Top 20 TV Theme Songs from Genre Series, part 1 of 2

I think you will agree…

Sometimes, the music in a TV series can make a good series great or a great series even better. (Or, even a bad series tolerable.) This is especially true with the opening theme, which sets the mood for what the audience is about to watch. In fact, beyond the opening and closing credits, you might only ever notice any real music during transitional shots. But, those few times can make all the difference.

In this post and the next, I want to focus on the theme music from some of my favorite shows — from stuff already in syndication during my early childhood to new stuff currently airing. My first criterion was, of course, that the series had to fall under the sci-fi/fantasy and action/adventure banner that this blog is about. The theme couldn’t be taken from a movie (e.g., “The Highlander” series borrowed Queen’s “Princes of the Universe” from the original movie). And, the theme had to be — to my mind, at least — particularly catchy or otherwise memorable.

How many of these can you remember before playing the video clips? I have likely left out some of your favorites, but you’ll probably agree that these are among the best of genre theme songs. Moving in chronological order…

1) The Lone Ranger (1949-1957)

2) Peter Gunn (1958-1961)

3) Star Trek: TOS (1966-1969)

4) Mission: Impossible (1966-1973)

5) Batman (1966-1968)

6) Hawaii Five-O (1968-1980)

7) The Six Million Dollar Man (1974-1978)

8) Wonder Woman (1975-1979)

9) The Bionic Woman (1976-1978)

10) Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979)

That was fun! Did I get to your faves, yet? I hear you humming something….

Stay tuned until next week, when we continue the nostalgia trip into the 1980s and beyond!

P.S.  Just for the record, #s 1 & 2 were before my time, and #s 3 thru 6 I only ever saw in re-runs. I’m not that old!

Notes on *Batman v Superman*

rsz_batman-v-superman-minYep, I finally watched Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. (Never got a chance to at the theaters.) In fact, I saw the 3-hour, Ultimate Edition. I’m not sure what parts were added that were not in the theatrical release, but I do remember reading that a couple extra scenes helped make certain things clearer to audiences who saw both. In any case, I figured I’d make some notes of a few of my thoughts, observations, and wishes — no in-depth analysis — and share them with you. Maybe you’ll agree with me, maybe you’ll think I’m too picky or not nearly critical enough. (Let me know in the comments.)

I think I’ll start with the villains, for a change….

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

Main Characters

Luthor: I was *very* disappointed. I hated him. Not like “He was such a great villain! I love to hate him!” More like, “What the *#%@! did they do to Lex Luthor?!” The Luthor I expect and want to see is an impeccably-dressed, arrogant businessman/scientist with megalomaniacal tendencies, exhibiting a cool malevolence punctuated by occasional fits of rage at “the alien”! What we got was a faux-slacker/manchild — clearly amoral, slightly nutty, and a bit stuck on himself — who’s trying to outdo Daddy’s legacy. (At least, they finally shaved his head.) Then there are those wild rantings at the very end. It’s like they wanted him to be part-Joker. Pitiful.

Doomsday: This version of Doomsday is more typical of film adaptations — part original concept from the comics, part “new ideas” that some writer thought would make it better. Well, it was OK, and I even understand why they tweaked his origins. But,… for one thing, he was too dang big — like 15 feet tall or more. (DC wiki has the original at 8’10”.) And, his head/face looked like, well, some have compared it to a turtle (TMNT?) or a cave troll (LOTR). Then there was the lack of boney protuberances (at least, at first) and the new, weird powers (e.g., energy absorption, electrokinesis, heat blasts). Just not necessary. I would have preferred something closer to the juggernaut bonehead from the comics — a cross between the Hulk and a T-800 Terminator, going on a rampage through downtown Metropolis. Sigh! C’est la guerre!

Batman: Despite previous misgivings, I thought Affleck did a decent job as 40-something Wayne/Batman. Not perfect, no, but good enough that I look forward to a Batman solo flick, possibly as early as Nov. 2018. He looked pretty beefed up, though he could use a little more mass and definition. I seem to recall some people complaining that this Batman was too violent, especially using guns (on his vehicles). But, I have no problem with that, especially given the frustrated, angry, and jaded mindset of the character at this point in his career. (Strangely reflected in relatively new hero, Superman, btw.) His hand-to-hand combat scenes were exactly as I thought they should be, with a brutality comparable to those in Netflix’s “Daredevil” series. On the other hand, a few more “graceful” martial arts moves would be nice to see. (See “More Bat-stuff” below.)

