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Whew!
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Published Monday, January 09, 2023 @ 9:37 PM EST
Jan 09 2023

Another bizarre obsession has been fulfilled.

"Whew!" was a now-obscure CBS Television daytime game show that featured Tom Kennedy as host. It aired briefly from April 23, 1979 to May 30, 1980. The game itself was simultaneously mundane and gimmicky, but its opening and closing theme songs induced in me an earworm of transcendent proportion.

(Parenthetically, the medical term for earworm is, among others, "involuntary musical imagery (INMI)". My three years of high school Latin- admittedly over a half-century ago- translates that to "involuntarium musicum imago", which is so close to the English version it probably wasn't worth the effort. Yet here we are. Sigh.)

The theme was written by Alan Thicke, who had a successful career as a television theme song composer in his pre-"Growing Pains" years.

That tune would leak into my consciousness every year or so, prompting me to search for it online. Various versions were available, but they were either cheesy imitations or lifted from aired episodes, and thus contained audience applause, the announcer's intro, and sponsor acknowledgements. No "clean" version was available.

According to lostmediawiki.com:

"The show's entire soundtrack had never been heard since the show's cancellation although numerous stitches and recreations of the soundtrack have circulated throughout the years, most notably the closing theme to the show was uploaded to YouTube by user Thewhammy83 on June 27th, 2010. Alan Thicke not only said he doesn't remember the show but also that he doesn't have the soundtrack in his possession. The show's executive producer Burt Sugarman also doesn't have a copy of the soundtrack but confirmed he has all 247 episodes of the show. There were rumors floating around that Thicke destroyed the master reels of the soundtrack after an ugly divorce, but the rumor has never been confirmed."

"In February 2009, the Museum of Television Production Music announced that they would be searching for the soundtrack. They tweeted 11 months later that Thicke had released the rights for the soundtrack to them. In late 2012, they announced that they had found the entire soundtrack and posted a picture on their website of the soundtrack's reels and track list. They restored it and made it available to their yearly subscribers as a renewal gift for a limited time until mid-2013." (I vaguely recall this, and the only reason I can think of for not subscribing was outrageous pricing. Or I stumbled across the offer too late.)

Anyway, I was wandering around YouTube today looking for information on the X-class solar flare that erupted on the sun this morning, and the site's mysterious, ineffable selection algorithm produced a sidelist of supposedly related videos which included:

These are undoubtedly violating someone's copyright, (despite the poster's "NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED!!!" disclaimer), but the files were posted over a year ago and YouTube hasn't taken them down, so if you share my inexplicable fondness for these tunes, I'd get them while you can. (It's now the ringtone for calls from my wife.)

Forty-three years. Wow. I guess the quest for the grail has ended.

I am reminded of Hans Gruber's observation in the film Die Hard. "'When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.’ Benefits of a classical education."


Categories: Earworm, Game shows, Music, Theme songs, Whew!, YouTube


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