There was a form of TV show that, from an early age, accompanied my Saturday afternoon escapades chasing criminals through the living room, out into the garden and through into the field. Whether a shoot out in the bank (the chicken run) or defending a village under siege from evil gangsters (the camp we made in the hedge down by the ditch), an afternoon of heroics was not complete without suitable imaginary action music accompanying our antics.
Without further ado, here are my top ten cop/action sound tracks.
10. Juliet Bravo
For some, their first police drama was Z-Cars. for others, Dixon of Dock Green. For me it was Juliet Bravo.
It had motorbikes, cops and California. Oh yeah!
8. T.J. Hooker
Even though it had Captain Kirk in it, I wanted to be Adrian Zmed. And my first TV crush (Penelope Pitstop aside): Heather Locklear!
How the hell we ever pretended to be Archangel, Stringfellow Hawke and Santini without a helicopter I have no idea, but we did…
6. The Professionals
Guns and Mullets Part I. It was rough and tough and British.
5. Knight Rider
This is here in tribute to my cool bro Seth, who had a real thing for KITT. And David Hasselhof.
4. Dempsey and Makepeace
Guns and Mullets Part II. I was absolutely and utterly in love with Glynis Barber. There’s nothing else to add.
3. Cagney and Lacey
Like Juliet Bravo, this was one of those rare things – a cop show to watch with your Mum – and one of the most memorable theme tunes of all.
2. Miami Vice
There had been nothing like this on TV when it appeared, with its glamour, guns, drugs and 80s squealing rock guitar.
If there is one of these theme tunes that has stood the test of time, it is this one. 27 years after the last episode aired, you still here kids humming this one. And I was Hannibal. Seth, of course, was Face.
From the moment we first start listening to music, we seem to take those we like particularly and build them into the story of who we are. It occurred to me in a moment of holiday reflection that actually, the tunes that were first added to the mental mix tape that is the eternal soundtrack of my life (latterly full of everything from Allegri to Lady Gaga to Heaven’s Basement) came from the cartoons that captivated me in my 70s and 80s childhood.
Whilst I loved the classics – Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny etc – there was a certain form of episodic cartoon that I looked forward to. Coming home from school, that sacred 90 minutes from 4pm to 5.30pm could throw up any one of a number of animated adventures that could enthral a young lad who spent too much time living in his head.
So here, without further ado, my run down of my top ten favourites.
10. The Perils of Penelope Pitstop
I am sure I wasn’t the only one with a bit of a crush on Ms. Pitstop. And there was something about this tune that just stuck in the brain.
9. Scooby Doo
Daphne ran Penelope a close second. And let’s face it – this was a theme tune we all sang in the playground. Cos we were so cool.
8. Mysterious Cities of Gold
I could never get on with Mysterious Cities of Gold but somehow the tune snuck in and got stuck somewhere around the hippocampus. You have to wait a while to get past the blurb, but it’s worth it. Honest.
7. The Space Sentinels
Before we had a new-fangled Video Cassette Recorder, I remember sitting next to the telly and holding a microphone to the speaker for the duration of an episode. The mic was attached to one of those old flat tape recorders. I swore to anyone who would listen that it was as good as a video recorder (I was a deluded child) and made a point of regularly listening to that one episode over and over again. Oh yes. I was Hercules.
I have always been a sci-fi geek. These were robots that became cars and planes and lorries. I mean, WTH? That was just too cool. We’d not seen the like – and that song. “Transformers! Robots in disguise…” This one’s for you, little bro.
This one isn’t really worthy of number 5, but I remember it being a very annoying ear worm back in the day. She-Ra, Princess of Power is the sort of character you could imagine Leonard or Sheldon falling for. It also had an annoying winged pony and various cutesy animals in it (as well as lots of androcentric stereotyping of female characters in the fantasy genre). But hey… ‘She-Ra, She-Ra!’
Just how cool was Dangermouse? It’s one of those shows that if I watched now, I am certain would be laden with cool humour and grown-up in-jokes. We’ve all worked with Baron Greenback – and we all know Penfold. Just sayin’.
He-Man was the ultimate male warrior for all of us playground crusaders. Every playtime for years you would hear kids running around screaming ‘By the power of Grey Skull…’ (prob spelled ‘Gray Skull’ natch). With his cowering lion, one thrust of his sword skyward and he was transformed from the Prince of Eternia into He-Man. ‘I’ve have the powwerrr!’ None of us spotted that he was wearing pink.
2. Dogtanian and the Three Muskerhounds
As ear worms go, this one has the longevity of a cockroach. I’ve no idea when I last saw this on TV but sometimes it still gets into my head and won’t go away. Oh yes. Also, Laura fancied Dogtanian. I am not sure what that says about me. Or her.