Superman: Cavill’s acting was fine, but I’m torn about the way Kent/Supes was written. I’m not saying he isn’t a complex guy. But, there’s too much personal angst for my taste. I know I’m not the only one complaining about DC’s current handling of their flagship character, so I hope they inject more joy and humor in subsequent films. (Once he resurrects/recovers, that is.)

luthor-doomsday-how-did-he-do-itWhat was the deal with Clark talking with “Jonathan” up on that mountain? Are we supposed to assume he was hallucinating due to thin air? (Not likely, since he operates just fine flying at high speeds and/or at high altitudes.) There was also the (typical) inconsistency with the kryptonite. For example, Superman couldn’t even get the spear to the surface of the water before he passed out, yet a couple minutes later (and after being separated from it for less than that), he picked it up, flew straight at Doomsday, impaling him, and had enough strength to keep it there. I realize he was supposed to be extremely determined, desperate, perhaps on a bit of adrenaline, etc., but….

Wonder Woman: This character was, I have to say, a delightful surprise. As the mysterious Diana Prince (about whom nothing is told), she is not just an exotic beauty but a strong, confident, independent woman. Just as she should be. As the Amazon warrior who shows up for the ending battle, she was AWESOME! (Superman and Batman obviously would have lost without her.) I was already looking forward to her WWI-era solo movie in 2017, but now I am *highly* anticipating it! (Note: I didn’t even mind that her costume wasn’t very colorful, but I think the blues and reds will be more vivid in her own movie, which might be considered a prequel to this one.)

Alfred: I was willing to keep an open mind re Jeremy Irons as Alfred. I will say that his acting was terrific, as expected. But, the character just… wasn’t… Alfred. Sure, there was occasion where he did or said what Alfred might have. But, most of the time, he neither looked nor acted like the Alfred we know & love from the comics. (Of course, neither does the one in “Gotham”.) While I do appreciate it when Alfred occasionally speaks up, when he thinks his employer needs a piece of his mind, I didn’t feel that this version of Alfred exhibited the appropriate deference to “Master Bruce”. Nor did he do much butlering or acting as chauffeur/manservant.

Lois Lane: Hmmm, what to say about (this) Lois…? She’s a plucky, feisty, stubborn, brave-yet-vulnerable, investigative journalist. And yet… she doesn’t feel right to me. It’s not just the fact that they’ve kept Adams’ red hair instead of going with Lois’ traditional brunette locks. (Though, no surprise, that does bug me.) I can’t quite put my finger on it, but she hasn’t quite captured the essence of the character… or something. Actually, I blame the writers at least as much as the actress. Still, I guess she’s better than Kate Bosworth’s version (2006). I do like the fact that they established Clark and Lois as a serious couple, though, and their mutual love and concern are evident.

Misc. supporting cast: It was good to get some continuity with the Perry White and Jenny characters at the Daily Planet, as well as Gen. Swanwick and Maj. Farris from the Army. However, I much prefer Perry when he is less hard-nosed and more of a friend to Clark and Lois. (Maybe he’ll mellow come sequel-time?) Not sure what to think of Jenna Malone’s “Jenet Klyburn”. (Totally new character? Stand-in for Oracle?) There wasn’t much to her. Scoot McNairy and Holly Hunter as Wallace Keefe and Sen. Finch, respectively, seemed to have promise, but there just wasn’t enough to flesh them out prior to their demise. (And why the heck was Finch stammering so much at the end, there?) As for Martha Kent, I wanted to like her, but some of the things she said seemed rather out of character from how she has been portrayed elsewhere. (Plus, she hardly looks old enough to be Clark’s mother.) Just sayin’…

Other

batman-v-superman-dc-trinity-wonder-womanPlot: I’m not going to analyze the plot much. It was OK but, as usual, had its problems. I already mentioned the dark tone, though that can work when done well. I am unclear about if Bruce’s post-apocalyptic dream is supposed to be prophetic, and I’m not sure if the Flash thing was a dream or an actual encounter. (Nor did I understand everything Flash said, so that’s frustrating.) Maybe things will become clearer in the Justice League movies? I did, however, enjoy the revelation of Luthor’s intel re the other metas. Cameos by Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman were great, too!

