I is for I Love Lucy, I Dream of Jeannie, Ironside, It Takes a Thief, The Incredible Hulk and In the Heat of the Night #atozchallenge

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STATEMENT THAT APPEARS AT THE BEGINNING OF ALL A-Z 2016 PAGES:

Welcome to the A-Z Classic TV Shows Theme Songs and Intros! Last year I did an A-Z Musical Tour of My Life and featured tons of classic rock music. I had so much fun with it that this year I decided to present classic television shows theme songs and intros. These are shows that I remember from my youth during the 60s and 70s…with an occasional 80s show thrown in. Each show is introduced with information (gathered primarily from my favorite go-to for info, Wikipedia) or associated memories, followed by a video of the TV show’s theme song intro. At first glance, the posts may seem long because of the number of videos included but it’s really laid out in a way that will enable you to scroll through and read, watch or hear just what you want and then either move on to the next A-Zer or linger and go back in time with all the fun theme song intros you’ll find here. Please leave a comment and share your favorite classic TV shows. By all means, bookmark my blog so you can come back! I hope you enjoy my collection. Now, let’s get started with…

I is for I Love Lucy:

I Love Lucy is an American television sitcom starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley. The black-and-white series originally ran from October 15, 1951, to May 6, 1957, on CBS. After the series ended in 1957, however, a modified version continued for three more seasons with 13 one-hour specials, running from 1957 to 1960, known first as The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show and later in reruns as The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour.

The show, which was the first scripted television program to be shot on 35 mm film in front of a studio audience, won five Emmy Awards and received numerous nominations. Another award that the show won was the coveted Peabody Award for “recognition of distinguished achievement in television.”

I Love Lucy was the most watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons, and was the first to end its run at the top of the Nielsen ratings (an accomplishment later matched only by The Andy Griffith Show in 1968 and Seinfeld in 1998). The show is still syndicated in dozens of languages across the world, and remains popular, with an American audience of 40 million each year. A colorized version of its Christmas episode attracted more than eight million viewers when CBS aired it in prime time in 2013 – 62 years after the show premiered. A second colorized special, featuring the “L.A. At Last!” and “Lucy and Superman” episodes, aired on May 17, 2015, attracting 6.4 million viewers.

I Love Lucy is often regarded as one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms in history. In 2012, it was voted the ‘Best TV Show of All Time’ in a survey conducted by ABC News and People Magazine.

Premise

Originally set in an apartment building in New York City, I Love Lucy centers on Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) and her singer/bandleader husband Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz), along with their best friends and landlords Fred Mertz (William Frawley) and Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance). During the second season, Lucy and Ricky have a son named Ricky Ricardo, Jr. (“Little Ricky”), whose birth was timed to coincide with Ball’s real-life delivery of her son Desi Arnaz Jr.

Lucy is naïve and ambitious, with an undeserved zeal for stardom and a knack for getting herself and her husband into trouble whenever Lucy yearns to make it in show business. The Ricardos’ best friends, Fred and Ethel, are former vaudevillians and this only strengthens Lucy’s resolve to prove herself as a performer. Unfortunately, she has few marketable performance skills. She does not seem to be able to carry a tune or play anything other than off-key renditions of songs such as “Glow Worm” or “Sweet Sue” on the saxophone, and many of her performances devolve into disaster. The show provided Ball ample opportunity to display her considerable skill at clowning and physical comedy.

Lucy’s husband, Ricky Ricardo, is an up-and-coming Cuban American singer and bandleader with an excitable personality. His patience is frequently tested by his wife’s antics. When exasperated, he often reverts to speaking rapidly in Spanish.

Lucy is usually found with her sidekick and best friend Ethel Mertz. A former model from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Ethel tries to relive her glory days in vaudeville. Ricky is more inclined to include Ethel in performances at his nightclub because, unlike Lucy, she can actually sing and dance rather well.

