What’s on TV?

Listening to All Things Considered today (yes we all listen to other stations!) and hearing a story about great TV theme music and the upcoming Emmys, reminds me of a love suppressed for many years: I loved and love music written for television. As a child of the 50s and 60s how could I not? Of course my favorites corresponded to my pre-geek adulthood: Mission Impossible, The Man From Uncle, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Wild, Wild West, I Spy…. And later: Twin Peaks, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos,…this music is embedded in me as much as Beethoven and Mahler.

The best of this music is really good. Why? Well it supports the look, feel and attitude of the show. Just as Mozart created a musical world to support Beaumarchais’ play about class and privilege, a TV composer creates the musical analog to the work done by the writers, actors and director. And the way it can enter the pop culture is remarkable. Anyone who wants to conjure up a world of ironic confusion has only to hum the first few bars of The Twilight Zone.

These days I don’t watch much episodic television. And the credits these days are very short, the editing is tighter and the music is, to my ears, less memorable. So I’m engaged in some Old Fart internet searches. The first TV theme I remember was a CBS historical docudrama from 1963. Score by Richard Rodgers! Thank you YouTube for my latest earworm:

1963, probably pre-assassination. It reeks with optimism. And if you look at the credits, it’s a who’s who of black American acting royalty. Wow. On TV, 1963!

In the second year of the original Star Trek series I went on my first trip to Europe with my parents. We spent the summer in Vienna with my aunt. I wish I had appreciated more fully the gift of being there, going to the opera, museums, and parks, not only as a tourist but with my family who lived there. One thing I do remember was watching Austrian TV. There was a German sci-fi show, Raumpatrouille. Space Patrol. I don’t think I was successful in convincing others who watched that this was way inferior to Star Trek. But I thought the theme music was terrific! Here is the pilot episode.

It’s a good thing that we’re evolving into beings that don’t require oxygen. There is such a cool 60’s vibe about the music. And a Europop quality. I thought I might be a bit crazy to even know about this show but on the Youtubes there is even a suite from the main theme and underscoring:

So somehow this little musical item will have a life beyond a forgettable (I think?) German TV series. But I’m always suspicious of “suites” that try to get 16 minute of music out of 2. So if you want a really fun version of the theme, sit back and enjoy this bizarre and wonderful take:

Now – did Richard Rodgers write underscoring music for The Great Adventure and might a suite be put together?

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