TV - The Fall Guy

Fall Guy

Saturdays were made for shows like this in the 80's, so Barnaby Eaton-Jones gives us a "Critical and Analytical Review of The Fall Guy Theme Tune". Warning, may cause coffee spillage...

Could there be anything more quintessentially 1980s than 'The Fall Guy'? Well, yes, there could. 'Miami Vice', for example. That screams the 1980s louder than The Communards rendition of 'Don't Leave Me This Way'.

But, if you're looking for cool Saturday tea-time television, and you grew up in the UK in the 1980s, then you're always going to say 'The Fall Guy', aren't you? Well, actually, no. You're always going to say 'Knight Rider' or 'The A-Team' or 'The Dukes Of Hazzard' or, even, 'Airwolf'. Regardless of that, I loved 'The Fall Guy'. I mean, really loved it. To the point of having to see a child psychiatrist (I was the child, not the psychiatrist). It tugs at my nostalgic heartstrings like I tugged on my trousers every time the barely-there-bikini-ed actress Heather Thomas appeared in the introductory montage of clips from the show.

So, what is it about 'The Fall Guy' that so appeals, I hear you say. And, if I'm hearing things again, I really will have to go back and see that psychiatrist. Well, let me tell you. Aside from the fact that I genuinely wanted to be a stuntman after watching it (I would often be found beating myself up and throwing myself down steep grassy inclines, even leaping on to the bonnets of stationary cars and hanging on for dear life... or at least until the neighbours yelled at me to get off), the thing that hooked me most was the THEME TUNE.

Oh yes.

In an age where lyrics to songs are analysed, sometimes held up in court, and can hold a variety of different meanings (I'm looking at you, 'Blurred Lines'. Robin Thicke. Thicke by name, thick by nature), 'The Fall Guy' had a song that was just clean, witty and old-fashioned. At least, that's how I remember it. I haven't seen it since I was a young teenager.

Mind you, if you've never watched the show at all (and I may have to tie your small intenstines in a knot and watch you attempt to digest food if you haven't), then let me give you the briefest of run-downs. Lee Majors IS Colt Seavers, a gruff and grizzled Hollywood stuntman-for-hire who's always so broke that he has to also work part-time as a Bounty Hunter; bringing in crooks who've skipped bail to face their trials in court. His protege and cousin is a fresh-faced, chisel-jawed, slightly dumb stuntman called Howie Munson (played by Douglas Barr) and rounding out his team - with the perfect kind of rounded-out curves - is a typical '80s blonde bombshell (not He-Man) called Jody Banks, played by typical '80s blonde bombshell Heather Thomas. Essentially, in each episode, they attempt a stunt on a movie set, realise they aren't getting paid enough money for doing so, get a call from an agency who want them to track down a fugitive, spend the majority of the episode doing that (incorporating stunts as they go), and then finish the stunt they were doing for the movie at the start of the episode. Sometimes, famous celebrities would cameo. Sometimes, they wouldn't. Sometimes, Heather Thomas would be in a bikini. Sometimes, she wouldn't.

Now I've got you up to speed, let's examine that iconic theme tune and the equally iconic lyrics (sung by the good guy icon himself, Lee Majors; who drawls his way through so lazily that it took me years to decipher certain lines). Share this journey with me as I watch and listen with adult eyes and see how innocent and naïve this song can be..

Fall guy 2


It begins with a quick shot of the huge truck that is in no way compensating for something (a Rounded-Line 1982 GMC K-2500 Wideside, petrolheads). It drives boastfully past the camera. A truck so large that climbing in and out of it seemed to be a real problem for the actors. If they'd have tried a Dukes of Hazzard style slide across the bonnet, or attempted to swing their legs in through the open windows without opening the doors, they would have ended up with dislocated hips and herniated discs. It wouldn't have ran for five years if they'd gone down that route, oh no. Anyway, this amazing brown and tan truck, with the huge Stuntman Association logo of an Eagle emblazoned on the, as Americans would say, hood, soon is seen from above as the Los Angeles freeway is shown. Where were they going?!! Oh, look! A huge Los Angeles road sign tells us that. A city of angels. Fallen angels. Is this what the show's about? Picking up fallen angels. We shall see. The theme tune begins, over these shots, with some finger-clicking (that's how catchy it is!) and then in comes the first line:

“Well, I'm not the kind to kiss 'n' tell, but I've been seen with Farrah...”

