View Single Post
Old November 11 2012, 02:42 AM   #1
TOS theme music and studio logo musings


I'm sure some of this has been discussed before, but I was thinking about the ways that the theme music and end logos changed over time, and have been altered in reruns and home releases of TOS. This is going to be long, and it may ramble from topic to topic, but I'll try to keep my ruminations in sync with the original air order.

I'm a younger Trek fan (25 in December), and my first real exposure to TOS was through the Sci-Fi Channel Special Edition airings, combined with borrowing the 80s VHS tapes (with the "transporter room" covers) from my local library.

Most of you know about Alexander Courage's "electric violin" arrangement of the theme. In an earlier thread, Green Shirt said that in the days when the show was syndicated on 16mm film, it appeared on the first 5 aired episodes ("The Man Trap" up to "The Enemy Within"). However, on the Film Score Monthly forum, an Australian Trekkie named Geoff Brown said he had video recordings of early-80s Aussie airings off 16mm film-chain, and he said the first 8 episodes (up to "Miri") had the theme.

Mr. Spook says that people he's talked to remember "The Corbomite Maneuver" always having the more familiar Fred Steiner arrangement, with a regular string section doing the melody. So which episode was the first to have the Steiner arrangement? "Dagger of the Mind"?

From what I understand, the original DVD releases mistakenly used the Courage arrangement for the opening all the way up to "The Menagerie," but used the Steiner closing on every episode except "Where No Man Has Gone Before." I don't own any TOS on DVD, so I don't know if the "egg shell" box sets were the same. Which episodes had the Courage "electric violin" version on those, and did any have it in the closing?

I once heard a home audio recording of the end credits of "Charlie X" from a 70s syndicated rerun, and not only did it have the "electric violin" closing, but it also had the alternate Desilu logo music from S1 of Mission: Impossible. This was never heard after Paramount began syndicating TOS on videotape (in fact, ever since M:I switched to tape, it's been stricken from every rerun and release of that, too). Someone mentioned this variation on Phil Farrand's forum all the way back in 2000.

I watched the Sci-Fi Channel Special Editions from day one, so I have a pretty clear memory of them. I recall that except for "WNMHGB," all the S1 episodes used the Steiner arrangement for both the opening and closing. I may be wrong on this; does anybody still have the SFCSE's on tape?

I also remember from the SFCSE's that on a couple of S1 episodes, the opening was followed by the bumper that appeared in the middle of the ad breaks on the original network airings:
In these cases, it was silent - no announcer, no music, kind of creepy to my 10-year-old self.

Due to an oversight by Desilu, the S1 episodes (and a few S2 episodes from before the Gulf+Western sale) originally didn't have onscreen copyrights. Before the 1978 copyright reform, the absence of an accurate onscreen notice could qualify a filmed work as public domain. Even if said work was properly registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, the copyright could be negated if it wasn't displayed on the film, and sometimes was (e.g., the original "Night of the Living Dead").

A 16mm dealer attempted to sell dupe prints of TOS episodes and got sued; I've heard some accounts saying he lost, some that he won. Either way, Paramount was able to properly register them in '78, and when distribution transitioned to videotape, that's when they started putting "1978 PARAMOUNT PICTURES CORPORATION" under the Desilu logo on those episodes.

The 80s syndication masters and video releases had the 1978 copyright keyed in, with some kind of video-mixer wipe effect, followed by the then-current Paramount TV logo (with the same design as on the first 4 movies, and "Television" sliding in under the name). At some point in the 90s (for the original DVDs?), new video masters were made and the copyright was added again, simply fading in. This is how the logo looked on those original DVDs, and on the G4 reruns in 2006.

However, I distinctly remember that on the SFCSE's, the 1978 copyright never appeared on the Desilu logo. Another difference between the SFCSE's and the DVD releases was the modern Paramount logo that was added at the end. The DVDs (and the aforementioned G4 reruns) had the logo close-up, with the same fanfare we'd always hear on TNG, DS9, VOY, and ENT.

But I specifically remember that the SFCSE's had the zoomed-back logo with more of the landscape...and no music.

My vivid memory of how the Desilu and Paramount logos looked and sounded on the SFCSE's is in part because the Desilu logo gave me the creeps, and it was exacerbated by the dead-silent Paramount tag after it. Don't laugh; it was pretty eerie to this 10-year-old watching the show go off at 10 PM (being in California, before Sci-Fi had a west coast feed, I had to catch the repeat at 8:30 because I wasn't home at 4:30).

According to Memory Alpha, four episodes from S2 didn't have the Paramount copyright notice under the Desilu logo: "Catspaw," "Metamorphosis," "Friday's Child" and "Amok Time". The first episode to have a Paramount copyright, in production order, is "Who Mourns for Adonais?" This is how the logo usually looked in season 2, and how it looked on the original DVD of "WMFA":

But I have a burned DVD of a 2006 G4 airing of "WMFA" from when they were running those "Uncut Marathons," and this is how the copyright looked on that version:

Boy, the optical line-up guy really goofed up there. Also notice that the year isn't in Roman numerals. I don't recall seeing this variation on any other S2 episodes on G4, or anywhere else. Does anybody recall seeing this oddity on "WMFA" back in the 16mm syndication days? Did it show up on any video releases, or any reruns besides G4?

Last, I want to talk about the S2 episodes after Desilu was absorbed into Paramount. Starting with "The Immunity Syndrome" in production order and "A Piece of the Action" in broadcast order, "A Desilu Production" over the Balok puppet was replaced with "A Paramount Production," and this Paramount Television logo came after the credits. (Pardon the PAL speedup, this clip obviously comes from Sci-Fi UK, and it's the only footage of the logo I could find on YouTube that actually came from Trek and not one of the other Desilu/Paramount shows.)

Here's a clearer still image (possibly from the S2 DVD box set?):

Most of the times I've watched a Paramount S2 episode of TOS, it did not have that logo. The 80s VHS tapes I used to check out from the library had the Paramount logo from season 3, and from at least the original DVDs onward, I've always seen it replaced by the Desilu logo. When TV Land was running the show, around the time TOS-R debuted in syndication, I remember that "Assignment: Earth" ended with BOTH LOGOS. (I also saw Desilu on season 3 episodes, and the S3 Paramount logo on a season 1 episode. The new broadcast masters during late '06-early '07 were a mess.)

A friend of mine once rented a VHS of "The Immunity Syndrome" that did have the correct logo - possibly the later blue-box release? Does anybody know if any of the blue-box tapes still had the logo pictured above? And does it appear on the S2 DVD box? (From what I've heard, the Blu-ray replaced it with Desilu once again, because this was back when CBS seemed hell-bent on eradicating all mention of Paramount from their TV back catalog.)

Anyone wanna weigh in on this stuff? It's interesting all the little ways presentations of the show have varied over the years.

Last edited by TServo2049; November 11 2012 at 04:53 AM.
TServo2049 is offline   Reply With Quote