I was waxing rhapsodic last week about the really great movie-of-the-week intros of bygone days of yore… But if you’re anywhere in my age bracket (i.e. old), I suspect this will transport you back to your childhood, specifically Christmas time. This six-second promo preceded the annual airing of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and (starting in ’72 when it moved from NBC) “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” I still recall the joyful anticipation that this little intro imbued in me every single year…
Just recently I mentioned how much I miss commercials with jingles. Nowadays, using current or classic pop music seems to be the only option advertisers are willing to consider – often with unfortunate and inappropriate juxtapositions. For example, Iggy Pop’s paean to life as a heroin addict being used to sell staterooms on Royal Caribbean cruises.
But other forgotten and sorely-missed artifacts of the past are the elaborately produced and majestically themed intros for movies aired on the major television networks (back when there were only three). These fantastic spots reached their zenith in the 1980s, with all three networks offering amazing animation and soaring and inspiring orchestral accompaniments – solely for the purpose of bringing us tonight’s presentation of “Gremlins 2: The New Batch.” What a time it was…
CBS – The Tiffany network provides a stirring mix of swooshing colors and letters interspersed with live-action shots of solid chrome movie-making equipment and the hard-working hands of all the behind-the-scenes crew who bring the magic of movies into our living rooms. The brass heavy music and the thumping drum line make this a real toe-tapper. Dignified yet modern, not overly-theatrical, befitting CBS’ status as the classiest of the 3 then-extant networks. Hard to believe this is the same network that has since brought us seven seasons of “Two and a Half Men.”
ABC – Perennial laughingstock underdog ABC more than holds it own here. The highly dramatic musical intro combined with the pulsating tunnel of stars stirs both our patriotism and our slavish devotion to the stars of Hollywood. They lose points, though, for the ugly Bauhaus rip-off font used on the movie marquee. And the music, while initially stirring, loses it it in the end with pleasant though uninspired brass-and-strings. It can’t hold up to it’s competitors in this regard.
Oh and be sure to watch this whole clip – there’s an excellent teaser for an upcoming episode of “Dynasty” at the end.
NBC – The Peacock network wins, though in a tight race. The stars-made-out-of-film-stock motif is ingenious – both more clever and subtler than ABC’s use of stars. And the orchestration is superb, starting off almost suspensefully, drawing us forward to the first crescendo – the appearance of the network’s storied peacock along with a play on the NBC “bong-bong-bong” chime. Then a nice little playful xylophone-and-strings interlude before closing out with a souped up version of the NBC Chimes – perhaps the three most recognizable musical notes in history. Truly excellent.