This sets up our loveable rogue of a hero, Colt Seavers. He's not the kind to kiss and tell but then he instantly does exactly that. The cheeky swine. Of course, the Farrah he's referring to – in the sort of ironic in-jokery that you thought only happened when Ricky Gervais made 'Extras' and called in all his celebrity chums to make look angry, cowardly or gay so that he'd look good against them – is none other than Lee Majors then-wife, Farrah Fawcett (of 'Charlie's Angels' fame). It's a neat joke and he certainly didn't force it. Ha. See what I did there? Fawcett? Force it?

The titles come up over a mangled mess of American road system that makes Birmingham's Spaghetti Junction look like someone hadn't built it whilst viewing the plans upside down via distorted mirrors in a funfair. 'THE FALL GUY'. That's the name of the show. They cleverly announce it early, so you don't have to wait too long to know what you're watching. But, why is he a 'fall guy'? Has he got some sort of muscle-wasting disease that cause his legs to wither away? Or does he suffer from permanent vertigo and collapses almost immediately as he stands? Or does he like falling on fallen angels, as hinted at earlier? Perhaps the lyrics will explain?

“I've never been with anything less than a nine, so fine.”

Does he play golf? Is this a nine-iron he's referring to? Surely it can't be an orgy of nine women? He's a loveable rogue, isn't he? Not Tiger Woods.

And then there is a huge fireball of an explosion, which in no way is a metaphor for the end of a particularly passionate bout of love-making. Our beloved fat truck jumps into the air and lands on its equally fat tyres which are the size of a genetically-mutated doughnut gone wrong, like some sort of huge sexual predator. Then, we see him. Colt Seavers (Lee Majors) at a cards table, wearing a cowboy hat and smoking a cigar. He turns to look at a departing lady's buttocks, as they sashay out of the room like a jelly on springs, and then he turns back and gives a comedy cough – as if he's choked on his own smoke because she's so smoking hot. Or something like that. Perhaps he really did cough on cigar smoke and they didn't have enough money to shoot the scene again because they were paying Heather Thomas the rest of the budget to get into a bikini that was so small that it must have cost the wardrobe about 72p in fabric? So, what do we glean from the lyrics that play over the top of this?

Heather Thomas

“I've been on fire with Sally Field, gone fast with a girl named Bo.
But, somehow, they just don't end up as mine.”

He's just admitted to being on fire in the bedroom with the girlfriend of Burt Reynolds and then doing it even quicker with the wife of John Derek. He's boasting about sleeping with an award-winning actress and a non-award winning actress. And neither of them end up with him because they're both living with someone else. What did he think was going to happen? He's been seen with Farrah, after all, so shouldn't he just be content with her? Geez. I'm starting to rethink the whole 'not Tiger Woods' thing. His hole shooting skills are on a par, certainly. Is this really Lee Majors talking about himself?? I think it might be.

“It's a death-defying life I lead, I take my chances.
I'd die for a living in the moves and TV.
But the hardest thing I'll ever do is watch my leading ladies,
Kiss some other guy while I'm bandaging my knee.”

Boom! He's on top of a train, no doubt escaping from the rage of a cuckolded Burt Reynolds and John Derek, and – WHAM – he's bashed into a signal at the side of the track, hung off it spectacularly badly and we cut away before we see him break his ankles as he falls. Serves him right. Then, we're shown the debauchery of Hollywood with a random shot of the famous Chinese Theatre and the huge Hollywood sign up on the hills before falling off a stage coach but hanging on to the runaway horses – a sure metaphor for clinging on to his fleeing lovers, who are all running back to their intendeds. A leering Douglas Barr (who plays Howie Munson) pops up and appears to be about to fight either the camera or Lee Majors (I'm guessing Majors drugged Barr and slept with his girlfriend too, as Barr does his best to sober up and practice some Karate on Majors).

“I might fall from a tall building...”

So, how does Lee Majors escape these angry boyfriends who are all out to get him? Easy! He leaps out of a plane. Of course, he's thrown them off the scent by saying he'll fall from a tall building, so they're all gathered round the Empire State Building, looking up, and he's miles away in a small plane, literally leaping out with no apparent parachute. Perhaps he's hoping the soft wings of love with effortlessly catch him as he falls?

