A Winner in the "Worst Music Replacement" Sweepstakes

Many of us have pondered long and hard over what is the worst musical outrage perpetrated against a TV show on DVD. And then Paramount comes along and spoils our hard work by providing an obvious answer. It turns out that Paramount’s release of the first half of season 2 of The Fugitive replaces the entire musical score. We’re not even talking about replacement cues, or one episode whose music has been rescored (this happened with an episode of Moonlighting where the DVD accidentally used a rejected score for one episode instead of the final, better score that Alf Clausen composed); all the music scores have been replaced with new electronically-generated music composed by one Mark Heyes, a composer and music editor for various CBS projects. This great and exhaustive post at the Classic TV History Blog explains the whole thing in great detail.

We’ve all heard of licensed music being replaced, but original scores rarely get replaced unless the series is being released by some pirate company that doesn’t own the rights to the show (like those pirates of Bonanza without the Bonanza theme song).

What happened? Well, there was a website that originally had an explanation of this, but now that I check the site again, I see that the site owner has scrubbed it. Probably to avoid getting complaints either from fans or from CBS/Paramount. I will not quote him directly, but what he wrote was that Paramount would have had to pay royalties for the original orchestral music. Not wanting to pay, they hired somebody to compose new music cues similar to but not the same as the original orchestra cues.

But there’s more: The Fugitive didn’t actually have original scores; most of the music was either recycled from Peter Rugolo’s original theme and cue library, or culled from CBS’s vast library of stock music. Was there some piece of music that suddenly became more expensive between the last release and this one? That I don’t know.

I can say that this is one case where the company went to rather a lot of trouble — getting a guy to compose new music, after all, isn’t free — to put out a really, really horrible product.

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