Sunday, July 6, 2014

Blast from the Past: When TV Theme Intros Were Awesome

After a dry spell for a lot of years, some TV shows have come around to having some good credit sequences and theme songs, though they're usually fairly short. But nothing matches the quality of a good old one-minute to one-and-a-half minute opus of a theme song, with visuals edited to go along with the song! You might not even understand what I'm talking about if you don't already know. These were masterpieces that introduced the characters, the cast, the vibe of the show, and had real artistry. Though YouTube can kill some of the effect, the action would often be tailored to the beat, to the percussion, forming essentially a music video. Often they were themes by Mike Post or Lalo Shifrin. And the series they were attached to would often lose their nostalgia value without them.

Here are some of my favorites.

1. 21 Jump Street (1987-1991) - This show helped put Johnny Depp and the FOX TV network on the map. It was nothing like the movie. But the theme song sequence is really top notch.
2. Simon & Simon (1981-1989) - Never as popular as its cousin Magnum PI, this show nonetheless was a mainstay of the 80s. The intro was so memorable, it was parodied by Adam Scott in The Greatest Event in Television History.

3. Mission: Impossible (1966-1973, 1988-1990) - It would be impossible to leave this one out, though it had many versions, and different casts. The movie series had its highs and lows, but the television series stands on its own.
4. Hart to Hart (1979-1984) - Also parodied by Adam Scott, this is one of the iconic 80s programs, and the editing in the intro (which had several variations) was superb.

5. Charlie's Angels (1976-1981) - There were a total of six angels over five seasons. But for me, it was never the same after Kate Jackson left the series. Through each combination of Angels though, they did a great job with the credit sequence.
6. Knots Landing (1981-1993) - I debated whether or not to include this one, because the program had such varied and different themes from year to year. But something about season 7's theme has always stayed in my memory. So, it's worthy of inclusion.

7. The Incredible Hulk (1977-1982) - Cheesy by today's standards, but to its credit, played it straight. No campy, cartoony stuff here. And the opening explains the premise, while being very memorable.
8. The Six Million Dollar Man (1974-1978) - Okay, this one could be campy (Sasquatch, anyone?), but the opening is very much along the same lines as Hulk's.

9. The Bionic Woman (1976-1978) - Could I leave her out without being sexist?
10. The Fall Guy (1981-1986) - Back to Lee Majors, but I have to say, this is one of the best songs in TV theme history, and the opening credits were awesome.

And that will do it for this week. Happy Monday!

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