I just don’t understand why Superman was so lax about his public reputation. I’m sure he noticed the mercs at the guerrilla camp in Nairomi, and he could easily have mentioned their presence just prior to his arrival. Was he apathetic, ignorant (which would be difficult for a reporter/globe-spanning adventurer), or just naive?

I had been under the impression from some early reports that Luthor would try to enlist Wayne’s help in turning the public against Superman. But, I don’t remember that happening in the movie. At least, there weren’t any such meetings at one or the other’s home or office. (I presume, however, that the mysterious messages sent to Wayne, which turned out to be from Luthor, were an attempt to rile him up against Supes.) On the contrary, Luthor ended up coercing Superman to eliminate his Batman “problem”. (Though, as we know, things didn’t go quite as Luthor planned.)

Btw, I thought the action scenes were pretty darn good overall! I already mentioned Batman’s fights against criminals. As expected, he held his own against an overly self-assured Superman, and he later managed to stay alive long enough to maneuver Doomsday to where WW could “capture” him with her lasso. (I hope Superman learns some battle tactics from his two new friends.) Again, I was rather impressed with Wonder Woman. That whole final battle was a lot of fun!

Music: The music was the usual “heroic”, orchestral stuff. I guess. I really didn’t take note of much of it, except… The more edgy stuff that played during the battle with Doomsday was terrific, in that I thought it somehow enhanced the heroic mood of the battle. Great choice!

More Bat-stuff: I thought the Batwing looked great. Having Alfred operate it remotely was a nice touch, too. As for the Batmobile, I understand the “urban warfare” rationale for its look in this movie and the Nolan/Bale trilogy. Still, I hope Batfleck opts for a sleeker version in the next film. I would also like to see him renovate and move back into Wayne Manor. The lakeside place is nice, but it just doesn’t feel right. (I mean, how does Alfred keep busy w/o dusting and puttering around the mansion? 😉 ) Also, I liked the “normal” costume, but the armored version was pretty good, too, and fairly true to the Frank Miller-inspired original. I hope the solo film has a few more gadgets from the trusty utility-belt.

F/X: Looked great to me!

Final Judgment

There was a lot of good stuff in this movie (e.g., Batman, Wonder Woman, battle music), but there was a good bit of disappointing and smh/facepalm stuff (e.g., Luthor, Doomsday, confusing “visions”, moody/apathetic Superman), too. It just didn’t live up to the hype, let alone the hopes and expectations of loyal, long-time fans. I’d like to give it a ‘B’ for effort alone, but a ‘B-‘ is probably being generous.

A Wonder to Behold

Time for a Tuesday Bonus Post!

Some time ago, I saw this video short by Rainfall Films and thought, “That’s what Wonder Woman should look like!” Tall(ish), beautiful, confident, and somewhat muscular. (Could stand to have a little more meat on her, though.) The fighting moves were pretty good, too. Originally, I thought the actress was stuntwoman Monique Ganderton (5’10.5″,b.1980), but it turns out she was Rileah Vanderbilt (5’7.5″,b.1979). She looks taller than that!

More recently, though, I saw a couple more short videos that really showed what a bad@$$ warrior Wonder Woman can be. One of them, of course, was the trailer for the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, starring Gal Gadot. There are some great scenes of her in battle-action, which gives me hope that the film will do the character justice.

The other one was “footage” from the Injustice 2 game trailer. I’m not a gamer, so forgive me if this stuff is new to me, but… THAT was awesome! Simply put, the “brutal grace” of an Amazon warrior. If you haven’t seen it already, check it out!

Stay tuned for your regularly-scheduled, Wednesday night post tomorrow….

DC Comics’ America-Themed Superheroes

A few months ago (i.e., for Independence Day), I posted about Marvel Comics’ superheroes whose names and/or costume motifs are/were of an American patriotic theme. Since yesterday was Veterans Day, I figured it was time to do the DC Comics counterpart to that earlier post. As before, I’m only highlighting the most significant such characters, but I’ll list some “honorary mentions” at the bottom. Hope you enjoy! (If not, tell me why.)

