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The death of the great TV theme tune???


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25 replies to this topic

#1 of 26 OFFLINE   Craig: Mclaren

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Posted January 24 2004 - 02:21 AM

Right now I'm listening to a CD of classic UK and US TV theme tunes. So many classics. Its got me thinking. Is the great original theme tune a dead art form? Surely the 90's was the end? Are they coming back? Where did they go? What should I have for lunch? Posted Image

#2 of 26 OFFLINE   Mike Graham

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Posted January 24 2004 - 04:03 AM

I think Thomas Newman's Six Feet Under theme is fantastic...

#3 of 26 OFFLINE   RickER

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Posted January 24 2004 - 04:14 AM

Let me think....no....no....no...nope i cant think of a TV theme of the last 10 years. NO! wait I love the theme of Justice Leauge on Cartoon Network. Thats about it, and i own lots of TV theme collections. Nothing past the 80s though. How about a turkey sadwich and chips for lunch?

#4 of 26 OFFLINE   ThomasC

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Posted January 24 2004 - 04:15 AM

Friends, The West Wing and ER have kept their theme songs intact. It's too early to judge the '00s, since we've still got 6 years left.

#5 of 26 OFFLINE   WillG

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Posted January 24 2004 - 04:57 AM

Quote:
Friends, The West Wing and ER have kept their theme songs intact. It's too early to judge the '00s, since we've still got 6 years left.


With all due respect, I think you may be talking about a different concept. From the initial post, it seems like he is refering to a dearth of the classic television show theme songs. Ones that are written specfically for the show in question and not so much shows that drop their original theme music somewhere through the run of the series.

Think:

"Now the world don't move to the beat of just one drum" - Diff'rent Stokes

"Come and knock on our door" Three's Company

"You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and then you have...." The Facts of Life

But then again, there are alot of classic instrumental ones as well. So maybe we're both right.
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#6 of 26 OFFLINE   MartinTeller

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Posted January 24 2004 - 04:58 AM

Most of the "classic" theme songs are about a minute in length. Now they don't allow more than 30 seconds since they have to squeeze in one more commercial.

#7 of 26 OFFLINE   ThomasC

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Posted January 24 2004 - 05:21 AM

Quote:
With all due respect, I think you may be talking about a different concept. From the initial post, it seems like he is refering to a dearth of the classic television show theme songs. Ones that are written specfically for the show in question and not so much shows that drop their original theme music somewhere through the run of the series.
I took that in mind, and the themes for those three shows were written specifically for the show and haven't been dropped anywhere during their run.

#8 of 26 OFFLINE   WillG

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Posted January 24 2004 - 05:30 AM

Quote:
I took that in mind, and the themes for those three shows were written specifically for the show and haven't been dropped anywhere during their run.


Yeah, I realized what you were talking about when writing my post. But in the case of "Friend" was "I'll Be There for You" Written for the show. I know it's on that band's album so was it just adopted for "Friends"?
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#9 of 26 OFFLINE   Joseph Bolus

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Posted January 24 2004 - 06:05 AM

I think the theme song for the much-lamented short-lived Firefly series was fantastic!
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#10 of 26 OFFLINE   ThomasC

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Posted January 24 2004 - 06:12 AM

Quote:
But in the case of "Friend" was "I'll Be There for You" Written for the show. I know it's on that band's album so was it just adopted for "Friends"?
It was written for the show. The Rembrandts weren't planning to release it in CD format, but due to the show's popularity and/or huge demand, they delayed the release of "LP" to add an extended version of the song on there. I know because I got the CD when it first came out. Posted Image

#11 of 26 OFFLINE   Francois Caron

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Posted January 24 2004 - 06:27 AM

The Sopranos has a decent theme song. Then again, that's not television, it's HBO. Posted Image

I just took out my two "Television's Greatest Hits" vinyl albums. A total of 130 television theme songs from the fifties, sixties and seventies! Reading through the titles listed on the cover, Craig does have a point. If we were to name television shows with great theme music, most of the titles we'd be blaring out would be from that particular era. The Eighties did see a decline in the number of decent theme songs, followed by a very dead period in the nineties. We could probably remember a few decent theme songs from a few shows from the nineties, but we'd never be able to yell them out in succession as we could do with older titles.

