Chasing around old TV

I am a subscriber to The Rap Sheet, a collection of current and past crime fiction in print and electronic media.

It’s an excellent read when the author is not injecting his politics where readers may think it doesn’t belong. (Hypocritical? I am well aware it’s his blog and he can include whatever he likes, just like I can. I do not, however, market this blog as a politics-free zone.)

I was reading it last night and saw

In February, I mentioned on this page that I’d been asked by a Wall Street Journal writer about my interest in collecting the main title sequences for older TV crime dramas–the basis for The Rap Sheet’s YouTube page. At the time I told him there were a few such introductions I had still not found, including one for the 1973-1974 NBC cop drama Chase, starring Mitchell Ryan. Well, thanks to author Lee Goldberg, who shares my obsession with these classic small-screen openings, I’ve finally added the Chase intro to my collection.

As you know, I sort of beat Goldberg and the author to it, though mine is not the original:

This isn’t the greatest copy around, but at least it actually made the air, unlike my slideshow:

I had not remembered that “Chase” was initially on opposite of “Hawaii Five-O,” which would have posed a hideous choice on the part of the eight-year-old edition of your humble blog writer. (It was bad enough when the last half-hour of “The Mod Squad” overlapped with the first half-hour of “Hawaii Five-O.”

As you know, titles are critical for catching the viewer’s attention. This series met my criteria for TV-watching when I watched far more TV than I do now — cool vehicles plus cool theme music. Can you see why an eight-year-old would be temporarily mesmerized by …

Chase Satellite

Chase helicopter

Chase motorcycle

Chase group vehicle shot

Chase Fuzz

… a TV series that included a souped-up car and a helicopter and a motorcycle and a police dog? Not only that, but, according to the always-accurate Wikipedia, the series’ characters …

… specialized in solving unusually difficult or violent cases, and indicative of the show’s emphasis on the determined pursuit and undercover surveillance of hardened criminals. The unit, headquartered in an old firehouse, relied mainly on alternate means of transportation such as Helicopters, Motorcycles, Custom vans, Taxis, four-wheel-drive vehicles, Sports and muscle cars, work trucks (vehicles from the Public Works Department, the Telephone company, and/or the Postal Service and civilian delivery services) and high-speed driving to apprehend its suspects.

Well, who wouldn’t watch that? The added bonuses were that it was a Jack Webb production …

… which implied a certain level of quality. It was also created at Webb’s behest by Stephen J. Cannell, who turned out to be one of the greatest TV writers and series creators in television history. (Cannell got his start on Webb’s “Adam-12.” And it had the requisite theme music, written by jazz saxophonist Oliver Nelson, who did a lot of TV work, including the theme of “The Six Million Dollar Man.” (Webb was a huge jazz fan and considered his best film to be “Pete Kelly’s Blues.”)

The series supposedly was based on the Los Angeles Police Department’s Special Investigation Section. Given that (if I remember the episodes correctly) a lot of the episodes occurred well outside L.A., perhaps it should have been set within the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department (assuming it had an SIS counterpart). I suspect, however, that there were some issues between Webb and the L.A. sheriff, based on “Emergency!”, where the sheriff’s deputy character the first couple of seasons suddenly became a generic police officer.

It turns out that apparently for $21 you can own the entire six-DVD set, such as it is. The series had a pilot and 16 episodes, and the DVDs supposedly have 12 episodes, so I have no idea what is not included, and whether the episodes include Michael Richardson (the car driver), Norm Hamilton (the helicopter pilot) and Brian Fong (the motorcycle guy), or their midseason replacements Gary Crosby (a frequent member of the Jack Webb Players) and Craig Gardner.

I was pondering getting this, but as it turned out to my surprise, YouTube has two episodes …

… apparently posted by a fan of Maunder, though they are labeled as being from his Western series “Lancer.”

This, by the way, also should not be confused with another NBC series called “Chase” …

… nor with the brass rock group Chase:



4 thoughts on “Chasing around old TV

  1. To this day, I am still a diehard 1st season Chase fan of 1973. I missed the pilot and would love to get a decent copy on vhs or dvd but have found sets of Chase on other websites. I am also a diehard fan of Houston Knights 1986-1988 and thwy haven’t put that on dvd either. What skunks !!

  2. That Chase episode that’s posted on your site isn’t ” Gang War” it’s “A Bit of Class” with Caesar Romano. I found that some of the dvds bought, they really mixed up the titles.

  3. I would like to get that set of available CHASE (1973-74) episodes no matter which episodes are included. You can notify me via my e-mail address below. Thank you for your info. P. Barkley

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