Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Extra Credits

My very last post, devoted to some of my favorite TV series opening credits, received a hearty welcome from guests and regular visitors to The Underworld, even though I really just tossed it in as filler until I could complete another of my typical posts. And many of you wanted some more where that came from, so here it is! As before, I apologize in advance if any pop-ups or other ads interfere with viewing.

One set of credits I can't believe I omitted from my favorites is this pulsating, funkalicious opening from The Rookies (1972-1976.) A great cast (love the way Kate Jackson looks here at left with Sam Melville), a savvy idea for a cop show and the sure-handed talent of Elmer Bernstein for its theme music add up to a winner. (BTW, I'd have almost bet my life that Quincy Jones wrote this music!) Oh, and who could forget that famous police academy in the opening moments, which would make another memorable appearance in a later Aaron Spelling show?!
Now The Rookies had a spin-off with its own awesome theme song; one that went on to hit status on the radio! That was S.W.A.T. (1975-1976.) Now don't let that short-looking run mislead you into thinking that the series wasn't a hit. It was. It ran for the early part of 1975, then came back that fall for another season, but was ultimately cancelled in a response to a backlash against increased TV violence.
Some TV themes I loved back in the day were not necessarily because of the music! I had no great love for the theme song from Cagney & Lacey (1981-1988), but I most certainly did for supporting player Martin Kove, whose credit in the show was shirtless! In those early (or for many of us pre-!) VCR days, we longed for that fleeting glimpse of the burly-looking hunk. It happens around the 0:37 mark if you're the impatient type...
(If you want a real shocker, check out this first season set of credits, from before Sharon Gless's hiring to replace crystalline-eyed Meg Foster, who herself had been a replacement for Loretta Swit after the pilot movie! This theme song is just agony to me, though I enjoy the time-capsule, oddball aspect of this practically unknown credit sequence.)
Another beefcakey intro I was sure never to miss was for Trapper John, M.D. (1979-1986.) I liked the bouncy, busy theme okay, but the real draw was the presence of cutie-pie Gregory Harrison who, at about 0:27, was shown finishing up and exiting from the shower! If you ever see the pilot episode for this series, make sure you watch for the scene this was culled from in which Pernell Roberts carries on a conversation with dripping wet and toweling Harrison. (For another show opening - with a wonderfully funky-jazzy theme song - that also paired an older and a younger doctor, click here!)
I really can't say I watched the show when it was on (and it didn't last long),but another skin-baring credits sequence came courtesy of Patrick Duffy's water-based action show Man from Atlantis (1977-1978.) Fans of his ought to enjoy this one greatly.
One more opening credits sequence with a nod to beefcake is the failed 1985 show Street Hawk, starring Rex Smith. George Clooney was the show creator's first choice for the lead, but that was vetoed by ABC. It's at about the 0:30 mark that Sexy Rexy is spotted in just some dark briefs. This music is so "porn-y" as to be unintentionally hilarious.
If you thought that last show seemed cheesy, check out this VERY obscure series that starred Desi Arnaz Jr. from 1983-1985. I can honestly say I have no memory or prior knowledge whatsoever of Automan.  I do recognize Chuck Wagner, the co-lead, because he originated the role of Rapunzel's Prince on Broadway in "Into the Woods" and that was the role I had when I did that show, 
Of course few shows can claim the camp/cheese satisfaction that the short-lived Manimal achieved in its brief 1983 run. The sadly-departed Simon MacCorkindale played a gentleman who could assume the form of a variety of animals, but the show was never able to form any significant fan base or ratings and so it swiftly disappeared, its title becoming a catchphrase for shoddy sci-fi.
I've mentioned it before here (I think in a post devoted to campiness), but since we're on this subject, I have to include the ever-hooty initial credits for The Six Million Dollar Man (1974-1978.) They were only used for a couple of instances, but thank God for them! The song is as hysterically funny as it is completely catchy and captivating with vocals by the immortal Dusty Springfield. I'm including the closing credits, too, because she keeps on going... It seems like there won't be a song as it begins, but wait for it... Wait for it...
As you all know, nothing for me beats a show with the guest stars announced during the opening credits. One of the shows mentioned in the comments from the previous post was Cannon (1971-1976), a detective series about the exploits of rotund William Conarad as the title character. My dream is to be inside one of those animated cannonballs!  LOL
Who among you, however, remembers this other Quinn Martin-produced show starring a humpy young Burt Reynolds? This cop show, Dan August (1970-1971) was before his movie career really took off with Deliverance (1972), aided by the publicity atom bomb of his semi-nude centerfold appearance in Cosmopolitan. I love the way he looks in this series, sans his trademark mustache.
One of the other fondly remembered themes people mentioned was for Here Come the Brides (1968-1970), which started as an instrumental only to have voices added to it for later episodes. Strange that neither Bobby Sherman, nor David Soul, both singers in their own right, had anything to do with the vocal version of the theme song. As a side note, I met Mark Lenard, who was the resident antagonist on this show, around 1987 and he couldn't have been nicer. (Fans of these three gents really need to click on the photo and view it in its larger splendor!)
The 1973-1976 detective show Harry O starred David Janssen, who'd earlier enjoyed terrific success with The Fugitive (1963-1967.) The first video below is from the early episodes of the series in which, to my delight, the guest stars are depicted. The second, more familiar, opening retools the music and visuals and (along about the time Susan Strasberg's name appears onscreen) we soon realize that guest stars are only to be named and not shown now...
Of course the aforementioned The Fugitive had its own memorable credit sequence in that revered Quinn Martin style. A lengthy prologue recaps the series' concept of a man ever on the run from the law, followed by glimpses of that week's guest stars. Stay tuned for a lovely looking Vera Miles in this one!
Many people fondly recall Mike Connors' hit show Mannix (1967-1975), shown first below, but how many of you recall his short-lived 1981-1982 show Today's F.B.I. (complete with lantern-jaw-serious Carol Potter, later of Beverly Hills 90210 fame?) I absolutely loved that show's theme music (available below Mannix) and would often tune in just for that and then depart before the series was over.
Long before Today's F.B.I. was the long-running series The F.B.I. (1965-1974) which wondrously included the announcer speaking all the names of the stars and guest stars (in this case the deliriously beautiful Jeffrey Hunter, a hysterically be-bowed Estelle Winwood and the always divine Dina Merrill.)
If you recall my #1 favorite TV theme of all time (from The Colbys), you might be interested to hear this one from another failed prime-time soap by the same composer, Bill Conti. Emerald Point NAS (1983-1984) has to count as a dress rehearsal, musically, for Conti's Colbys theme. But look at the attractive cast that was assembled here! (This one, annoyingly, wouldn't let me embed, so please click here to watch.)

