Mark VII Limited
Mark VII Limited (or Mark Seven Limited) was the production company of actor, producer, and director Jack Webb, and was active from 1951 to Webb's death in 1982. Many of its series were produced in association with Universal Television; most of them aired on the NBC television network in the U.S.
The Jack Webb estate now owns the rights to the library, with the exception of the original 1954 feature film version of Dragnet (originally released by Warner Bros., but now owned by Universal Pictures), and the films Pete Kelly's Blues and The D.I. (which are controlled by original distributor Warner Bros.).
However, Webb's three seminal series, Dragnet (the 1967-1970 incarnation), Emergency!, and Adam-12, are now available on DVD from either Universal or Shout! Factory, the first two under license from the Webb estate, the latter in-house since Universal was reassigned the Adam-12 series copyright. The Me-TV and Antenna TV Television Networks also air episodes of the Mark VII Limited shows.
The origin of the name "Mark VII" is obscure. Some sources say the name had no meaning, and that it was made up over coffee one day. Others state that Webb simply liked the look of the roman numerals.
Programs produced by Mark VII
All series aired on NBC except as noted.
- Dragnet, 1951-1959
- Noah's Ark, 1956-1957
- The D.A.'s Man, 1959
- Pete Kelly's Blues, 1959
- GE True (1962-1963) (CBS)
- Dragnet, 1967-1970
- Adam-12, 1968-1975
- The D.A., 1971-1972
- O'Hara, U.S. Treasury, 1971-1972 (CBS)
- Emergency!, 1972-1979
- Hec Ramsey, 1972-1974
- Escape, 1973
- Chase, 1973-1974
- Sierra, 1974
- Mobile One, 1975 (ABC)
- Project U.F.O., 1978-1979
- Sam, 1978 (CBS)
Mark VII's final production was The 25th Man, an unsold television pilot that aired on NBC in 1982.
The Mark VII production logo is one of the more recognizable logos of its time and has become iconic, with many instances of filmmakers and production companies paying homage to it in various ways.
When the logo first appeared on television, it simply consisted of a pair of sweaty hands (later revealed to be the hands of Jack Webb) working with stamping tools. One hand held the stamp over a piece of metal with the other striking it twice with a hammer. Once the stamp was pulled away, the Roman numeral "VII" was shown, over which three words would be superimposed for the screen to read "a mark VII production" (purposely all lowercase).
In 1952, a drumroll was added as background noise over which the two hammer strikes would sound. From then until 1971, this remained part of the end logo with subtle changes over the years, such as the use of a sledgehammer at the end of the film version of Pete Kelly's Blues and the logo becoming colorized in the 1960s.
In 1971, Mark VII scrapped its iconic logo in favor of using a generic static logo with letters appearing to be etched on a gold background. The original logo was brought back in 1973, but the hammer only struck the stamp once.
The tag has been widely parodied and imitated:
- Director Spike Lee's 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks is similar, replacing the "VII" with the 40 Acres logo.
- The soundtrack (the drum roll and the two clinks of the hammer) is used today in the logo for productions of Cartoon Network's Williams Street. The sound from the Mark VII logo clip was first used by the network at the end of "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" episodes under a "ghosted" logo of Ghost Planet Industries. When Ghost Planet Industries switched to Williams Street, they kept the sound and used it for all Adult Swim shows.
- In the Pinky and the Brain episode "Welcome to the Jungle", a similar logo appears at the end of Brain's student film.
- The soundtrack was also used at the beginning of the entrance theme of WWE wrestler Greg "The Hammer" Valentine.
- In the beginning of The Simpsons Halloween Episode "Treehouse of Horror XV"
- At the very end of the 1954 Woody Woodpecker short Under the Counter Spy, the person stamping "The End" on the block of stone accidentally strikes his thumb with the hammer and yells out in pain.
- At the end of the Family Matters episode "Crazier For You (Part 2)," following mugshots of Laura Winslow, Myra Monkhouse, and Steve Urkel, two big hands (presumably those of Reginald VelJohnson) are seen stamping a Family Matters logo onto a block of stone in the style of Jack Webb, immediately preceding the logos of Bickley-Warren Productions and Miller-Boyett Productions.
- At the end of a Perfect Strangers gag reel viewed on TV in 1992, the stamp was rectangular and after it was hit twice, instead of "Mark VII Limited", it read "A Miller-Boyett Production" (the name of Miller-Boyett was on the stamp and as that stamp went away, the words "A" and "Production" appeared.
- At the end of The Three Stooges short Blunder Boys, Moe stamps Larry's head with a hammer; Larry's forehead then reads, "VII 1/2 The End".
- At the end of the Dick Van Dyke Show episode entitled "The Cat Burglar" Rob Petrie asks a detective what code the police use to signify the solving of a case, and he mentions "Mark VII". The detective replies the police say "The case is solved", after the end credits Dick Van Dyke's hands are seen stamping the word "CALVADA" with a hammer.
- After the closing credits of the 1980 TV movie Murder Can Hurt You, two hands (presumably those of Aaron Spelling) are seen stamping "An Aaron Spelling Production" onto a block of stone in the style of Jack Webb.
- At the end of some commercials for G.I. Joe toys, two animated cartoon hands (presumably those of a boy) are seen stamping the Hasbro logo onto a sky blue background in the style of Jack Webb.
- The 1994 sitcom On Our Own also parodied this tag at the end of one episode.