September 26, 2012

Whatever happened to theme songs on sit-coms?

(Via Metafilter.)


Ron said...

Community has a cool theme song...

Brent said...

The best job ever of doing theme songs was on Scrubs, sung by Ted and the blanks.

Don't know about today's much, except "New Girl"'s theme song is rather good . .

Bob Ellison said...

I guess the Taxi one is difficult to sing, being entirely instrumental. But they did Sanford and Son. Where's The Bob Newhart Show? Trumpets too high for Fallon?

I always liked the Good Times one.

But an unbiased survey would have to include Gilligan's Island Welcome Back, Kotter, The Addams Family...oh, never mind. Too many for a short skit.

Known Unknown said...

Here we are, face to face
A couple of Silver Spoons.
Hopin’ to find, we’re two of a kind
Making a go, making it grow.

Together, we’re going to find our way.
Together, taking the time each day.
To learn all about those things you just can’t buy.

Two Silver spoons together.
You and I together (We’re going to find our way)
You and I together (We’re going to find our way)
You and I together.

Known Unknown said...

Best theme song ever.

And from Wisconsin, no less!

Ann Althouse said...

Fallon is in his generation, going back, apparently to the 1970s. Nothing there for us 60s and 50s folk, though there was plenty of stuff.

No theme was ever better than the "Beverly Hillbillies" one, and I have a soft spot for "Dobie! Wants a gal that's dreamy!"

There were a lot of great TV themes that didn't have words, of course, like "I Love Lucy" and -- go go beyond comedy "Twilight Zone" and "Alfred Hitchcock."

But Fallon and the group did a nice routine about the shows they probably remember.

I liked when they went into the audience for the "Cheers" song. (BTW, have you ever seen a whiter audience?).

WestVirginiaRebel said...

Schlemiel, schlimzal, hasen fpeffer incorporated...

Love, exciting and new...

Living on the air in Cincinnatti...

Astro said...

You're all clueless.
Best sitcom theme song by far (and for all time, literally), Barenaked Ladies "The Big Bang Theory"
The Big Bang Theory

Indigo Red said...

New Girl theme song is, as Brent says, is rather good and plays with the That Girl theme song.

The The Big Bang Theory theme song by Bare Naked Ladies is very good and packs a lot into only 22 seconds.

Two and a Half Men is very recognizable as well as a pleasant sound.

edutcher said...

A lot of 50s and 60s shows had themes (eg, "Twilight Zone" and "Alfred Hitchcock"), but, in many cases, if there were lyrics, you never heard them (eg, Bonanza, The Virginian).

Warners had themes for all their shows, but for the rest, songs like "Rawhide", were fairly rare.

I can't remember any sitcoms from those days, except Dobie Gillis, that actually had a song.

Astro said...

A few from the 60s that come to mind, that were pretty good:
The Addams Family, Green Acres and Car 54. I like how the Car 54 theme song mentioned Idlewild Airport, before it was renamed JFK.

Saint Croix said...

The coolest theme songs are instrumentals, Mission Impossible and Hawaii 5-0. And I hated Hawaii 5-0. I would tune in for the theme song and then leave.

Cheers really does have an awesome theme song. That's a beautiful song, probably the best combinatioon of music and lyrics in any theme song, ever.

The Jetsons is an awesome theme song. Sue me. I love it.

I like the whistling Andy Griffith theme song.

I like the clapping in the Friends theme song.

Gilligan's Island is a very memorable theme song. I like the repetition in that song.

What's amazing about Beverly Hillbillies is the commentary in the song. Black gold. Texas tea. Just in case you don't know what oil is. Swimming pools. Movie stars. That's just brilliant. That's another theme song that's way better than the actual show.

Brady Bunch is not a great theme song, but the Hollywood Squares video cutting in the opening is a brilliant touch. With everybody looking up and down at each other. And while that's not a great song, it's a highly memorable one. It's catchy. In and of itself, I believe I would hate that song. But it really works with the visuals.

Peter Gunn is a pretty cool instrumental. I like Mancini's stuff. Never watched that show, though. The Blues Brothers kinda specialized in doing theme songs. Rawhide is another one.

Dukes of Hazzard had a nice theme song.

Saint Croix said...

Left off Chappelle Show. Awesome!

I'll take facts, hold the narrative said...

The best opening credits and theme song was "The Rockford Files". The images told a story about the character and were beautifully photographed using Kodachrome.

Carnifex said...

