In our house, we dance to the TV theme songs. (Don’t judge; you’ve done it too.) And not just the easy ones, like that incredibly catchy Community theme, or the rollicking little instrumental that starts Up All Night. Nope, we even get our march on to the theme from Parks and Recreation. It’s not even that the songs are all that good — we’re just so happy to be watching these shows that a little groove (even a seated one, which is my specialty) is a nice way to show our appreciation.
Of course, the past couple of weeks have put a bit of a damper on our joyous Community boogie, since that fan-loved but ratings-challenged show is going into the kind of mid-season hiatus that dedicated fans like us tend to automatically read as a death sentence. The main reason for the schedule shuffle is to make room for 30 Rock, returning after Tina Fey’s maternity leave, so we can’t exactly get pissed at them (that’s a danceable theme, too!). It’s just a sad sign that NBC may very well have decided that the show’s audience is pretty much set, and may not be attracting any new viewers anytime soon. This is the danger of creating a smart, savvy, fast sitcom in the age of Two and Half Men.
However much it may hurt to do without Community (and make no mistake, it will hurt), there is the small consolation that the equally beloved, equally low-rated Parks and Rec is still on the schedule, so crackerjack ensemble comedy has not been entirely wiped from NBC Thursdays. We’d like to think that this spirit of solidarity and support for honest-to-God sitcom wit led to the creation of this adorable video by YouTuber “jamesmontalbano,” which combines the two shows by creating an opening credits sequence for Community that employs the peppy theme from Parks & Rec, along with its distinctive moving-blocks graphic style. Check it out after the jump.
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Having come to the end of an era last week, with the slow crumbling of the TV theme song in the 2000s, we felt the obligation to end this mini-series with a bang by going back to what was surely the golden age of the form — before the ‘90s, before the ‘80s, all the way back to the 1970s. Back then they knew how to make a theme song, for goodness’ sake — those songs told stories, set a mood, and were often downright funky (and the best ones did all three).
Again, our criteria for the list is not necessarily the best show or even the best song, but the ones that stick in your head, every word and/or instrumental break at the ready for mass sing-alongs and quiet moments alone. (We’ve all been there.) For the first time, we expanded the list to twelve entries—and even doing that, we had to make painful judgment calls and leave off such classics as Diff’rent Strokes, One Day at a Time, The White Shadow, S.W.A.T., The Electric Company, Happy Days, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Three’s Company, The Love Boat, Fat Albert, Starsky and Hutch, and The Six Million Dollar Man. Check out what made the cut after the jump:
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Now that we’ve gone to the trouble of compiling our lists of the most memorable TV themes of the ‘80s and ‘90s, it would seem irresponsible (not to mention totally at odds with our obsessive-compulsive nature) not to carry on into the 2000s — in spite of the fact that TV theme songs all but disappeared in the decade, replaced on most shows by a quick title hit (though sometimes an ingenious and musical one) and credits rolling under the opening scenes.
However, a few shows (particularly on cable) managed to keep the opening theme song alive, while others took the fifteen to thirty seconds allowed by their networks and made something special of them. As before, it’s not just about an appropriate theme for great show (enough about the Buffy theme already); it’s about a catchy tune that fixes itself in your cranium, one that you not only sing along with when the show starts, but that even pops into your head during the day, or works its way into your shower-crooning repertoire. Our playlist is after the jump, and you can drag and drop your picks into the comments.
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Last week, prompted by the death of Andrew Gold (composer of “Thank You For Being a Friend,” aka the theme to The Golden Girls), we put together a list of the most memorable TV theme songs of the ‘80s. Some folks got worked up about it! (Fine, yes, the exclusion of Knight Rider was a gross oversight.) So, in true ’80s spirit, we took something that did pretty well, and made a sequel — this time selecting from the television shows of the ’90s, a decade that became the last gasp of the opening theme song. As we moved into the 2000s, shows started forgoing the opening credit sequence (lest viewers have the opportunity to switch away), instead crashing right into the show and running credits under the opening scenes.
But in the 1990s, most shows were still bothering to create a theme song whose primary purpose was to lodge itself into your noggin and remind you to tune in again next week. The rules are the same (the show in question has to have debuted in the decade in question), as is the criteria: these are not necessarily all good songs. They’re catchy songs, impossible to get out of your brain, like it or not. Check out the list after the jump, and add your own in the comments.
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Sad news this week: Singer/songwriter Andrew Gold died of a heart attack at 59. Film fans will most likely recognize his biggest (and, frankly, kinda only) hit “Lonely Boy” from its use in Boogie Nights. Okay, and in The Waterboy. But that pop epic was not Mr. Gold’s pop culture legacy; it seems that back in 1978 he wrote and recorded a little number called “Thank You For Being a Friend,” which was re-recorded by Cynthia Fee and used as the theme song to The Golden Girls. And if I threw a party, etc.
In memory of Mr. Gold, we contemplated a list of the best 1980s TV theme songs — a notion only slightly complicated by the fact that, well, by most reasonable standards, “Thank You For Being a Friend” isn’t actually a terribly good song. What it is, however, is catchy — if you hear it once, it lodges itself in your brain forever, ready to be trotted out at a moment’s notice for spirited sing-alongs during Lifetime re-runs, drunken parties, and Golden Girls-themed drag shows. And let’s face it, that’s what a lot of those ’80s theme songs were — maybe not good, but certainly not easy to get out of your skull. So that’s the list we put together, limiting ourselves to shows that premiered in the 1980s — so, as painful as it was to leave them out, there’s no Rockford Files (its final regular episode aired in January 1980), Taxi or Diff’rent Strokes (both premiered in 1978), WKRP or Dukes of Hazard (1979). Take a peek after the jump, and add your own in the comments.
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A few days ago, we were inspired by our own nostalgia to make a mixtape of ’90s Nickelodeon themes we hadn’t heard in years. Since readers seemed to be right there with us, we’ve decided to take on yet another cultural touchstone from that decade: NBC’s Must-See TV lineup. This playlist features some of the most iconic intros of the ’90s, from The Rembrandts’ Friends opener to that deliciously cranky Frasier ditty. And hey, remember Wings?
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