There is an meme going around asking us bloggermeisters to list our favorite TV theme songs. And that got me thinking – I MISS TV THEME SONGS.
Networks today, so deathly afraid of tune out, have all but eliminated theme songs and opening credits. They go by so fast you can’t tell the difference between opening titles and vanity production cards. And I think it does a disservice to the shows and the viewers. A good opening title sequence can really set the tone for the show. CHEERS wasn’t just a bar, it was the place where everyone knows your name. If it premiered today you’d see the logo, an animated glass of beer being filled, and ten seconds of “Sweet Caroline”.
It would be a little hard to sell that the Monkees were this goofy playful rock band if the extent of their theme was “Hey hey, we’re the Monkees!” America would be saying “Hey hey, so what?”
Networks complain that sitcoms are all the same then take away their signature feature.
And here’s what they don’t understand -- a good theme and opening title sequence ATTRACTS viewers. Some people tune in specifically because they LIKE the title sequence. That was me with the Drew Carey “Cleveland Rocks” opening. If only the show was that good.
An added benefit in this day of synergy and cross promotion is that they can become hit records on their own. (HAWAII 5-0, WELCOME BACK KOTTER, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE) Think of all the free three minute plugs your show will get when KIIS-FM is playing the shit out of your theme. (I’m not being local here. Every city in America, Canada, Australia, and Yemen has a KIIS-FM).
These themes can become part of pop culture. I bet more Americans know the words to GILLIGAN’S ISLAND than the Star Spangled Banner. Hell, more people can sing the lyrics to CHARLES IN CHARGE. These ditties are burned into our brains. When we’re 90 and can’t remember if we put our pants on we’ll still be able to sing the MASH theme and the JEFFERSONS. (A year ago I would have put BEWITCHED in that category but I think Nora Ephron has permanently killed it. When are they going to stop letting her make movies?)
And ultimately here’s what we’re talking about – twenty more seconds. That’s all. Twenty more seconds. Maybe thirty. God forbid thirty-five. The same amount of time it takes to run a promo for LOVE MONKEY. What would YOU rather watch?
Okay, so in no particular order – my ten favorite TV themes.
WELCOME BACK KOTTER
DICK VAN DYKE SHOW
DREW CAREY SHOW
MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW
One final thought, if you have opening titles then maybe the credits won’t extend so far into the show. Considering how large some of these casts and staffs are it’s not inconceivable that someday on a comedy credits will roll all the way through the tag.