Friday, October 01, 2010

Random TV Title: Hardcastle & McCormick

This is a rerun of a 2009 post in tribute to the late Stephen J. Cannell.

While it isn't the best show to boast Cannell's name as an executive producer, HARDCASTLE & MCCORMICK may be the best example of his patented formula that led to a lot of hits. It boasts incredible chemistry between its leading actors, tons of squealing tires and daring car stunts, sharp production values, an over-reliance on clumsy insert shots, and a kickass theme song.

As you may have ascertained, H&C starred TV veteran Brian Keith (FAMILY AFFAIR) as a retired judge with a swanky Malibu estate and Daniel Hugh Kelly (CUJO) as a reformed car thief who teamed up to fight crime together as vigilantes. Many of Cannell's high concepts don't hold water if you think about them too long, but viewers were usually too involved with the action and humor.

When Season 2 started, The Powers That Be decided to dump the kickass "Drive" song and cut a new main title that focused on the relationship between Hardcastle and McCormick, rather than the action. Joey Scarbury, who had a massive Top 40 hit with the theme to THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO in 1981, was brought in to sing the new theme, "Back to Back."

The public was outraged (I know I was disappointed in the loss of "Drive"), and by the time the show's third and final season hit the ABC airwaves, the original song was back with still another main title that attempted a balance between the leads' friendship and the stunts.

Strangely, unlike most of Cannell's series, HARDCASTLE & MCCORMICK is not yet available on DVD in the U.S., though there is a Canadian set offering all three seasons.

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