Apart from reminding us of the rule that one casual sexual encounter will inevitably lead to pregnancy (the rule that every action has the worst possible consequences is dubbed “Can’t Get Away With Nuthin’” by TVTropes.org, and that’s about right), last night’s Mad Men also reminded us that if you’re going to make the Beatles a plot point in your episode, you had better find a way to write around the actual Beatles music. Though Don got Sally tickets to the Beatles’ famous 1965 New York concert, the only bit of Beatles music heard in the episode was an instrumental cover of “Do You Want to Know a Secret” over the closing credits. (Song choices on TV are often like the song choices in old cartoons: if we know the title of the song being played, we realize it’s a reference to the theme of the scene or the episode.) Though Mad Men has been able to spring for most songs from the various time periods in which it takes place, up to and including the Rolling Stones, a real Beatles recording seemed to be off-limits this week.
The Beatles records, of course, are the most difficult records to license for TV use and always have been. WKRP in Cincinnati had a music licensing deal that allowed them to get recordings for something like half-price, but even with that deal, the Beatles were so expensive that they only used three in the whole series (“I’m Down,” “Here Comes the Sun” and “Come Together”). I’m not saying Mad Men will never use a Beatles recording, but if they do, they’ll have to be very careful to use one in the episode where they absolutely must use it — otherwise, they either have to work around it, or use a cover version of the song (and the songs are expensive enough to license).
My question, then, is this: what are some other scripted TV shows that actually have used real Beatles recordings? I can think of two: WKRP, above, and “All You Need Is Love” in the The Prisoner. Any others?
Update: Thanks to regular commenter Anthony Strand for finding another clip from British TV in the ’60s — when it was perhaps a little less difficult to get the Beatles, since the group existed and the producers could contact them directly — an episode of Doctor Who where we learn that in the future, the Beatles are considered classics.
Monday, September 27, 2010