I don’t think that I’ve ever achieved quite this level of geekdom happiness before. As I mentioned here once before, Johnny Sokko and his Giant Robot was one of my favourite childhood TV shows. Thanks to the magic of DVD technology I now own the entire series. Twenty six episodes of cheesy sci-fi goodness, plus the feature-length movie. I need to go regress to the level of a 6-year-old now (albeit with beer) so I’ll be stepping offline in a moment, and may be gone for some time. Stand by for a review.
Category Archives: 1960s
Good day, friends, my apologies for being away so long, but a combination of too much work and too little downtime has kept me away for a little while. Nevertheless, I have been planning this post for a while (which was inspired by our good freind Pie), and I thought now’s as good a time as any.
Before I begin, I will point out that this is my list, and is not intended to be definitive – in fact, I’d love to hear other people’s ideas for top TV themes. Having thus hopefully de-fanned the fires of a possible flame war, and set the stage for collegial and fun discussion, let’s now get to the list, in no particular order other than starting with the best cartoon themes ever:
1.) Underdog (1964)
I wanted to start with this for one reason, and one reason only (besides the fact that it is awesome): to get the admission out of the way that this theme scared the bejeezus out of me when I was a kid. As with many things, I had to be an adult to truly appreciate it.
2) Spider-Man (1967)
What more can I say about this one – everyone knows and loves Spidey, doing whatever a spider pig does can:
Acyually, I can say one more thing: note that when Spidey looks out the window onto the street, he looks at the front of the store which is selling “Fine Jewlery”; when he swings down, the sign says “Fine Jewelry”. A side effect of having animation done in Canada?
3) I Spy (1965)
As I mentioned in my post on Robert Culp, this one is a no-brainer:
4) Peter Gunn (1958)
Ok, technically, this one isn’t from the 1960’s; on the other hand, the show lasted into the early years of that decade. No matter: private eye + Henri Mancini = EPIC:
5) Doctor Who (1963)
This video mixes all versions of the very disctinctive Ron Granier theme up to the David Tennant version:
I particularly like the Tom Baker and Tennant versions. For comparison, this is the new version from the new Season 5, with Matt Smith as the new Doctor:
6) Batman (1966)
Ok, you all know this one, right? I can’t think of this one without thinking of my neighbor’s son, who used to sing this with great gusto, except he used the phrase “That Man” – slightly more generic version, but cool nontheless. This is the longer version rather than the one featured on the series, accompanied by some additional music:
7) Danger Man (1964)
No, not “Secret Agent Man” – that sucked. This is the original British version of the theme song from Danger Man, along with some interesting bits from an episode. I gotta say – love the harpsichord!!:
8 ) The Prisoner (1968)
Both our second Patrick McGoohan-related and Ron Granier composed theme (and yes, it should have been Number 6):
9) The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1964)
The Season 1 version is by far my favorite, but I do like the Season 2 version as well – Seasons 3 and 4 seem to be leeching off Batman a little too much for my tastes:
10) Land of the Giants (Season 2 – 1969)
The themes from the only two seasons of Land of the Giants are quite different (as readers will know from an earlier post of mine), but I have to say I prefer the Season 2 theme, written, as were many of Irwin Allen’s themes, by Johnny Williams, who later would compose the theme for “Jaws” and “Star Wars”, among other well-known iconic musical themes. Enjoy!
Well, that’s it for the moment – let’s hear your ideas for the next 10, or for the themes from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and beyond!
On occasion, Flash and I discuss the TV shows of our youth and I always bring up the show Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot , the stirring tale of a young Japanese boy and , well, his flying robot, about which all information can be found here . Sadly, neither Flash nor any others in the room can remember ever seeing this fine example of early Japanese television. In fact, when I bring it up people tend to look askance and shake their heads in pity, as if I had commented on memories of mermaids in Shepody Bay, or manticores living in the woods behind my house. This always saddens me, as it was required Saturday morning viewing when I was a young boy in Dorchester NB. Actually, anything that provided a distraction from life in Dorchester NB was required viewing. Exciting the place was not, but that’s neither here nor there at the moment. What is here and there is the now available on demand DVD set of the complete series . I can now prove to everyone that my memories of this show are not just the delusional memories of a misspent and opium addled youth. Now, if I can just get over the Thunderbirds fixation.
