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They're Creepy and They're Kooky

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Most people can sing at least a few lines from the songs that opened television shows like "Gilligan's Island," "The Brady Bunch," or "The Jeffersons." Yet few programs today kick off with a musical explanation of the series' premise. We ask Eric Deggans, media critic at the St. Petersburg Times, why the TV theme song is an endangered species. And longtime lyricists Marilyn and Alan Bergman talk about creating themes for "Good Times," "Alice," and other hit shows.

Tell us: Do you have a favorite TV theme song? Do you miss opening themes?

Our blog: John proposes a mash-up of two TV themes.


Eric Deggans

Comments [20]

NC from NYC

Matthew, that was from "The Greatest American Hero." Great theme song.

Apr. 23 2008 03:22 PM
Matthew from NYC

My sister and I used to record T.V. theme songs with a cassette tape recorder next to the T.V. speaker.

I don't remember the name of the show, but there was that one theme song that had the chorus that went "Believe it or not. I'm walking on air. I never thought I could feel so free--ee--eee!" My favorite.

Apr. 23 2008 02:34 PM
NC from NYC

I grew up in the 80s and watched a lot of TV. Here are 2 of my favorites:

"Believe It or Not" The Greatest American Hero

"My Secret Identity" from My Secret Identity (with Jerry O'Connell)

Apr. 23 2008 02:33 PM
marcel from wantagh


Apr. 23 2008 02:32 PM
John R. Murphy from Oakland, NJ

I think you should have a similar program on what happened to good music on WNYC. Ten years ago I used to hear good music, classical or popular, to transition between shows. Now most of the time I hear short bursts of drum machine music between shows and between ads. Your marketing research must have told you that radio listeners increase during the commuting hours, especially in the morning. This is when I hear the heavier concentration of ads and drum machine music.

Apr. 23 2008 02:30 PM
Amy from NJ

I just now typed out an email to a cousin describing the summer house that we got. The way I described it was "I am your wife, goodbye city life".

Apr. 23 2008 02:25 PM
MCD from Somewhere over the rainbow

The line that comes after

Scratchin’ and surviving. - Good Times.

Hangin in a chow line - Good Times.

Apr. 23 2008 02:22 PM
Ian from Bronx

Re: missing Lyric from Good Times

the lyric is "hangin' in a chow line, Good Times"

Discussed in depth in an episode of Chappelle's show in a bit called "I know Black People"

Apr. 23 2008 02:21 PM
stella from NYC

HBO's shows have the hands down best opening credits for the current crop of shows:

"The Sopranos" Woke Up This Morning -- got myself a gun.

I love the theme of "The Wire" and the fact that they used a new version of one song to distinguish the different seasons.

The music for "Deadwood" was excellent and haunting.

Luf for:

"Laverne & Shirley" - great mix of song and opening credits.

Apr. 23 2008 02:19 PM
marcel from wantagh

60's and 70's ellaborate orchestral compositions of any police drama! "mission impossible", "hawaii five-o"

Apr. 23 2008 02:19 PM
Nick from DUMBO

PERFECT STRANGERS is amazing for the bonus reason that the opening credits were hilarious for its dated scenes.

Apr. 23 2008 02:18 PM
Connie Colvin from Jackson Heights, Queens, NY

I loved the Mary Tyler Moore theme song, the one you played was so great. TV themes are important and wonderful. But, the shows aren't as good anymore, and they just don't want to bother. The Maude was good, and I even like the one from Star Trek: Enterprise, " Faith of the Heart". I just think it shows that the humanness and heart have gone out from TV these days.

Apr. 23 2008 02:17 PM
Joe Naturale from Earth

Why waste time with theme songs when broadcasters can sell the time for advertising? It's a matter of and sign of our consumer-driven times.

Apr. 23 2008 02:16 PM
marcel from wantagh

seinfeld theme noise!

Apr. 23 2008 02:16 PM
Linda from Lower East Side

In spite of working for the Lomax archives and having friends who love folk music, when we got together around the fire we couldn't find one song that we all knew in it's entirety except for....The Brady Bunch. Ta dah. Successful sing-a-long.

Apr. 23 2008 02:15 PM
john from Brooklyn

Maude is the BEST!!

Apr. 23 2008 02:13 PM

This topic is frivolous. C'mon WNYC, you can do better than this.

Apr. 23 2008 02:12 PM
Rick from Brooklyn

Fresh Prince of Bel Air?????

Apr. 23 2008 02:11 PM
bas from brooklyn

In Brazil the tradition is still strong, and many superstars like Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque etc. are still featured on the theme songs of the Telenovelas - the series that dominate evenings in Brazil. People know them by hart.

Apr. 23 2008 02:03 PM
Richard Mitnick from Highland Park ,NJ

The program has not started yet, but I want to be sure that you remember:

From TV-
"I Remember Mama", the Grieg one of the Two Elegiac Melodies, Last Spring and Wounded Heart, I am never sure which one.

From Radio and TV-
The Lone Ranger, Liszt Le Prelude and ??? The William Tell Overture.

From Radio, but worth remembering-
Sergeant Preston The Donna Diana Overture

Apr. 23 2008 01:53 PM

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