Themes & Scores for TV Series' A - F
The following are musical notes for the TV series' "Assignment Vienna," "Baretta," "The Bold Ones," and "Dan August."
1972 - 1973 theme
This theme contains such a variety of dramatic devices that it would appear to have been written from an optimistic synopsis of what “Assignment Vienna” was going to be - jauntinesss, intrigue, sophistication, high living, suspense and of course, lots of action.
Hear the theme at
The story behind the “Baretta” music has everything - charm, parable, and insight into Dave Grusin as a composer.
His friend, singer and lyricist Morgan Ames, was asked by the show's star, Robert Blake, to pen a song to run over the main titles of the series.
When time came to lay down the instrumental track, she had no words ready, save the cuplet for a gospel-flavored piece she'd been thinking about (`keep your eye on the sparrow when the going gets narrow').
It was all she had to offer Dave Grusin as they arrived at the studio. With session musicians standing by - top artists like Lee Ritenour and Harvey Mason just waiting around - he sat down at the piano and composed the tune right there, and by the end of the rhythm date, had recorded what top producer Jo Swerling Jr. has referred to as “the best main title theme ever created” Not to mention one of the most popular tracks Dave Grusin has recorded (on the memorable “Discovered Again” album).
Morgan Ames now had her inspiration, and she put down the jaunty lyrics which make the song such a dazzler (all the while giving credit to Dave Grusin for the lines `don't do the crime if you can't do the time.'
The vocals were then recorded by Jim Gilstrap with a backing group, and composer and lyricists took up other projects on their busy schedules, assuming this one to be completed.
When Universal executives heard the recording, however, they were up in arms. It sounded `black,' they said. “No way” was their response. Star Blake, who'd been highly enthusiastic about the production of “Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow,” however, failed to defend it, and so it was only the instrumental version which played over titles in the first season (vocals having been removed and overdubbed by guitar which played it wrong, and distorted the composer's concept).
However, true to the Hollywood tradition of hypocrisy, the song which sounded `too black' for the first season was augmented in the second by the Morgan Ames lyrics - sung by none other than Sammy Davis Jr.!
In addition to composing the famous title tune, Dave Grusin also scored two episodes of “Beretta.” Highly significant ones, firstly because they contain some "remarkable urban-oriented jazz" (according to author Jon Burlingame), and secondly, because they represent a turning point in the career of the composer himself. “We had one week between episodes. Then I'd come in on Monday to look at the next episode, go home, and start writing,” he recalls. ”After the experience of doing scores for Baretta, I refused to write for TV ever again.”
Read about the series and hear the theme at
The Bold Ones
1969 - 1972 theme
This anthology drama which was really four separate alternating series - lawyers, doctors, protectors and The Senator - offered some of television's finest hours in the latter program. The theme had an extra duty beyond that of the usual requirements, as it was about the only thing holding the four series together.
Beginning with a persistent and dramatic segment, Dave Grusin's towering theme, containing certainly boldness, also conveyed the scopiness of the concept and the nobility of the shows' protagonists.
Read about "The Senator" and hear the theme at
This is a particularly cool and interesting theme with a grabbing intro featuring an African percussion instrument (the kalimba) leading into the jiving melody. Had the show been more successful, it would probably have gone into the chronicle of TV's best. A two-part theme (the jazzy lead in plus a pleasant, but more conventional orchestral part), it gave Dan August the image of being one hip guy before he ever walks into a scene.
Two shows from the Burt Reynolds series have been melded together to create the video movie “Double Jeopardy.” There's enough characteristic jazz flair to the scores to indicate a Dave Grusin presence, even though on the video, he is only credited with the theme (with no other composer named). A possible example of a situation where theme composers put together a library of music to be inserted in the episodes as needed.
Read about the series and hear the theme at
The Farmer's Daughter
1965 - 1966 scores
The popular series which ran from 1963 through 1966 starred Inger Stevens and William Wyndom with music by Charles Albertin and George Duning, and in the last season, a young Dave Grusin turning out some of his earliest TV fare, heavily influenced by his flair for bossa nova. Particularly striking was the music composed to accompany the wedding episode.
Read about the series and hear original and bossa nova theme at
Go to: TV Series G-H