18 January 2006

Tagged again: TV Themes

Continuing in the recent "you're it" game of meme-taggery, I've been charged by "friend" Julie.O with naming a list of Ten Greatest American TV Themes, a blog-meme stirred up (I think...) by Michael Starrbury over at Apartment Two.

Now, I'd ALREADY posted these themes on Michael's original blog, but of course news travels slow over the jungles drums of the internet, so I got tagged to post the list on MY blog before Julie realized this post was already posted on Michael's post before she posted about Michael's post and tagged me to post on mine.

Which I already have. Had.





Come on—admit it: when this theme cranks, you smile. When the Ventures play it, you smile. When Maynard Ferguson screams it, you smile. I'm pretty sure that this unavoidable reflex reaction has been used as a field test for brain activity. Someone lay injured, and the medic hummed the opening notes to the Five-O theme, and the lips formed a smile, and proof of at least minimal mental function was thus proven.

How cool is this one? SO cool that The Blues Brothers -- the Blues Brothers! -- played this theme not once but TWICE in their movie (in the key of A, no less-- a good country key). I think it says something when a show's theme is far more well-known than the show itself (see also: Peter Gunn).

There was a point in my life when this show was probably my most watched TV product. Not because it was that great (though it was great) but more because it came on at 4 o'clock every day when I walked in from school. That first blatty belch of trombones is still one of the coolest sounds I have ever heard.

Jesus H Christ on a cracker, people -- how can this one NOT be on every damned one of these lists? I was (briefly) enrolled at the Air Force Academy (don't ask -- some things are just too damned weird and complicated to explain via text only), and our squadron (COOOOOOOBRA SQUADRON!) had this wingnut commander who insisted that we "jodey" (that sing song marching thing) to different fare than all the other squadrons, so whenever we marched or double-timed, we'd be barking out TV theme songs. All the othjer squadrons would pass the review stand braying "I WANNA BE AN AIR FORCE PILOT" or "I DON'T KNOW BUT I BEEN TOLD...", and then COOOOOOOOBRA Squadron would bee-bop past whistling the "Bridge Over The River Kwai" theme or singing THE FLINTSTONES or (most often) GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. Oddly, that was one of the few Academy moments in which I felt normal and at-home.

Everybody lip-sync along now: "Come On Get Happy!" Yeah, yeah, "I Think I Love You" remains a far cooler song, but dammit we play the cards we get dealt, and they dealt us Come On Get Happy as the theme, so that's what we got. And it's a damned good theme, even today.

Start humming this and tell me that you don't immediately picture Rob Petry either tumbling over the ottoman *or* adroitly side-stepping the ottoman at the last minute as everyone THINKS he's about to go tumbling over the ottoman. And then realize that this theme is from 45 years ago. (ditto the "I Love Lucy" theme, but at this stage Lucy has as many mad props as any TV star ever is likely to get, so let's spread the love over to New Rochelle, alright?).

Bump-bump... bump-bump... bump-bum dee-dump bump bump, dunt duh duuuuhhh...
For at least a decade, this was my favorite TV show, and to this day the fact that a crew of talented Hollywood professionals could so royally and completely screw up this show as a movie remains one of those mind-boggling facts best not considered for too many consecutive minutes. Instead, just think about the four panels in the animated opening credit sequence, and the coolest cowboy ever to wear ovetight pants and platform boots.

Again, how iconic? "So iconic that it was HUMMED by Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, and Bruno Kirby in a movie made more than twenty years later and nobody had to pause for even a femto-second to understand the why's and wherefore's."

My three year old daughter sings this song from memory when she's bored. It was written and performed some 35 years before she was conceived. I hope the guys who wrote this thing (and you have Google same as I do -- look it up your own damned self) are living like kings in Patagonia today.

"Nee nee nee nee...." -- is there a more recognizable first four notes in TV theme history? If there are, then you must be boosting mp3s from a place called... The Twilight Zone...


Meh. My work here is done. I'm supposed to tag three more people. Maybe I will.

Maybe I won't.

Deal with it.

* changed from "Brady Bunch Theme" just to make Michael chuckle


ViVi said...

I like your writing. Perhaps you should start a meme of your own---take the bull by the horns, so to speak. heh

Michael said...

You make some good points. Almost convinced me that Wild Wild West should have been on my list.