The Doctors

The Doctors was one of two medical drama soaps (the other being General Hospital) that premiered on Monday, April 1, 1963. Initially, The Doctors was an anthology drama that presented one self-contained story per episode. Within months, the format changed to one story per week. By March 1964, The Doctors had become a full-fledged continuing serial.

  1. The Early Years
  2. From 1963 through early 1977, The Doctors had no opening logo in the truest sense. There would be a "teaser" prologue scene, after which the title of the show appeared in plain white Futura Bold Condensed type over the scene as announcer Mel Brandt said, "The Doctors, a daytime drama series dedicated to the brotherhood of healing." (During the Emmy years of the early to mid 1970s, this was changed to " . . .the Emmy Award-winning drama dedicated to the brotherhood of healing.")

    Robert Cobert of Dark Shadows fame composed the show's first opening theme song and I believe it ran until the fall of 1971 at the latest. By the fall of 1971, the opening theme song changed to a full-orchestral theme in D Major composed by Bob Israel and initially arranged by Victor Trachtenberg (a.k.a. Victor Roberts). The 1971 Doctors theme music is associated with the show's Emmy Award winning glory years of the early to mid 1970s.

    Mid-program breaks in those years often featured the Colgate-Palmolive logo (C-P inside a circle) superimposed over a hospital scene still.

    For years the end credits had a somewhat unusual setup. The names of the front line production principals (producer, director, writer, etc.) and front burner stars (James Pritchett as Matt Powers, Lydia Bruce as Maggie Powers, Elizabeth Hubbard as Althea Davis, David O'Brien as Steve Aldrich, and Carolee Campbell as Carolee Aldrich) were billed on separate cards consisting of white Futura Bold Condensed type superimposed over a beauty shot visual, followed by a long crawl for the rest of the cast and the below-the-line production crew. Dark Shadows and the pre-Wendy Riche General Hospital borrowed elements from The Doctors' end credits setup.

  3. The Late 1970s
  4. Starting with a special one-hour episode in March 1977, or perhaps March 1976, The Doctors unveiled a new opening highlighted by Young and the Restless-influenced head drawings of each of the cast principals that would be arranged in a circle that represented an "O" in the word "doctors" in the new title modernized logo. The new visual sequence was set against a light blue background.

    A new pop flavored arrangement of the Bob Israel 1971 theme, with a melody carried by vibes and electric harpsichord, was used with this opening. This opening sequence was used until August 1980.

  5. The Final Years

By August 1980, NBC had taken over production of The Doctors from Colgate Palmolive and Channelex. Several changes were made on the now ailing soap, including a new opening, which debuted on August 25, 1980.

The opening visual sequence that would take The Doctors through its final two and a half years on the air begins with a green EKG pulse line set against a black background. That pulse line is a recurring motif throughout the sequence, which includes numerous tinted and polarized photos of doctors treating patients, surgeons in the operating room, etc. The sequence ends with the EKG pulse line turning into the lettering of the title, The Doctors, in Korinna Semibold type.

The theme music that originally accompanied this sequence was done by the people at Score Productions in the C minor key. There was an uptempo version for the opening and a slower version for the end credits, which were now done in a more modern typeface--Helvetica for the principals and Modern Century Gothic/Futura medium for the rest. The modernized late-1970s title logo lettering continued to be used for the end credits until the end.

By no later than October 5, 1981, The Doctors' final opening/closing titles package debuted. While the opening visuals remained the same, new urgent sounding theme music by Charles Gross replaced the August 1980 Score Productions theme. Brass instruments and horns carry the main melody in the new Charles Gross opening theme in A. Gross' new closing theme was a slow, bluesy solo trumpet piece in A minor.

I remember that during The Doctors' final year, the end credits were set in greenish yellow Optima Semi Bold type.

Here is a list of the theme songs used by The Doctors during its nearly twenty-year run:



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