Tag Archives: 24

Clash of the Titles

So long Lost, FlashForward fizzled out and time’s been called on 24, great shows that will be long remembered, but for me there was always one thing missing, and much of TV these days, a title sequence.

These were the things that used to make a show truly great, not only would you be humming the theme tune (or if you were like me, recording onto a Dixons tape recorder directly from the TV), but it would generally feature the best bits of the series (that you would always be looking out for in the show), or even if it was a terrible episode you always had the joy of the title sequence.

The Incredible Hulk

There’s that great hurried piano, Bill Bixby in that rotating chair and a fantastically serious voiceover establishing the premise. For all the shots of Lou Ferrigno bursting though things the three things that stick in your mind are the moment where David Banner’s eye goes green, where Banner warns “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” and the split screen moment at the end where The Hulk and Banner’s face share the screen at the same moment, after he has visited his own grave in a rather fetching jacket.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOXpKUu6pUg&feature=PlayList&p=D3C68DE1FD1BA409&playnext_from=PL&playnext=1&index=10

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

After Battlestar Galactica had its space rug pulled from under it, Glen A Larson returned with more space tom foolery. Again, we have Mr Voiceover man doing a marvellous job as we see Buck (Gil Gerrard) blasting into space on the final manned space shuttle flight in 1987 before he is frozen in time and awakes in the 25th Century (2491 to be precise). The stand out moment for me was when Buck spins away from the camera through a time tunnel of sorts, something which could have been quite at home in the Quantum Leap titles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBcaTXNLYQw

The A-Team

One of the finest uses of voiceover magic. Of course, due to sustained Saturday tea time viewing we all know the drill, that in 1972 a crack-commando was sent to a maximum security stockade for a crime they did not commit… For me the standout moments were always those bullets searing into The A Team logo and generally just seeing cars and bodies fly through the air. Perhaps my favourite moment, and certainly my first post-modern one, before I even knew what the word meant, was Dirk Benedict’s double take as he sees a Cylon pass him by from Battlestar Galactica, he being the original Starbuck in that programme of course.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIfuaUTH9Y4

Danger Mouse

Cripes, as Penfold might exclaim, a rousing score and fantastic lyrics that we all sang along to every week…and most of us probably made the bomb exploding noise at the end as well. Witty, eccentric and totally British, this was spot on and strangely bonkers kids TV and is hard to believe that this is from the same folk who brought us Cockleshell Bay!

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-h25RmS9-Y

The Return of the Saint

For me the music on the title sequence on this show was just something else, and I loved the way that the stick figure emblem of The Saint was the hero of the piece, jumping off bridges, smashing through windows with chairs, getting involved a in some fisticuffs and even getting the girl at the end. It was perfectly tongue in cheek, not to mention probably the only way they could go with the titles after Roger Moore had become so synonymous with the role, but of course was now globetrotting with his Walther PPK. Love it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USoH1iDvK_8

The Equaliser

The dark and moody streets of 80s New York were perfectly captured. Memorable moments include the lone woman on the underground station, the woman stuck in the lift with a man and that poor bloke trying to dial 911 when a car screeches behind him. Interestingly, unlike most of US TV at the time, the titles weren’t made from elements that were set to appear in the series but were specially filmed, complete with Woodward stood next to his jag in billowing dry ice that would put Top of the Pops to shame. The Stewart Copeland score is still awesome (even though it sounds exactly like the music he produced for both Wall Street and See No Evil, Hear No Evil) and yes, is even my Dad’s mobile ringtone, seriously, which we always hear when anyone gives him a (Robert) McCall.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uB1NiNKwueE

Blake’s 7

Sometimes the simple ideas are the best, and this programmes titles with that great music and not a lot of money thrown at it was an understated brilliance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnautWFuEnQ

Thunderbirds

We all counted down with Mr Voiceover Man and spotting our favourite Thunderbird vehicle, mine was Thunderbird 2 for the record. .Embarrassing fact: when near the end, where a power plant is destroyed by explosions, filmed in supermarionation, is emblazed across the screen. I used to think that this is where the programme was filmed when I was little.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u9HV_8Sh1U

Magnum P.I.

