Saturday, August 14, 2010

One of my favorite old TV theme songs

Last week I went on my "bring back TV openings" rant. Thanks to so many of you who posted your favorites. It occurred to me that many of my readers may not have heard of some of these shows if they were from the 50s and 60s. So I thought throughout the day tomorrow I'd share some of my favorites (and not-so-favorites). Enjoy them again or for the first time.

As a tease, this is THE AVENGERS from 1965. It was a British spy series with a real style. A lot more tomorrow.

25 comments:

Emmett Flatus said...

Emma Peel...or M. Appeal.

Yummy either way.

Simon H. said...

I hope the theme to "The Green Hornet" is on the list. Al Hirt's jazzy trumpet rendition of "Flight of the Bumblebee" is probably one of the greatest TV themes EVER!

Gary said...

While Lady Di certainly has the appeal, the theme sucks.

Graham Powell said...

I used to haul ass home from work every day so I could catch THE AVENGERS on A&E. What a great show.

Michael in Vancouver said...

Speaking of great TV theme songs, do you remember "Karen" and its theme by the Beach Boys?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKflH0TC8sw

Matt Patton said...

My mom discovered this show in the spring of 1968, and I remember looking forward to Wednesday nights at eight (when I would normally be in bed). I had something of a crush on Diana Rigg because she looked a lot like the mother of a girl I went to school with, whom I also had something of a crush on. And unlike a lot of people, I also liked Linda Thorson, who replaced Rigg.

Anonymous said...

Everyone forgets, and they were not put on the DVD collection (shame on you, BBC and A&E) that there was a lead-in to the theme that explained the premise of the show and had some great music of it's own. Everyone who watched the show has to remember our guys were a top professional and a talented amateur!
-Marv W

Wavedeform said...

My favorite theme of all time. I was in a band that did a fuzztone guitar version of The Avengers theme (which worked surprisingly well.) And Diana Rigg? Mmmm...

Anonymous said...

I don't see a contact email so I'm leaving this here, hopefully you won't mind.

I created a video you may enjoy and may even want to share with your readers. I asked New Yorkers to read from Amanda Bynes' twitter and filmed their reactions, enjoy :)

http://www.vimeo.com/13381452

-Yetta

Max Clarke said...

Another gem from a golden age.

Diana Rigg was quite hot, beautiful and bright. She is also the only actress to take a movie away from James Bond. That was "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," with George Lazenby as 007. He was more Clark Kent than James Bond.

My all-time tv theme favorite that I still listen to as an iPod song: Peter Gunn.

D. McEwan said...

"Gary said...
While Lady Di certainly has the appeal, the theme sucks."


The hell it does! That was GREAT theme music.

Marv W said...
Everyone forgets, and they were not put on the DVD collection (shame on you, BBC and A&E) that there was a lead-in to the theme that explained the premise of the show and had some great music of it's own. Everyone who watched the show has to remember our guys were a top professional and a talented amateur!"


Also wrong. I have the boxed DVD collection of every Diana Rigg episode (Doesn't everyone? How does one live without Steed and Mrs. Peel in your home?), and that explanatory bumper is on the extras disc.

Further, that bumper "explanation" ONLY aired in America, put there for the poor dumb clucks - us - who didn't understand the rather-nebulous premise of The Avengers. (At times they were British spies. Other times they just investigated non-political murders. Their employing agency was never too clearly defined. And they lived in an England without poor people or black people. There's an episode set in a fantasy version of Africa, where there are black people, and they are white actors in negro make-up. Really!) That bumper was never a part of the original British broadcasts, which is why it's only a DVD extra. And they dropped it even here, after the series went to color.

I LOVE The Avengers! When I was a teenager, all I wanted was to grow up to be John Steed, and dress like him, and walk about being charming and unflappable and stylish and witty, never bothered by anything, not even someone trying to kill me.

Meeting Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg (Separately) was a great joy. How I love them.

