Thursday, July 19, 2007

Coolest T.V. Theme Songs

Why don't television shows have theme songs anymore? I think it started with Seinfeld's Bobby McFarrin tribute in their opening credits but whatever the reason they just don't have theme songs like they used to--though the Amazing Race has a decent enough ditty. Maybe I'd start watching t.v. again if they had cool songs to lure me in. Here are my top picks:

1. The A-Team. Okay I know I'm just abandoning myself completely to the 80s but this was a fabulous theme song and what made it even better was the plot exposition done in voice over. Hysterical now but boy I thought it was great back in 7th grade. My friends and I caught every episode and secretly had code names for each other that mirrored the Team's code names. Oh yes, we were cool. A close second would be Knight Rider or Magnum P.I. (the best-looking mustache on the planet).

2. The Brady Bunch. I loved this one and would sing along to the best of my abilities whenever I caught an episode. Don’t tell but secretly I dreamed I was Cindy Brady complete with a set of curly pigtails. You too?

3. Miami Vice or maybe Law and Order. I never actually saw a Miami Vice episode (Mom had declared it Trashy and it was off limits) but ran into plenty of Don Johnson wannabes throughout my 80s existence. Law and Order on the other hand--loved loved loved that show. I say "loved" because I haven't seen too many episodes recently, not since the blond assistant D.A. left (I have a hard time keeping McCoy's women straight). Odd that he never gets an ugly male sidekick, just gorgeous females. . . but as for theme songs, when the guitar comes in I feel my Coolness Quotient jump significantly.

4. Gilligan's Island. Who doesn't love this? "A three-hour tour, A three-hour tour . . ." Any theme song that tells a story gets bonus points--in fact, I think the presidential candidates ought to seriously consider creating their own theme songs where they set their platform into a catchy ballad that can be played at debates, fund raisers, town meetings, whatever. It's a winning idea. Can't you just hear Hilary's song?

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale
A tale with a lot of dirt
That started back in Little Rock
With the Governor and a Skirt, the Governor and a Skirt.

The man was a womanizer and
His lifetime mate was mad
But she had White House hopes she'd be
First Lady to that Cad, First Lady to that Cad.

The election went without a hitch
With Blue States far and wide
For Bill Clinton . . .
and Hilary too . . .
Stephanopolous . . . and Albright
Les As-pin
Jan Re-no and Sha-la-la
(But not a landslide).

So starts the career of our Castaway
Around for a long, long time
We've have to make the best of things
It's an uphill climb.

Ms. Clinton as a Senator
Has done her very best
To make America comfortable
With a woman Prez.

No lies, no court, no Monica
Not a single impeaching
Could stop her from her clever plan
To someday have The Seat.

So join us in November
You're sure to get an ache
From Senators, press and lawyers
How much can America take?

5. Bonanza. Fabulous theme song. Words aren’t necessary when you can just “bum bum-da-bum, bum-da-bum, bum-da-bum, bum bummmm BUM! . . . .” along. The mark of a great theme song. And a flaming map in the background doesn't hurt either. Maybe I shouldn't say this but my Mom and her friends as teens loved Little Joe enough to write their own episodes just for him. Dragnet and Rawhide are honorable mentions as well.

6. The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock. I'm lumping these two together because if you've seen one felted, feathered, fingered puppet you've seen them all. Don't tell me you can watch the Fraggle Rock credits without clapping, you know you do.

7. Scooby-Doo. Yes I know it’s a cartoon but it’s still cool. Maybe it's the drum solo at the beginning, maybe it's the flock of squawking bats that sets the mood, maybe it's the way Velma runs, but whatever it is I loved it and my kids are carrying the flame of affection high and strong. Enough to make it to number seven on the list. Don’t tell me you don’t know all the words to it. Favorite episode? The Green Ghosts--whatever that one was called--the one that was like Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians . . . only with (um) two floating green ghosts and (er) a talking dog with a cat's tail.

8. Dudley Do-right. And if you thought cartoons were off-limits wait until you hear this one. Did you watch Rocky and Bullwinkle? I’ll still watch it if the kids check out the DVDs from the library. They think I can do a pretty good Natasha imitation but regardless, the Dudley Do-right theme is classic and catchy.

9. Friends. Never really been a fan of the show but for the record I was listening to The Rembrandts before America had ever heard of Jennifer Aniston. Anyone ever hear that great early-90s tune, "Just the Way It Is"?

