DVD Reviews: DECOY and CORONET BLUE

Two short-lived, NY-based crime shows have finally come out on DVD…and they are both gems.

DECOY stars Beverly Garland as police woman Casey Jones and was the first TV series to shoot on location in New York. It was also the first series to feature a police woman in the lead role. All 39 episodes from its brief, 1958 run are included in this boxed set, which also comes with a nicely detailed brochure of synopses, brief episodic credits, and some interesting background on the series — one I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with at all. I’ve always been a fan of Beverly Garland, and was fortunate to work with her on the “Mannix” episode of DIAGNOSIS MURDER, but I’d never seen this series before. I’m glad I took the gamble and bought the DVD set. Think of DECOY as a grittier DRAGNET…but with a female star. The series is straight-forward, ripped from the case files, police procedural storytelling. But unlike DRAGNET, Garland manages to give her character an emotional life beneath the action and dialogue purely through her facial expressions, dialogue delivery, and body language. Her acting strengths, some sharp writing, and the consistently excellent NY location shooting make this a dandy piece of TV crime noir well worth your time. I’d argue it’s actually a far more realistic and interesting series than POLICE WOMAN, which came decades later. You’ll also see early guest appearances from future stars Peter Falk, Suzanne Pleshette, Martin Balsam, Diane Ladd and Larry Hagman.

 

 

CORONET BLUE is primarily remembered for its cool theme song…if its remembered all. Which I guess is fitting, given what the show was about. Frank Converse stars as a guy who is shot, thrown in the Hudson river, and left for dead. He survives, but can’t remember anything about his past except the words “Coronet Blue.” The 13 episodes followed his efforts to discover who he is and, as is customary in series like this,  help other people in trouble along the way. This boxed set lives up to my memory of the show…pun intended. The theme song and score are great, the writing is strong, the location shooting is excellent, and the casting is top-notch.  It’s a real time capsule of talent — lots of future writing, acting, and directing stars worked on this series including Roy Scheider, Jon Voight, Candice Bergen, Billy Dee Williams, Albert Ruben (writer of KOJAK, etc), Lamont Johnson (director of EXECUTION OF PRIVATE SLOVIK, etc), Alvin Sargent (writer of PAPER MOON, SPIDERMAN 1, 2, 3 etc) . The prints are good and the DVD has one extra, an on-camera interview with creator Larry Cohen, who is perhaps best known for creating BRANDED and THE INVADERS…and directing IT’S ALIVE.  It was nice to have the interview  — I just wish he’d gone into more depth. It’s also a shame that they didn’t interview some of the other surviving actors, writers, directors who worked on the series. Even so, that’s a minor quibble. This is a terrific boxed set, one I have been waiting on for years.

 

The Ten Best TV Main Title Sequences of All Time

I love main title sequences, so coming up with a list of the 10 Best TV Main Title Sequences of All-Time was no easy feat. But here goes, in no particular order:

Hawaii Five-O

Mission Impossible

Game of Thrones

Mary Tyler Moore Show

Star Trek

Gilligan’s Island

The Avengers

The Twilight Zone

Law & Order

The Outer Limits

To me, these are the sequences that best combine great visuals and a killer theme with a clear statement of the series franchise. Also, every one of these sequences became instant and stylistically influential icons. (Note: The Mary Tyler Moore Show sequence in the video playlist below is *not* the version I would have used… but it was the only one available on YouTube)

You can watch them all here:

TV Shows That Changed Their Names… But Not Their Themes

Still more TV theme fun. Here are some shows that changed their names…but not their themes.

Golden Girls became Golden Palace


All in the Family became Archie Bunkers Place

Valerie became Valerie’s Family and became The Hogans



Make Room for Daddy became The Danny Thomas Shows and became Make Room for Granddaddy



Dragnet became LA Dragnet

Eight More Shows that Changed Their TV Themes

Here are eight more shows that changed their TV themes during their run…

James at 15 aka James at 16


House Calls
Season 1
Season 2

Starsky & Hutch




Hardcastle & McCormick


The New Flipper


Baywatch Nights


1-800-Missing aka Missing


Baywatch Hawaii


Seven Shows That Changed Their Names… and Their TV Themes

More TV Theme fun. Here are seven series that changed the name of their show and their theme during their run.

1-800-Missing became Missing...


Sanford and Son became Sanford Arms


Baywatch became Baywatch Hawaii




Temperatures Rising became the New Temperatures Rising




Danger Man became Secret Agent


SeaQuest DSV became SeaQuest 2032
SeaQuest


THe Virginian became The Men from Shiloh


Five TV Shows That Added Or Removed Lyrics From Their Themes

I’ve been having fun with these TV theme posts. So here’s another one. There have been a few shows that began with instrumental themes…and then added lyrics to them…or that started with theme songs and then later dropped the lyrics. Here are five examples:

Here Come the Brides


That Girl


Baretta


The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis


Buck Rogers
Pilot Theme

14 More TV Shows That Changed Their Theme Songs

I had such a great response to my post 12 TV Shows That Changed Their Themes that I’ve collected fourteen more examples of shows that scrapped one theme tune for an entirely different one.

The Bold Ones


Sheriff Lobo


Season 2

Ohara


Happy Days


Baywatch


Cagney & Lacey



OHara

I Dream of Jeannie


The Drew Carey Show

Nash Bridges



Hazel
(changed the theme twice.. in seasons 4 & 5)

The New Dick Dyke Show


Julia

The Smith Family

Babylon Five