And here we find Flamingo Road, a prime-time soap that limped along from 1980-1982 before cancellation. (NBC had quite a bit of difficulty launching a successful evening soap opera, but tried several times. This one was probably the one that stuck around the longest.)
In researching this round of credits, I had intended to dig up a show I watched pretty faithfully as a teen, thanks to its Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) sort of vibe (read: it was a rip-off!) Then I found out that its star was recently revealed to have been involved in sexual misconduct with underage girls over the course of several years! That was quite a shocker as I had always liked Stephen Collins. (And it gives heretofore sexy/mysterious head shots like this one a now-creepy vibe!) Despite this, I still want to share the opener because it's very well-edited and includes a precious little doggie sidekick and you know how I love dogs. Tales of the Gold Monkey ran from 1982-1983.
Of a similar vein, and running the same single season, was Bring 'Em Back Alive, starring Bruce Boxleitner. These sort of "take a moment and look into the camera" credits were/are so cheesy, but I love them!! The leading character of this series, Frank Buck, was a real man who collected animals for a living and wrote about his exploits in a book of the same title as the show. Despite his many exotic adventures, he was actually felled in 1950 by lung cancer. Mr. B. seems to be packing more than crates, though, in this publicity photo! I'm going to go out on a limb, so to speak, and guess that the real Buck didn't have some Daisy Duke-ish clad bimbo with him in the jungle, though......
My previous post ended with an eye-boggling Sid & Marty Krofft program and I'm going to do the same again. Though some of you cited H.R. Pufnstuf as a favorite, I'm going to dig deeper into obscurity than that. This lunatic Saturday morning show is probably unknown to many (most?) of you, but I had to serve it up because I love - I mean LOVE - the theme song. The Lost Saucer (1975-1976) starred Jim Nabors and Ruth Buzzi. I'm actually linking to an episode of the show because the clips of only the credits have an annoying announcer drowning out the groovy, Partridge Family-esque music and this is one time I don't welcome that. See if you like it enough to listen twice!  Till next time, my loves...