So, recently, I’ve been taking advantage of the wondrous interwebs and watching episodes of the sole Irwin Allen production I was unable to see as a kid, Land of the Giants.
The story, in true pseudo-scientific Irwin Allen style, concerns the crew and passengers of the Spindrift, a sub-orbital flight on its way from Los Angeles to London, in the far-off future of 1983. The ship is pulled toward a giant glowing tennis ball a spatial anomaly and transported through a warp to another unnamed world where everything is approximately 12 times the size it is on Earth.
The crew, Captain Steve Burton (Gary Conway), co-pilot Dan Erickson (Don Marshall) and flight attendant Betty Ann Hamilton (Heather Young), try to survive alongside orphan Barry Lockridge (Stefan Arngrim) and his dog Chipper, socialite Valerie Scott (Deanna Lund) , wealthy engineer Mark Wilson (Don Matheson), and Alexander Fitzhugh (Kurt Kasnar), who originally professed to be a naval commander, but was revealed very quickly to be a bank robber on the run from authorities with a suitcase containing $1 million. Fitzhugh, as was common in ensemble television, was the cowardly character that occasionally had unwilling or accidental bouts of near-heroism, which made him quite similar in theme and role in the party to Jonathan Harris in his protrayal of Dr. Zachary Smith in another Allen hit, Lost in Space.
The “Little People”, as they were referred to by the giant inhabitants of the mystery planet, struggled to survive long enough to repair the Spindrift and, with luck, make it home*. Their survival is complicated by the fact that they are on the run from the authoritarian government of this new world, as well as from mad scientists, circus owners, and lonely children – some but not all of whom are interested in the substantial reward offered for the capture of the earth people. They also encounter other earth people who have crashed on the planet before them, with varying results. The Giants,as they are called (although, to be fair, this is their planet – you guys are the ones who are a little out of proportion here) know of, or have a least heard of Earth, but are unable to travel there, for reasons that remained unclear. What is clear, however, is that Giant technology is about 20 years behind that of the Earth folk, so part of the challenge of the Spindrift crew isto avoid their technology falling into the wrong hands.
I wasn’t really sure what I’d make of this program – I’d wanted to see it for as long as I can remember, and was quite concerned I’d be let down when I finally did. Mind you, I had no problems enjoying the fantastic and often quite wild adventures I’d seen on Allen’s other three 60s sci-fi classics: Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. I sat down to watch, with all the positive feeling I could muster.
And you know what? I love this show. Imaginative, crazy, and so completely 1960s, with great characters and quite franlky exceptional special effects – this is a close second to my favorite Allen series, The Time Tunnel in my childlike heart, and then only because I find time travel, even ludicriusly presented, to be a more interesting science fiction concept. I’m more than halfway through Season 1, and still have Season 2 of LOTG ahead of me, and I can’t wait!
For a little video treat, here’s a promo from Australian television:
And, last but not least, an excellent 40th anniversary tribute from YouTube:
* Spoiler: Unfortunately, not by the time the series was cancelled, although a ‘return’ movie has been in the planning stages on and off. We wish them well.
Pernell Roberts, who played eldest son Adam Cartwright on Bonanza, died Sunday of pancreatic cancer. He was predeceased by his television brothers, Hoss (Dan Blocker), Little Joe (Michael Landon) and Pa Cartwight (Lorne Greene).
Although not a fan of westerns in general, and having missed watching his other major starring role, Trapper John, M.D., I was still always impressed at the seriousness and believability of his characters. In fact, I was watching an episode of Mission: Impossible on the weekend, and there he was, guest-starring as a greedy mercenary in Africa. Good stuff, as always.
Well, here it is, for no other reason that I was thinking about it – the proof that Ralph Bakshi was a cheap bastard in the ’60s…
First, here’s part of the Rocket Robin Hood adventure, “Dementia Five”:
Next, the Spider-Man episode, “Revolt in the Fifth Dimension”:
Any questions? Enjoy the nightmares…
I found this while trolling on YouTube – it is, in my opinion, the best version of what is already a fantastic song, never mind a phenomenal theme song for a television series. I’ve already put this on my MP3, and have listened to it many times since. Turn up your speakers, and… Enjoy!!