I’ve remarked many times on this blog that kids born in the 50’s and maybe up until 1964 are in fact, “The TV Generation”. We didn’t just watch the tube, we devoured everything on it. We knew the lyrics to the theme songs, the opening credits, the name of the production crews gaffer and the best boy. We even knew who the make-up artist was and who handled Craft Services on several different shows!!!
We only had three networks, so in many ways, we had no choice. We watched everything and remembered all of it.
This weekend I wrote a piece called “Sit Ubu Sit…Bad Foods”, about my embarking on yet another soon-to-fail diet and the various fatty and high caloric foods served at various restaurants that can turn a healthy heart into a Crisco repository. The title had little to do with the piece, but I pulled it out of my nostalgic quiver in order to keep up my rep of odd and clever post titles. And as usual, that got me thinking nostalgically about TV shows and tag lines.
So, my fellow TV Genners, know where the original tag line came from? Yes, it was from a TV show, but which which one? I’ve nary a clue, but there are a lot of tag lines from TV shows now making there way, up there in the ether….past the Van Allen Belts and towards Mars only to be picked 100 years from now by a one-eyed, green skinned Martian child who managed to get a particularly salty episode of “The Sopranos” on his nuclear powered Haliquark Radio Wave 9000 receiver. He watches and listens for a few minutes, then with a confused look on one of his faces, runs into the kitchen to ask his maternal unit who’s eight tentacle-like arms are busy preparing a nice Kronack Loaf for dinner, “Hey Mom, what does “We gotta whack dat cock sucker’ mean?”
There was the kitten meow at the end of all MTM Productions–Mary Tyler Moore’s company and that kitten along with the initials was an obvious parody of MGM and the big lion roar. King Features also had a unique little tune which would play at the end of all the shows in it’s stable.
But there are far more memorable tags. So, take this trip down Memory Lane to visit a few TV tag lines from yesteryear.
“Book ’em Danno”, was kind of a tag line. Sort of. Jack Lord always uttered that command after arresting the perp on “Hawaii 5-0”. Remember that Polynesian cop drama? It co-starred Kam Fong as “Chin Ho” and later, Zulu as “Kono”. As if that mattered. Even as kid I remember seeing those in the opening credits and thinking, “What the fuck?”
But wait…there’s more:
“And dance by the light of the moon”, was uttered at the conclusion of each episode of the Yuppie whine fest, “Thirty Something”. The production house at the helm of this late 80’s drama was called “The Bedford Falls Company”. Bedford Falls was the fictional berg that claimed George “Hee Haw” Bailey as one of it’s fair residents in the holiday flick, “It’s A Wonderful Life”. At the end of each episode, viewers were treated to” and dance by the light of the moon” sung in acapela, along with snow falling on an old house which if memory serves, looked more like a Cape Cod bungalow, than old house that George and Mary bought and refurbished. But what do I know? My memory is shot.
I did a lot of blow back in the 80’s.
Remember all the Steven Bochco signoffs? The signature of his productions featured an artist playing a violin so fast that would leave Itzak Perlman dazed and running in a circle. Why? Apparently, Bochco’s father was a Polish violinist and this was something of an homage to daddy. Can’t remember which shows were Bochco’s? Here’s a refresher::
- Hill Street Blues/NBC/1981-1987 (never watched it)
- L.A Law/NBC/1986-94 (liked it for a while)
- Cop Rock (remember this short-lived musical abortion on ABC that ran for six minutes in 1990?
- Doogie Howser, MD/ABC/1989-1993 (hated it)
- N.Y.P.D. Blue/ABC/1993 (never saw it)
- Public Morals/CBS/1996 (never heard of it and CERTAINLY don’t have any!!)
This next offering might seem familiar but probably few of us knew what it was called and probably even fewer knew what it said. I’m talking about “Chuck’s Vanity Page”. At the sign off of the sitcom “Dharma and Greg”, which blighted ABC from 1997 to 2002 the last frame of the show displayed sentiments written by the show’s executive producer and co-creator, Chuck Lorre. Those who videotape the program can freeze frame on the message and read a series of “I Believe…” statements written by Mr. Lorre. They were long and rambling and completely self-serving. The print was so tiny that only Matt Roloff could have read them.
Come on; remember these things?
Here they are:
Chuck’s vanity card No. 1: “Thank you for videotaping Dharma & Greg and freeze framing on my video card. I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you some of my beliefs. I believe that everyone thinks they can write. This is not true. It is true, however, that everyone can direct. I believe that beer is a gateway drug that leads, inevitably to vodka and somebody oughta do something about it. I believe that when ABC reads this, I’m gonna be in big trouble. Once again, thanks for watching Dharma & Greg. Please be sure to tune in again to the vanity card for more of my personal beliefs.”