Ethel’s husband Fred served in World War I, and lived through the Great Depression. He is very stingy with money and an irascible no-nonsense type. However, he also shows that he can be a soft touch, especially when it comes to Little Ricky. Fred can also sing and dance and often performs duets with Ethel.

 

I is for I Dream of Jeannie:

I Dream of Jeannie is an American fantasy sitcom starring Barbara Eden as a 2,000-year-old genie and Larry Hagman as an astronaut who becomes her master, with whom she falls in love and whom she eventually marries. Produced by Screen Gems, the show originally aired from September 1965 to May 1970 with new episodes, and through September 1970 with season repeats, both on NBC. The show ran for five seasons and produced 139 episodes. The first season consisted of 30 episodes filmed in black and white.

How it all started:

In the pilot episode, “The Lady in the Bottle”, astronaut Captain Tony Nelson, United States Air Force, is on a space flight when his one-man capsule Stardust One comes down far from the planned recovery area, near a deserted island in the South Pacific. On the beach, Tony notices a strange bottle that rolls by itself. When he rubs it after removing the stopper, smoke starts shooting out and a Persian-speaking female genie (wearing an enticing harem costume) materializes and kisses Tony on the lips with passion, shocking him. (In the second season’s animated opening, it is a kiss on the cheek; and, Tony is happy to receive it.)

They cannot understand each other until Tony expresses his wish that Jeannie (a homophone of genie) could speak English, which she then does. Then, per his instructions, she “blinks” and causes a recovery helicopter to show up to rescue Tony, who is so grateful that he tells her she is free. But Jeannie, who has fallen in love with Tony at first sight after being trapped for 2,000 years, re-enters her bottle and rolls it into Tony’s duffel bag so she can accompany him back home. One of the first things Jeannie does, in a subsequent episode, is break up Tony’s engagement to his commanding general’s daughter, who, along with that particular general, is never seen again. (This event reflects producer Sidney Sheldon’s decision that the engagement depicted in the pilot episode would not be part of the series continuity; he realized the romantic triangle he created between Jeannie, “Master”, and Melissa Stone wouldn’t pan out in the long run.)

Tony at first keeps Jeannie in her bottle most of the time; but, he finally relents and allows her to enjoy a life of her own. However, her life is devoted mostly to his, and most of their problems stem from her love and affection towards Tony, and her desire to please him and fulfill her ancient heritage as a genie, especially when he doesn’t want her to do so. His efforts to cover up Jeannie’s antics, because of his fear that he would be dismissed from the space program if her existence were known, brings him to the attention of NASA’s resident psychiatrist, U.S. Air Force Colonel Dr. Alfred Bellows. In a running gag, Dr. Bellows tries over and over to prove to his superiors that Tony is either crazy or hiding something, but he is always foiled (“He’s done it to me, again!”) and Tony’s job remains secure.

A frequently used plot device is that Jeannie loses her powers when she is confined in a closed space. She is unable to leave her bottle when it is corked; and, under certain circumstances, the person who removed the cork would become her new master.

 

I is for Ironside:

Ironside is a Universal television series that ran on NBC from September 14, 1967, to January 16, 1975. The show starred Raymond Burr as a paraplegic Chief of Detectives, Robert T. Ironside. The character debuted on March 28, 1967, in a TV movie. When the show was broadcast in the United Kingdom, it was initially titled A Man Called Ironside. The show earned Burr six Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations.

The show revolved around former San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) Chief of Detectives Robert T. Ironside (Raymond Burr), a veteran of more than 20 years of police service who was forced to retire from the department after a sniper’s bullet paralyzed him from the waist down, causing him to use a wheelchair. In the pilot episode, a TV movie, Ironside shows his strength of character and gets himself appointed a “special department consultant” by his good friend, Police Commissioner Dennis Randall. He does this by calling a press conference and then tricking Commissioner Randall into meeting his terms. In the pilot, Ironside eventually solves the mystery of the ambush.