Mike Post and Pete Carpenter were the Dons of 80’s American TV titles scoring and Magnum P.I. is one of the best, even though it wasn’t the original score and somehow has found its way onto some make-up ad – huh? Images wise, you’ve got to love him wheel spinning that Ferrari off the grass, those brilliant helicopter shots and everybody, just everybody who has ever watched it has tried that over the shoulder double eyebrow raise in the mirror that cropped up at the end. Hawaiian shirts and moustaches have never looked so great.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CquMO3vJvo

The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest

Little Jonny Quest, think an American Tin Tin, got a revamp in the mid 90s which saw a fantastically bombastic intro and title score and is just pure exhilaration that starts with a sweeping radar and unleashes scenes of mayhem and adventure that really set you up for what is to come. The title score is amazing and would look at home on any live action TV show or even feature film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFccIOABuRE

V have ways of making you watch

Just as David Tennant became Matt Smith, the Sci-Fi Channel has caught up with its American cousin and regenerated into Syfy.

To celebrate this change of name the Channel has spoilt us with the remake of 80s classic V, you know the one where giant spaceships hanging over cities were made cool years before ID4, where Robert Englund was more friendly than Freddy, Jane Badler added inches to her thighs by devouring mice and Marc ‘Beastmaster’ Singer wore gloves a lot when getting into scraps. Essentially Dynasty meets the A-Team the mini series were a massive hit but the series sucked. It’s a new century and a different television and actual world so is this new invasion a success?

For me its a resounding V for victory on the basis of the first two episodes which now owe more to 24 and The X-Files with a sprinkle of Flash Forward for good measure, with a stellar cast of genre faves from Lost and Serenity added into the mix.

The programme gets your attention straight away, not by invading motherships, whose arrival is cleverly suggested and ominously hinted at through refracted window reflections, but with the opening captions that ask if you remember where you were when JFK was assassinated, remember where you were on 9/11 and that you’ll remember were you were today…when the Visitors arrive.

Powerful stuff and it underpins just how much US TV has been affected by the events of 9/11, its ripple still felt in drama almost a decade later – you only have to look at Lost, Flash Forward, Galactica and Fringe – to see its continuing impact in one way or another and V continues that.

Not only do we found ourselves in a world where not everyone is as they seem or who you can trust but it is also a world where  the Visitors have been here for years, infiltrating our businesses, government, religion and military, their goal to cause widespread instability through unnecessary wars (sound familiar) and economic meltdown. It’s these deft attentions to detail that make this world and possibility all the more believable and is one of the shows strongest plus points and permeates the entire programme with a sense of unease..

Now, in a world when we need them most, they have decided to reveal themselves as they quite literally circle us like vultures do their prey. Like the original we, the viewer, discover the Visitors greatest secret, that they are reptilians in disguise. This creates one of the opening episodes stand out moments and even though it is an idea replicated from the original it is still very effective in its delivery.

The programme also retains many of the Nazi Germany parallels that the original had, this time with Hitler Youth undertones,luring in the lead characters son, and the controlling of all propaganda so they can not be seen in a negative light.

Excellent additions that help add extra dimensions include a distrusting priest who now has a full church thanks to the fear the new visitors have brought and although the Vatican has explained the appearance away that we are all God’s creatures, even aliens, the priest asserts he still wouldn’t trust a rattlesnake.

My other favourite addition is one of the Visitor’s weapons, a flying ball of sorts that is part smart bullet from Tom Selleck fave, Runaway, and the flying sphere from Phantasm. It’s deadly but more importantly it’s also exciting to watch. It’s been used twice in two episodes so to remain effective they’ll hopefully use it sparingly to keep its menace.

With The X-Files, Fox Mulder’s mantra was ‘Trust No One’, now with the advent of V, FBI agent Erica Evans’ is an equally justifiably paranoid. ‘Anyone could be a visitor.’ And that is the beauty of this show, the guessing who we can and can’t trust as we join the gathering resistance on their journey. On one level it may be about an alien invasion but on another it is about who we can and can’t trust. The one thing that is certain is that as the story unfolds and we get to know the main characters, wisely concentrating on a smaller group than seen in the original, there are bound to be a few stings in these lizard’s tails.

 Two episodes in and I’m hooked and I only hope the pace of revelations continues and we don’t get bogged down in the mid-season like many shows do. As long as it keeps dishing out those twists and those surprises then I am there…watching the skies.

Hopefully we’ll get to see the visiting lizards in all green glory towards the end of the season, just a glimpse of them all worshipping or something but not too much to spoil, that would certainly bring me back for season two. Talking of which, one can’t help but wonder what David Icke makes of it all, after all he did once pronounce both the Queen Mother and Burt Bacharach as giant green lizards in disguise!

4/5