Dallas Type Scores vs. Today's Shows' Way Of Doing It

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Kenny Coyote, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I was wondering what you all think of shows these days using songs instead of having an orchestra play an actual score for a TV series like they did with Dallas?

    Dallas usually had good scores which enhanced the emotion the actors were trying to convey.

    I think having an actual score is far superior to having a song which wasn't even written for that TV show play. I call those "VH1 scores" Once in a while that works but usually it falls far short of what a good score provides.

    TNT Dallas used that "VH1" style of score a lot. Once in a while, like when they played Johnny Cash's "Hurt" it was memorable and effective. Most of the time it wasn't.

    I suspect shows these days are doing it because they don't want to spend the money for an actual score. Even people who are highly regarded in TV, like Vince Gilligan, use songs instead of having a real score with an orchestra.

    Even when they use well known songs, they rarely use the original version. They have somebody else do a cover version of the song because that costs them less money.

    They keep cutting corners every way they can possibly think of, just like how they have gradually added more and more minutes of advertising to one hour long TV shows.

    There was a thread recently about why you don't see networks playing Dallas episodes more often. Along with the answers given, another reason is that those early episodes of Dallas are about 48 minutes. That only leaves 12 minutes for advertising and today most networks want to put in about 18 minutes of advertising into every hour of programming.
     
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  2. Taylor Bennett Jr.

    Taylor Bennett Jr. Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    Agree 1000%!!!

    I like some of the composers more than others in the early years which I'm most familiar with - for instance while I like some of his catchy character themes, John Parker can get too 'generic 70s cop show' for me at times, as he tended to use what I assume was an LA studio rhythm section with electric bass and drums way more than others did - but I prefer all of it to the 'VH1' or 'let's play soundtrack DJ' approach.

    I was just watching a bit of The Wheeler Dealer the other night (scanning for a location screencap, as one does) and there was some beautiful symphonic, mostly string music in the sequence starting with Sue Ellen outside Dr. Elby's office, continued later at the sanitarium in Colorado where part of the family visited Jock's first wife Amanda. The composer, Richard Lewis Warren, was in his 20s at the time, and has done some acting in subsequent years: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0913004/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cr6

    (actually, compare Warren's jaunty saloon music when Bobby and Ray came to rescue a drunk Sue Ellen from the Ace Bar in Braddock with their fists to Parker's bar brawl music in The Dove Hunt, which sounds like it was salvaged from the cutting room floor of a D-level 70s 'action' show, and pretty much cries out for Batman-style BIFF! ZAP! POW! graphics or something.)

    Interestingly, I find the stock music from the beginning of the 'Who Shot JR' year to be kind of hypnotizing and eerie and at times a bit more 'artsy' than what we'd usually get. It went on wayyyy too long into the season, though, and was sometimes not appropriate for the scene (for instance, there was a scene in the first episode of the season where Ray drives up to Professor Forrester's house with some non-sequitur '20th century art music' snippet playing that I don't think they used much if at all in other scenes), but it had a way of tying things together and giving those episodes a dark and mysterious tone. I know most people don't like it, though, and surely some half-decent original music would have been better.

    I realize they weren't able to have new scores written and recorded while there was a union strike, but I wonder why they were able/allowed to use the soundtrack from what seems like only *one* previous episode of a different show (I think I read it was from a 'Gunsmoke' episode from the early 70s... it doesn't seem to fit the genre of that show, but I'm pretty sure that's what I read.)

    I guess they chose that particular batch of 'stock music' since it kind of matched the eerie mood of the immediate post-shooting episodes, and they probably expected the strike to end sooner. Just speculating, though!
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
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  3. Toni

    Toni Soap Chat Star

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    I think that all depends on the genre of the shows and the channels airing them. HBO and Netflix uses score composers for their better-known shows ("GoT"´s Ramin Djawadi, "ST Discovery"´s Jeff Russo) which sometimes are even better than the writers. But that doesn´t stop them from using occasionally songs too, like "A Handmaid´s Tale" does so well.

    But the network shows (including those produced by WC, like "Die-nasty") lack their own personality more and more. It´s VH1 productions like @Taylor Bennett Jr. expressed so well. But there will be more changes in the future because shows will become more diverse too with so many platforms. "Stranger Things" has an ok score that has become a standard for 80´s-like music (have you ever said "that sounds like ST music"? I do) because the background and stories demand for it. But 100 more shows with scores like that will make it unbearable.

    So it´s a matter of who runs the store. Junk shows will use hits of the week because they are easier to find and merchandise afterwards too. Pedigree shows will use meaningful songs that may remain identified with their image and content (like Sia´s "Breathe Me" for the end of "6 Feet Under": impossible to separate one from another). A matter of talent at the end of the day. And class. If there is left of that (says la Pig...).
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  4. Herofan

    Herofan Soap Chat Member

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    I’m fore the scores. I don’t watch a lot of newer network shows, but I’ve seen some episodes where they play a song for what seems like the last 10 minutes of the show while everybody stands around looking sad or shocked. I don’t care for that either.
     

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