Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Victory At Sea



I've been spending quite a bit of time on YouTube of late... watching old episodes of "Victory at Sea," which is in the public domain these days. Watching is a little harder than it sounds, given that all the episodes aren't in one place and the quality of some uploads sucks, to be frank. Nonetheless it's worth the effort to chase up the episodes, both for the historical content and most especially the MUSIC. The piece above introduced every installment of "Victory," and still raises goosebumps on my arms when I hear it. I'm funny like that. Me and Richard Nixon.

I was too young to watch the series when it was first-run fare... that and the fact my parents and I were on our way overseas for a five year sojourn as the series wound up. But I was 13 when we returned to the US of A in 1958, and "Victory" was in re-runs... on Sunday mornings, if I recall correctly. I would park myself on the floor in front of the teevee in my quiet Sunday morning house... me usually being the only soul awake at that time... and watch two back-to-back episodes in awe and wonder. It was "can't miss teevee" for me, and I watched every single episode, many of 'em more than once, too.

A couple of things come to mind here. First... can you imagine NBC producing such a series today? And running it in prime-time without commercial interruption? Second... can you imagine the American public (beyond 13-year old boys) having enough interest to watch all 26 episodes?

Me neither.

24 comments:

  1. Hey there, I rememnber Victory at Sea also as a kid. Went to the Wiki and followed a link to http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=mediatype%3Amovies%20AND%20collection%3Aclassic_tv%20AND%20subject%3A%22Victory%20At%20Sea%22

    Here you will find all 26 episodes. Can't vouch for the quality, but it's all in one place.

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  2. Hey SantaJim... thanks for that! I obviously didn't chase the links at The Wiki, and should have.

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  3. Don we love the broadband media monster, the greatest timesink ever found.

    Wish you hadn't reminded me, no I'm in for 13 hours.

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  4. Ah, but broadband is indeed wonderful for those of us with (a) no day job and (b) no one to nag us to do other, (arguably) more productive things. :D

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  5. Oh Buck,
    When I was in high school (West Mesa in ABQ) I was in the Navy JROTC program there. They had two instructors that taught us young minds all about the Navy. One was a very old Naval Aviator Captain (his oldest sea story went back to the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, he was assigned to a squadron on the USS Enterprise for the entire length of the war and was shot down three times, we heard each story each of the 4-years I was in the program) whilst the other instructor was a retired Senior Chief that spent his entire time riding Boomers (these were what we called the Ballistic Missile submarines) which was partially why he took retirement in New Mexico, to get away from the ocean.

    Anyway, one of their principles teaching aids were movies (maybe 3 days a week we got them) and the Victory At Sea series was our favorite. Oh the memories I have of sitting in the little steel building out behind the school (they did not have room for us in the School proper so this class and many others where in those modular steel building, 35 of them in fact) in the heat with poor AC and watching every bit of those movies.

    I credit the two of them for not just me joining the Navy but the career path I took; I too went into Naval Aviation (albeit as an enlisted) because I was drawn to the Flight Deck experience, seem like so much fun and my specifc job was in Anti-submarine Warfare. I was what they called an AX which was Aviation Electronics Technician for Anti-submarine Avionic Systems. It was the best way to give tribute to both men!!

    BT: Jimmy T sends.

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  6. Hey Buck, I was born in '61, and I remember the reruns on Sunday mornings late 60's early 70's in Oakland. My parents always gushed about the music (Remember the Typhoon of '44 episode??) NBC wouldn't want make a show like Victory at Sea because it was entirely too patriotic.

    JimmyT; If it wasn't for AX's, AW's would have nothing to break. The gear would be inop.

    A799 lives on forever in MY mind.

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  7. Jimmy: You really need to get to work on that blog of your own!! Thanks yet again for your memories.

    re: ...Boomers (these were what we called the Ballistic Missile submarines)...

    SN2 did his enlisted time as an A-Ganger on Boomers, so I know a lil bit about 'em. He has some great war stories in that space, as well. :D

    Darryl: I tried not to be too gushy about the Victory soundtrack, but I truly think it's an American masterpiece. It's hard NOT to gush in this space.

    Although I'm not an AX or an AW I AM a former radar maintainer... and operators ALWAYS break stuff. It's their primary function in life.

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  8. Barco,
    The ole "Reseated checks 4.0 on Deck" write up!! We lived for the occasional A - 490 (Operator Error) which I saw a few times when the Mighty War Hoover's were still new. I was good friends with many AW's (one was Best Man at my wedding and I was in His) and many wanted me alone in the air with them (for what I don't know) it was some Aircrew thing. But I was happy on deck pushing them off the pointy end of the Boat.

    And Buck, I am working on that. Finally got a name and I have fleshed out a general theme. You will be first to know when I go live.

    BT: Jimmy T sends.

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  9. I was a girl of course, and not so much interested in watching Victory at Sea on television back in those days, but I sure did LOVE the music. My high school band played the Victory at Sea Overture one year for a concert, and that music just always gaves me chills.

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  10. MissBirdlegs in AL19 August, 2009 17:51

    The Victory at Sea reruns were a "don't miss" event in our house. My son (born in '61)& my daughter (born in '58) sat hypnotized through every episode with us and both are now history nuts just as we were. My son also spent his Navy time in a Boomer.

    There used to be actual interesting and educational stuff on the tube. :-)

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  11. I was in high school (1957) when I got my first "record player". The first album I bought with my own money (I worked for .50/hr at a dept. store) was "Rhapsody in Blue" and the second was the soundtrack to "Victory at Sea". Maybe strange selections for a '50's girl but I've always been a little strange myself.

