A Winner in the “Worst Music Replacement” Sweepstakes


Many of us have pondered long and hard over what is the worst musical outrage perpetrated against a TV show on DVD. And then Paramount comes along and spoils our hard work by providing an obvious answer. It turns out that Paramount’s release of the first half of season 2 of The Fugitive replaces the entire musical score. We’re not even talking about replacement cues, or one episode whose music has been rescored (this happened with an episode of Moonlighting where the DVD accidentally used a rejected score for one episode instead of the final, better score that Alf Clausen composed); all the music scores have been replaced with new electronically-generated music composed by one Mark Heyes, a composer and music editor for various CBS projects. This great and exhaustive post at the Classic TV History Blog explains the whole thing in great detail.

We’ve all heard of licensed music being replaced, but original scores rarely get replaced unless the series is being released by some pirate company that doesn’t own the rights to the show (like those pirates of Bonanza without the Bonanza theme song).

What happened? Well, there was a website that originally had an explanation of this, but now that I check the site again, I see that the site owner has scrubbed it. Probably to avoid getting complaints either from fans or from CBS/Paramount. I will not quote him directly, but what he wrote was that Paramount would have had to pay royalties for the original orchestral music. Not wanting to pay, they hired somebody to compose new music cues similar to but not the same as the original orchestra cues.

But there’s more: The Fugitive didn’t actually have original scores; most of the music was either recycled from Peter Rugolo’s original theme and cue library, or culled from CBS’s vast library of stock music. Was there some piece of music that suddenly became more expensive between the last release and this one? That I don’t know.

I can say that this is one case where the company went to rather a lot of trouble — getting a guy to compose new music, after all, isn’t free — to put out a really, really horrible product.

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A Winner in the “Worst Music Replacement” Sweepstakes

  1. I’m sorry, but in a time when the economy is in the toilet, people are out of work, there’s a lot of homeless people on the streets of most cities, and massive environmental problems, the crying about an old TV show on DVD not having the original underscore (especially considering how said underscores are repeated over and over during the course of many episodes of 50s, 60s, and 70s TV shows enough to make them completely boring) is just meaningless and the prime example of what people call First World problems being blown up to an absurd degree by people who should know better. Why should anybody care about this issue, especially since the music wasn’t special anyway? And more importantly, why not try and watch the vital (and mostly better) new shows that are out there like Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad? There’s a whole new world of TV out there to watch (many have said that this is the second Golden Age of TV) and yet people like you are trapped in the past watching old ones? And crying about a stupid underscore not being on the DVD soundtrack of said old show?

    It’s no wonder things are bad, people don’t vote, politicians get away with doing crap, and public transit (in Toronto) is bad; people are more interested in an old TV show not having an underscore than being involved in the the problems that affect their lives.

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