Background: Mark VII Limited (first known as "Mark VII Productions, Inc.") was the production company of the late actor Jack Webb, best known as "Sgt. Joe Friday" on the TV series Dragnet. The company was active from 1951-1959 and from 1967-1982. The Jack Webb Estate currently owns the rights to the Mark VII Limited library. However, Universal Studios has the rights to release them on DVD and NBCUniversal Television owns distribution rights.
1st Logo (1951-1954)
Nickname: "The Early Hammer"
Logo: On a gray background, we see a stamp, on a stone, with the palm holding the stamp and the other hand holding the hammer already in use. The hand then rises the hammer and hits it twice. The stamp is pulled away as it reveals "VII". "A MARK" appears above the stone, and "PRODUCTION" is below it.
Trivia: This logo was parodied at the end of the 1954 Woody Woodpecker cartoon "Under the Counter Spy". The man hits the stamp three times, hitting his thumb on the third. He yells in pain and lifts the stamp, revealing the words "The End". The usual Woody Woodpecker theme song is heard when the words are revealed.
Early Variants: The letters appears in lowercase: one in a Times and the other in a rounded font.
FX/SFX: Mostly live action.
Music/Sounds: Two "clangs" of the hammer. Starting in 1952, a drum roll sound was added in the background.
Availability: Extremely rare. Can be seen on the first three seasons of Dragnet. This can also be seen on public domain episodes of Dragnet which air on Retro TV.
Scare Factor: Minimal. It's not bad in contrast to its successor...
2nd Logo (1954-1959, 1967-1971)
Nickname: "The Hammer"
Logo:*1954-1959: Two hands work on a silver sheet of metal, holding a stamp in place and hitting it twice with a hammer. When the hands and tools pull away, we see a "VII" imprinted on the metal. Above the roman numeral in white is the word "MARK," and below "LIMITED" (There have been several variations on the text over the years; some are listed below).
- 1967-1971: The same premise, except the stamp is somewhat smaller and the hammer is somewhat larger. After the stamp is hit the first time, the hand holding the hammer pulls the hammer back so far that the back of the hammer's head engulfs the screen. Then the hammer hits the stamp again, and the tools are pulled away.
- The 1967-1971 soundtrack to the Mark VII logo was also used for the Ghost Planet Industries logo on Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and among other shows on Adult Swim, which was retained when Ghost Planet Industries changed its name to Williams Street Productions, its current name, in 2000.
- It was also used as the beginning to wrestler Greg "The Hammer" Valentine's 1991 theme music in the WWF.
- This logo was also parodied on the intro title of The Simpsons S16 episode "Treehouse of Horror XV".
- On Pete Kelly's Blues "A PRODUCTION OF MARK" is above the "VII" with "LIMITED" at the bottom. This is also accompanied by a rather bombastic fanfare upon the "VII"'s revealing.
- On the theatrical version of Dragnet, the Dragnet theme was heard once the name was revealed.
- Starting on the 1969-1970 season, the logo is shorter starting on the last half of the hammering.
FX/SFX: Mostly live action, or seems to be, so not much as far as actual special effect are concerned.
Cheesy Factor: The words appearing over the "live" picture look rather cheap.
Music/Sounds: A drum roll is heard throughout. Two "clangs" of the hammer are heard, more spaced out from the 1st. In 1967, the "clinks" and drum roll were somewhat heavier-sounding, and were spaced even farther apart.
Availability: Rare. The 1967 version can be seen on Dragnet and Adam-12 reruns on Me-TV.
Scare Factor: Low to high. This is a popular and memorable logo, having one of the most famous soundtracks in all of logos, but it is understandable that some may be turned off by the loud nature or the sweaty palm. However, it's still not as bad as the next logo...
3rd Logo (1971-1973)
Nicknames: "Shocking Golden Plaque", "Golden Plaque of Doom"
Logo: On a gold background, we see the following outlined phrase taking up nearly the whole screen:
A Production of MARK VII LIMITED FX/SFX: None.
Music/Sounds: There were two versions of the music. The music was the same, a loud bombastic fanfare, but was rearranged throughout. "Version 1" was used from 1971 to 1972, and "Version 2" was used from 1972 to 1973.
Availability: Still exists at the end of Mark VII-produced shows from this period, such as Emergency! on Me-TV and seasons 4 and 5 of Adam-12 on Me-TV.
Scare Factor: Medium to high, because of the music and phrase taking up nearly the whole screen. The logo usually following a dramatic closing theme (likeAdam-12) really doesn't help much either.
4th Logo (1973-1979)
Nicknames: "The Hammer Strikes Back", "The Return of the Hammer", "The Hammer II"
Logo: It's the same as the 1969-1971 variant of the 1967 logo, but it starts midway through the animation; just one hammer strike revealing "VII" and the words "MARK" and "LIMITED" fade in at the same time afterwards.
FX/SFX/Cheesy Factor: The quick animation.
Music/Sounds: A "clang" of the hammer with a drum roll. In 1978 on Project UFO, the drum roll was omitted. Music/Sounds Variants: On The Greatest Rescues of Emergency: Part 2, the drumroll extends into the following Universal logo.
Availability: Rare. It's still seen on the final two seasons of Adam 12 on Me-TV and seasons 3-6 and the two TV movies of Emergency! on Me-TV. It's also seen on Project UFO'.
Scare Factor: Medium. This edited variant of the original is a bit higher due to the fast pacing, but shouldn't be too bad to most. Low for the version without the drum roll.