See also (feature film): Logan's Run
Strange are the ways of the film music industry. It's currently not possible, for example, to buy on CD John Williams' outstanding, Oscar nominated score for the major jack Nicholson hit movie The Witches of Eastwick (1987). Yet here we have a compilation of scores from a truly terrible and long forgotten 1970's TV series. The music though, is perhaps surprisingly, rather better than the show it was written to accompany.
Logan's Run (1977) was a rapid TV spin-off from MGM's 1976 cinema success of the same name, itself a very loose adaptation of a rather pulpy but vigorous science fiction novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. The TV series bore even less relation to the novel than did the film, which boasted a brilliant, groundbreaking score by Jerry Goldsmith – a combination of wonderfully romantic orchestral music for the world outside the domed city of the 23rd century, and state-of-the-art electronics which pretty much made redundant everything done in the ambient-techno-dance field until Don Davis collaborations with Juno Reactor for The Matrix movies.
While the film had a nominally plausible narrative set 300 years hence, the TV series settled for the popular TV format of putting its heroes on the run, having a fresh adventure each week and moving on, the clock being reset as if nothing had happened. It had worked for The Fugitive, Alias Smith and Jones, and of course Star Trek. But it had failed miserably for Planet of The Apes, which on TV lasted just 14 episodes. Someone really should have been taking notes, as Logan's Run lasted exactly the same number of episodes, but made Planet of the Apes look like a masterpiece by comparison. It was clear from the beginning those behind the show had neither the budget nor the imagination to realise anything interesting, and rapidly descended to introducing every SF device in the book (or rather not, as there are no aliens or time travellers in the original Logan's Run novel). A truly terrible series; nonsensical, tacky and bland, a fine example of the very worst of 1970's American network television.
As for the music… well, nine of the 14 episodes received original scores composed by either Laurence Rosenthal, Jeff Alexander, Jerrold Immel and Bruce Broughton, while the remaining five instalments were completed with library cues. Laurence Rosenthal scored four episodes, including the pilot, which is represented here with an almost 23 minute long suite in three sections. All nine episodes which were scored are represented on this disc, though obviously there is not the space to include the compete music from each episode.
The album opens however with Rosenthal's title theme, a catchy melody arranged in typically light pop '70's film music instrumental vein, and rendered laugh-out-loud hilarious by the application of a "whoo whoo" sound generated by a Yamaha E5 electric organ. According to the booklet this theme is well remembered for this sound, and beloved in certain quarters. I remember finding it laughable a quarter of a century ago, and the passing years have just made it mature into an unintentionally side-splitting musical joke. Call it kitsch or camp, or call it 'misguided'.
Regarding the episode scores; typically for television of the period they are for comparatively few musicians and show a range of inventiveness the material simply did not deserve. Rosenthal's suite from the pilot episode makes good use of percussion and piano to generate suspense, stark string writing adding to the tension. While synthesiser effects recall someone Goldsmith's work on the cinema incarnation of the story, the menacing mood is somewhat closer to that same composer's great score for the original cinema Planet of the Apes (1968). There is much that is commendable about the incidental writing, though it also often feels very fragmented – as indeed do many of the sequences through-out the disc. But that is the nature of much television music, perhaps even more so than film music.
Towards the end of the first part of the Suite Rosenthal's offers a lovely pastoral setting of his main theme, and also offers attractively intimate writing through the early passages of the 'Suite Part 2'. The suspense / chase music is less interesting when detached from the images it was written to accompany, and when the music turns would-be triumphant an unavoidable element of '70's US TV cheese enters the mix. The 'Suite Part 3' continues along similar lines to the preceding movements, while the following track, from Rosenthal's score for 'The Collectors' is again more of much the same, while four cues from his music to 'Man Out of Time' form an intriguingly atmospheric nine minute long suite. The final Rosenthal score, 'Futurepast' begins with more pastoral variations on the main theme has a lovely light fantasy quality accented by gentle bells and harp.
Two episodes scored by Jerrold Immel both offer something of a French quality, an impressionistic sound which distinguishes elements of both 'The Innocent' and 'Half Life', while Jeff Alexander's contribution to 'Capture' is similarly pastoral and eloquent.
The final composer is Bruce Broughton. The disc presents a delicate, spectral mood piece from 'Night Visitors' and an 11 minute suite from 'Fear Factor'. This last is among the more interesting sequences on the disc for harking back to Goldsmith's Logan's Run, and has more energy and dynamism than anything else on the CD. A curious companion to Goldsmith's score, it is an interesting curiosity for fans of both composers.
This is an odd album to summarise. The music is much better than one might hope for, but still not really memorable enough to recommend wholeheartedly in its own right. That said, the sound and presentation are excellent. Followers of the composers represented, or of the show, or simply die-hard science fiction buffs, may wish to pick up a copy. But with so many fine releases vying for attention this Logan's Run must be considered something of an also ran.
Music Composed and Conducted by Laurence Rosenthal
- 1 Main Title 1:11
- 2 Suite Part 1 8:43
- 3 Suite Part 2 6:18
- 4 Suite Part 3 7:47
- 5 Bumpers 0:10
- 6 The Collectors 4:10
- 7 Capture (Jeff Alexander) 5:56
- 8 The Innocent(Jerrold Immel) 6:29
- 9 Man Out of Time 9:06
- 10 Half Life (Immel) 8:46
- 11 Fear Factor (Bruce Broughton) 11:39
- 12 Futurepast 6:40
- 13 Night Visitors (Broughton) 1:55
- 14 End Title 0:38
- Total Disc Time: 79:55
FSM press release
Logan's Run was not only a science fiction novel and big-budget 1976 film, but a spin-off TV series which premiered on CBS in September 1977. In a post-apocalyptic future, two young "runners," Logan (Gregory Harrison) and Jessica (Heather Menzies), flee their home city, where lives of luxury end in ritualistic death at age 30. Joined by their android companion, Rem (Donald Moffat), Logan and Jessica outwit an assortment of aliens, robots, time travelers, mad scientists and superpowered constructs across the parched landscape while searching for a mythical "Sanctuary" and fleeing their "sandman" pursuers, led by Francis (Randy Powell).
Although it lasted only 14 episodes, Logan's Run is fondly remembered by genre fans for its attractive characters, entertaining sci-fi plots and futuristic gadgets -- not to mention '70s sci-fi charm. One of the most memorable aspects was an exotic title theme by Laurence Rosenthal (The Return of a Man Called Horse, Clash of the Titans) with an unforgettable synthesizer "siren." A gifted melodist, Rosenthal provided a long-lined melody (he also wrote the theme to Fantasy Island) enhanced by a Yamaha E5 organ. It is surprising that this classic theme has never before been released, let alone in stereo.
FSM's premiere CD of the Logan's Run television soundtrack features Rosenthal's main and end titles plus suites from all nine episodes which received original scores (the rest were tracked): Rosenthal's music for the pilot and three additional episodes, setting the tone and symphonic style with his elegant dramatic moods; Jerrold Immel's (Dallas, Knots Landing) for two episodes, utilizing a French impressionistic style plus electronics; veteran M-G-M staffer Jeff Alexander for one; and a young Bruce Broughton for two.
Well before he was a feature composer (Silverado, Young Sherlock Holmes, Lost in Space), Bruce Broughton was busy on numerous television programs, and this is the first-ever release of any of his early television work. His score for "Fear Factor" features sophisticated action writing and evocative treatments of Rosenthal's title theme, hinting at Broughton's popular feature career to come, and the composer's ample talent and craft.
The CD is entirely in stereo, remixed from the original 1/2" three-track session masters. Liner notes are by Lukas Kendall.