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June 23, 2007



Ever noticed the opening credits on 24 are still going after like 20 minutes into the show? It's pretty silly.

D. McEwan

During the 80s, I amused myself by writing lyrics for the opening musical themes to the night time soaps, DALLAS, DYNASTY, and FALCON CREST, to sing over the credits.DYNASTY, It's DYNASTY,The dumbest show on TV, And I mean really dumb:There's Krystal, and Alexis,And Blake Carrington,And his faggy son.And Sammi Joe's a whore, And Claudia's a bore,And Steven swings both ways,With the straights and with the gays,And Adam is a creep,His plots are really deep,Which is more than you can say,About the dialogueon DYNASTY... etc.

pat reeder

My last remaining "appointment" TV show is "House," which I record, so I could zip past the theme, but I never do. That spooky instrumental with the visuals of House peering through the X-ray and the mysterious little bugs swimming around the old anatomy drawings set the mood like the theme to the "X-Files" used to. No matter how sucky things are, at least once a week, when I see someone fall over backwards foaming at the mouth then hear that spooky music, I know I'm going to be happy for the next hour.

emily latella

The Cheers theme is at the top of my list, but a few other stick in my head:Hill Street BluesThe JeffersonsRockford FilesThe Dukes of HazzardMission ImpossibleHawaii Five-OHappy DaysJeopardyand who can ever forget Johnny Carson's Tonight Show theme?


I always loved Good Times,WKRP,Sanford and Son even Chico and the Man was pretty good elaine


Absolutely right Ken. I haven't seen a Top Cat episode in over 40 years, but I instantly knew all the lyrics ("...Close friends get to call him T.C.")I noticed that of your Top 10 list (and Peter Gunn has two 'N's by the way), half were instrumental.Technically, the Theme From M*A*S*H* had words in the movie, but the TV series only used the instrumental. Another favorite of mine is the theme from "Have Gun, Will Travel". Duane Eddy made that one a hit on the charts in the early 1960's. The Marketts took "Outer Limits" to the charts as well (although they got sued and had to change their title to "Out Of Limits".) Don't forget about The Rembrandts version of the theme from "Friends". One of my Top 10.Here in Canada, some sponsor is using "The Jefferson's" theme as a commercial. I listen to the 'Classic Radio Shows' channel on my XM at lot, and it's interesting to note that the radio versions of "Gunsmoke" and "Have Gun, Will Travel", done in the 40's and 50's, use the same theme songs, so they simply transferred the themes from radio to television.

Wayne from Maine

Pretty much every theme written by Mike Post from Rockford Files through the 90s were great

Mr. Hollywoof

Who could forget the magnificent MISSION IMPOSSIBLE - Lalo Shifrin theme music? And more recently, the Thomas Newman theme and opening titles for SIX FEET UNDER ... haunting!


The Jetsons is the best theme song ever. This one's not bad eitherhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WP0c7mcg_UY-Nathan


And while execs may not like theme songs, they do stay a part of our culture...Daimler is currently using an alt-rocked up version of the Jeffersons in their radio ads for Mercedes Benz. And the Eastcoast Sports Programming Network used Joan Jett's version of the Mary Tyler Moore show theme for the women's NCAA basketball tournament.Just to name a couple.

Mike McCann

Although neither were "hit singles," the themes from PERRY MASON and IRONSIDE were knockouts. You have to give Quincy Jones credit for using the same "crime jazz" elements in the later theme a decade after Mason's theme was created. Both ideally "set the pace" for their series.And let's not overlooks the TWILIGHT ZONE theme which inspired two totally separate hits. The Marketts' "Out of Limits" -- gotta love the play on words honoring its ABC rival -- which turned the eerie riff into a classic surf rock melody, and Mahattan Transfer's early 1980s "Twilight Zone," with a copycat narrated opening, then swung into a nice pop-soul number.


If we're extending this beyond sitcoms, and apparently we are, Craig Ferguson's theme (the product of Craig himself) has been trimmed by about 90% since it was introduced just a little over two years ago. I hate to admit it, but maybe the people Letterman calls the network weasels are right: an old-style intro is seen by many viewers as a cue to change the channel. And I hate to admit it because I agree that the best intros did a beautiful job of setting the mood for what followed. If you were watching for the first time, you were being told what to expect--if you were a regular, it was like being greeted by an old friend.