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  12. I remember watching GI Diary on Sunday mornings in the 70's, when I was a young lad. Never missed an episode.

    You're right though, no producer would make a series like this about today's warfare. Our instant gratifications society wouldn't be able to sit through it.

    We've lost much.

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  13. virgil xenophon20 August, 2009 00:37

    I'm old enough to remember the series in the original--as well as "Navy Log" and the series "Submarine" which was derived from Cmdr Ned Beach's (ret as Capt) book of the same name which highlighted a selected number of great actual combat patrols by various subs. They had guest stars in almost every episode as the sub commander, etc, I read the book as well, and the series was EXTREMELY true to the book.

    I have to laugh about the Sunday morning bit. I was always an early riser and, like you Buck I'd be the only one up at test-pattern time (remember THOSE days? Or had that gone by the way-side by your time?)
    and would watch all the PSA-type shows. The Army had a weekly one on at that time also--can't remember the name, anybody? (I see Buckskin has supplied it as i typed--G.I. Dairy)--which highlighted all the latest tech & tng poop. Like you, I'd be there lying on the floor, scoping it all in all by myself...was an only child.

    I read and watched EVERYTHING. My motto could/should have been:"Input, I need input!" :)

    (remember the 2 80s movies "Short-Circuit" & "S.C.2" about the robot, "Johnny-Five?" ["Five-Alive"] was HIS saying,,,,cute movies....)

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  14. virgil xenophon20 August, 2009 00:41

    My memory faulted me. (not for the 1st time) The TV series derived from the book "Submarine" was entitled "The Silent Service" now that I think about it

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  15. I'm not sure I have ever seen an episode of "Victory at Sea" but I hope to remedy that.

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  16. Jimmy T sez: And Buck, I am working on that. Finally got a name and I have fleshed out a general theme. You will be first to know when I go live.

    Huzzah!!

    Sharon sez: My high school band played the Victory at Sea Overture one year for a concert, and that music just always gaves me chills.

    So Tricky Dick and I are NOT alone! :D

    Miss BL in AL sez: There used to be actual interesting and educational stuff on the tube. :-)

    Yeah... today's teevee landscape has turned into that "vast wasteland" Newton Minnow warned us about... He was just slightly ahead of his time.

    Suzie Q sez: Maybe strange selections for a '50's girl but I've always been a little strange myself.

    I don't think that's strange at all. Unless you kinda-sorta believe good taste itself is strange. I'll not swerve off into more social commentary here... :D

    BR sez: remember watching GI Diary on Sunday mornings in the 70's, when I was a young lad. Never missed an episode.

    Now there's a series I missed. I had to google it to see when it was on and found out I was writing my own GI Diary at the time. :D

    And you're right, BR... we HAVE lost much.

    VX sez: The Army had a weekly one on at that time also--can't remember the name, anybody? (I see Buckskin has supplied it as i typed--G.I. Dairy)--which highlighted all the latest tech & tng poop.

    I think you're talking about "The Big Picture," which ran in the '50s. Right? I watched all those, too! And "Navy Log," and all those others... AND the test pattern. The TV station in Atlanta used to play the national anthem first thing after they took the test pattern down, followed by the "Prayer for Today," and then it was "Victory At Sea." I'm semi-amazed at myself for remembering those things so clearly. Senility apparently hasn't set in yet!

    Finally... I never saw those '80s movies you mentioned. I went off movies some time in the '80s...

    Lou: If you follow the link SantaJim left you can see 'em all.

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  17. virgil xenophon20 August, 2009 11:23

    Buck/

    LOL. It WAS "The Big Picture!" I can even remember the distinctive voice of the announcer (calm, low-key, low) and the opening which had a globe, as I remember superimposed by pictures of Army life, etc., sort of like the old newsreels at the movies which it probably was consciously designed to represent, come to think about it.

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  18. My Dad loved that show. And I still have a recording (record, vinyl) of the music from the show from his collection.

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  19. Jim sez: And I still have a recording (record, vinyl) of the music from the show from his collection.

    Now you're making me feel quite OLD, Jim. I have (had) the vinyl, too.

    Crysti: Nice turn of a phrase, that!

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  20. Didn't Victory at Sea win an Oscar (when they counted) for score? Wait, I have the DVD set here somewhere... Nope, doesn't say anything about that.

    JimmyT, West Mesa, eh? I went to Sandia. Nothing there drew me to the Navy though. Didn't really participate in high school. I know the metal buildings you mean (Sandia's Yucca annex).

    ASVAB said I should be a Nuke, so that's what I did.

    Buck, I can't imagine any network nor Hollywood studio doing something like this. Dummies. They could have made a lot of dough if they'd put their production capabilities behind the work of, say, Totten and Yon.

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  21. Ah. Emmy for TV (1954 for best public affairs program according to Wikipedia, the encyclopedia anyone can edit). Oscars are for film. Duh.

    Reese sends, and wonders why JimmyT always signs this way.

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  22. Bob: You make a GREAT point about Yon and Totten. I thought I read something a while back that some producer was thinking about making a movie about Deuce Four, based on Yon's blogging. And then I didn't hear anything else.

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  23. Yeah, I heard that thing about the Deuce Four Strykers, too. What a story! Stay tuned. Maybe it hasn't been long enough. Gotta get the homecoming ball just right. Wasn't that a great writeup about the ball?

    Was it Clint Eastwood? Gary Sinease (sp?)?

    Welp, off to check out JimmyT's pad.

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