Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Believe it or not

Today's open question, inspired by William Katt's appearance on "House" last night (and a good episode, both with the House vs. God running tally and House and Wilson's dueling psychoanlysis of each other, not to mention Hugh Laurie's delivery of "They can't argue with the mark of Cane."):

What TV show do you have fond memories of primarily because of the theme song? The seemingly obvious answer for me would be "The Greatest American Hero," but I mainly wanted an excuse to run that picture, and while I love the Joey Scarbury theme song so much I used it as Julia's lullaby for the first year of her life (and because it inspired the greatest answering machine greeting of all time), that show was about more than a catchy/cheesey ditty. The interplay between Katt and Robert Culp was always funny, and like so many of the movies and shows cited in this thread, it worked as both an action/superhero spoof and a decent action/superhero show.

So my pick would be the very short-lived remake of "Route 66" from the summer of '93. I can barely tell you anything about the show itself, save that it was from the days when Dan Cortese was a rising star, but damn if the theme song, Warren Zevon's "If You Won't Leave Me I'll Find Somebody Who Will" wasn't 40 seconds of pure ironic bliss. I literally tuned in every week just to hear that song, and it made me so happy that I stuck around for the rest of the hour.

So what's your favorite watched-it-for-the-theme-song show?


Anonymous said...

There are 2:

The short-lived Wonderfalls for Andy Partridge's specially penned theme song and going back a few years, The Courtship of Eddie's Father.

Anonymous said...

Oh, this is embarassing. Jesse, the Christina Applegate sitcom that ran for 2 years on NBC in the '90s. No idea who did it, but it had a very fun little rocking theme song. I really didn't watch the show much, though.

Speaking of bad NBC sitcoms, there's also Suddenly Susan's theme song, Shawn Colvin's Nothin' on Me. But that's more from listening to that album since then, it didn't impress me at the time.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Devin, the "Jesse" theme was "Time For You" by The Tories, and I own the album. No shame in loving the song and hating the show.

Eric said...

Enterprise (Just kidding!)

Bosom Buddies had other things to recommend it, but the theme song (Billy Joel's "My Life") always comes to mind immediately.

Alan Sepinwall said...

"I've got faaaaaaaaith of the heart!!!!!" God, why did you have to remind me of that, Eric? Why?

Yeah, Bosom Buddies is much better than you'd think given the premise, and the "My Life" opening credits were great. Sadly, they never bothered negotiating syndication rights, so whenever the show pops up in reruns, it's with some generic Pointer Sisters-sounding theme accompanying all those shots of Hanks and Scolari goofing around in Central Park.

Adam said...

What was wrong with the premise? When they first moved to New York, they had a great apartment that was dirt cheap -- and then they found out why it was so cheap. Their friend Amy said there was a great apartment in her building. Dirt cheap - but it's a hotel for women. Okay. So they made one adjustment. Now these other ladies know them as Buffy and Hildegarde, but they also know them as Kip and Henry, Buffy and Hildy's "brothers". Kip is crazy about the blonde; Henry thinks the experience is gonna make a great book.

See? It's all perfectly normal.

(I have no answer to the question, though I do have a related talent for divining the lyrics to instrumental tv theme songs like Law & Order, West Wing and House.)

highbrow said...

It wasn't the only reason I watched it, but the theme song for "The Gary Shandling Show" was comic genious.

Matt said...

The "Wonderfalls" theme was unquestionably brilliant (as was the "Firefly" theme), though both might have been too loopy for their own good.

And the House theme does (really) have lyrics--they begin:

"(love)love is a verb
Love is a doing word
Feathers on my breath
Gentle impulsion
Shakes me makes me lighter
Feathers on my breath"

What they have to do with the show is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

Going back to childhood... "Apple's Way." Made by the people who brought you "The Waltons," which I never watched, but I watched "Apple's Way" every Sunday, drawn in by the theme song.

I can't explain why. It was your basic theme-songy theme song of the '70s. But I can hum it for you note-for-note to this day, which my mind occasionally does of its own volition.

I also have a vivid memory of Ronny Cox leading a family sing of "Rocky Top" in one episode. I've been a Ronny Cox fan ever since this show.

Christy said...

I watched it for more than the theme, but I did love the Angel theme music. I checked out other tunes by the band (name escapes me just now) and didn't find anything that resonated.

