What is it with writers and producers today?
What ever happened to the wonderfully evocative and sometime lurid titles of TV episodes we used to have?
The eagerness with which we waited on any Quinn Martin detective show for that rich baritone announcer to reveal “Tonight's Episode” and win the bet as to whether it contained either the word 'murder' or 'death' somewhere in it.
These days, episode titles seem somewhat repetitive and hum drum. There was a phase - not so long ago - when all episode titles seemed to consist of a single word – usually something like 'Gambit' or 'Survival' or 'Flashpoint'. These days though the cliches come thick and fast. Often episode titles are simply a pointer – a two to three word precis of the gist of the plot. 'Daleks in Manhattan' is probably the worst offender of recent years.
In the interest of piquing curiosity in the subject, I present my own Top Ten Episode Titles in No Particular Order.
1. Public Eye - You Think It'll Be Marvellous – But It's Always a Rabbit (1965 – 1.10). The sixties/seventies private eye series that starred the late Alfred Burke always gave good titles. Often they were quotes from dialogue in the ever quirky scripts.
2. Callan: Nice People Die At Home (1969 – 2.14) Nice and grim as one would expect from Callan.
3. Star Trek: For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky (1969 – 3.08) Another dialogue quote from a series that also enjoyed quoting the classics and quite elegantly pretentious.
4. Doctor Who: The Death of Doctor Who (1965 – 2.34) A good lurid title from Terry Nation which is almost designed to piss off the nerd. Needless to say, the TV programme referred to in the title is still going strong after fifty or so years...
5. Space 1999: The Rules of Luton (1976 – 2.07) Amuses me every time I see this episode title. The story goes that the American producer saw the name 'Luton' on a road sign on the way to the studio and decided it would make a good name for a planet of intelligent trees.
6. Cannon: Bad Cats and Sudden Death (1972 – 2.01) It's for titles like these that the Quinn Martin announcer's voice was purposely trained.
7. The Streets of San Francisco: A Trout in the Milk (1973 – 1.13) You really want to see this episode.
8. Hawaii Five-0: Three Dead Cows at Makapuu part one (1970 – 2.23) You probably don't want to see this episode.
9. Mannix: Skid Marks on a Dry Run (1967 – 1.2) Heh. Heh. It says 'Skid Marks'.
10. The Saint: The Effete Angler (1962 – 1.09) Fishing for trouble!