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Episode Titles
and Credits
With Notes on
Corresponding
Musical Themes
  

This page is a reference to the different title and credit sequences over the series 17-year run. Since I get many questions about the themes, I thought it might be useful. If anyone has any further information about these sequences, I'd love to hear from you.

Lassie at lake #1Lassie over fence #1

When the series premiered in 1954, the title sequence featured Lassie standing on a lakeshore, getting a drink. This body of water is on relatively flat ground with some trees in the distance. When Jeff calls her by name, during which the title card "LASSIE" 1 is superimposed over the picture, Lassie heeds his call, leaping a four-barred fence (this shot is shown head on) and trotting into the farmyard. An announcer then says
• "Starring Tommy Rettig as Jeff Miller" (shows a young Jeff—with the bowl haircut—bending down and hugging Lassie)
• "Jan Clayton as his mother Ellen" (shows Ellen in doorway of farmhouse)
• "George Cleveland as Gramps" (shows Gramps in the barn doorway)
• "and, of course, Lassie" (shot of Jeff and Lassie again).

Lassie and JeffLassie and Jeff #2

The credit shot of Jeff and Lassie was later reshot as Tommy Rettig got older, showing him in his second and third season haircut with his hair parted on the left.

The theme song accompanying this sequence is, according to classicthemes.com, called "Secret of the Silent Hills," and was originally used in the 1940 film The Courageous Dr. Christian. It was written by William Lava. This opening was used for the first three years of the series. The syndication package that uses the "Jeff's Collie" titling usually uses the scene with Jeff in the bowl haircut.

Jeff end credits

The end credits for the first three years show Jeff and Lassie descending into an open field scattered with a herd of sheep. The theme played in the credits for the first two seasons is a reprise of the "Secret of the Silent Hills" theme. For the third season, a variation of that theme, reworked by composer Raoul Kraushaar and opened with a drumroll, was used over the closing credits.

Jeff at window

For the fourth season, in which Timmy shared billing for the first thirteen episodes, the end credit music was also used for the opening for the entire season. Lassie continued to leap the four-barred fence and trot into the farmyard, but instead of meeting Jeff, went to sit beside Timmy. The announcer then narrates the sequence thus
• "Starring Jon Provost as Timmy" (shows Timmy petting Lassie)
• "Jan Clayton" (shows Ellen in doorway of farmhouse)
• "Tommy Rettig" (shows Jeff leaning out the window of his room)
• "George Cleveland " (shows Gramps in the barn doorway)
• "and, of course, Lassie" (shot of Timmy and Lassie again).

Lassie and Timmy

When the Martin family took over the reins in episode 14 of season four, and to the end of fourth season, the sequence then had Timmy calling Lassie's name, her trotting up to Timmy, who pets instead of hugs her (presumably because Jon Provost was so small). The narration now became
• "Starring Jon Provost as Timmy" (shows Timmy petting Lassie)
• "Cloris Leachman" (shows Ruth in the doorway to the farmhouse, alà Ellen)
• "Jon Shepodd" (shows Paul in the barn doorway alà Gramps)
• "George Chandler" (shows Uncle Petrie standing smoking his pipe)
• "and, of course, Lassie" (shot of Timmy and Lassie again).

Lassie with paw up

The end credits, while playing the revised Kraushaar theme, now show Lassie only (a forward shot, as in her leaping over the fence) in a clearing of a stand of trees. As the music plays, Lassie lifts up her right paw and holds it until the end of the credits. This black and white closing sequence was used the longest, from episode 14 of fourth season through and inclusive of eleventh season, through four different theme song variations.

From the fifth through the tenth season, the music that most people associate with the Lassie series was commissioned. The composer was Les Baxter. It is usually referred to as "the whistle theme" (the whistle opening being done, again per classicthemes.com, by Muzzy Marcellino). It both opened and closed the shows for that period of time. This theme is so closely associated with Lassie that it has been used in at least two television commercials featuring Lassie, 1-800-COLLECT and GE Securities Technology, and was also heard in both the 1994 feature Lassie and at the beginning of both new themes for The New Lassie and Animal Planet's Lassie.

Lassie at lake #2Lassie over fence #2

The narration for the opening did not vary from fifth through tenth season. Lassie is again shown drinking from a lake, but in this refilmed sequence, the lake seems further away, surrounded closely by trees. She responds to Timmy's call—again, with the title "LASSIE" 2 superimposed over the scene—of her name by crossing a pasture and leaping a three-barred fence (instead of the old four-barred one) and then trotting into the farmyard. The reworked narration is now "Starring Jon Provost as Timmy, June Lockhart, Hugh Reilly, George Chandler [when he was in the opening credits in fifth season], and, of course, Lassie."

