Where are the TV Themes?

If you’ve bought any episodes of BONANZA on DVD, the first thing you’ll notice is that the show’s classic theme music is missing.  The same is true on some episodes of BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, ANDY GRIFFITH and THE LUCY SHOW, among others.

According to DVD Exclusive Magazine, that’s because some individual episodes of those series have inexplicably fallen into public domain — but the music has not. The companies who are issuing the cheapo DVDs don’t want to pay for the theme music and scores, so they change them… leaving buyers feeling confused and ripped off (Okay, this buyer).

Reel Media International, which holds 2,500 public domain,
or PD, films and TV episodes in its library, regularly hires composers to cook
up new theme songs for its DVD clients. 

"We’ll replace every bit of music–the front and the end, into the commercial
break–that way our clients aren’t going to have to pay," Reel Media president
Tom T. Moore said.

6 thoughts on “Where are the TV Themes?”

  1. The phenomenon isn’t unique to American TV shows. Last year a Japanese animated series, ZETA GUNDAM, was released in a domestic box set by Bandai. The opening theme song (which, bizarrely enough, was written by Neil Sedaka) was missing from the episodes, as was the closing theme. Apparently Bandai couldn’t secure the rights to them. (And ZETA GUNDAM definitely isn’t in the public domain — the Japanese companies that own the show would probably rather commit ritual suicide than lose the rights to the cash cow that is the Gundam franchise.)

  2. The strangest variation on this is a tape I bought of competitive figure skating performances. You guessed it, the music was removed and replaced by someone playing a synthesizer. Those routines are so keyed to the music, it wasn’t even watchable.
    The worst thing is, they don’t tell you on the outside of the box. The “changed from the orginal formatting” is on the video itself.

  3. Ths might explain why the old Have Gun, Will Travel shows I’ve rented from Nexflix didn’t have the Paladin theme song–except for one. I wonder if they forgot to expunge the music from that episode or if somehow the music rights came with it but none of the others.

  4. Does anyone know if there was a simillar situation with the syndicated reruns of “Bosom Buddies?” When it was rerun in the early 1990s, the Billy Joel “My Life” was replaced by something generic that didn’t fit the editing of the open at all.
    And Maureen, not sure which tape you’re referring to, but I worked at ABC Sports doing figure skating coverage for a couple of years and I know sometimes the problem is the artist won’t let their music be used for a compilation DVD. I remember vaguely some snafu with Bette Midler (though not 100 percent sure it was Bette, so don’t quote me). And a friend of mine who produced the Magic Memories tapes had to go practically on bended knee to Vangelis to get his permission for Elvis Stojko’s 1492 usage. (Again, if I am getting details wrong, this was over a decade ago and I’ve had two children since so I am missing a lot of brain cells). But that’s the gist of it. Sometimes it’s not so much a money issue as a permission issue.

  5. The Quantum Leap DVD replaced an important song: Georgia by Ray Charles used when Al’s wife dances alone wishing her man was there with Al looking on to his past. So poignant with the right song and just doesn’t hit the mark with the replacement.


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