Saturday, June 23, 2007

I miss TV Theme Songs!

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.

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 PIRATE MASTER. What would YOU rather watch?

****

Okay, so in no particular order – my ten favorite TV themes.

MASH
PETER GUNN
CHEERS

WELCOME BACK KOTTER

DICK VAN DYKE SHOW

MIAMI VICE
DREW CAREY SHOW

MR. LUCKY

MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW

TOP CAT


****
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.

87 comments:

Sheila said...

I love the theme song to Scrubs and sing it faithfully with the opening every time its on! Theme songs ROCK!

Anonymous said...

Ever noticed the opening credits on 24 are still going after like 20 minutes into the show? It's pretty silly.

D. McEwan said...

During the 80s, I amused myself by writing lyrics for the opening musical themes to the night time soaps, DALLAS, DYNASTY, and FALCON CREST, to sing over the credits.

DYNASTY, It's DYNASTY,
The dumbest show on TV,
And I mean really dumb:
There's Krystal, and Alexis,
And Blake Carrington,
And his faggy son.
And Sammi Joe's a whore,
And Claudia's a bore,
And Steven swings both ways,
With the straights and with the gays,
And Adam is a creep,
His plots are really deep,
Which is more than you can say,
About the dialogue
on DYNASTY... etc.

CC said...

I think people should have theme songs that played before they inter a room. We of course could change them depending on our moods. I would love to have "The Final Countdown" to play for me.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

And that's only comedies... the title songs of Twin Peaks and The Sopranos are an important part of the experience for me. They allow me the time to get into the show.

The larger problem here is the length of television series these days. A comedy is aboit 21 minutes, a drama can be 41 to 44... this translates directly into less interesting stories. Last year I (when I met Ken) I was at the wednesday rehearsal and a taping of thenseventh episode of the new Jim Burrows show The Class. Although some of the cutting and changing was justified, on the whole the rehearsal was better for two reasons... first of all, one of the storylines was relieved of it's emotional resolution, because the space for it was not enough to sustain an emotional punch. It was replaced by a funnier, but hollower ending. This was the 'good cut'. In other scenes superfluous lines were lost, giving the whole episode a hurried and jokey feel.

As a fan of the newspaper scomics from the fifties and sixties, I see a parallel. They shrunk and shrunk the comic until they were no longer as popular as they used to be. Something has been said on these pages about television not giving people what they want anymore... I have the feeling that they have taken from the audience the sense that what they are watching is more than filler between the commercials.

Maybe that's a good exercise in your class, Ken. Take one of the best episodes of Cheers and rewrite it to lose three minutes.

pat reeder said...

My last remaining "appointment" TV show is "House," which I record, so I could zip past the theme, but I never do. That spooky instrumental with the visuals of House peering through the X-ray and the mysterious little bugs swimming around the old anatomy drawings set the mood like the theme to the "X-Files" used to. No matter how sucky things are, at least once a week, when I see someone fall over backwards foaming at the mouth then hear that spooky music, I know I'm going to be happy for the next hour.

emily latella said...

The Cheers theme is at the top of my list, but a few other stick in my head:

Hill Street Blues
The Jeffersons
Rockford Files
The Dukes of Hazzard
Mission Impossible
Hawaii Five-O
Happy Days
Jeopardy

and who can ever forget
Johnny Carson's Tonight Show theme?

Anonymous said...

I always loved Good Times,WKRP,Sanford and Son even Chico and the Man was pretty good elaine

Tallulah Morehead said...

Even if Alzheimer's bulk erases my mind, even if a massive head wound leaves me a vegatable, I will still go to my grave able to sing all the words to the I MARRIED JOAN theme. What a girl, what a whirl, what a wife!

Little Dougie, and a few million other baby boomers, can never remove the Mickey Mouse Club theme lyrics, which taught them to spell Mickey Mouse incessitantly, from their poor brains. (He still knows that song from the show that taught him how to spell encyclopedia too.)

CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU? Is that Harlem traffic jam STILL backed up to Jackson Heights?

Snap your fingers twice, and anyone over 40 will tell you that The Addams Family is altogether ooky. They are, you know.

