I miss television theme songs. I miss hearing a song on the radio and thinking of the television show it is attached to. It is almost like it is instant marketing. However, since a different type of marketing is taking over network television (longer and more frequent commercial breaks for instance), the theme song has been phased out. Most shows just use a title card with some instrumental music, and we move on with our story. For dramas that are just fine but for a comedy that is 30 minutes (20 minutes with commercials), the theme song is missed.
This made me think of my favorite theme songs that I still hum today. Let me start by saying there are so many that are obvious. Like Friends, One Tree Hill or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Alright, the last two are generational but still well known.
Here are my top three (not really talked about) favorite theme songs.
Laverne and Shirley (1976-1983)
Laverne and Shirley was a sitcom that ran on ABC from 1976 to 1983. The show itself is a spinoff of Happy Days and is set in 1958 and goes into the 60s. It was produced by Gary Marshall and stars Penny Marshall (Laverne) and Cindy Williams (Shirley). It follows two best friends that live together and try to make something of their lives. Yes, the plot is that simple. This theme song is a classic. I remember being obsessed with this show when I first watched it on Nick at Nite as a kid. I wanted to be like Laverne, but I was a Shirley.
Anyway, the song, “Making Our Dreams Come True” by Cyndi Grecco perfectly describes the main point of the show. It is about two people who are trying to make their dreams come true while living and working in a depressed area in lower middle class. The juxtaposition of having a happy song about following dreams and watching the main characters work in a dusty dark factory is striking. The show became a hit, and so did the theme song. The song peaked at #25 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated indeed.
Scarecrow and Mrs. King (1983-1987)
Scarecrow and Mrs. King is a dramedy that aired on CBS from 1983 to 1987. The show stars Kate Jackson (Amanda King) and Bruce Boxleitner (Lee Stetson) as a divorced housewife/mother and an agent (he doesn’t like the word spy). They met by accident (or fate) at a train station and learn to work with each other. Yes, it is a classic partner/romance show. I plan to have a longer post all about this show since it is very close to my heart.
This theme song is an instrumental but one to remember. It has a different sound for each character (lighter for housewife Amanda and more dramatic for Agent Lee Stetson) and then comes together when the characters met. It is frantic, exciting and sweet which perfectly describes this show. It gets you ready for what adventures are to come (also if Lee and Amanda will finally kiss). It is a great theme for a great show.
Blossom is a teen sitcom on NBC. It had an exclusive pilot preview in 1990 and showed up as a mid-season replacement in 1991. It continued to air till 1995. The show follows Blossom who lives with her father and two brothers. Her mother had left the family, and now they are left to pick up the pieces. Which includes a father who is frequently between musician gigs, a brother who is a recovering alcoholic/drug addict, and then a brother who is a typical dumb teenager (Whoa!). Like the other teen shows of its time, it has lessons in each episode that Blossom learns and then talks about in her video diary. I ate it up as a young kid in reruns on Saturday mornings.
The show has different openings, but the song stays the same. “My Opinionation” by Mike Post and Steve Geyer has a beat and lyrics that are poppy and fun which is a lot like the character. As Blossom dances to the song she changes her outfit to match the person she is dancing with. Her dad is a traditional musician, so she is a Broadway dancer, with her dumb brother she is wearing the newest style (90s style mind you) and for the recovering alcoholic brother, she is in a ballerina outfit since he considers her the baby of the family. In this version, she dances with her best friend, Six, and she is dressed as herself. The show follows that great 90s formula of problem/joke/solution. Things are bad, but the sun will surely shine. It is a cute show and a nice time capsule of early 90s style/culture.
These shows are great and so are their theme songs. There are so many more theme songs out there that deserve some love and someday I will get to that. For now, please check out these shows and enjoy the songs that accompany them.
Tell me about some theme songs that you miss below!
Until next time.