Chuck’s vanity card No. 2: “I believe that in my earlier statement of beliefs, I erroneously believed that beer was a gateway drug that led to vodka. After intensive consultation with ABC executives, I now believe I was very, very wrong. Beer is good. Especially beer brewed by major manufacturers, and enjoyed in a responsible manner.”
Chuck’s vanity card No. 3 “I believe that El Nino is an international conspiracy perpetrated by evil roofing contractors. I believe that TV is the cause of all the violence and immorality our society – ha! just kidding.” [Chuck’s vanity card No. 4 1/2: ] “I believe that all work and no play makes Chuck a dull boy. I believe that all work and no play makes Chuck a dull boy. I believe that all work and no play makes Chuck a dull boy. I believe that all work and no play makes Chuck a dull boy….”
Chuck’s vanity card No 5: “I believe that this episode, which on the surface deals with a funny Valentine’s adventure, in fact grapples with the weighty issue of Weltschmera, a German word which loosely means ‘world suffering deriving from the inevitability of reality to never match up with our expectations.’ Hey, only the Germans could come up with a word like that….Finally, I believe that when I retire and teach sitcom writing at a community college, I’ll use this theme for one of my classes to impress the kids.”
Chuck’s vanity card No. 6: “For those of you who are new, this is my sporadic attempt to share my personal beliefs with millions of people (hence the term ‘vanity’). This attempt has led me into communicating many deep thoughts, and, I’m afraid to say, quite a few shallow ones as well. But what I’ve found most interesting is that after a few weeks, I’ve discovered myself scrounging for new beliefs. Things about which I could stand up and say with pride, I believe in this, dammit!’…I do believe that JFK had a much better understanding of the word ‘perky.'”
I’ve never seen “The District”, which was on CBS from 2000- 2004, so I’m not at all familiar with this closing tag, but it apparently appeared in message form at the end of each episode. “For Jack Maple, who lived it” This was added, “And made a difference. We are honored to have known him“. The phrase honors Jack Maple, the series co-creator and former Deputy Commissioner of Operations for the New York City Police Department. Maple was something of a maverick and innovator as far as fighting crime is concerned. He helped create COMSTAT, which was a crime-mapping program that’s been responsible in a major decline in NYC crime rate in recent years. He died in August, 2001 after a lengthy bout with colon cancer.
“I made this!” is what a small boy proudly proclaims over the sound of a sputtering school projector. It’s also what viewers heard at the end of each episode produced by Ten Thirteen Productions. Sound familiar? it should if you watched “The X-FIles” which aired on FOX from 1996-1999. The voice of the boy is that of Nathan Couturier, the son of the show’s supervising sound editor. The “ten thirteen” name of the company referes to the burth date of the series’ creator, Chris Carter.
I get it, Chris. I get it, because at age two, I proudly announced “I made this”, then pointed down to some very full, bulging and fowl smelling big girl panties in front of my mother’s bridge club.
I wrote about “Sit Ubu Sit…Good dog!” at the beginning of this post. Here’s the deal on that: Ubu Roi was the Black Lab that was once loved and adored by Gary David Goldberg, the producer of UBU Productions, which was founded in 1981. It produced such TV staples as “Family Ties” which ruled NBC from 1982 -1989. Viewers see a photo of Ubu at the end of each episode, followed by the command, “Sit Ubu sit……” and then that’s followed by a single “woof” response”. Ubu Roi left this earthly puppy plain in 1984. He was Goldberg’s dog back in college.
And finally, this is one of the earliest taglines I can remember. It’s the MARK VII Limited logo at the end of all MARK VII Limited productions. It was that greasy, metallic fist pounding that image into steel with a huge mallet (you old farts should remember “Dragnet” and “Adam 12”?).
Refresh your memory by clicking here:
Well, other than that classic Dragnet ending, the tag line, “This has been a Filmways presentation”, has got to be one of the oldest. At the close of each episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies which aired on CBS from 1962 to 1971 (I’d forgotten that it was on that long), you’d hear the dulcet voiced Elly May Clampett make that announcement. Donna Douglas, who portrayed the golden locked critter lover, wasn’t acting–very little affectation. For the most part, that hick-ass “Daddy sho nuff kisses better than Aunt Muriel” accent is her own. Douglass (a former Miss New Orleans 1957) was born and raised in the back country of Louisiana.
Anyway, right after Lester Flatt or Earl Scruggs sang/uttered the phrase, “Ya’ll come back now, ya hear?” at the tail end of the closing credits (as the Clampett family furiously waved goodbye from their front door of their palatial estate), you heard Elly mark the sitcom as Filmways property. The tag is included on most episodes of the series, which is still in syndication.
So, there you have it; tag lines. Speaking of, I think I need one of my own for this blog. What do you think about the following choices:
- “The Old Whore has spoken”
- “Crotch hairs aren’t for flossing”
- “This has been a Pap Smear presentation”
- “Eat me”
One of them? All of them? None of them? Yes?