I never once watched GREEN ACRES, but I nonetheless know that New York is where Eva wants to stay; she gets allergic smelling hay, because I've heard people singing it enmasse in piano bars time and again.

Everyone knows that Patty Duke likes to rock 'n' roll, a hot dog makes her lose control. Her and me both.

Dobie, of course, wants a gal that's dreamy, Dobie wants a gal that's creamy, Dobie wants a gal to call his own. But he ends up with a fabulous lesbian state senator.

I could go one for days, and may.

Cheers darligns.

Andrew said...

THE JEFFERSONS is a theme song that gets stuck in my head for days. I actually have anxiety that it's going to start playing inside my brain on my deathbed as my last breath escapes me. (Though, I suppose, there are worse final thoughts than "Movin' on up...")

I've been wondering about the death of the theme song for years. Did these networks learn nothing from "Friends"?

dougt said...

Absolutely right Ken. I haven't seen a Top Cat episode in over 40 years, but I instantly knew all the lyrics ("...Close friends get to call him T.C.")

I noticed that of your Top 10 list (and Peter Gunn has two 'N's by the way), half were instrumental.
Technically, the Theme From M*A*S*H* had words in the movie, but the TV series only used the instrumental.

Another favorite of mine is the theme from "Have Gun, Will Travel". Duane Eddy made that one a hit on the charts in the early 1960's. The Marketts took "Outer Limits" to the charts as well (although they got sued and had to change their title to "Out Of Limits".) Don't forget about The Rembrandts version of the theme from "Friends". One of my Top 10.

Here in Canada, some sponsor is using "The Jefferson's" theme as a commercial.

I listen to the 'Classic Radio Shows' channel on my XM at lot, and it's interesting to note that the radio versions of "Gunsmoke" and "Have Gun, Will Travel", done in the 40's and 50's, use the same theme songs, so they simply transferred the themes from radio to television.

Blarneyman said...

You're repeating yourself. You did this post already a few months back.

Wayne from Maine said...

Pretty much every theme written by Mike Post from Rockford Files through the 90s were great

ajmilner said...

I always liked the very post-modern theme song to IT'S GARRY SHANDLING'S SHOW:

This is the theme to Garry's show
This is the theme to Garry's show
Garry called me up and asked if I would write his theme song
I'm almost halfway finished
How do you like it so far?
How do you like the theme to Garry's show?

Brian Scully said...

I think what some execs have forgotten is that the theme songs also restated the premise of the shows in 30 seconds... saving a ton of awkward dialog at the beginning of each of the first 6 episodes of a series... and here's some great examples of how that worked successsfully.

F-Troop
Car 54
It's About Time
Green Acres
The Beverly HillBillies
Superman

Mr. Hollywoof said...

Who could forget the magnificent MISSION IMPOSSIBLE - Lalo Shifrin theme music? And more recently, the Thomas Newman theme and opening titles for SIX FEET UNDER ... haunting!

Will Kudner said...

A few worthy of mention:
Hogans Heroes (though instrumental)
Enterprise
Also I defenitely agree with Welcome Back Kotter, that can easily be considered the best.

Larry said...

What a coincidence.-I just mentioned t.v. theme songs in a post I did yesterday.-I have a cd. with old t.v. themes.-

Carla said...

And least we forget the theme to the Adams Family...it's stuck in my head.

Anonymous said...

The Jetsons is the best theme song ever.

This one's not bad either

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WP0c7mcg_UY

-Nathan

Mid-western 007 said...

The best theme song ever, hands down, is the one to GREAT AMERICAN HERO, that show that was on for like five minutes.

But tell me what song people will burst into song to randomly when asked, and with great aplomb, and it's that one.

Also, lest we forget the Family Ties theme song? That can still make me all verklempt.

The Minstrel Boy said...

and let us not forget frankie lane's immortal

"head 'em up move 'em out
move 'em out head 'em up
head 'em up move 'em out
RAWHIDE!

ride 'em in. . ."

i dare you to forget that.

benson said...

And while execs may not like theme songs, they do stay a part of our culture...