Ironside uses a fourth-floor room (for living and office space) in the Old San Francisco Hall Of Justice building, which housed the city’s police headquarters. He uses a specially equipped, former fleet-modified 1940 1-1/2 ton Ford police paddy wagon van. This is replaced in the episode entitled “Poole’s Paradise” after the van is destroyed by Sergeant Brown as part of a way to trick a corrupt sheriff. At the end of the episode the paddy wagon is replaced by an equally custom modified brand new at the time 1969 1 ton Ford Econoline Window Van to again accommodate Ironside’s wheelchair as the previous vehicle had done. In the pilot he requests that Ed Brown and Eve Whitfield be assigned to him. He later recruits the angst-filled black ex-con Mark Sanger to be his personal assistant after Mark is brought in as a suspect who wanted to kill Ironside. The show became a success as Ironside depended on brains and initiative in handling cases. Although Ironside was good-hearted and honest, he maintained a gruff, sarcastic external persona, quite unlike Perry Mason’s courtly manner.

 

I is for It Takes a Thief:

It Takes a Thief is an American action-adventure television series that aired on ABC for three seasons between 1968 and 1970 It stars Robert Wagner in his television debut as sophisticated thief Alexander Mundy, who works for the U.S. government in return for his release from prison. For most of the series, Malachi Throne played Noah Bain, Mundy’s boss.

It was among the last of the 1960s spy television genre, although Mission: Impossible continued for several more years. It Takes A Thief was inspired by, though not based upon, the 1955 Cary Grant motion picture To Catch a Thief, directed by Alfred Hitchcock; both of their titles stem from the English proverb “It takes a thief to catch a thief.”

It Takes a Thief, which was created by television writer Roland Kibbee, featured the adventures of cat burglar, pickpocket, and thief Alexander Mundy, who steals to finance his life as a polished playboy and sophisticate. He is in prison when the U.S. government’s SIA (the fictional Secret Intelligence Agency) proposes a deal to Mundy: steal for the government in exchange for his freedom. Mundy is puzzled and asks, “Let me get this straight. You want me to steal?” In the main opening titles, his new SIA boss, Noah Bain, uses the catch phrase, “Oh, look, Al, I’m not asking you to spy. I’m just asking you to steal.” In pre-production, the title for a while was Once a Crook.

Several Guest Stars appeared in the series, most notably Fred Astaire. During the third season, Fred Astaire played Alistair Mundy, Alexander’s father, in five episodes. Alistair is also a master gentleman-thief, who says bemusedly, at the start of each episode in which he appears, “I’ve heard of stealing from the government, but for the government?” Alistair was the lead character in most episodes in which he appeared, rather than Wagner’s character of Alexander, who was relegated to supporting or even cameo roles in these episodes.

Fred Astaire and Robert Wagner 1969

Fred Astaire and Robert Wagner 1969

Susan Saint James appeared in five episodes. Charlene Holt appeared in three episodes. Other guest stars included prominent veteran Hollywood movie stars like Bette Davis, Joseph Cotten, Paul Henreid, Fernando Lamas, and Ida Lupino.

Here are intros and outros for the first two seasons. Theme song by Dave Grusin:

 

I is for The Incredible Hulk:

The Incredible Hulk is an American television series based on the Marvel Comics character The Hulk. The series aired on the CBS television network and starred Bill Bixby as David Banner, Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk, and Jack Colvin as Jack McGee.

In the TV series, Dr. David Banner, a widowed physician and scientist, who is presumed dead, travels across America under assumed names (his false surnames always begin with the letter “B”, but he keeps his first name), and finds himself in positions where he helps others in need despite his terrible secret: in times of extreme anger or stress, he transforms into a huge, incredibly strong green creature, who has been given the name “The Hulk”. In his travels, Banner earns money by working temporary jobs while searching for a way to control his condition. All the while, he is obsessively pursued by a tabloid newspaper reporter, Jack McGee, who is convinced that the Hulk is a deadly menace whose exposure would enhance his career.