1. Battle of the Planets
And finally, my favourite childhood theme of all time. Battle of the Planets! G-Force! Five acting as one! Mark, Princess, Jason, Tiny and Keyop (the one that burbled)! Yep, I am sure the programme was nowhere near as good as the theme tune, which was a supremely cheesy 70s-style mash-up of action tunes, but when you hear those horns at the beginning… And as for Princess… *sigh*
The latest series of Horrible Histories has been full of genius moments and memorable, mischievous songs. When it comes to music, between the classical and the metal I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for that 70s guitar sound. I’ve always loved John Denver and Simon and Garfunkel – and the more I see of Horrible Histories the more I think it’s aimed as much at parents of my generation as the kids.
I meant to post this earlier, but work and elections got in the way. Sometimes, something comes along on a show like Britain’s Got Talent that makes you stop and think and marvel at just how creative we can be.
Last week it was Hungarian shadow dancers “The Attractions” who dazzled the judges, the theatre audience and the watching public with their incredibly emotive performance. I’ll happily admit to being one of those left with more than a small lump in my throat.
Sadly, some lame idiots decided to throw social media abuse at the dancers for not being British. Depressing, yes, but it says more about the abusers and their insecurities than it does about a group of highly talented Hungarians who clearly see Britain as a tremendous place to showcase their mesmerising act. Presumably they hoped we would show some of that tolerance and British hospitality that we like to believe is part of our national character. Or perhaps they just hoped we would share in and appreciate the beautiful telling of a very human story that transcends national barriers.
Anyway, if you missed them, and if you are someone who can see that this is a stunning piece of performance art, and you aren’t going to get wound up about the fact they are Hungarian, please take a look below and enjoy.
So I realise even before I make this post that I am, in my own small way, contributing to the viral marketing success of this latest advertising campaign from IKEA. So, let me say up front, that whilst I like their tubes of fish paste and their crackers, I’m not a fan of the store. Too big and the whole one-way thing is a bit annoying!
That doesn’t stop me appreciating a good ad when I see one and the latest offering from IKEA is a hoot. With the current success of The Walking Dead on the telly and The Evil Dead in the cinema, an invasion theme is a pretty canny one. This mischievous take, though, sees an army of gnomes attempting to resist a couple’s determination to transform their garden. Hats off to Mother, London and their creative team.
For anyone wondering about the soundtrack, it’s Mötley Crüe’s Time for Change, performed by The Palace Of Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra and The Heritage Singers.
A slo-mo highlights reel from the Danish TV show Dumt & Farligt (“Stupid & Dangerous”) has been posted online. A series of madly hypnotic stunts, usually involving some form of explosive energy, there is something beautifully hypnotic about the results. Shot at 2500 FPS, you get to witness aspects of motion that you would never ordinarily see.
A few days ago I couldn’t help post up the Horrible Histories take on Vikings and their great soft rock ballad. This time it’s Dick Turpin who gets the rock history treatment – and did you know he was caught out by his handwriting? Nor did I!
I admit to finding much of today’s children’s telly incomprehensible. My brother and sister-in-law, who have four scarily bright and funny kids, assure me that it is so much better than when we were younger.
However, one series that excels at sharing knowledge in a fun and mischievous way is CBBC’s Horrible Histories. It has a wickedly entertaining way of making history fun and accessible, often accompanied by tunes better than those pumped out by better-known acts.
Now, I absolutely know I am not the only one who has found myself in front of a laptop at 3am, having imbibed far too much wine and whisky, playing clips of favourite rock and metal. There is a standard format for such occasions. Both participants (there are usually two, occasionally three) open with a standard metal classic (Nightwish’s Storytime here or AC/DC’s Shoot To Thrill), before choosing more and more classic rock numbers until all semblance of sobriety is conquered by peace songs and revolutionary anthems (from the Dropkick Murphys etc).
To this exemplary canon has been added another clip which forms a part of the “must see, must hear” experience: the Horrible Histories team’s Viking song.
There are rock groups around the world that couldn’t do this – and its pastiche of Queen, symphonic metal and rock ballads is a gem.
And more from the Horrible Histories crew in due course.
My future brother-in-law, Mr Bagnall, reminded me of one television programme that must be one of my all-time favourite childhood memories. Who could have thought that a five minute short animation of the simplest kind could create such a comforting sense of timelessness?
When so many of today’s children’s programmes are such a disruptive mess of loud music, rudeness, primary colours and inane bouncing around, the undramatic stories of The Merioneth and Llantisilly Rail Traction Company Limited, that recognise children are capable of being entertained in far quieter, more thoughtful ways, seem almost revolutionary.
There’ll be plenty of people of my generation (mainly men with nerdy secrets I suspect) who, notwithstanding the CGI wonders of Michael Bay’s special effects-fest, have a special fondness for the animated series of Transformers and the tinny beep of “Tranformers Robots in Disguise” over the dark thunderings of Linkin Park’s “New Divide” (I imagine my younger brother Seth is among them!).
Very amusing then to open Metro this morning and to see a story about Drew Beummier, a contestant on American Idol, who has discovered that “chicks find it sexy” when he wears his home-made Transformer suit.
Apart from wondering if Em thinks I’ve missed a trick somewhere along the line, I do wonder if this is taking fond childhood memories a step too far?
Anyway, he’s hoping to have the suits on sale in the UK soon…