Daimler is currently using an alt-rocked up version of the Jeffersons in their radio ads for Mercedes Benz.

And the Eastcoast Sports Programming Network used Joan Jett's version of the Mary Tyler Moore show theme for the women's NCAA basketball tournament.

Just to name a couple.

The Crutnacker said...

Is it possible that the killing of theme songs was actually just a way of freeing up another 15 to 60 seconds for more ad time without cutting into story?

Some of my favorites:

Hill Street Blues
Rockford Files
Barney Miller
Odd Couple
St. Elsewhere
Family Guy (if only for the eternal question, "Does Stewie say "F'n cry!"?)

Is it just me or did almost every 80s family sitcom have the same theme song?

Mike McCann said...

Although neither were "hit singles," the themes from PERRY MASON and IRONSIDE were knockouts. You have to give Quincy Jones credit for using the same "crime jazz" elements in the later theme a decade after Mason's theme was created. Both ideally "set the pace" for their series.

And let's not overlooks the TWILIGHT ZONE theme which inspired two totally separate hits. The Marketts' "Out of Limits" -- gotta love the play on words honoring its ABC rival -- which turned the eerie riff into a classic surf rock melody, and Mahattan Transfer's early 1980s "Twilight Zone," with a copycat narrated opening, then swung into a nice pop-soul number.

Ken Levine said...

Yes, I ran a similar post...16 months ago. Lots of new readers since then. Judging by the response it's a topic people enjoy.

Reed Wright said...

Bonanza
Perry Mason
The Brady Bunch
Gunsmoke
Mary Tyler Moore
Bewitched

Chaz said...

A hearty 'YES' to the inclusion of the Top Cat theme on your list! There are some great cartoon themes out there-- Ren & Stimpy's for example. Some of the Anime themes kick butt as well; I had to seek out Cowboy BeBop's 'Tank' in it's original length after finding myself cranking the TV volume up to "11" every time I tuned in.

As for the mystery of Stewie's line in the Family Guy theme, in closed captioning (too many years in the loud Rock & Roll biz-- earplugs kids, earplugs!) I've seen it translated to both "effin cry" and "laugh and cry." So no official help there...

estiv said...

If we're extending this beyond sitcoms, and apparently we are, Craig Ferguson's theme (the product of Craig himself) has been trimmed by about 90% since it was introduced just a little over two years ago. I hate to admit it, but maybe the people Letterman calls the network weasels are right: an old-style intro is seen by many viewers as a cue to change the channel. And I hate to admit it because I agree that the best intros did a beautiful job of setting the mood for what followed. If you were watching for the first time, you were being told what to expect--if you were a regular, it was like being greeted by an old friend.

Anonymous said...

A good theme song can be a real mood setter. Which makes me wonder why HBO’s John from Cincinnati missed the mark by a mile?

The theme and incidental music are beyond lame. Beach Boy’s instrumentation without the hooks…Yuk.

It’s no wonder this thing is tanking quicker than Natalie Wood on date night.

Bill

Anonymous said...

I disagree completely re "John from Cincinnati". The use of the wistful "Johhny Appleseed" coupled with the Super 8 Footage -- cinematic shorthand for "memory" or "dream" -- is a perfect introduction to the otherworldliness that Milch is striving to create.

The song does not have multi-part close harmony singing, nor does it have sleigh bell percussion. There are images of surfing in the footage, but the series IS about surfers.

Back to the post topic, HBO understands theme song importance and has some great ones. I also love:

VERONICA MARS
THE OFFICE (US) -- props for being composed FOR the show
HOUSE
MY SO CALLED LIFE -- the part at the beginning, when she whispers (!)
FRAGGLE ROCK

--SD

Servings per container said...

My boyfriend and I started our relationship fighting over which tv show we grew up with that asked every week- "would you like to swing on a star...."

Love the way certain songs can remind you of certain things but I have a hard time getting them out of my head once they start.

Hate the way shows like GA went from some of the best song/scene connections I have ever experienced to overplaying songs by The Fray as they previewed episodes each week.

Smelvis said...

Ken -
Funny, my wife and I just had this conversation a few weeks ago. We were trying to remember the theme to "Studio 60".... it barely has one.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

RAWHIDE is the best theme song ever. HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL is a close second.