10. Greatest American Hero. Do you remember this show? I LOVED it. Saw every episode and cried when it ended so abruptly (maybe I'm exaggerating just a little) and loved the theme song too—though I warn you, it’s 80s with a vengeance complete with a blond afro-mullet and Connie Selleca.

11. Highlander. Does this qualify as a theme song? Because it’s really a legitimate song used as a theme song (“Princes of the Universe” by Queen--and who doesn't love Queen?) but whether you’ll give it to me or not I love it. I have the full version on my ipod. Which do I like better: the theme song or Adrian Paul? Hmmm . . . better get back to me on that one.

12. Mission Impossible. It’s an obvious choice and so cool it’s hung around for quite awhile and has kept Tom Cruise’s career above water. Barely.

13. Hawaii 5-0. The coolest theme song ever. It’s still cool even all these years later. I caught my kids listening to it the other day thinking it was something new. I had to explain things to them that Cool has been around longer than they have and that this theme song was back from when I was too young to watch cop shows. The 60s invented Cool I believe, I think the patent was registered back in 1961 when Audrey Hepburn did Breakfast at Tiffany's. It all goes back to Audrey.

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Joan said...

Great ones! I especially enjoyed Bonanza, Friends, and Cheers. I hate it when they use a popular song and change the words.

Sanni said...

Excellent list, Michelle!

A-Team, Miami Vice, Bonanza and The Muppets for me, please ;)

I still have the Muppet´s theme as a mobile ringtone for 2 friends of mine who remind me of Wladorf and Statler...

Happy TT!

damozel said...

Maybe it's just HBO, but the theme songs for The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, and Big Love pretty much rock[ed]!

...but I wish you hadn't mentioned the Brady Bunch; I never liked it and now it---plus all the theme songs of all the shows that used to come on Friday nights back in the seventies---are playing in my head. "The Partridge Family," "Love American Style, "The Odd Couple," augh!

la bellina mammina said...

Love all those theme songs - transports me back to the old times.. and yes, The Soprano's and even SATC too.

Lara Angelina said...

Great TT! I loved that X-Files music too and Magnum was a particular favorite!
Great list!

Wylie Kinson said...

"Believe it or not, I'm walkin' on air..."
Great list. I'll be humming Bonanza all night!

Sandy said...

Yes! I was just thinking about this topic. A couple of years ago, LOST won an emmy for best television theme song. When I heard that, I just shook my head sadly. But such is the state of television shows today.

And, yes, I did wish I was Cindy Brady. I distinctly remember asking my mother to do my hair like Cindy's when I was a child.

Veronica Mitchell said...

I am so, so ashamed to say that when you mentioned tv theme songs, the one that immediately started going through my head was Knight Rider.

I love the Muppet Show theme song. I suggest three others: Scrubs, Pinky and the Brain, and the theme for the Chilly Willy segments of teh Woody Woodpecker show.

tommiea said...

we must be near the same age, because I fondly remember all of these!

btw, I lived in Fairbanks for some time in the early 90s!

amy said...

Hey, I love some of these..Another fun list!

Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

Muppet show! LOVE!

Did you write the Hilary/Giligan song? Too funny!

You always have the best lists.

my4kids said...

I absolutely love your picks they are all favorites of mine too!

I totally had to sing along while reading the Hilary Clinton song. Did you write it? Good job!

laughing mommy said...

I'm totally embarrassed to admit that I used to like Adrian Paul and Highlander. Used to.

katherine. said...

how FUN was this! thanks....

Heffalump said...

We recently bought the first season of Greatest American Hero on DVD and I was disappointed at how boring it was compared to what I remembered. TV show music. That orchestra music they used for Scarecrow and Mrs King. Great stuff! Ah, and Silver Spoons...Ricky Schroeder was my first crush...

Corrie said...
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Corrie said...

How about Murder, She Wrote or The Six Million Dollar Man?

On the other hand, I just want to shrivel up into a little ball when I hear The Little House on the Prairie theme song. Too many episodes, too many times - LHotP burnout. I think it's that little leap at the end.

I'm sure Facts of Life was on the no watch list too, but that was a catchy song. "You take the good, you take the bad...."

Janie Hickok Siess, Esq. said...

Great idea for a 13 list, Michelle! I got a bang out of some of your choices. Thumbs down on the Brady Bunch, though.

Robin said...

Now I've got both Walking on Air AND the Gilligan's Island theme song in my head - simultaneously!

I'm doing a tv theme this week too. (Or will be as soon as I write it!)

Poppy Fields said...

I love your list this week. I think I can hum most of these themes.

Fourier Analyst said...

