I had never given a moment’s thought to music written for television until 1997. I was watching The Late Show with the great Peter Takács when he suddenly – in reference to Paul Shafer – said: “This guy’s a genius.”
While there’s no reason the art of composing for television cannot be done ingeniously, I cannot at the moment think of a television composer who enjoys the status of “genius.” This is in stark contrast to film composers, a small gaggle of whom regularly get the G-word applied to them (Bernard Hermann, Toru Takemitsu, Ennio Morricone . . . ). But what about Mike Post? Or Alf Clausen? Or . . . Michael Giacchino?
The punchline: Lost returns tonight! Hooray! While I admit Giacchino’s work isn’t the first reason I tune in, I am nonetheless looking forward to those low harp plucks, string tremolos, drum thuds, and creepy ostinatos with which he skillfully scores the show. His terse, austere music rarely gets the sort of attention Mama Cass and Drive Shaft have received, but when Giacchino gets a chance to let things rip, the results can be wonderful. My favorite musical moment is from the first season at the end of the episode “Deus Ex Machina:” a plain-spoken but impassioned string section raises magnificently through Terry O’Quinn’s raging words; he is “beatin’ [his] hand bloody” on a door in the ground that just won’t open. But then –