D. McEwan said...

"theme songs also restated the premise of the shows in 30 seconds.
...Superman"

Well technically, the restatement of the premise on THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN weren't lyrics. It was a spiel, but I've known it by heart since I was 3.

A couple days ago, in the Worst Songs posting, you listed SECRET AGENT MAN by Johnny Rivers, but that was a great TV theme song, another that's stuck in my head until death.

And honestly, if you're going to repeat the same posting topics every 16 months, you have to expect Blarneyman, my nemesis, to get bored. Same old, same old.

I think of "Dum de dum dum" as the DRAGNET theme lyrics, and "da da daaaaa da DUM!" as the Perry Mason theme lyrics.

"He's the boss, he's the king, but above everything, he's the most tip-top, Top Cat."

It appalls me that I didn't have to look those lyrics up.

D. McEwan said...

Come to think of it, I can spew out the Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear theme songs without a thought also, but then, Daws Butler was a dear friend of mine, so I have an excuse.

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Anonymous said...

Your list is right on, but how can limit it to only 10. I would add a few more:
Hill Street Blues,
St Elsewhere,
Greatest American Hero, and of course
Leave It To Beaver

Alaskaray

Good Dog said...

The title sequence for John from Cincinnati is great at capturing the mood of the show, and the edit of Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros’ Johnny Appleseed is just inspired.

One thing about HBO, they have damn good title sequences for their dramas. Love The Wire with different versions of the same song each season.

As for songs... heck, I can only think of instrumentals - NYPD Blue and thirtysomething.

Ah, and Firefly, that had a nice little ditty to it.

Brian Scully said...

To "Servings Per Container".

Actually, that theme song came from a show called "Out Of This World" and that was my very first credit. Sorry it started an argument but if you guys are still together, I hope that is the worst thing you ever have to fight about. :)

VP81955 said...

Brian Scully said...
To "Servings Per Container".

Actually, that theme song came from a show called "Out Of This World" and that was my very first credit. Sorry it started an argument but if you guys are still together, I hope that is the worst thing you ever have to fight about. :)


Brian, I was about to answer that question, but I'm glad you did. "OOTW" was a syndicated series in which a woman who had an affair with an unseen space alien raises their teenage daughter, who has magical powers and keeps them a secret from the world. It was sort of a late '80s version of "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" (Maureen Flanagan, as the half-alien girl Evie, was every bit as charming as Melissa Joan Hart) and, while no classic, was a lot of fun and leagues ahead of its syndicated fantasy sitcom rival, "Small Wonder." Incidentally, the show was produced by Burt Reynolds, and he voiced the alien through a special box the character used to communicate with his earth family.

John said...

The Drew Carey Show actually had three different theme songs over the course of its run: "Moon Over Parma" in the first and half of the second season; "Five O'Clock World," in the second half of the second season; and finally "Cleveland Rocks" starting with the third season. My favorite of the three was "Five O'Clock World," but all three were memorable and well suited to the show.

Anonymous said...

What about The Beverly Hillbillies?!

Black gold, Texas Tea...

I can sing the whole ding dang-on theme song without thinking. I also always liked their ending credits with the gang waving goodbye and Granny holding her hand to keep waving it.

Also Mystery Science Theatre 3000 deserves a shout out.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, Brian Scully did mention Beverly Hillbillies first.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of memorable theme songs, this was an amusing spoof of The Jetsons

eastick said...

I just saw this one on youtube 'Off The Deep End' -- not particularly memorable, but includes most trite things in an 80's sitcom intro.

Now seriously, The White Shadow and anything by Mike Post.

eastick said...

'Off The Deep End' is on youtube at http://youtube.com/watch?v=0VXNV7jvXKY

Jaime J. Weinman said...

As ger apeldoom points out, running times have been slashed to the bone to make room for as many commercials as they can possibly squeeze in (more commercial breaks, commercials flashing on the screen during the show -- eventually they'll just show 30 minutes of commercials and order us to download the actual program online).