#1)Lalo Schiffrin with Mission: Impossible
2)Beverly Hillbillies by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs
3)Gilligan's Isle by the Castaways
5)Hawaii 5-0

But #1 Lalo Schiffrin...classic

Also ran;

Peter Gunn, Rawhide, Taxi, Sopranos, Bonanza, Sanford and Son, Star Trek, Battle Star Gallactica, Buck Rogers, Dr. Who...(okay my geek is breakin' loose. Time to quit)

sonicfrog said...

Barney Miller... Especially if you happen to play bass!

Carnifex said...

oops sitcoms list is different

1)Ballad of Jed Clampett
2)Gilligns Isle
3)Sanford and Son
4)Good Times
5)Those Were The Days(All In The Family)

Mark B said...

Sorry to be the turd in the punch bowl, but this bathos (warm and comforting as it is), it middlebrow kitsch. Really kind of creepy to think back now, in my old age, how much we were in thrall to the Big Three networks in their heydey when they called the tunes. I'm kind of a traditionalist. I do not find the old Lutheran liturgy to be "really kind of creepy" in any way. I wonder.

edutcher said...

Always though M:I theme was overrated.

It's interesting to think about some of the talent that went into some themes:

Harry Warren ("Wyatt Earp" lyrics)

Max Steiner ("Sugarfoot")

Elmer Bernstein (first "Have Gun, Will Travel", "Riverboat")

Jerome Moross (the last "Wagon Train", "Lancer")

Bernard Herrmann ("Twilight Zone")

All of it uncredited.

Mark B said...

I wonder. Wah, wah, wah, wonder..."Crime story." Theme songs with a previous life (not "made for TV") don't have the taint.

David said...

Palladian, Palladian, where do you roam?

David said...

Guess what show: "here we are, back with you again."

SteveR said...

I have to go with the Cheers theme song as well.

FWBuff said...

The instrumental theme song for "Twin Peaks" was great -- perfectly matched for that show.

Bender said...

The sitcoms weren't really the best theme songs/music. The police and spy shows were better.

But how could anyone leave off The Avengers? How could anyone ever forget M Appeal?

Many of the Quinn-Martin shows had good theme music.

Another great Lalo Schifrin theme is Mannix.

Bender said...

As far as Hawaii Five-0 is concerned, the new Steve McGarrett is no Jack Lord.

Phil 314 said...

This was the 70's

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I loved the Mary Tyler Moore show as a kid and bedtime was after the kitten meowed. I didn't get until much later that the MTM kitten was an homage to the MGM lion.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I loved the Mary Tyler Moore show as a kid and bedtime was after the kitten meowed. I didn't get until much later that the MTM kitten was an homage to the MGM lion.

Geraldus Maximus said...

I love that with a few clicks I could check out the theme songs on Youtube and it all comes back. This was a fun walk down memory lane. Thanks guys.

heyboom said...


Would that be Kukla, Fran and Ollie?

Some of my faves (in no particular order):

1. Angie (by Maureen McGovern)
2. Chico and the Man
3. Living Single

Chip Ahoy said...

Futurama. The bells get me every time. It has words but you never hear them. They're secret words that never get played. The bells are a bit Exorcist-y when the cartoon comes on. Then it's all absurd and silly after that.

Once at Happy Hour I was talking to a couple and having a tremendous time when suddenly the husband said they had to go. "Why?" I inquired politely. "Because Futurama is coming on." He answered. "That's really a suck ass answer." I replied, offended, and a little less politely. And then they left me alone.

But that did get me watching Futurama to see what the attraction is and now I'm hooked.

WestVirginiaRebel said...

I'm surprised nobody mentioned Miami Vice or Hill Street Blues, two of the most recognizable instrumental theme songs of the Eighties.

Also, this was perhaps my favorite Cosby intro.

Lost My Cookies said...

Fat Albert.

Lost My Cookies said...

Fat Albert.

Unknown said...

There are words to the "I Love Lucy" theme song.

Here it is:

I love Lucy and she loves me
We're as happy as two can be
We have our quarrels but then
How we love making up again

Lucy kisses like no one can
She's my missus and I'm her man
Life is heaven you see
Cause I love Lucy, yes I love Lucy and Lucy loves me

Anonymous said...

That was fun - thanks

Anonymous said...

I liked the intro to "The Prisoner" better than the rest of the show.

BravoFoxtrotGolf said...

Some good answers here, but IMO, you can't have a theme song list without "Dallas" or "Knight Rider". :-)