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 Posted:   Jul 14, 2015 - 9:20 AM   
 By:   Justin Boggan   (Member)

This short-lived series from 1976 only survived eleven episodes (counting the pilot film) but gave a chance for some awesome 1970's scoring.

Set around Spencer and his two piltos, mechanic and I guess assistant, they'd get into all kinds of dramatic situations from a plane crash and survival to transporting a prisoner.


One of the things I like to do is solve missing composer credits on IMDb for films and TV series. For two or three years now I've been trying to find out who scored what episode when thanks to filmscorerundowns.net, I got this listing of composers he found in the paper work:

Jerrold Immel
Bruce Broughton
William Broughton
Morton Stevens
Harry Geller
Dick DeBenedictis


While the series was released on DVD overseas in Germany, it has appearantly never seen a DVD release elsewhere, so I had to rely on what ever was loaded to youtube. Finally, someloaded loaded all the episodes and the myster was solved and added to IMDb.


The pilot, which has no name and simply goes by "Spencer's Pilots", was scored by Morton Stevens (who also did one more episode); it appears in a longer versio nand a shortened one to pass off as a pilot for the series. It you are familiar with his television scoring, you know he did some fine work. I'd post samples if the moderator would let me.
On top of that, Stevens provided the kick-ass and memorable theme music:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lviyii0NLww


Next up was Jerrold Immel, who scored one episode only -- "The Drone". Being in German, I can't tell you exactly what the plot was, but it appears to have gone something like this: two men want this ailing man dead who is being transported by Spence'spilots. At one point they use a large airplane drone to try and bring them down.

Immel offered up so much in short a short score (there's probably no more than twelve minutes total): Echoplex effect trumpet staccato notes; some groovy lines with kick drum, triangle, cymbols and güiro; dissonant orchestrations with double bells and ear-peeling upper octave woodwind of some sort; as well as some electronic sounds.


Dick DeBenedictis stepped in and scored one episode, "The Prisoner" (probably one of the longest scores of the series, though it begins sparce). He goes a more traditional route, for that period, offering up brass (sometiems growling and biting), snare drum, harp, piano, timpani, cymbol, and a shaker for the travel in the unpopulated area during the sun-bright day after crashing and then persuing the prisoner. The interplay between the piano and snare drum during the persuit is driving and dramatic. I suspect this score would offer a lot to fans of television scoring back then and people who are familiar with some of his scoring.


Then Harry Geller came in and provided not only his sole score for the series ("The Code"), but what appears to have been his final scoring assignment before retiring.
Geller's score has all kinds of colorful orchestration choices and flourishes as well as a nice choice of bassoon that plays the theme in a transition cue. The climax on the ship at the end has some nice jazzy work with repeating two-note trumpet hits, crymbol tapping, snare drum and kick drum with punchy playing, for a fun and catchy piece.
Unfortunately it sounds like a good deal of score was edited, dialed out, and maybe evewn some dropped. Until there is a CD release of the scoring, we won't really know how the score went and what was left off.


And Bruce Broughton, who was credited as a music supervisor on the episodes, scored one episode, "The Crop Dusters". I thought his sole episode on "CHiPs" was his only foray into funky scoring to TV series, but this beat it. Highlighting this wonderful score are jazzy beats, funky delights, and dramatic piano work. A real treat.

Some of the score was tracked into another episode (that I forget the name of) but there's a problem: it's alternate versions and some new arragements. Apparently Broughton must have recorded more to "The Crop Dusters" then what was used and probably a nubmer of fun alternates. There's likely a wealth of material to harvest from this score.


William Broughton is not credited. I suspect he did one or more of the following: ghostwrote some of his brother's work, arranged new versions for re-use, or did one or more partial scores and didn't get credited (which happened on occassion back then). The rest of the episodes have no credited composer.


In my estimation the complete scores would fit onto one CD. One kick-ass CD.



The series itself wasn't bad at all and I don't understand why it didn't last longer.

 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2015 - 9:46 AM   
 By:   MRAUDIO   (Member)

Put me in for a SPENCER'S PILOTS CD - great stuff, indeed with all the fine Composers involved...:-)

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 28, 2021 - 2:40 AM   
 By:   Broughtfan   (Member)

Put me in for a SPENCER'S PILOTS CD - great stuff, indeed with all the fine Composers involved...:-)

Justin: Just saw this. Thanks very much for covering this series. Too bad there's no English language DVD available (at least not here in the States).

MRAUDIO: Do you know the story behind the version of this theme on Mort Stevens' 1980's demo? Finally got to see one of these segments and was surprised to hear something akin to Mort's "Code Red" theme. Has been a long time since hearing Mort's demo version, and please correct me if i have this wrong, but wasn't the demo version mostly slower, with stately brass (don't recall high strings at all)? Thanks.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 28, 2021 - 9:29 AM   
 By:   CindyLover   (Member)

I used to watch this on Saturday afternoons just for the theme music! I wound up thinking it would a good fit for a TV series based on the books about The Muddle-headed Wombat . No, I don't know why either.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 28, 2021 - 9:45 AM   
 By:   Zooba   (Member)

Music seems cool and fun.

Strange how in the youtube link to the Main Title by Morton Stevens, I didn't recognize one actor or cast member and I don't think any of them have been heard from since.


Bring on the music!

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 28, 2021 - 10:02 AM   
 By:   Prince Damian   (Member)

[startquote

The series itself wasn't bad at all and I don't understand why it didn't last longer.

Mmmm, Betty!

 
 Posted:   Mar 29, 2021 - 6:11 AM   
 By:   MRAUDIO   (Member)

Put me in for a SPENCER'S PILOTS CD - great stuff, indeed with all the fine Composers involved...:-)

Justin: Just saw this. Thanks very much for covering this series. Too bad there's no English language DVD available (at least not here in the States).

MRAUDIO: Do you know the story behind the version of this theme on Mort Stevens' 1980's demo? Finally got to see one of these segments and was surprised to hear something akin to Mort's "Code Red" theme. Has been a long time since hearing Mort's demo version, and please correct me if i have this wrong, but wasn't the demo version mostly slower, with stately brass (don't recall high strings at all)? Thanks.


Hello, Sir:

The version of the theme heard on Mort’s Demo was actually taken from the ending of the SP episode “The Search” which was part of his score for the rescue sequence at the end.

Along with THE SP PILOT, THE SEARCH was another great score by Mort. I hope this helps.:-)

 
 Posted:   Mar 29, 2021 - 6:51 AM   
 By:   Max Bellochio   (Member)

Music seems cool and fun.

Strange how in the youtube link to the Main Title by Morton Stevens, I didn't recognize one actor or cast member and I don't think any of them have been heard from since.


Bring on the music!


That's probably one of the reasons why the series didn't have the staying power. Without a star or two to anchor the series, how could anyone expect to be turned on to it. I didn't know any of those people in the opening credits (before or after the series).

Very
MaxB

 
 Posted:   Mar 29, 2021 - 8:19 AM   
 By:   Justin Boggan   (Member)

By the way, here are three suites I made back then:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YltHXAIFE1w (Immel)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9L80kKDUA3Q (Broughton)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBnZzSuFrIQ (Geller)

 
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