Thursday, March 29, 2012


I have noticed many people on various lamenting the disappearance of theme songs and opening sequences on TV series. The truth is I don't get to see very many current TV shows due to work and I don't count some of the comments on these websites vallied. There are so many Freepers, rednecks and paid right-wing hacks commenting of the web these days that it is disgusting.

For some reason, maybe related to my recent viewing of The Untouchables, I thought about another Robert Stack series The Name of the Game. This was followed The Virginian as one of Universal Studios attempts at a 90 minute long program and like Four-In-One and NBC Mystery Movie, it was a "wheel" concept. However, unlike Four-In-One and NBC Mystery Movie, The Name of the Game centered on two journalist (Stack and Tony Franciosa) working for the same publisher (Gene Barry). Each week concentraited on one of the characters. Journalist as heroes? That was the good old days.

Like The Virginian, McCloud, and Colombo, The Name of the Game is rarely seen in syndication because of its 90 minute length. If it does turn up, it is on Saturday or Sunday afternoons or late nights. I remember seeing this show as a kid locally on KOLR-TV, Channel 10 in Springfield, MO. It usually aired on Saturday after cartoons.

I don't remember any of the stories, but the thing that always stuck with me was the opening credits and the jazzy theme song. Looking at the credits on You Tube, I find they are an amazing and very complex design. The use of color and the names of the actors forming their faces is very elaborate and must have been very complicated to create in 1969.

Sadly, The Name of the Game isn't on commercially produced DVDs yet. One episode I want to see is an episode where Gene Barry's character is in a car accident on the way to a symposium on environmental concerns. He wakes up in a dytopian future where the hippies are all old and facist psychiatrist control the government. It was directed by a young guy at Universal Studios named Steven Spielberg.

Also you cannot find a good commercial full length version of The Name of the Game theme song by Dave Grusin. He apparently released one version of it as the B-side of a 45 version of the theme from It Takes a Thief back in the early 70s. The only version I can track down for download is by (I'm not kiding) Dickie Goodman, the guy behind the cut-in novelty records "Mr. Jaws" and "Flying Saucer." Luckily, I have a copy of the original that was on Televisions Greatest Hits 3.

BTW: If you like full length versions of TV themes of the 70s, check out this Retrospace post of Charlie's Angels themes.    

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