The series was originally broadcast by CBS from 1978 to 1982, with 82 episodes over five seasons. The two-hour pilot movie, which established the Hulk’s origins, aired on November 4, 1977. It was developed and produced by Kenneth Johnson, who also wrote or directed some episodes.

After the series ended, the fate of David Banner was a cliffhanger until 1988. The franchise was purchased from CBS by rival NBC. They produced three television films: The Incredible Hulk Returns (directed by Nicholas J. Corea), The Trial of the Incredible Hulk and The Death of the Incredible Hulk (both directed by Bill Bixby). Since its debut, The Incredible Hulk series has garnered a worldwide fan base.

Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk, from the 1978 episode "Married"

Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk, from the 1978 episode “Married”

Interesting casting notes: For the role of Dr. David Banner, Kenneth Johnson cast Bill Bixby—his first choice for the role. Jack Colvin was cast as “Jack McGee”, the cynical tabloid newspaper reporter—modeled after the character of Javert in Les Misérables—who pursues the Hulk. Arnold Schwarzenegger auditioned for the role of the Hulk but was rejected due to his inadequate height, according to Johnson in his commentary on The Incredible Hulk – Original Television Premiere DVD release. Actor Richard Kiel was hired for the role. During filming, however, Kenneth Johnson’s own son pointed out that Kiel’s tall-but-under-developed physique did not resemble the Hulk’s at all. Soon, Kiel was replaced with professional bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno, although a very brief shot of Kiel (as the Hulk) remains in the pilot. According to an interview with Kiel, who saw properly out of only one eye, he reacted badly to the contact lenses used for the role, and also found the green makeup difficult to remove, so he did not mind losing the part.

Initially the Hulk’s facial make-up was quite monstrous, but after both pilots, the first two weekly episodes and New York location shooting for the fourth, the design was toned down. The makeup process used to transform Ferrigno into the Hulk took three hours. The hard contact lenses Ferrigno wore to simulate the Hulk’s electric-green eyes had to be removed every 15 minutes because he found wearing them physically painful, and the green fright wig he wore as the Hulk was made of dyed yak hair.

 

I is for In the Heat of the Night:

Airing later than most of my showcased programs, I love this show and still occasionally watch the heavily rotated syndication episodes. In the Heat of the Night is an American television series based on the film and the novel of the same title. It starred Carroll O’Connor as the white police chief William Gillespie, and Howard Rollins as the black police detective Virgil Tibbs. It was broadcast on NBC from 1988 until 1992, and then on CBS until 1994. Its executive producers were Fred Silverman, Juanita Bartlett and Carroll O’Connor.

In the premiere episode, Virgil Tibbs, a Philadelphia detective, has returned home to the fictional Sparta, Mississippi for his mother’s funeral. By virtue of his relationship with Gillespie from a previous murder investigation in which he assisted, Tibbs is persuaded to remain in Sparta as Chief of Detectives, in an effort to help overcome the local squad’s reputation of being racist and underskilled. Although the team experiences friction over Tibbs’ dissatisfaction with the department’s limited resources and racial attitudes while Gillespie is annoyed at Tibbs’ condescending suspicion of his hometown, they prove highly effective in enforcing the law.

Eventually becoming a lawyer, Tibbs resigned to practice in Jackson, Mississippi with occasional cases in Sparta while Gillespie was dismissed as Police Chief by the Sparta city council and replaced by Hampton Forbes (Carl Weathers), the town’s first African-American in that position. Gillespie finds a new post of equivalent authority as County Sheriff, and the two senior police officers find they get along in excellent fashion both in the professional and personal spheres.

 

 

What other classic shows would you include here? What are your favorite TV shows, past and present? Do you still watch any of these shows in syndication?