D. McEwan said...

Oh and Gary,it's Dame Diana, not Lady Diana. It happened that on the very day her Damehood was announced (May 29,1994), I was with her in New York, speaking to her after seeing her onstage playing the title role in Medea.

te said...

Well, I wasn't with her anywhere, but I did see her play Martha, opposite David Suchet, in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," in London, directed by Edward Albee.

The Dame can act.

Tom Quigley said...

The British seemed to be much more hip back in the '60's when it came to things like TV themes (and TV premises for that matter)... Maybe it was the influence of the Beatles and the pop music scene there at the time... Could any director working in the US have created a film like A HARD DAY'S NIGHT in 1964?... No, we were still stuck with Frankie and Annette frugging and hully-gullying on the beach...

Never personally met or saw either Patrick MacNee or Dame Diana (sadly) but I do remember MacNee doing a hilarious turn in a FRASIER episode... I also remember him as the young Jacob Marley in the 1950 Alastair Sim version of "A Christmas Carol"...

As for Ms. Rigg, she got far too little exposure on American TV, and as a result, is one of the most under-appreciated British actors in the last half-century -- at least in this country -- not to mention her sex appeal was through the roof...

Tom K Mason said...

Laurie Johnson did the theme music and the incidental music as well. Also did the music for Dr. Strangelove. Great stuff.

D. McEwan said...

" te said...
Well, I wasn't with her anywhere, but I did see her play Martha, opposite David Suchet, in 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf,' in London, directed by Edward Albee.

The Dame can act."


That she can (hence the Damehood). I saw her onstage in Medea, and in Abelard & Heloise, and she is magnificent. (And in the latter, she had a fully-nude scene. It was 1971 or 1972, so she was at her Bond Girl age. Envying me may commence now.) And I'd love to have seen her in Virginia Woolfe.

@Tom Mason, I agree completely on Laurie Johnson's music.

" Tom Quigley said...
The British seemed to be much more hip back in the '60's when it came to things like TV themes (and TV premises for that matter)"


I have a theory on that: maybe they were much more hip than we were back then.

gottacook said...

The opening sequence of the color Rigg/Macnee episodes is even better, with identical music. For the unfortunate final "Thorson phase" of the series, a little countermelody sneaks into the second phrase of the theme, which in my view was quite superfluous - but was nonetheless fitting, given that the character of "Mother" was added equally superfluously. I aspire to own all the Rigg episodes one day. (Also, I never learned until about 1995 that Laurie Johnson isn't a woman.)

D. McEwan said...

" gottacook said...
I aspire to own all the Rigg episodes one day."


They're available in a lovely boxed set, 17-discs, from BBC America & A&E. "The Emma Peel Mega-Set."

In the episode for Christmas 1964, just as Goldfinger was released, Steed and Mrs. Peel are opening Christmas cards. Steed gets one from "Cathy Gale" ( Honor Blackman). Steed looks at it and says: "Whatever can she be doing at Fort Knox?"

thomas tucker said...

And The Saint theme song was boffo!

Gary Farber said...

Lady Diana Rigg turned 72 on July 20th, but see if this doesn't knock your socks off, Ken.

RCP said...

The Avengers is one of my all-time favorite shows. Steed and Peel were so cool and clever. I especially appreciated it that Emma Peel wasn't a cloying decoration who had to be rescued - she beat the crap out of the villains! I actually wept when Peel's character left the show, with her lovely backward and bittersweet glance at Steed and her life of the past few years. I own the A&E videotape collection, and will upgrade to the DVDs.

Love the theme - and prefer the "in colour" opening.

Anonymous said...

Done in the Henry Mancini style of the day. It's no wonder you also like Mr. Lucky.

D. McEwan said...

Hey Gary Farber, that video was delicious! Thanks!

Paul Duca said...

Agreed....there is nothing like a dame--Dame Diana Rigg, that is.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for The Avengers/Kinks video link. Absolutely awesome!