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman - Golden Age picWonder Woman - Modern Age

First appearance: All Star Comics #8 (December 1941)
Civilian identity: Princess Diana of Themyscira, aka Diana Prince
Comment: Diana, of course, is not from the United States, though it is her adopted home when away from Paradise Island (aka Themyscira). Her creator, William Moulton Marston, apparently gave her the American flag-inspired costume to represent “American symbolism and iconography”. It was World War II and she was fighting Nazis, after all. But, I have no idea what reason (if any) was given for the design in her origin story. The character itself became an American icon of sorts, so the flag-theme was fitting. In later years, she became more of a world-hero & feminist symbol everywhere, so it isn’t surprising that a recent reboot explained that the elements of her classic costume had pagan/Amazonian roots. (There have also been periods when she wore a costume with some or most of the red/blue/stars motif missing.)

Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam and Freedom Fighters

Uncle Sam - rolling up sleeves

Uncle Sam

First appearance: (historical): National Comics #1 (July 1940); (modern): Justice League of America (vol. 1) #107 (Oct. 1973)
Civilian identity: n/a
Comment: Based on the familiar icon dating back to the War of 1812, the comics’ Uncle Sam character was originally published by Quality Comics in the 1940s. Years after DC Comics bought the Quality properties, the character was resurrected as leader of a group called the “Freedom Fighters” from a parallel Earth. He is the spirit of a nameless colonial soldier who was killed in the American Revolution and became the mystical personification of the nascent United States of America. He has superhuman strength, including the ability to leap huge distances, can’t be photographed, and has limited precognitive abilities. However, he loses strength and stability, even to the point of discorporation, as the overall character of the nation “strays from righteousness”; although, he will (re-)incorporate at a later date, when the country gets back “on the proper path.” Personally, I didn’t take much notice of the character until the 1997 mini-series. (Wasn’t thrilled with the story, but Alex Ross’ art rocked! This one by Daniel Acuña is pretty cool, too!)

Liberty Belle I & II

Liberty Belle - Jesse Chambers

Liberty Belle II (Jesse Chambers)

Liberty Belle I - Libby Lawrence

Liberty Belle I (Libby Lawrence)

First appearance: (Lawrence): Boy Commandos #1 (Dec. 1942); (Chambers): Justice Society of America (vol. 2) #1 (Aug. 1992)
Civilian identity: I: Elizabeth “Libby” Lawrence; II: Jesse Chambers
Comment: (This entry is a little odd, since I am combining two characters in one.) In the early days of WWII, Olympic swimming gold-medalist Libby Lawrence found herself an unintentional hero and spy for the Allied forces. A couple years later, an odd accident while visiting Independence Hall in Philadelphia left her with enhanced strength, speed, & stamina. (An experiment in 1942 would later give her the ability to manipulate sound waves.) Fashioning herself a Liberty Bell-themed costume with a belt made from the same metal of the actual Liberty Bell, Lawrence adopted the moniker “Liberty Belle” and began a career as a masked “mystery woman”. She later co-founded the All-Star Squadron, where she worked alongside and eventually married Johnny Chambers (aka the speedster “Johnny Quick”).

The couple had a daughter Jesse, who would later become the crimefighter known as “Jesse Quick”, using the same formula as her father to draw energy from the Speed Force — that is, when she wasn’t running Quickstart Enterprises. In this guise, Chambers has worked for years with the (New) Titans, Justice Society, and most recently the Justice League. There have been periods when she temporarily lost her ability to access the Speed Force. But, not only has that been restored, she has also gained her mother’s enhanced strength and adopted the name and legacy of the “Liberty Belle”.