However, the visuals that go with this narration differed as the seasons progressed. The original title sequence, which was also kept for the early syndication runs (1960s-1970s), had Timmy standing in the farmyard petting Lassie, Ruth in the door of the farmhouse, and Paul at the door to the barn (Uncle Petrie, when included in the title sequence, is still standing smoking his pipe). The Lassie used in the sequence was "Lassie Jr," the son of the original Lassie, who performed from season 1 to 5. For Season 6, a son of "Lassie Jr" was temporarily used for several seasons. Lassie and Timmy #2This dog, nicknamed "Spook," very identifiable due to his wide blaze, was used in the second Timmy title sequence. This time Timmy and Lassie are shown walking down a country lane, Ruth is again in the kitchen doorway, but in a different position, and Paul in the fields leaning against a piece of machinery. At the end of this sequence, Timmy kneels down and hugs Lassie when the narrator mentions her name. This is the title sequence that has been used on the syndicated package of Timmy and Lassie episodes since the 1980s.

Lassie and Timmy #3

Yet a third title sequence exists for the later episodes of the series, although it does not turn up in the syndication package. This shows Timmy with "Baby," who took took on the Lassie name from "Spook" and who was also a son of "Lassie Jr." They are picking fruit in the orchard and Timmy is wearing his straw hat. Ruth is shown in the kitchen, smiling in front of the sideboard, rather than in the doorway, and Paul is riding a tractor.

There is yet a fourth, very rare opening Timmy and Lassie sequence. The Timmy episodes were briefly rerun on CBS Saturday morning children's block under the title The Adventures of Lassie. A truncated version of the whistle theme is played, Lassie runs from the lake with "The Adventures of LASSIE" superimposed at the beginning, but her approach to running and jumping the fence is shot from an angle instead of from straight in front, so we see the scene as if we are standing at Lassie's left when she goes over the fence. The words "starring Jon Provost, June Lockhart, Hugh Reilly" are superimposed on the screen after she does so in plain block letters. There is no narrator.

Lassie at lake #1

Lassie at lake #1

Lassie at lake #1

Lassie at lake #1

While the "whistle theme" remained the theme of the tenth season credits, it was revised for that year. During tenth season, Nathan Scott took over the score duties from Baxter and music director Sid Sidney. All the incidental music in the episodes completely changed as well. The whistle itself was shriller, and the concluding instrumental portion was completely reworked.

Eleventh season brought a new shakeup to the music. The "Lassie Theme" was still being used, but the portion that used to be whistled was now instrumental as well. The instrumental whistle theme lasted, with some variations in tempo and concluding notes, through and inclusive of season fourteen.

Lassie B&W Corey Stuart titles

The opening sequence was also changed for the first season of Corey Stuart episodes, and from then on, only Lassie was shown in the opening credits; the human cast was not acknowledged. The eleventh season opening sequence showed a lake in the background, with Lassie trotting up in the foreground from the viewer's right to stop while the title "LASSIE" was superimposed on the screen.


Lassie color titlesLassie color credits #1

Starting in twelfth season, the series was shot in color. The new opening titles and closing credits took advantage of this to show off Lassie and the surrounding countryside. The opening titles showed a blue sky with dark green trees and a snowcapped mountain on the horizon. In the foreground was an outcropping of rock against green grass; Lassie mounted the rock to look around, her fur ruffled by the breeze. For the closing credits, three sequences, similar, were shot: Lassie, in half profile instead of from the front as in the previous seasons, holding up her right paw. The original closing shot was akin to a closeup of Lassie; she fills almost all the scene and faces to her left.

Lassie color credits #2forest service credit

The second version of this color closing shot is zoomed out a little. Lassie is standing on a rock in the midst of pine trees with blue sky in the distance. She is facing to her right in this scene. The third version (accompanying the Scott Turner/Bob Erickson episodes) is a zoomed-out version of the first color credits, with Lassie is facing to her left again. A screen saying the program was produced in cooperation with the United States Forest Service and emblazoned with the Department of the Interior seal, was shown after the credits concluded during the forest service-based episodes.

For the fifteenth season, after Corey Stuart's departure, the "Lassie Theme" (with or without the "whistle") was finally abandoned. In its place was an instrumental version of the medieval "Greensleeves" theme (also used as the music for the Christmas hymn "What Child is This") with a very strong metronomic beat to it.

The seventeenth season (last year on the network) and eighteenth season (first Holden ranch season, in syndication) were peculiar in that no title sequence was used. (If you see a title sequence on a seventeenth or eighteenth season episode today, it is because it has been tacked on by syndication.) Instead of having a title sequence, the story would just begin. A minute or two into the story, the action would pause, the background music—usually a brisk version of the "Greensleeves" theme—would build to some type of crescendo, and the title LASSIE would come up and over the screen. The show would then cut to the first commercial break.

The photo end credits had also come to an end in the fifteenth season. The background was now a dark blue.

For the final season of the series, shown in first-run syndication rather than on a network, the opening credits used yet another version of the "Greensleeves" theme. This arrangement was slow, dreamy and lyrical, and showed Lassie running over lush green fields in soft focus, with the "LASSIE" title coming up at the very end. The credits used a less lyrical version of the "Greensleeves" theme with a plain green background."


1 In reruns this title was "Jeff's Collie."

2 In reruns this title was often "Timmy and Lassie."

 

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