Dave in Alamitos Beach said...

Wow, where to start!? This was too much fun. Okay, I think the music to Mannix is definitely the best here. Almost to the level of Peter Gunn / Mission Impossible / Hawaii 5-0. It was the only one I listened to more than once (as opposed to watching the credits).

The music by Bill Conti to Emerald Point starts out suspiciously like his score to The Right Stuff, but since I love The Right Stuff, I'm okay with that. The cast to this show looks pretty promising too, I wonder why it didn't take?

I got a kick out of the two Indiana Jones ripoffs. Someone has to tell me ASAP whether the dog in the Stephen Collins one always wore an eyepatch. That's such a fun idea I bet the show lasted a couple of extra episodes just for that. I couldn't get the Bruce Boxleitner one to play the music but I certainly enjoyed looking at him. :-)

I vaguely recall that version of the Here Comes The Bride credits. At the time I suppose I liked Candy & Biddy the best, but as an adult, I would never look at anyone other than the oldest brother, Jason.

I recall seeing a minute or two of The Rookies but I think my parents wouldn't let me watch it. Even then I thought Michael Ontkean and Kate Jackson were gorgeous.

These credits all made me a bit melancholy for the secondary stars of these shows. Most of them have been forgotten on the slag heap of unsyndicated shows. I hope most of them found happiness outside of TV!

NotFelixUnger said...

Another great collection!

Martin Kove was the ONLY reason I watched Cagney and Lacey after Meg Foster was canned. That opening scene with him in it would just drive me nuts.

I don't know what Bruce Boxleitner is packing in his pants but I'd love to help him unpack it! Bring it back alive indeed.

Stephen Collins was a huge surprise (and disapointment) last week. I was a big Seventh Heaven fan and will never be able to watch the show again without thinking of his crimes.

I loved Flamingo Road. Even at that age I would have loved to be between John Beck and Mark Harmon. They the two slices of bread and me the meat filling in the sandwich!

Finally, I L-O-V-E the lost saucer. The opening, the music, the premise, the characters and Ruth and Jim. A couple of years ago I wrote to Ms. Buzzi a long detailed fan letter. She was kind enough to reply. In her opinion, The Lost Saucer was one of the best times she has ever had. and she and Mr. Neighbors are still good friends to this day and go to the Indi together or meet there every year. It made me so happy to read that. I don't know why, but watching The Lost Saucer on Satuday mornings will be one of those great, happy memories from my childhood I will always have.

By the way, is it just my faulty memory or is another opening for a show that had a guy in the shower Barney Miller? I seem to recall watching the opening just to see Max Gail in the shower. Am I wrong? Max Gail is another one I had a wild crush on.

Thanks for another great read, and view, and listen.

Poseidon3 said...

Dave, I just came home and tried the "Bring 'Em Back Alive" opening on my pc and the sound worked fine. I'm sorry you had trouble with that one. The music is great (perhaps try the option of watching in on youtube.com, by clicking that icon on the video?)

I used to watch "Brides" after school in reruns, I think around 4:00. I had a thing for Bridget O'Hanley's hair. Ha! I never saw "The Rookies" except a few times in syndication, but later caught some eps when TVLand was playing good shows. I always marvel that Michael and Kate later played spouses in "Making Love" in which he left her for Harry Hamlin!

As for Leo the Dog (whose character was named "Jack"), I don't believe he only had one eye in real life - though I don't know - but it was a running thing on the show. Collins had lost his bejeweled prosthetic eye in a card game and Jack knew it! LOL Jack would also answer yes or no with his barking. Such a CUTIE!!