Got me to thinkin', but I suspect I am of a different generation as well as genre. My list includes Star Trek, Lost in Space, Perry Mason, Mr. Ed, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits. Now I have to go off and dye some grey hairs...

Nicholas said...

I used to watch some of those. Hawaii 50 and Mission Impossible had great themes. Some TV theme tunes had words which were never performed (Bonanza and Star Trek, for example) just so that the lyricist could claim a royalty every time they were played.

Caffienated Cowgirl said...
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Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Fabulous! The A-Team was great. But what about the Dukes of Hazzard? Oh man, there I go showing my age...

Lynnae said...

Great list! I remember all of them. And I LOVE the words to the Hillary song!

Now I'm going to be singing "Believe it or not, I'm walking on air..." all day!

Marie N. said...

I also like the CSI theme songs by The Who. Love the HIghlander -- show, star and theme.

I do think you'll get lots of votes for Cheers's theme. Would that have been no. 14 on the list?

Izzy said...

Hawaii 5-0 is the coolest TV theme song EVER!!!

I can still remember the montage they played along with the music.

And? I have it on my iPod and actually play it. A lot.

Am a dork :)

wayabetty said...

You sure can come up with some interesting topics for TT. I'm a fan of Law & Order franchise. Watch every single episodes. And you're right, McCoy seems to go through his assistant like changing undies. I heard the latest hottie will leave him too. Too bad, the hubbie and I think she's hot and good.

Now, that's going down memory lane. Greatest American Hero, I loved that show too!!

Leslie said...

Good list. Good songs.

I blogged about my favorite T.V. theme songs a while back...what about Fat Albert? That's a jam! And the Dukes of Hazzard? Three's Company gets props from me just for that amazing, funky guitar riff at the beginning. My favorite of all time: Diff'rent Strokes. I love that song.

G's Cottage said...

The late '60s and early '70s were really about the ballad theme song. I think back in those days producers were developing shows for the long-term and investing money in major theme development could be justified. Today some shows don't survive their pilots let alone more than one season; unless 3 people die in every episode and there are at least 2 "babes" for window dressing.

But sorry I wanted to be Marcia;... oh wait, I was Marcia. And she should seriously have knocked off Greg, he needed "his ears set back" as my grandmother used to say.

Suprina said...

I Love the scooby Doo theme song. I am always annoying my kids telling them I don't like scooby doo and when I actually do...they think it is quite funny.

Also the brady bunch and Gilligan's Island I can sing over and over.

These songs are going to be stuck in my head ALL day long now.

Great TT!

Heather said...

I always get a kick out of your lists! I agree that the 80's and cartoons have the coolest theme songs.

Mel said...


You missed a couple of IMPORTANT ones.

77 Sunset Strip
Route 66
Peter Gunn


Anonymous said...

Great list, Michelle. If you include Brady Bunch, why not include The Love Boat. You have to go back a decade to find the best of the best/excluding drama. Best theme song, best script best comedy, best actors ...yup "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and Cheers, though I rarely watched the show. and Twilight Zone.

mayberry said...

Nice work on the Hillary song!

I've been singing "Be-leeeeve it or not, Iiiiiiiiii'm walkin' on air" ever since I read this.

tracy m said...

Great list- most of which I agree with- especially the Muppet Show and Hawaii 5-0

I would have to add:
Barney Miller
Magnum PI
Sex and the City
Northern Exposure

Daisy said...

I am singing at the computer as I type! This is a great list. They don't, really don't, write 'em like they used to. (It's time to get things started on the Muppet Show tonight...)

J at said...

I also loved the song from Greatest American Hero. :)

Also, Bosom Buddies (though I'm not as thrilled with the song now) and One Day at a Time. :)

Fun TT!

Heather said...

"Book 'em Dano - Murder One, two counts". Oh how I loved Hawaii Five-O! We must be from the same generation because all of these songs had meaning for me! Thanks for this post!

Lisa said...

Good job on the Clinton song! All good TV picks.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Y'know, you're right about TV shows lacking theme songs anymore.

You've picked some good ones, but lumping Muppets and Fraggles together? The shame. The shame!

Coach J said...

Awww!!! Great list, M!! I still catch the A-Team, Magnum PI (love the shorts!), and Bonanza every so often on SkyAngel!! But my son has the Gilligan DVD box sets!! And, I loved Greatest American Hero!! Kudos to you today for picking some awesome theme songs!

Carinne said...

