They’re creepy and they’re kooky. Mysterious and spooky. They’re altogether ooky. They’re… TV show theme songs! In this week’s Roundtable, we talk about some of our favorites.
M. Enois Duarte
As a kid, I was a huge fan of the TV show ‘The Greatest American Hero‘ and even loved the theme song “Believe It or Not.” Something about the lyrics and music caught my attention, along with the show capturing my imagination. I remember waiting patiently every week for new episodes to premiere, and would sing with the opening credits every time. I was also heartbroken when I learned for the first time that a show could be canceled. I’m actually such a dork for this particular theme song that I bought the vinyl with a collection of Mike Post’s music, the man behind such memorable TV tunes as ‘The A-Team’, ‘Quantum Leap’, ‘The Rockford Files’, ‘CHiPs’, ‘Doogie Howser’, Law & Order’ and ‘Magnum, P.I.’. After all these years, I still have the chorus memorized.
I was one of those nerdy little kids who could hear a theme song once and hum it back to you a week later. (Who am I kidding? I still am!) This always marveled my old man. We’d play a game where he’d name a current television show and I’d hum the theme. Back then, and even now, my favorite theme song was ‘Airwolf‘. I’ve since tried watching episodes on YouTube, but they’re too terrible to get through. Even so, that’s still an amazing theme song that I can hum anytime.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
I’ll break the rules and chop my answer up into two categories. I didn’t even have to stop and think about what my favorite animated TV theme song would be: ‘M.A.S.K.‘ What’s not to like? It’s rockin’, it’s drenched in those distinctively ’80s synths, and I can’t get enough of that vocoderized “Muh-muh-muh-muh MASK!”
For my favorite live-action theme song, I’ll go with ‘Wonderfalls‘, a criminally underappreciated series with a criminally underappreciated theme song. XTC is one of my absolute all-time favorite bands, and honestly, the fact that Andy Partridge wrote the ‘Wonderfalls’ theme was the biggest reason I tuned into the show. I got to hear it exactly three times on the air before Fox pulled the rug out from under ‘Wonderfalls’, but at least I have that DVD set to cue up over and over and over.
There are many catchy TV show theme songs out there, but my personal favorite has to be “Long Hard Times to Come” by Gangstagrass (featuring TONE-z) from the FX series ‘Justified‘. This odd mishmash of hip hop and hillbilly twang is a blast and never fails to bring a smile to my face every time I hear it. In fact, I love the tune so much that I actually have it as the ring tone on my cell phone.
Easy one: The theme song to ‘Smallville‘: Remy Zero’s “Save Me.” Remy’s one hit wonder ALWAYS started Smallville off right. Love it.
[Sorry, I couldn't find an embeddable version of this clip. You'll need to jump over to YouTube to watch it. -JZ]
I thought about selecting one of those wonderful, lyrical theme songs from shows like ‘Animaniacs’, ‘Freakazoid’ or ‘The Muppets’, but for me there’s just nothing that compares to the end theme of the CBC show ‘The Raccoons‘. Ending themes count, right? The song sounds like a fully-fledged ’80s tune, but it was actually created just for the show and is sung by the actress who played Lisa Raccoon. The show doesn’t entirely hold up these days, even if the environmental message still seems pretty on point. The ending theme does, though. It was actually released as a single in 2006 by one of my very favorite English synthpop bands, Spray. Unfortunately, there’s no music video from Spray on YouTube. Fortunately, there’s a video of the Spray version over a Doctor Who montage. Run With Us. How appropriate.
Original Ending Theme:
‘The Golden Girls‘. There, I’ll admit it. This is my favorite. I could come up with lots of explanations about nostalgia and watching the show as a kid while my parents had dinner parties, but really, I just love this theme song. There’s nothing more to say.
I’m going way back with this one, but I’ll have to say that my favorite TV theme song, which still makes regular appearances in my brain, causing me to sing along apropos of nothing, is the ‘Saved by the Bell‘ theme. I watched that show religiously, and it’s simply one of those tunes that sticks with you no matter how hard you try to forget about it. Plus, the song always had that Pavlovian aspect. I’d start drooling during the opening guitar riff because I knew that in seconds I’d be watching Tiffani Thiessen for the next 20 minutes. Those were the days.
At the moment, I’m currently loving the creepy ‘American Horror Story’ theme. But I don’t know that you can really call that a “song,” per se, and it’s too new to really qualify as one of my all time faves. One theme song that I absolutely never got tired of, over nearly a hundred hours of television, was the use of “C’mon C’mon” by The Von Bondies for the opening credits to ‘Rescue Me‘. It’s the perfect marriage of song and visuals and tone. It never failed to get me geared up for the show.
Honorable mention to Del Shannon’s “Runaway” for Michael Mann’s ‘Crime Story’ series. What a great show (the first season, anyway), and the perfect way to set the mood.
Finally, here’s one for Mrs. Z, who wanted to participate this week but didn’t have time to do a write-up:
What are your favorite TV show theme songs? Tell us in the Comments.