NotFelix... SCREAMING about "Bring it back alive!" Hilarious... I think Melissa Gilbert probably wounded it pretty good. LOL

That is so awesome about the wonderful Ruth Buzzi and her correspondence with you. Thanks for sharing! I'm sure she and Jim had a ball together. I can never fathom how and why she seemed to just totally disappear off the radar when she was such a rubber-faced comedienne!

Thanks a lot! Of to look for Max Gail, although I think I did thatonce before to no avail a few years ago!

Knuckles Girlyskirt said...

Yikes!!! I forgot all about "The Lost Saucer" I used to watch it as a child (Oops! that dates me, doesn't it?) And I LOVE its fabulous 70s intro! Thanks for the amazing flashback!

And while on the subject of Krofft TV shows, another one I used to watch with an AMAZING intro is "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl", starring Deidre Hall.

Anonymous said...

I loved the Cagney and Lacey intro with Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless. I missed the shows with Meg Foster.

NotFelixUnger said...

I too have had no luck in the past searching for that intro with him in it. If I remember correctly he was really balding at that point so the camera had a shot of him in the shower from waist to forehead only. Even then I remembered thinking, "Hmm, he doesn't want the baldness showing."

Still, I did find this gem. Here's a clip of Max Gail shirtless from "The Streets of San Francisco" (season 1, I think)in all his beefy glory.


And many thanks to Knuckles for reminding me of Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. I already saved a few clips of them I'll be watching later with a shot of scotch.

Dave in Alamitos Beach said...

Hmm, that link didn't take me to Max Gail but rather a (very welcome) shirtless scene of Gil Gerard was it? In Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon or something.

And I can't find Max Gail shirtless in the opening credits but here he is without a shirt (and without a toupee):


NotFelixUnger said...

Thank you Dave. The back shots are amazing in that one. Also, apologies to all. In my excitement I got my Gails and Gills mixed up.

That's what I get for stopping to browse the wares as it were. :-)

joel65913 said...

Another collection so soon, you're so good to us Poseidon!

Kate Jackson does look great in that first pic and Sam Melville don't look bad either. It was a nice surprise when he showed up as her ex on Scarecrow & Mrs. King later. A shame though that he died so young from a bum ticker.

I was never much of a Cagney & Lacey fan although I like both actresses but I can see why they replaced Meg Foster, another very good actress with Sharon Gless. She and Tyne Daly have a similar energy making the ying and yang of the buddy dymanic out of whack. Also you're so right about that first season intro music, it's dreadful.

I do clearly remember that Trapper John opening credit sequence! I was a faithful viewer anyway but Gregory Harrison was just so good looking, talk about someone who's aged well!, and that shower scene was a perfect choice to include. I always thought Charlie Siebert was attractive too in a more everyman sort of way.

I have no memory whatsoever of Street Hawk but that music and the whole opening credits contain some of the worst elements of ersatz 80's music and TV. What a shock at the end of the credits to see Joe Regalbuto, Frank Fontana himself, as the dorky lab tech. I noticed that once the credits were done there was an episode with George Clooney from the show so I tried watching it, Yikes!! Rex looks good in those briefs but the show was dreadful and that porntastic music continued though the entire opening scene.

That Cannon opening is very cool, I chuckled about your desire to be in one of the cannonballs. I'd love to see that episode since I like Belinda J. Montgomery and always loved Sheree North. I remember when Joan Fontaine was a guest star and it was hugely advertised. She had retired temporarily and it was the first thing she had done in almost a decade.

I have vague memories of Dan August, my folks watched it during its brief run. I recall it being pretty good as detective shows go, something along the lines of Mannix.

One show that didn't get mentioned and is really quite different from most of these show but had such a be-bopy and fitting opening credit sequence was Gidget. It was so colorful and bouncy with the many faces of Sally Field it really set the tone for that fluffy bit of nonsense.

Highly enjoyable Poseidon! Thanks for the double dose.

joel65913 said...

I just watched that clip that Dave posted of Max Gail. Wow! He's almost wearing clothes! I don't recall him being either that beefy or well built and with him, Caroline McWilliams and Matthew Labyorteaux all in one show it's a regular 80's guest star round-up!