“I might roll a brand new car...”

Back on the ground, he's thrown them off the scent again by making them look for a car that's rolling. Instead, he drives his truck through some glass. It isn't the most stealth-like of escapes. Tinkle, tinkle, tinkle. And that's just Majors weeing himself with fear in case they catch him.

“'Cause I'm the unknown Stuntman that made Redford such a star.”

As he sings this line, he meets Douglas Barr under a table (who's obviously sobered up) and then punches him in the face. The 'Redford' who he refers to in the lyrics is none other than Robert Redford, known for offering Demi Moore a million dollars to sleep with him. So, the six million dollar question is, did Lee Majors sleep with Demi Moore pretending he was Robert Redford? The plot thickens and the duvet stiffens.

Colt Seavers

“I've never spent much time in school, but I taught ladies plenty.
It's true I hire my body out for pay. Hey, hey!”

What the actual fornication?? Listen to him boasting about how many women he's slept with at school. And he's, at one point, been a male prostitute. Or got women to pay him for the privilege of bedding him. This isn't the loveable rogue I wanted to be when I was a young boy. This is some sex-crazed lunatic! There's Heather Thomas, in a bikini, spotting Lee Majors wearing her nurse's uniform and he makes his getaway by hanging on to the skis of a helicopter, trying to get comfortable by shuffling up a bit closer to the rods that attach it on.

“I've gotten burned over Cheryl Tiegs, blown up over Raquel Welch.”

He's caught some kind of itchy rash from an American supermodel, famed for her Sports Illustrated covers, and then he's popped his love juices over the saucy star of 'One Million Years B.C.' (I hope the fur bikini goes through the wash okay). This man is a sex addict and he's SINGING ABOUT IT at tea-time on a Saturday afternoon, through my telly box. Nooooooo! He's just made someone crash a car into a train, which has then caught fire, and then tried to escape all these jealous men who he's cheated on with their love ones by renting a plane and flying it into a barn whilst singing about hittin' the hay and way-haying about it – as if to rub it in...

“But when I wind up in the hay, it's only hay – a-hey, hey!”

I've never been so disgusted.

“I might jump an open drawbridge...”

Another naughty euphemism in lyrical form, as the visuals show him jumping off a bridge into the sea. Well, we all know what diving deep into the ocean means, don't we? I mean, even the bloomin' lobster in 'The Little Mermaid' knew that it was better, down where it's wetter.

“Or Tarzan from a vine...”

He's boasting about his acrobatic sexual antics in the bedroom now, like some drugged-up Charlie Sheen! And, wait...

“Cause I'm the unknown Stuntman...”

Woman are clapping him. He's being applauded for his dirty antics by none other than Markie Post (star of NBC's sitcom 'Night Court'). Is she mad??

“...that made Eastwood looks so fine.”

And we cut away from his car spilling over a cliff, as he hangs off a ladder connected to a helicopter, to him relaxing in his outdoor bathtub. He's blatantly looking down at his groin. Maybe his 'Eastwood looks so fine' to him but I hope it withers in the water and he chokes on his own cigar. Wash yourself, Lee Majors, you filthy, filthy man!!

You know what, I don't like 'The Fall Guy' anymore. What an amoral Neanderthal. I've gone right off him. And one more thing. There's another verse. Yes, there is. Not content with boastng of his conquests over the opening credits of his television programme, he released a single of the theme tune that contained this last verse and chorus...

“They'll never make me President, but I've got the best First Ladies.
Someday's I got 'em as far as the eye can see. Ouee!
A morning dive with Jaclyn Smith, a crash in the night with Cheryl Ladd ,
But, in the end they never stay with me.”

PERVERT! He's gone through nearly all the 'Charlie's Angels' now. No wonder Farrah divorced him.

“I might fall from the Tower Building, so Burt Reynolds don't get hurt.
I might leap the mighty Canyon, so he can kiss and flirt.
While that smooth talker's kissin' my girl, I'm just kissin' dirt,
Yes, I'm the lonely Stuntman, that made a lover out of Burt.”

And I thought Ryan O'Neal was bad...

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