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Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Top Ten. Unveiling #'s 10 Through 6.

Okay folks, here we go.
Numbers ten through six,
Next time we'll do Five through One, and we'll be finished.
And then you can berate me for all the ones I've left out.

Drumroll please:

#10. "M Squad"

Count Basie's contribution to TV Themery. And was it exciting.
It made this fourteen year old want to be a cop and chase bad guys,
just like Lee Marvin did. I subsequently grew out of it.

#9. "Mike Hammer"

No, not the remake with Stacy Keach. The original, with Darren Mcgavin.
The show was very similar to M Squad in style and pace.
But the music was it's own animal.
It was kind of a knockoff of "Harlem Nocturne" which I thought
was an improvement on it.
You could just picture some down-on-his-luck trumpet
player keeping his neighbors awake in his third floor one-room flat, at two in the morning, wailing away on the theme.
When it was revived with Stacey Keach, they actually used a very on-the-nose
version of "Harlem Nocturne" that was completely devoid of character and style.

#8. "Victory At Sea"

Richard Rodgers' glorious, virtually symphonic capturing of naval battles in
World War 2. There may have been better documentaries about World War 2, but none of them came close to matching the music.
One of the themes went on to be a song used in one of Rodgers musicals,
"Me and Juliet" as "No Other Love Have I"
Perry Como had a hit record with it.

#7. "Rawhide"

A great song, performed by one of the greats, Frankie Laine.
I suppose it was a second cousin to "Mule Train", but if that's the worst thing you can say, there are still no visible flies on it.

#6. "The Jeffersons"

From Norman Lear, the same man who gave us the theme for Maude, arguably the
worst theme of all time, was one of the best.
They recreated Sunday morning going-to-church gospel, and it was rousing and catchy, and almost made me want to watch the show.
But not quite.
But don't blame that on the theme.
Blame it on the godawful writing, acting, and loudness in general.

The Top Five, next time.


My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
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And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.



  1. I read this yesterday, went home, and hit the books.

    - Back in tne early days of filmed TV, series weren't scored musically, but "tracked" - A music library (sometimes outside, sometimes in-house) would provide various themes, stings, bits and pieces, which would be tracked onto the film where appropriate.
    In the '50s, MCA, which called its TV operation Revue, had a contract composer named Dave Kahn, who would compose libraries of music themes and cues for their film series.
    "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer" was one of them.
    Dave Kahn's theme, titled "Riff Blues", is the number you cited.
    The similarity to "Harlem Nocturne" was not a coincidence; Mickey Spillane had always said that it was his personal favorite piece of music, so Kahn gave him something as close as he could, short of outright copying.
    Years later, on the Stacy Keach version, Earle Hagen, who was "Harlem Nocturne"'s actual composer, was engaged to do that show's music, principally to get the rights to do "HN" as the theme.
    Dave Kahn did most of the music on MCA's '50s shows, never recieving credit on screen. (He was also responsible for all the music you heard over and over again on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", including the arrangement of Gounod's "Funeral March".)

    - Originally, "Rawhide" was supposed to have a straight instrumental theme, but CBS decided they wanted a song to compete with all the Warner Bros. westerns on ABC.
    CBS engaged Dmitri Tiomkin to compose, and Ned Washington to write the lyrics; they'd had success a few years before with another western ballad - "High Noon".
    Frankie Laine, under contract to Columbia Records, was part of the package. The single record and the TV series were released almost simultaneously.
    Result: instant hit in both directions.
    The odd part was, nobody expected "Rawhide" the series to be any kind of success; it was a midyear replacement, it had no stars (Clint Eastwood wouldn't hit big until he started making spaghetti westerns in the '60s), and in 1959 everybody was sick of westerns anyway.
    The conventional wisdom was that the song made the show; I think that's still the CW today.

    As usual, much of the above was cribbed from Jon Burlingame's book, referenced before.

  2. Thanks, Mr. Doran, for the info on Dave Kahn.

    I'd never heard of him, but earlier this year I bought the complete McGavin Hammer show on DVD (Barnes & Noble had it on sale), and I'd wondered who did the theme. There's no composer credit.

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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 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."