A good theme song can be a real mood setter. Which makes me wonder why HBO’s John from Cincinnati missed the mark by a mile?The theme and incidental music are beyond lame. Beach Boy’s instrumentation without the hooks…Yuk.It’s no wonder this thing is tanking quicker than Natalie Wood on date night.Bill


I disagree completely re "John from Cincinnati". The use of the wistful "Johhny Appleseed" coupled with the Super 8 Footage -- cinematic shorthand for "memory" or "dream" -- is a perfect introduction to the otherworldliness that Milch is striving to create. The song does not have multi-part close harmony singing, nor does it have sleigh bell percussion. There are images of surfing in the footage, but the series IS about surfers.Back to the post topic, HBO understands theme song importance and has some great ones. I also love:VERONICA MARSTHE OFFICE (US) -- props for being composed FOR the showHOUSEMY SO CALLED LIFE -- the part at the beginning, when she whispers (!)FRAGGLE ROCK--SD


Ken -Funny, my wife and I just had this conversation a few weeks ago. We were trying to remember the theme to "Studio 60".... it barely has one.

D. McEwan

"theme songs also restated the premise of the shows in 30 seconds....Superman"Well technically, the restatement of the premise on THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN weren't lyrics. It was a spiel, but I've known it by heart since I was 3.A couple days ago, in the Worst Songs posting, you listed SECRET AGENT MAN by Johnny Rivers, but that was a great TV theme song, another that's stuck in my head until death.And honestly, if you're going to repeat the same posting topics every 16 months, you have to expect Blarneyman, my nemesis, to get bored. Same old, same old.I think of "Dum de dum dum" as the DRAGNET theme lyrics, and "da da daaaaa da DUM!" as the Perry Mason theme lyrics."He's the boss, he's the king, but above everything, he's the most tip-top, Top Cat."It appalls me that I didn't have to look those lyrics up.

D. McEwan

Come to think of it, I can spew out the Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear theme songs without a thought also, but then, Daws Butler was a dear friend of mine, so I have an excuse.


Your list is right on, but how can limit it to only 10. I would add a few more:Hill Street Blues,St Elsewhere,Greatest American Hero, and of courseLeave It To BeaverAlaskaray


The Drew Carey Show actually had three different theme songs over the course of its run: "Moon Over Parma" in the first and half of the second season; "Five O'Clock World," in the second half of the second season; and finally "Cleveland Rocks" starting with the third season. My favorite of the three was "Five O'Clock World," but all three were memorable and well suited to the show.


What about The Beverly Hillbillies?!Black gold, Texas Tea...I can sing the whole ding dang-on theme song without thinking. I also always liked their ending credits with the gang waving goodbye and Granny holding her hand to keep waving it.Also Mystery Science Theatre 3000 deserves a shout out.


Excuse me, Brian Scully did mention Beverly Hillbillies first.


Speaking of memorable theme songs, this was an amusing spoof of The Jetsons


jaime j. is on to something:"...eventually they'll just show 30 minutes of commercials and order us to download the actual program online."It would be a network TV sales manager's version of heaven.


CAR 54! Tallulah, you rock!!!Lot's of great themes, but, I need help with this one!Does anyone remember a show called McKeever & the Colonel??? It's from the late 50's or early 60's. All I remember is that is was about a kid at military school and the THEME! That theme, played on a Hammond organ, has been rattling around in my head since I was a kid... right next to all the lyrics for MR. ED, the Mission Pack commercial and the Dr. Ross dog food commercial (where is my delete button!!!)


Thanks Ken!I was starting to think I'd made the whole thing up!

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    Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer. In a career that has spanned over 30 years Ken has worked on MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, BECKER, DHARMA & GREG, and has co-created his own series including ALMOST PERFECT starring Nancy Travis. He and his partner wrote the feature VOLUNTEERS. Ken has also been the radio/TV play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres.
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