Classic TV Themes: Joe 90
You can write pages on Gerry Anderson's 1968 Supermarionation series Joe 90. There's the morally ambiguous premise of giving an emotionally immature nine-year-old the experiences of an adult. Then the psychological effects of allowing him to kill at will. Then there's the perennial issue of scientists prostituting their skills to the intelligence community. One can also reflect upon the absence of any major female characters in the series and how that may impact upon Joe himself. Finally, when one finally arrives she's a gold-digging bitch who tries to exploit Joe's Dad, Professor McClaine. Joe 90 is certainly a psychiatrist’s dream subject.
However, we won't dignify such pseudo-intellectual analysis here. Joe 90 simply has to be taken in context and viewed on its simple premise that every nine-year-old boy (at the time) wanted to be James Bond. If we apply modern sensibilities to everything made prior to 2000, then we’ll end up writing off everything. However, the most important aspect of Joe 90, that made the show so good was the get down funky theme tune, written by the immensely talented composer Barry Gray. Gerry Anderson wrote in his biography that the Joe 90 theme was a "dizzying piece of psychedelic pop art that could have been produced only in the late Sixties". A statement I whole heartedly concur with.
Curiously, when the series was syndicated internationally, changes were sometimes made. This was most noticeable for the Japanese release, where the catchy original title theme was completely replaced with a language specific song for that market. Now Japanese theme songs and pop music from the sixties is an entire sub-genre of its own, and I will not attempt explore this particular niche here. I will simply present you with both versions of the theme for your edification and entertainment. Feel free to comment.
1.) This is the original TV theme tune and not the commercial re-recording that was subsequently released as a single. This version includes the sound effects for the "BIG RAT" computer that gave Joe his special abilities.
2.) This is the Japanese theme song. If anyone can translate the lyrics, I would be very interested. It's not exactly Barry Gray, but it's kind of groovy in its own right.