But it’s not all just about the opening credits. The shows need great music throughout.
Here is the TVClaw Top 5 of television soundtracks. And I’m talking original scores, not soundtracks artfully (and expensively) cobbled together from the producers’ and writers’ favourite albums. It’s an entirely subjective list, and there may be some glaring omissions, so add your picks in Comments.
The TVClaw Top 5 Best Original Television Soundtracks
1) Battlestar Galactica(2003): Bear McCreary. BSG remains one of the best television dramas ever, and much of the credit lies with McCreary’s fantastic score (a.k.a. “the sound of poundy drums”) . The original Battlestar Galactica also had its own memorable score, which was nominated for a Grammy in 1979. It lost out to John Williams and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and hey, there’s no shame in that.
2) Star Trek (1966): It’s all about that theme song by Alexander Courage plus incidental music from Courage, George Duning, Gerald Fried, Sol Kaplan and Fred Steiner. Instantly memorable.
3) Doctor Who (1963, 2005): Ron Grainer, Delia Derbyshire and Dick Mills at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop provided the original theme song, which still survives in the opening credits despite several recent attempts to mess with it. Now that the BBC Radiophonic Workshop is but a distant memory, composers Murray Gold and Ben Foster continue to create music for time travelling.
4) The Returned/Les Revenants (2012): Mogwai. It’s new and recent and it’s just great. Who knew xylophones could be the stuff of nightmares? Mogwai’s understated score makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
5) Band of Brothers (2001): Michael Kamen. This landmark HBO miniseries was Kamen’s untimely swansong and he scored a vast amount of classical movements for it. A stunning body of work.
“T’inquiète pas…” should be the cue to have everyone run screaming from the room
“Don’t worry” has to be the most frequently uttered phrase in The Returned.
Scared because your child/wife/brother has returned from the dead? “T’inquiète pas.”
Tense because you want to know what it’s all about, how it will end, why the dead have returned? “T’inquiète pas,” because all would be revealed in the series finale, “The Horde.” Wouldn’t it?
Er, no. The final episode of what we now know is Series/Season 1 of The Returned ended with an epic cliff-hanger but no actual answers or revelations.
Who or what is Lucy Clarsen? Has Simon turned to the dark side? Is Adèle pregnant? Who’s in The Horde? Will Jérôme ever run out of cigarettes? Does anyone apart from the police officers and Toni have a job?
Why isn’t The Lake Pub called Le Bar Du Lac? … What the hell has been going on for the last eight weeks?
The Returned (a.k.a. Les Revenants) has been the stand-out drama series this summer. Understated, frightening and so very sad. It explores themes of grief, love and loyalty. What would you do if your loved ones came back from the dead? As themselves, not as comic book zombies or creatures of the night.
What would you do if a lonely, frightened boy asked you to protect him? Would you risk everything to keep him safe? Even if you suspected that he was a “revenant” who may have butchered your nosey neighbour?
The underlying theme of “The Horde” was that of familial love, specifically the bond linking mothers and children. Toni and Serge’s mother who apparently died of grief after one son killed the other. Claire and Julie who were willing to sacrifice everything for Camille and Victor. Sandrine mourning her lost teenager and baby. Lucy and Simon coming for Adèle’s child.
However, although “The Horde” was as tense and claustrophobic as the preceding seven episodes, it ultimately felt like just an elaborate set-up for Series/Season 2. What happened to Thomas and his officers? Will The Horde be back for Adèle? Will Toni be back behind the bar of The Lake Pub?
Now that US network ABC and international production company Fremantle Media are both reportedly prepping English-language adaptations/remakes of The Returned all may not be explained in Series 2 either. It would be hard for a US network to extend a taut French drama into 100 episodes of prime-time fare if the original gave the game away after only 16 episodes. Would anyone have watched Lost the first time around if they knew exactly how it would end?
But there is some good news. Fans of the haunting soundtrack need not mothball the xylophone just yet: Mogwai said they would consider scoring a US remake. In an interview with the NME, the Scottish rockers said, “We’d think about [it], but these things have a habit of not being so fantastic. We’re doing the second series [of Les Revenants] and are working on a new album, so that’s probably enough for now!”