K J Gillenwater said...

I have 2 right now that I can think of:

The Dido song from "Roswell," and the Dandy Warhols song on "Veronica Mars." I have TiVO, but I will listen to the opening music every time for VM.

I am sure there are others, but these two stand out for me right now.

Eric said...

This is the them to Gary's show
The opening theme to Gary's show.
This is the music that you hear as you watch the credits.

It's almost half-way finished,
How do you like it so far,
This is the theme to Gary Shandling's show...

Anonymous said...

Hands down Welcome Back Kotter.

Anonymous said...

The Elvis Presley theme song is the secondary reason I watch "Las Vegas."

And the theme to "The Garry Shandling Show" rocks!

Laura Holt said...

This is really embarassing, but not only do I Tivo the Murder, She Wrote reruns on A&E, but at least half of the enjoyment I get out of watching them is the theme over the opening credits.

highbrow said...

LOL! Just reading the lyrics make me crack up! Thx Eric!

All those theme songs from recent shows are great, but my favourites have always been songs that were specially written for the show. From Gilligan's Island to WKRP to Three's Company to Family Ties to Cheers. These are the true classics!

Alan Sepinwall said...

There's no shame here, Laura -- only love. Well, maybe a little shame. No, no, I kid. Just love.

One of the many reasons to hate the increased commercial load on network TV (about 16 minutes per hour 10 years ago, nearly 20 minutes today) is the way it's forced series producers to abandon long theme songs and opening titles so they can preserve story time. Hell, even Survivor is dispensing with the full theme most weeks this season.

Half the reason people have affection for the shows they grew up on are those theme songs. Would anyone care at all about Gilligan's Island or the Brady Bunch without those songs?

Laura Holt said...

Well, if you're not going to shame me too badly, then I can also admit to love for the Andy Griffith Show theme. I can't remember a single episode of that show, but every once in awhile (like now) that tune gets stuck in my head, and . . . I don't really mind.

Matt said...

That said, abbreviated theme songs/title sequences can work very well--a couple of examples would be "Lost" with its eerie one note theme, and "How I Met Your Mother" with its "ba-da-da-da!" theme. Perhaps the definitive recent example is "Seinfeld," which just had the few seconds of verbal scat.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Little-known fact about the HIMYM theme: the group that performs it includes Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, the two co-creators. And that sequence works as much for the images of the gang partying, which always makes me really nostalgic for my 20s -- and I'm only 32.

velvetcannibal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
velvetcannibal said...

Sorry. Messed up the first try.

Um. I used to love to sing along to the song for The Nanny. *ducks tomato*

Seinfeld has ruined me for Greatest American Hero, of course.

I've got to go with the original A-Team intro. Not only did I love the description and the music, I also loved the names of the actors. GEORGE PEPPARD. DIRK BENEDICT. DWIGHT SCHULTZ. MR T.

And I think of Dwight Schultz whenever I see Dwight Schrute on The Office. It's a sad state of affairs.

bill said...

The 70s had some great instrumental themes that became top 40 hits, instead of the current practice of using existing songs.

Sanford and Son: A couple years ago, the band Zydeco Force made it into an amazing zydeco song, "Fred G Zydeco."
Barney Miller
Theme from S.W.A.T. I bought the 45 for that one.
Rockford Files might be the best.

Of more recent vintage, I've always enjoyed That 70s Show and Firefly was brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Adam, a friend recently clued me in on the lyrics to the Wild Kingdom theme, and I LMAO everytime I hear it (or think of it).

Look out a BIG MOOSE, it's coming RIGHT for you, better RUN.


The Bosom Buddies reruns that were on recently had the My Life theme intact. I watched the whole run again (thank you TiVo) and the first season holds up pretty well. Less so the second.

The Mad About You theme is an all time favorite of mine (although not the slow version of later seasons). I did watch and like the show, but it's one of the few themes that I would watch and not fast forward through. The ep they did where the a cappella group does the theme over the ending credits is a personal favorite.

And I love the HIMYM theme.

Anonymous said...

Monk (First season ONLY)

Anonymous said...

I have to second the A-Team, and don't forget the techno theme to Airwolf...

Anonymous said...

Great theme - cheesy show goes to Baretta.

Keep your eye on the sparrow.