When sitcom episodes were 24-25 minutes, having a theme song that ran a minute or more wasn't a problem. (Some shows, like "The Bob Newhart Show," actually had two different versions of the opening, a long version and a short version, so they could insert one or the other depending on whether the episode was running short or long.) With 20-minute episodes, you can't waste more than 30 precious seconds on the opening credits.

I always appreciated shows that would have actual, separately-filmed segments for the title sequence, instead of just using clips from the show. That was one thing I always liked about "Happy Days," that they would sometimes film stuff for the title sequence that hadn't appeared an any episodes.

And of course the MTM sitcoms would always go to the actual city where the show was set, usually bringing the star there: they sent Mary Tyler Moore to Minneapolis twice (once in the first season and again in the fourth season to freshen it up), Bob Newhart to his native Chicago, Cloris Leachman to San Francisco. (They were going to send the WKRP cast to Cincinnati but the actors' strike hit at that time and they couldn't go.) Seeing the stars walk around the actual locations helped give the show a sense of place even though the episodes were all shot in the studio.

Oh, and (sorry for the length), I haven't seen anyone mention "The Nanny" by Ann Hampton Callaway, the last of the catchy theme song that explains the premise genre and in some ways the best.

Anonymous said...

jaime j. is on to something:

"...eventually they'll just show 30 minutes of commercials and order us to download the actual program online."

It would be a network TV sales manager's version of heaven.

Muddy Shores said...

My favorite theme songs are the ones that reflect the personality of the show. In addition to the ones mentioned, here are some:

Dramas:
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Doctor Who
Magnum, PI

Comedies:
The Odd Couple
The Adventures of Pete & Pete
Monty Python

SharoneRosen said...

CAR 54! Tallulah, you rock!!!

Lot's of great themes, but, I need help with this one!Does anyone remember a show called McKeever & the Colonel??? It's from the late 50's or early 60's. All I remember is that is was about a kid at military school and the THEME! That theme, played on a Hammond organ, has been rattling around in my head since I was a kid... right next to all the lyrics for MR. ED, the Mission Pack commercial and the Dr. Ross dog food commercial (where is my delete button!!!)

Ken Levine said...

I do remember McKEEVER & THE COLONEL. It was Dennis the Menace in military school. Allen Joslyn played the colonel. I think it lasted a year.

Tallulah Morehead said...

"SharoneRosen said...
CAR 54! Tallulah, you rock!!!"

Thank you darling, those these days I roll more than I rock.

"I haven't seen anyone mention 'The Nanny'."

Small wonder. The idea was to remember our favorites. THE NANNY, title song aside, was a long national nightmare we've all tried to SCRUB from our memories.

That voice, oh God THAT VOICE!!!

SharoneRosen said...

Thanks Ken!
I was starting to think I'd made the whole thing up!

sharoneRosen said...

oh,and, I loved the use of What if God was One of Us? on Joan of Arcadia!

Michael Jones said...

The most memorable animated theme has to be "The Flintstones". Even the lyric-less Simpsons spoofed that one. Also King of the Hill rules! Gumby. Atom Ant. Any of the SF Hanna Barbera tunes-Jonny Quest, Space Ghost. Spider-man! et al.

Anonymous said...

didn't the Wings theme (classical music) result in tune out that caused NBC to push for cold opens -- and thus no need for a theme songs -- then everyone followed that example?

Soupy Sales said...

On a related topic, what about shows where the cast sings the theme song? Like "Grand" (I think that's the name.) Don't think it worked.

pat reeder said...

To sharonerosen, re: McKeever & The Colonel.

I remember watching that one as a kid. I must've been about five. There is an article here in which one of the stars talks about the series and how surprised he is that so many people remember it:
http://www.tvparty.com/recmckeever.html

He mentions that there was a comic book. I actually had that book, and I seem to remember that the plot had something to do with a Kool-Aid like drink. There is way too much junk stuck in my brain.

howie said...

I guess I like failure shows, because I can't get the themes to "My Mother, the Car" and "It's About Time" out of my head whenever this topic comes up.

I love themes that recap the entire setup.

I also loved all the themes to Warner Brothers cowboy and detective shows in the late'50s early '60s. ("Easy lopin', cattle ropin' Sugarfoot")

coake said...

