Whimsy: September 2004 Archives

From an episode of "Round the Horne", the classic British comedy radio sketch show from the late '60s

As I got up to leave, he offered me a limp hand.

"Have a limp hand."

"No thanks, I've already got two."

The music of "The Doomsday Machine"


Of today's Bleat, James Lileks says, "I think this will be the stupidest, most geeked-out thing I’ve ever written."

Lileks reminisces about the record bin at Woolworth's, about the soundtrack album for "When Eagles Dare", about Star Trek (the original series):

When that last episode of Star Trek aired you could almost imagine the Enterprise towing the prospect of additional cool sci-fi off into the inky star-flecked void with it. From here on it was Hee Haw and the Jeffersons. But by 1973 Trek was running in syndication, and I watched them all with slavish devotion. I had to leave halfway through every episode, though; had a paper route.

Naturally, I quit the paper route.

Long time Bleat readers are probably thinking Oh fer chrissakes he’s not going to bring up the fargin’ “Doomsday Machine,” again? Hello! Rigel to Lileks! Enough! It’s just a TV show! Of course. But now I know why it made such an impression then, and why I enjoy it now. A few months ago a reader emailed me re: a bleat concerning music cues in TV; he said the Trek music cues were actually scored to the individual episodes. I thought that was odd – they seemed to recycle the same cues over and over again. They didn’t write scores for individual episodes, did they?

Well, imagine my surprise. There were a few scores written for specific episodes, and their highlights were recycled over and over. On Amazon I found the soundtrack for “The Doomsday Machine,” and of course I snapped it up. It arrived last Wednesday. To my surprise this score, written for the “Doomsday” episode, is the source of half the series' cues. But they're intended to belong together, and that’s one of the reasons the episode works like few others: it has a unique symphonic score. Played start to finish, it holds together.

Lileks favors us with images from the episode and brief excerpts from the episode's soundtrack and commentary like this:

Sol worked hard on this one, and it burrowed its way into the brains of untold Trek lovers. Put it this way: he’s the reason that several dozen million people subconsciously associate a rising melody on a bassoon with Spock’s arched eyebrow.

Although I left Trekkiehood behind years ago (just after freshman year in high school, if I remember correctly), these orchestral cues clear away for a moment all the things we love to ridicule about the original series -- Bill Shatner's scenery-chewing, the cheesy special effects, those expendable redshirts, and all the other cliches -- to let me recall the magical hold Star Trek had on my young imagination.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Whimsy category from September 2004.

Whimsy: August 2004 is the previous archive.

Whimsy: October 2004 is the next archive.

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