1967: The U.N.C.L.E./Invaders connection

A first-season episode of The Invaders directed by Sutton Roley…

….and a fourth-season U.N.C.L.E. episode directed by Sutton Roley

The final season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1967-68) included a major change in tone. The show got a lot more serious after a campy third season.

The primary reason was a change in producers. In came Anthony Spinner, a veteran of some Quinn Martin series. His time at QM Productions up to that point included being associate producer for the first season of The Invaders.

Spinner had written a first-season U.N.C.L.E. episode, The Secret Sceptre Affair. But he also wrote a number of episodes for Quinn Martin series such as 12 O’Clock High and The FBI.

QM Productions hired Spinner for the Invaders, where he was deputy to the day-to-day producer, Alan A. Armer.

The show was a departure for QM — it was a science fiction series about how architect David Vincent (Roy Thinnes) tries to convince humanity the Earth is being invaded by an alien race.

The Invaders was a mid-season replacement series that debuted in January 1967 on ABC. Spinner departed the show after the first half-season and he landed as the new day-to-day producer for U.N.C.L.E.

Spinner, along the way, hired some contributors from The Invaders. Among them were writers Don Brinkley, Robert Sherman and John W. Bloch. Bloch, like Spinner, had also worked on a first-season U.N.C.L.E. episode. Sherman’s U.N.C.L.E.’s script was among those that went unproduced because the series was canceled at mid-season.

But perhaps the most significant contributor from The Invaders was director Sutton Roley (1922-2007).

Roley was known for filming shots from unusual angles. He helmed two episodes of the first season of The Invaders, including one titled The Innocent.

The aliens try to fool David Vincent about their intentions, claiming they really want to help mankind.

The episode includes a point-of-view shot where Vincent, having not been fooled, looks up at the aliens.

Roley would direct three episodes in U.N.C.L.E.’s Spinner-produced final season, including the two-part series finale, The Seven Wonders of the World Affair. The director practically duplicates his shot from The Invaders as we see Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) look at people hovering over him.

For U.N.C.L.E., the changes brought by Spinner didn’t pan out. The show got clobbered in the ratings by Gunsmoke on CBS (a series which had been initially canceled but reprieved).

Nevertheless, a number of contributors to The Invaders had an impact on the tone for the final 16 episodes of The Man From U.N.C..E.

Footnote: The main guest star in The Innocent was Michael Rennie. He’d be the villain in the fourth-season U.N.C.L.E. episode, The Thrush Roulette Affair. Rennie would also return in the second season of The Invaders for the show’s only two-part story.

The Invaders CD set coming Oct. 17

Cover for The Invaders CD set

A two-disc CD set for The Invaders is coming out Oct. 17 from La-La Land Records.

It is the label’s second volume of soundtracks from television shows produced by Quinn Martin Productions.

It’s a limited edition release of up to 2,000 sets, according to an announcement on La-La Land’s Facebook page.

The show was perhaps the most unusual from QM and it only ran 43 episodes in 1967 and 1968.

The Invaders kind of flipped the format of QM’s The Fugitive. With The Fugitive, a lonely innocent man (David Janssen) is being pursued. With The Invaders, a lonely, determined man (Roy Thinnes) is pursuing invaders who want to take over the Earth. The show has a following that endured.

Some of the music, in fact, has an odd history of its own.

The initial composer for the series was Dominic Frontiere (1931-2017). Prior to The Invaders, Frontiere had been composer and production executive during the first season of The Outer Limits. That show was made by Daystar Productions and United Artists Television.

The producers of The Outer Limits made an unsold pilot for an anthology show called The Unknown. When the pilot failed to sell, it ran as an episode of The Outer Limits. A few years later, Frontiere took his theme for The Unknown and made it into the theme for The Invaders.

With the CD set, one disc is work by Frontiere with the second disc by other composers, including Richard Markowitz. He’s best known for his work on The Wild Wild West but worked a fair number of QM shows.

Meanwhile, below you can compare the titles of the unsold Unknown pilot and the titles of The Invaders. Besides the Frontiere music, each has a “ripping” visual. Thankfully, the “ripping” for The Invaders was silent.

Richard Markowitz’s wild wild TV scoring career

A sampling of Richard Markowitz's title cards.

A sampling of Richard Markowitz’s title cards.

Another in a series about unsung heroes of television.

Composer Richard Markowitz, over more than three decades, produced one of the most memorable television themes and contributed to many series.

Yet, more than 20 years after his death, Markowitz is far from a household name. With each passing year, Markowitz passes further into obscurity, save for those few (led by writer Jon Burlingame) who follow the careers of television composers.

Markowitz’s primary legacy is the theme to The Wild Wild West. The composer scored the pilot to the 1965-69 series’ pilot. Originally, CBS hired Dimitri Tiomkin (who earlier wrote the theme song to the network’s Rawhide series) to write the show’s theme song.

According to a Markowitz audio interview that’s an extra on the season one set of The Wild Wild West, producer Michael Garrison didn’t want the Tiomkin theme (which Markowitz described as a ballad). Markowitz, according to this account, was a last-minute hire. Markowitz, in the interview, says he was paid considerably less than Tiomkin.

Regardless, Markowitz came up with a classic theme. During the run of the show, Markowitz only received a credit (“Music Composed and Conducted by”) for episodes he scored. (According to his IMDB.COM ENTRY, that was 29 of the show’s 104 episodes). He wasn’t credited for the theme.  Thus, when other composers did scores for the show, there was no mention of Markowitz.

It wasn’t until 1979’s The Wild Wild West Revisited TV movie that Markowitz an on-screen credit for his greatest creation. The theme showed up in a scene in the 1999 Wild Wild West theatrical movie, but the composer yet again didn’t get an on-screen credit.

Also, according to that same audio interview, Markowitz had clashes with Morton Stevens, who took charge of CBS’s West Coast music operation in the spring of 1965. That contributed to Markowitz not being around when the show concluded with the 1968-69 season.

Despite that, Markowitz had too much talent for other television productions to ignore.

Quinn Martin’s QM Productions hired him frequently (including 16 original scores for The FBI, an episode of The Invaders and some episodes of The Streets of San Frnacisco). He scored nine episodes of Mission: Impossible, including the show’s only three-part story. Universal’s TV operation was another frequent employer, including 71 episodes of Murder, She Wrote.

Markowitz died on Dec. 6, 1994 at the age of 68.

Don Medford, versatile TV director, dies

Don Medford, a versatile television director whose credits included the pilot for The Man From U.N.C.L.E., has died at age 95, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.

Don Medford directed The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'s pilot.

Don Medford directed The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s pilot.


Medford helmed The Vulcan Affair, the U.N.C.L.E. pilot made in late 1963 and which aired on Sept. 22, 1964, as the first episode of the televisions series. An expanded version was released as the theatrical movie To Trap a Spy.

Besides that pilot, Medford directed at least 32 episodes of the Quinn Martin series The FBI, including at least two two-part storylines. One of them, which aired in the 1966-67 season, was release outside the U.S. as Cosa Nostra, Arch Enemy of the FBI.

Medford also directed episodes of a number of other Quinn Martin shows, including Twelve O’Clock High, The Invaders and The Fugitive, including the final two-part story where Dr. Richard Kimble finally caught up with the one-armed man who killed his wife. You can view his full IMDB.com bio by CLICKING HERE.