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GALAXY QUEST – David Newman

December 24, 1999 Leave a comment Go to comments

galaxyquestOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

With all the fan-based hoopla that surrounds many of the classic science fiction serials, it was surely only a matter of time before someone made a spoof. So enter Galaxy Quest, Dean Parisot’s spot-on parody of the whole Star Trek merchandising industry. Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman star as the three most popular members of the hit 70s TV series “Galaxy Quest”, who still make the rounds on the sci-fi convention circuit twenty years after their show was cancelled. But a group of real aliens mistakenly believe that the TV show is for real, and kidnap the actors so that they may help them fight a deadly adversary who is threatening their planet. As the liner notes proclaim, “with no script, no director, and no clue about real interstellar travel, the make-believe crew of the NESA Protector has to turn in the performance of their lives to become the heroes the aliens believe them to be”.

And, at last, David Newman is attached to a hit movie. It’s been a long time coming. With only the moderately successful Bowfinger to his name, and despite an Oscar nomination for Anastasia, the eldest Newman brother hasn’t scored a critical or commercial success since The Nutty Professor back in 1996. His attachment to Galaxy Quest is a real coup for him, and with the orchestral excitement he generates through his score, it is likely to bring him the long-overdue acknowledgement that has been heaped on brother Thomas and cousin Randy from all and sundry. But, as per usual, David Newman was been left high and dry when it comes to releasing his music (he has had only a half dozen or so full score albums in the last decade!), so the Supertracks gang have stepped in again and pressed this limited edition promo amounting to almost 50 minutes of music. Many, many people will be glad they did.

Taking inspiration from Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and every other cheesy science fiction show you care to mention, Newman takes the road set out for him and doubles its impact with a huge symphonic performance, and what is arguably the most memorable single theme of his career to date. As heard in the first track, the ‘Galaxy Quest Classic TV Theme’, achieves the same aim as did Alexander Courage and Jerry Goldsmith with their famous works – at once being noble, heroic, exciting, but just a touch overblown. Eventually, there’s even a fond homage to Courage by way of a cooing choir, but it does not seem out of place. The theme is prevalent throughout the score, appearing in several guises, but making notable appearances in ‘The NESA Protector’, ‘Crew Quarters and The Bridge’, ‘Shuttle to Planet’, ‘Rolling Sphere’, the downcast ‘I’m So Sorry’, and especially during the epic ‘The Launch’ and the conclusive ‘Goodbye Serris’.

As far as the rest of the underscore is concerned, the tracks to tend to be a little choppy in nature – very few surpass three minutes in length, and some of them seem as though they start in the middle of a cue and finish before it has completely ended, but each cue has its own musical personality, and several are worth mentioning. The opening moments of ‘Revealing the Universe’ are quite obviously inspired by Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, but effectively recapture its overwhelming sense of awe. And then there are the action cues – ‘Red Thingie Green Thingie’, ‘Pig Lizard’, ‘Rock Monster’, ‘Omega 13/Heroic Guy’, ‘The Battle’, ‘Crash Landing’ – all which make great use of nimble strings, occasional electronic whooshes and zooms, and quick as lightning performances of the GQ fanfare. I half expected ‘Fight Episode #17’ to pastiche Gerald Fried’s famous Vulcan fight music from the “Amok Time” episode of Star Trek, but perhaps that would have been pushing things a little too far, although there are some sneaky snippets that are vaguely reminiscent of Goldsmith and Horner’s work on the movies.

I like Galaxy Quest very much indeed, and it is a great shame that the vast majority of the public at large will not be able to experience it for themselves. We are treated to so few large-scale science fiction scores these days that when something as good as Galaxy Quest comes along it is a real shame to overlook it. With his action credentials already firmly established through the likes of The Phantom, and with this new work wowing score fans across the world, the it could be that David Newman might finally be turning the corner in his career and moving away from the silly little comedies he has been scoring of late. I heartily recommend you check out this score.

Rating: ****

Track Listing:

  • Galaxy Quest: The Classic TV Theme (0:59)
  • Prologue: Galaxy Quest clip (1:34)
  • Pathetic Nesmith (0:59)
  • Revealing the Universe (1:03)
  • Meet the Thermians (1:11)
  • The NESA Protector (0:45)
  • Crew Quarters and the Bridge (1:32)
  • The Launch (2:08)
  • Serris Tortures Captain (1:17)
  • Red Thingie, Green Thingie (3:33)
  • Shuttle to Planet (1:43)
  • Trek Across the Planet (2:55)
  • Rolling Sphere (2:35)
  • Pig Lizard (1:44)
  • Rock Monster (1:56)
  • Digitize Me, Fred! (1:18)
  • I’m So Sorry (1:44)
  • Fight Episode #17 (1:16)
  • Hallway Sneak (1:02)
  • Alex Finds Quelick (1:22)
  • Omega 13/Heroic Guy (1:19)
  • Big Kiss/Happy Rock Monster (2:09)
  • Quelick’s Death (3:08)
  • The Battle (0:58)
  • Mathazar Takes Command (1:32)
  • Serris Kills Everybody (0:52)
  • Goodbye, My Friends (0:52)
  • Crash Landing (0:40)
  • Goodbye, Serris (2:06)
  • The New Galaxy Quest (1:00)

Running Time: 49 minutes 54 seconds

Supertracks DNCD-02 (1999)

Music composed and conducted by David Newman. Orchestrations by Alexander Janko. Recorded and mixed by John Kurlander. Edited and mastered by James Nelson. Album produced by David Newman and Ford A. Thaxton.

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