Sunday, June 15, 2008

Can’t stop the music…then again, maybe they can…

Stephen Bowie, a frequent participant over at the Home Theater Forum, has an interesting post on his Classic TV History Blog about the recent controversy surrounding the new The Fugitive: Season 2, Volume 1 release. (I should, however, set aside special kudos to Rick Brooks of Cultureshark, where I first learned of this, since he painstakingly took the time to read the HTF thread about S2V1…something I can’t always bring myself to do. Note how the first person to post in this thread states that he’s “not going to rant and rave,” foolishly thinking he could actually maintain control of the vehicle.)

For the uninformed, CBS/Paramount has released the first fifteen shows from The Fugitive’s second season…and in doing so, completely wiped clean the original music from the show’s soundtrack and replaced it with a generic synthesizer score composed by a gentleman named Mark Heyes. The company, clearly immersed in what appears to be a homework assignment from Villainy 101, attempted to cover its tracks by “altering” the closing credits (as you can see here). (For the record, these are the original credits…both of which were posted at Bowie’s weblog.) The reason for this switcheroo remains shrouded in mystery—but speculation in the grapevine has it that CBS/Paramount was either unable or unmotivated to track down the current owner of the music rights and, on the advice of their obscenely-paid attorneys, decided just to replace the score in the hopes that no one would notice.

Hah! said the Little Red Blogger. Talk about misunderestimation! The fans of the seminal 1960s drama rose up en masse and did everything short of storming Castle CBS DVD with pitchforks and torches. Unfortunately, several e-mails and letters were sent to a contact person at the company (who, it later turns out, had nothing to do with either the Fuge project or the decision to pull a fast one on the customers); missives of such an offensive nature (apparently the word “chicken-shit” was as nice as it got in one such e-mail) that the HTF moderators came close to kicking some of their members out of the secret clubhouse while taking their football and finding some other vacant lot in which to play.

The reason why CBS/Paramount resorted to this chicanery isn’t really the question I’d like an answer to; I’m much more interested in a response as to why CBS/Paramount honestly believed no one would notice this among the hardcore fanship. I suppose it’s all rather moot, though; everyone at the company there has clammed up...and used the abuse they received from the rogue HTF folks as a reason to maintain absolute silence. (This does not, however, explain why nothing was said in the first place…or how they were able to use the Fugitive music for the first two releases, even.) I ordered S2V1 without any prior knowledge of what these wankers did to the show (sorry, folks…those generic “Some scenes may be edited from their original network version” disclaimers don’t quite cut it anymore) and if I had been given a timely heads-up I would definitely said “Pasadena.” (The Fugitive set hasn’t arrived yet, so if I can dope out which package it’s in—I ordered two other TV-on-DVD box sets from the same place and they should arrive at the same time—I’ll be scribbling “package refused” on the box faster than you can say “one-armed man.”) In the past, I used to be a lot more lenient about TV-on-DVD releases: after all, I bought the cut-to-ribbons-in-syndication releases of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Make Room for Daddy, The Joey Bishop Show and The Real McCoys. But it’s getting harder to ignore the gradual “we really don’t give a flying frog’s ass” attitude of these companies…particularly CBS/Paramount, generally considered the best of the major studios when it comes to vintage-TV releases.

So…now that I’ve got that little rant out of the way, allow me to present a more positive article also written by Stephen (and thanks to BobH for pointing this one out); a nice write-up on Arrest and Trial (1963-64), the groundbreaking crime drama that predated today's better-known Law and Order by about twenty-five years. I found it fascinating…and a sure-fire way to bring down my blood pressure after this whole Fugitive mess.


Bobh said...

Gord Lacey has posted an editorial about the music replacement situation over at the web site:

I've intentionally stayed out of the fray (for the most part) at HTF. Frankly, it's just page after page of speculation (and I've been known to do that from time to time). I'm much more interested in learning what the real reasons are directly from CBS Paramount. I think this is a story that has some legs and I do believe that we'll eventually learn the real reasons for this substitution.


Bobh said...

CBS Home Entertainment's response to the music replacement can be found here: