In the 1960’s, when we weren’t listening to the greatest music of all time, we watched T.V ! No Cable, No flat screens, just three networks and the most innovative and entertaining programming in history. Nearly all of the worlds most popular programs included opening and closing musical themes. Many of them established their own identity and remain with us, holding a place in our life and culture as powerful and memorable as much as the music we “tuned” into on the radio in The 60’s…Who hasn’t invoked “The Twilight Zone” theme anytime something weird happens? or tried to plunk out “Peter Gunn” on the piano?
……Right here, each week, we’ll focus on one of your favorite T.V. Shows from The 60’s and the GREAT MUSIC that accompanied them.
This week 10/11/17 were focusing on one programme that originated out of the U.K. ran from 1961 to 1969 and we bet holds a special place in your memory and life experience…..”THE AVENGERS”
Ah Yes “John Steed Top professional”and “Emma Peel Talented Amateaur” Spy’s and crime fighters taking on all types of Bad Guy’s in the hippest clothes and coolest cars! Holding a gun in one hand and a glass of Moët Chandon in the other…..Ah, but before SMS can go any further, we have to pause and catch our breath as we recall Mrs. Emma Peel “The Talented Amateure ” played exquisitely by the exquisite Diana Rigg! Diana may not have been our first “Television Crush” but to this day she remains our most profound….If you grew up in the U.K. You may have a more intense memory of The Avengers. It’s practically a miracle rhat us Yanks ever saw the show at all. The Avengers debuted in 1961 in England, but didn’t make it to the U.S. Until 1965 when Thames T.V. Made a deal with ABC to carry the series!However, ABC was concerned about the shows violent and suggestive content so aired the show at 11:30 EST……Steering way clear of the FCC mandated “Family hour” but more importantly to The Avengers producers “Prime Time” where The audience and BIG MONEY resided. After the first year ABC then moved the show to 8;00p.m. Monday’s directly opposing NBC’s Juggernaught “Laugh In” The move all but killed this incredible, cool, sexy, stylish trend setting show
Cries of “FOUL” by it’s meager U.S. Audience and the shows original English producers, Thames T.V. Finally convinced ABC to air The Avengers at 10:00p.m. EST. But we followed faithfully. The Avengers became “The Water Cooler Conversation” of the day, at least among the young male viewers and always about Mrs. Peel and her latest outfit of form fitting jump suit and Stilletto heals. However, her partner John Steed, played exquisitely by Patrick Macnee “The Top Professional” held his own. Driving a different Classic Bently each week while sporting his ” Straight outta Carnaby Street classic” Three Piece with a Boller hat and Umbrella, which, of course when subtly activated turned into lethal weapons. But, in addition to the style and suggestive sexy/cool, The Avengers always “Broke the fourth wall”! That’s a T.V. Industry term for acknowledging the viewing audience and the fact that you may be deep in the plot but…..It’s a T.V. Show….
Here’s an example from an episode we watched last night. John and Mrs. Peel walk into a room where they find (of course) a dead body…..Mrs. Peel sez; “John, A DEAD BODY!….John Steed replies: “My lord isn’t it a bit early for a body?…Mrs. Peel replies: “Yes, my script doesn’t include a dead body for six more pages”…..Absolute fourth wall breakage brilliancy…
identifying your favorite T.V. Show from the 60’s is kinda like identifying your favorite child. But we’re going out on a limb…..The Avengers gets our vote. We chased it around three time slots talked about it all day in school and kept a picture of Diana Rigg in our desk!
BUT, it was the opening theme music that grabbed us from the first frame and first note. Sooo cool, powerful, original and compelling, written and produced by the incredible, now legendary, British Saxaphoneist John Dankworth, it was an energized blend of Jazz with some “Swinging London horns and strings plus a taste of the obligatory 60’s Harpsicord. The opening theme simply and profoundly announced The Avengers were coming, and THEY WERE COOL ! But Dankworths score was most effectively used as stingers or cues to punch up the good stuff on screen. An attempt was made to release a single on Columbia records, but it failed. We believe it’s failure was due to the devoted cult like fans who didn’t want to share or taint their precious Avengers with “The Great Unwashed”…..We know that sounds counter intuitive, but if you were an Avengers fan you get it..
As for now…..”Mrs. Peel, Wer’re needed” Yet again, if you were an Avengers fan…you get that too
Enjoy the “Swingingest” theme from some of the best T.V. From The 60’s…