight million stories in the Naked City.
This has been one of them." equally well.
By the way, I have it on good authority that the actor who uttered that line was
a man named Lawrence Dobkin.
Now, who else is going to tell you this kind of stuff?

"The Thin Man"

The original theme. A bouncy, sophisticated, "Aren't Nick and Nora a charming
couple." sort of theme.

"The Thin Man"

The replacement theme. Again, pretty much a tossup. I think the change came
about because they acquired a car sponsor. So a jazzier, movement-oriented theme
was summoned up. I believe the sponsor was Plymouth. And you know how those sophisticated New Yorkers liked to tool around town in their Plymouths, with the big tailfins and everything.

Mr. Novak"

An uplifting, upbeat piece of music, describing high school as a place, when I was
in fact IN high school, as a place you wanted to be. And there was an air of importance about it.
This preceded metal detectors and places like Columbine.
It was a different time, wasn't it?
It was also a very good show.

"The Practice"

No, not the legal series that evolved into "Boston Legal". I don't remember what either of those two themes sounded like.
I'm referring to the sitcom starring Danny Thomas as a crusty old doctor who made sure he had time for his patients above all else.
A very underrated series. One that should have had a longer life.
The theme music evoked everything that was charming about the show.

More next time.

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Posted

11 comments:

  1. Welcome to "More Than You Wanted To Know" ...

    There were THREE Naked City themes.

    "Naked City" started out as a half-hour show on ABC in 1958. The theme was a sorta-bluesy number whose composer I can't call to mind just now.

    "NC" took a season off, returning as an hour series in the fall of 1960. That marked the introduction of the Bily May theme, "Somewhere In The Night."

    Came the fall of '62, and the new theme was introduced, this one by Nelson Riddle, who had apparently become Herbert Leonard's house composer (he was also doing "Route 66").

    So there you have it: May and Riddle. If they could have gotten Gordon Jenkins, they would have had a Sinatra Trifecta.

    One more thing, about Lawrence Dobkin: he started doing the "Naked City" narration during that first half-hour season I mentioned above; after the style of the original feature, he identified himself as "Bert Leonard, the producer".
    This practice stopped when the show went to an hour. Most likely, this was because Dobkin was such a prolific on-camera actor in films and TV that his voice proved too easily recognizable to be taken for Leonard's. (Check out Dobkin's IMDb page sometime.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is certainly not "More than I wanted to know." I'm grateful for all new information and corrections. It certainly makes sense that the final Naked City theme was by Nelson Riddle. I think in the back of my mind, I knew that. I knew there was a half-hour version that preceded it all. But I've never had the opportunity to see it. I don't know if they even still exist. So there's no way I can put that one on my favorites list.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I just found the 1958 half-hour theme of Naked City at Television Tunes .com Not nearly as good as the others. Would not have made my list. But I'd still love to see the shows.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Here in Chicago, MEtv has in house all the "Naked City"s, half-hours and hours; they're currently in light rotation late on Sunday nights.
    The half-hours starred John McIntire in the Barry Fitzgerald part, but he quit two-thirds of the way through the season, and the character was killed off on camera (unheard of in 1959). This was when Horace McMahon came in to replace him.
    The main difference between the half-hours and the hours was that the half-hours were more or less straightforward police shows, while the hours were in the "anthology-in-disguise" style that became favored in the '60s.

    I have a kind of "cheat sheet" at home: it's a book called "TV's Greatest Hits" by Jon Burlingame, a history of TV music from its beginnings through to the onset of the 21st century. It was here that I learned that the first "Thin Man" theme (the sweet one) was by old MGM hand Johnny Green, while the second one (the jazzy one) was by Pete Rugolo.

    I don't know if this book is still in print (probably not), but if you can find a copy, by all means get it; you'll learn lots of stuff you didn't know before.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I would have guessed Pete Rugolo on the jazzy one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A few other great themes -- "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Fugitive" (Pete Rugolo again), "Perry Mason," "The Adventures of Superman" (George Reeves version) and how about "The Mothers-in-Law," a mediocre sitcom from Desi Arnaz, with a great theme song! Tough to be objective here, because even the worst TV theme can still trigger happy childhood memories.

      Delete
  6. Of the ones you mentioned, the only one that came close to making my list is "The Fugitive". It just missed the cut.
    I'd prefer that you didn't steal my thunder, so I'd appreciate it if you waited until I finished my list, and then comment on it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I don't remember the theme for "The Practice" (I'll look it up on YouTube), but I do remember that the show was the first time I ever really enjoyed Danny Thomas; his character on "Make Room for Daddy" tended to irritate me, and besides, we had a family joke about the "Danny Thomas Orchestra" that apparently hid in one of his apartment's closets and performed only when Danny Williams played the family piano while singing and needed some accompaniment.

    I could never have guessed that he could be really, non-irritatingly funny until I saw "The Practice." You're right -- it died too early, and so did its creator, Steve Gordon, who I think wrote and directed the first "Arthur" movie.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The Danny Thomas Orchestra----pretty funny.

    ReplyDelete
  9. There's a chance you're qualified to receive a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

    ReplyDelete
  10. There's a chance you are eligible for a free Apple iPhone 7.

    ReplyDelete

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Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at macchus999@aol.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."