Ya, the first one I thought of when I saw the list was Magnum. How you could leave off Tom Selleck is beyond me. Hearing the start of the sond "Da, da, da, DUM da-dum da-dum da-dum....da da da DUM...." and watching him jump into that ferrari on a beautiful Hawaiian beach was SOO cool. I KNOW that you sang along too. Cheers is a great one too.

J. Lynne said...

I loved The A-Team and The Muppets. Friends was also a good one. Now I like the theme to Monk.

Oh, and during the first season or two of Law & Order, there was a male assistant to the assistant D.A., but I can't recall if he left before or after McCoy's predecessor.

Btw, happy tt. Mine is up here.

Joyful Days said...

Never did watch the A-Team, but I knew all the others. With, of course the exception of your revised "Gilligan." That is award worthy!

Anonymous said...

I'd forgotten about the Greatest American Hero theme. I'm singing it right now, thank you very much.

I'd add the "ding-ding, ding dong" tune at the beginning of Captain Kangaroo as timeless.

Amy W said...

I recall in college putting closed caption on so that we could see the words to the Friends song...

SusieJ said...

I love Batman -- the TV series. I liked the Partridge family too -- but you brought back some lovey memories. Especially to someone who has no TV for a month!!

Ni Yachen said...

There are only be one . . . number 11.

The worst is People's Court. That only had three notes.

crazy working mom said...

Probably the most recognizable would be mission impossible...but my favorite would be Cheers!

Great list.

Momish said...

Wow! Did you write that Hillary song? If so, I am in awe of your talent!! Great!

I sheepishly admit, the Brady Bunch song was one of my favs.

Chris said...

Hey, what about Magnum PI?

Da, da-da, dum-tum-da-DA (Ok, I'm not musically inclined)

I think I heard that people do not have the attention span for theme music anymore, so that's why they were dumped.

I like the Two and a Half Men song myself.

Chris said...

Carinne- Great minds... haha!

I swear I didn't read your comment before I posted!

Thea said...

O.K. I must admit, that before I even read what you wrote about Fraggle Rock, I clapped just when I saw the name.

Dance your cares away (clap, clap)
Worry's for another day.
Let the music play (clap, clap)
Down at Fraggle Rock.

I've always been partial to All in the Family. I do a mean Edith.

Joy T. said...

I had forgotten all about Hawaii Five-O . Loved that show. A great list that brought back wonderful memories.

Anonymous said...

Dang it, I wrote a post of my 13 favorite TV theme songs (Highlander being number one of course), but I decided to post it next week because I wanted to leave my Wednesday post up longer. Now you've beaten me to it. Oh well. We're not entirely the same, although I did also have A-Team, Bonanza, and Muppets.

soccer mom in denial said...

Phew! You listed Greatest American Hero:

Believe it or not
I'm walking on air
I never thought I could be so free (ee-eee)
Flying away on something something
Who could it be?

Believe it or not
It's just me!

You're my demographic!

Anonymous said...

hi michelle: you are funny today! and i loved how you called his hair a blond afro-mullet! what a hoot. i used to love that show, too. they just made some really great theme songs back then! cheers, kathleen :)

Anonymous said...

scribbit rocks.

thanks, michelle, for the cute emails last night. you made my night brighter with your compliments.

boy i sure missed being able to write and write and write via a keyboard while i was away for almost a month! i am liking it again.

~from the little ego booster :) kathleen

Haley-O said...

Awesome TT! I LOVE all of them! MUPPETS!!!!! :)

Chuck said...

I'd have to go with:

- Battlestar Galactica (the original series)
- Theme from "Mannix"
- Wild Wild West

Wanna know what's frightening? I have the first two ON MY IPOD.

Also, for any NPR fans out there, I dearly love the closing theme to Weekend Edition Saturday (the Scott Simon program). It's only 60 seconds, but that one's on my iPod, too! ;-)

Judy said...

They say the sense of smell is closely tied to memory.....but I think music must be somewhere in there too. What a great flashback your list created.
Gilligan's Island brought back our wedding...we got married on a boat and insisted that the DJ include that in the playlist.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

A few weeks ago I was driving home alone from an errand at night, heard the theme from Miami Vice, and I swear suddenly I wasn't driving a filthy SUV mom mobile but a red convertible down the highway, with an ocean breeze blowing my hair!

Yep I'm cheesie. ;)

mAsOn & tErrI's mOm said...

Great list! I loved the A- Team!

Oh, The Joys said...

What? No Lavergne & Shirley?

(How do you spell Lavergne?)

watch that 70s show said...

those all are great!!i loved the X-files and the magnum