Star-Spangled Kid I / Skyman I

Star-Spangled Kid - Sylvester Pemberton

Star-Spangled Kid I (Sylvester Pemberton)

Skyman - Sylvester Pemberton

Skyman I (Sylvester Pemberton)

First appearance: Action Comics #40 (1941) OR Star-Spangled Comics #1 (Oct. 1941)
Civilian identity: Sylvester Pemberton
Comment: Pemberton was a “wealthy brat” who became another flag-themed, Golden Age vigilante hero. He lived on DC’s “Earth-Two”, but survived the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline to live on the Post-Crisis “New Earth”. He and his sidekick Stripesy (see below) fought in WWII, eventually joining the Seven Soldiers of Victory. The team became lost in time during a mission in 1948 and were later rescued and brought to the present day by the Justice League and Justice Society. Originally, Pemberton had no special powers, relying on his natural abilities in fighting, acrobatics, leadership, and tactical analysis, with a few helpful gadgets thrown in. When he joined the Justice Society, he gained the power of flight via Starman’s Cosmic Converter Belt (and sometimes the Cosmic Rod). He later founded the L.A.-based Infinity, Inc. and changed his identity to “Skyman”. Unfortunately, he was eventually killed in a battle with the Injustice Society.

Star-Spangled Kid II / Stargirl

Star-Spangled Kid - Courtney Whitmore

Star-Spangled Kid II (Courtney Whitmore)

Stargirl - Courtney Whitmore

Stargirl (Courtney Whitmore)

First appearance: Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0 (July 1999)
Civilian identity: Courtney Whitmore
Comment: Young Courtney Whitmore realized that her stepfather used to be Stripesy, adult sidekick to the teenaged Star-Spangled Kid, when she found his old crimefighting equipment (inc. the Cosmic Converter Belt). She put on a stars-n-stripes costume to mock him at a patriotic-themed dance, but they ended up working together to fight minions of the Dragon King. Pat Dugan, the former Stripesy, now had a high-tech suit of armor, which he called S.T.R.I.P.E. Whitmore relied on her gymnastics and kickboxing abilities, as well as various enhanced abilities from the CCB. The two decided to team up on a regular basis as “Star-Spangled Kid and S.T.R.I.P.E.” After several adventures with Dugan and other superheroes, Whitmore was given custody of the Cosmic Rod and the Starman legacy when Starman (i.e., Jack Knight) retired. Re-christening herself Stargirl, she now added flight and energy projection to her arsenal. Surviving the Crisis events, she became a valued junior member of the Justice Society.

Stripesy / S.T.R.I.P.E.

S.T.R.I.P.E. - Pat Dugan

S.T.R.I.P.E. (Pat Dugan) w/ Star-Spangled Kid II

Stripesy - Pat Dugan

Stripesy (Pat Dugan)

First appearance: Star-Spangled Comics #1 (Oct. 1941)
Civilian identity: Patrick Dugan
Comment: Back in the the early 1940s, Dugan joined Sylvester Pemberton to take down a bunch of homefront Nazis. They teamed up “officially” to become a costumed, Axis-bashing, crimefighting, “mystery men” duo and members of the All-Star Squadron and the aforementioned Seven Soldiers of Victory. In addition to being great in a fistfight (thanks to skills in boxing, wrestling, & acrobatics), Dugan is a gifted mechanic & engineer, having built Pemberton’s Star-Rocket Racer, the JSA’s Steel Eagle, and his own S.T.R.I.P.E. (Special Tactics Robotic Integrated Power Enhancer) battle suit. The armor includes some weapons (e.g., lasers, missiles), sensors, and defensive capabilities, as well as powered flight and limited invulnerability for the wearer. After traveling through time and teaming up with his stepdaughter (see above), Dugan became a reserve member of the Justice Society, serving both as team mechanic and sometimes going on missions. He is mostly retired, now, but still mentors Stargirl and puts on the armor on occasion. (His son, Mike, has also worn it a few times.)

* Note: While he has never exactly been a popular character in his own right, I felt that Dugan’s connection to both Star-Spangled Kids added to his importance, especially as a solidly-DC, patriotic-themed hero.

Others:

Agent Liberty
The Americommando (Crusaders member)
The Americommando (Tex Thompson)
The Comedian
Citizen/Commander Steel
General Glory I & II
Lady Liberty
Major Victory I, II, III
Mayflower
Minute-Man
Miss America
Mr. America
Red, White, and Blue
Silent Majority
Skyrocket
Sparkler

Happy Veterans Day!!