I'm just catching up with this post, so I don't know if anyone's still reading, but I was stunned that it took until the end for someone to mention the Flinstones.

And I'm even more stunned that no one mentioned The Andy Grffith Show. Even though it was an instrumental, the theme really captured the flavor of the show.

Teddy said...

Let us not forget Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids.

"Na, na, na, gonna have a good time!"

Anonymous said...

I think the reason the opening credits for 24 go on for so long is utterly ludicrous number of Executive Producers on the show. Wonder how many of them actually do anything. And isn't the whole point of an Executive Producer supposed to mean that they can trump the regular Producers?

tb said...

I can still sing Super Chicken, remember that one?

Mary Stella said...

The theme song for Mr. Ed isn't anybody's favorite? What's up with that? *G*

A horse is a horse of course of course and noone can talk to a horse, of course, that is, of course unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed.

Miss A said...

Agree 100%, Ken. I really do miss the theme songs. Its seems that some shows did start with one (the latest I'm thinking of is Grey's Aantomy), but then they just petered out.

Another theme song that has become a part of our culture - Jeopardy. How many times have we hummed that song when someone is taking their sweet time to give an answer?

The funniest one for me was not intentional. My then 1 year-old daughter loved the Friends theme song. One evening, I left the TV on in the living room while I was getting her ready for bed in her bedroom. Well, the Friends theme starts up, my little one jumps off the bed and runs to the TV - 1/2 naked mind you - and starts her little rump-shaking Friends dance. See, even the very little fall in love with the music!

TheCopandTheMadam said...

Our two favorites are Three's Company and Greatest American Hero. But that beep beep beep in 24 gets us going as well!

The Cop and The Madam

Anonymous said...

the Banana Splits theme song.

it's really old and for the 'children' but you'll be hard pressed to find a purer pop song for your theme.

you can't be sad listening to the Banana Splits theme song.

La, la, la

lalalala,

Anonymous said...

"Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp"!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4B1KVDNrLw

-Kurt

Rob Wallis said...

Oh yeah! Banana Splits! And no body likes "Malcolm in the Middle"?

You're not the boss of me now
You're not the boss of me now
You're not the boss of me now
And you're not so big...

Ellie said...

I love the theme to Malcolm. I love them all. Even when I watch old shows on DVD - The West Wing, Homicide, Six Feet Under, MASH, etc. etc. - I never skip the theme. I don't think LA Law has been mentioned. I love the car trunk slamming down to start it. One of my new faves is 30 Rock. I love the twinkly retro sound of it.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

tb makes the throwdown! Okay...let's see if I can do this from memory:

When you find yourself in danger,
When you're beaten by a stranger,
When you think that you might get a lickin'...

(buck buck buck buck)

There is someone waiting who will hurry up and rescue you, just call out for Super Chicken!

(B-caaggh!)

Fred*, if you might think that you have overlooked it,
Besides, you knew the job was dangerous when you took it.

(B-kawwwk!)

He will drink his super sauce
And throw the bad guys for a loss
And he will bring them in alive and kickin'...

(buck buck buck buck)

When there's no one else to turn to,
[damn! I forgot this line!],
Just call out for Super Chicken!
(buck buck buck buck)
Call out for Super Chicken!
(B-KAGGHH!)


*Fred the Lion, Super Chicken's sidekick

Okay...so the drugs only killed part of my memory. How'd I do?

ravaj said...

mtm and also rhoda
loads of english ones of course
e.g. blackadder
i loved the ghost and mrs muir
many of these i taped off the tv years ago, and have still on audiocassettes
cagney & lacey
i have to go now - we are being invaded by mice in our apartment ...

SharoneRosen said...

Mary Stella said...
The theme song for Mr. Ed isn't anybody's favorite? What's up with that? *G*

A horse is a horse of course of course and noone can talk to a horse, of course, that is, of course unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed.

Hey Mary Stella, here is the rest of Mr. Ed
(can't somebody PLEASE wipe my harddrive???)
Go right to the source and ask the horse
He'll give you the answer that you endorse
He's always on a steady course
Talk to Mr. Ed
(bridge!)
He'll go yakkity-yak a streak and waste your time of day
But Mr. Ed will never speak unless he has something to day

A horse is a horse of course of course
And this one will talk 'til his voice is hoarse
You never heard of a talking horse?
Well, listen to this:
("Ed's voice") I am Mr. ED!

SharoneRosen said...

(bridge) something to say, not "day" oops

Great Big Radio Guy said...

Thought of the last lines of Super Chicken on the ride home tonight!

There is one thing you should learn,
If there is no one else to turn to,
Call out for Super Chicken!


NOW I can sleep tonight - with that #&%king theme in my head.

Mike McCann said...

How iconic can a TV theme become? How about THE ADDAMS FAMILY, whose original Vic Mizzy recording is now the soundtrack of a cleverly animated M&M's candy commercial. I doubt beyond THE SIMPSONS and LAW AND ORDER, too many of today's themes will attain -- and hold onto -- that status down the line.

John said...

The TV themes section of www.soundamerica.com is a good place to start to really dig through a ton of audio files from both old and newer TV shows, some of which I hadn't heard since their original runs.

The interesting thing is in the case of a number of short-lived 60s or 70s shows, you many not be able to remember the full story line of a single episode, but you still remember the show, because you remember the theme song. How much people today will remember all the current shows that have no musical hook to lock into the public's collective brain we'll see in about a decade or two.

Anonymous said...

A old western that I haven't seen mentioned yet, "Who is the tall, dark stranger there? Maverick is the name."

There are a couple of modern FX shows that I like, "The Shield" and "Rescue Me".

webbie said...

I actually never watched the show, but I find the theme song to The Facts of Life contagious.

You take the good
You take the bad....

Yikes!

Gordon said...

Lots of great themes mentioned...

Cartoons had great theme songs...

David E Kelley had one show with a great theme song -- Picket Fences by Stewart Levin...

After that Kelley went weird and I really hate most of his gonzo themes (even if I really like some of the shows)

I suppose my favorite theme songs were usually westerns...

And no one yet has mentioned my favorite:

The Wild, Wild West -- which also had great title animation.

ModJoey said...

I tend to get the Odd Couple Theme stuck in my head alot. Everytime I see re-runs, it becomes my own theme song for about 3 days.

Dwacon said...

Yeah... we had fun parodying the Diane Warren theme song for Star Trek Enterprise... four seasons of Weird Al moments.

Sigh...

Mike Barer said...

My Lost TV Theme List

1. My Mother The Car
2. The Adams Family
3. Bewitched
4. Hawaii 50
5. Mission Impossible
6. Patty Duke
7. Steve Allen Show
8. Tonight Show with Johnny Carson
9. Get Smart
10. Wide World Of Sports

Anonymous said...

What some programmers overlook, IMHO, is that they can use a good theme song to hook people into watching the show in the first place. Invest a minute or so to see if I want to watch the entire hour? Such a bargain! That's even more important now that we don't have to walk over and manually flip through the channels!

I love theme songs! A lot of folks have commented on a lot of the classics, so I won't repeat those. The two I love most right now are both cable shows: Wildfire (on ABC Family) and The 4400 (which kind of has 2 themes: the recap, which is followed by the opening scene, then the signature song). Both sing-able, both dance-able.

Kitten said...

Someone has already mentioned Scrubs, but I think it should get mentioned for using so many other theme tunes. As a young Brit, I hadn't ever heard Charles in Charge or Sanford & Son before Scrubs and both of these are tunes that I now, genuinely, sing regularly. I also wholeheartedly agree with the mentions for Buffy, Firefly, House (from Teardrop by Massive Attack - something I found out after thinking it had been ripped off and singing along to it to prove to/annoy my boyfriend) and Cheers (probably my favourite). Has anyone mentioned Fresh Prince? I don't know anyone my age who doesn't know the words to this.

Duane said...

I've been watching American TV since 1953. I'd be willing to bet a buck that most English-speaking TV viewers of all ages associate the William Tell Overture with The Lone Ranger. Everything said here about the importance of TV Themes is true.