#12 of 26 OFFLINE   Robert Ringwald

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Posted January 24 2004 - 08:02 AM

Six Feet Under
The Sopranos
Friends
Buffy The Vampire Slayer (music only)
Angel (music only)
Firefly
My So Called Life (music only)
Family Guy
Felicity (both the original, and mostly the "new version of you" version)
ALIAS (music only)
South Park

All of these had themes written for them, but I do agree that a lot of shows recently have been abandoning the concept... Think of how many catchy ones from the past you can remember, and now think of them now...

#13 of 26 OFFLINE   WillG

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Posted January 24 2004 - 09:28 AM

I think maybe I put my foot in my mouth on my above post with the "Specifically Written For" Phrase. I was certainly wrong about that. But I think the "Theme Song" is somewhat of a lost art these days with some notable exceptions.
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#14 of 26 OFFLINE   Yee-Ming

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Posted January 24 2004 - 05:40 PM

Quote:
The Sopranos has a decent theme song

Don't think it was specially written, IIRC from one of the commentary tracks.

Deja vu: I'm pretty sure a similar thread popped up several months ago; I remember suggesting that I rather liked the theme to Greg The Bunny, where the lyrics were taking the piss out of the whole concept of puppets and humans living alongside each other.

But yes, theme songs/music does seem like a fading art, with notable current exceptions like West Wing. Remember the likes of Hawaii Five-O, Battlestar Galactica, even the A-Team and Miami Vice? Or for that matter, consider Star Trek:TOS and maybe TNG, against Enterprise today...

#15 of 26 OFFLINE   Jason Seaver

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Posted January 24 2004 - 05:56 PM

Aw, give Enterprise a break. The way the song meshed with the pictures was great during the first two seasons (though it's a mess today); I think a lot of fans were just resistant to change.

Voyager had a beautiful theme/credit sequence, but it wasn't particularly indicative of anything.

Monk has had two great original themes (yeah, I'm partial to Randy Newman), and The Handler now has a pretty spiffy one, after going without for its first month.

Still, I can't say I really miss them. When you consider that shows are down to about 40 minutes of actual story nowadays, I mildly resent anything that might be cutting into that - whether it be advertising, beginning-of-show recaps, mid-show recaps, or even a theme.
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#16 of 26 OFFLINE   Craig: Mclaren

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Posted January 24 2004 - 10:30 PM

The theme tune is one of THE most important things that keeps a show alive in the publics mind after its intial run. A catchy 60 second theme tune is a must and this has to be brought back as standard. Examples (UK and US)
1960's
Doctor Who
The Addams Family
Mission Impossible
The Saint
The Avengers
Thunderbirds
Stingray
Star Trek
Ironside
Man from Uncle
Peter Gunn (its really the 1950's but heh!)
Hawaii Five-O

1970's
Starsky and Hutch
Charlies Angels
SWAT
Benny Hill
The Persuaders
Kojak
Streets of San Francisco
The Sweeney
Wonder Woman
MASH
Taxi (was this written for the show by Bob James??)
Happy Days
The Professionals
Rockford Files
Chips

1980's
Miami Vice
Knight Rider
The A Team
Quantum Leap
St Elsewhere
The Equalizer (perhaps the best title sequence/music ever?)
Dallas
Cagney and Lacey
Magnum P.I.
Dempsey and Makepeace
Taggart
Dynsty
Airwolf
Police Squad
TJ Hooker
Cheers
Bergerac
Hill Street Blues

1990's
Twin Peaks
E.R
The Simpsons
Friends
The X-Files
NYPD Blue (not the most memorable but still good)


It is a dieing art. We have no classic theme tunes anymore in the UK (though we don't have any decent UK series to stick them on so that may be the case!)

The Shield is a great show. Theme tune wise its forgetable. 24's intro works fine but back in the day you know it would have had funky guitar and saxaphone solos! Bring back orchestra's, driving guitars, thumping basslines, synth etc. Just cause its the noughties doesn't mean we have to be boring. You know you want catchy theme tunes again. The last thing american TV needs is more room for commercials so that George Foreman can sell his "Lean, Mean, Grilling machine". All we are asking for is another 30 seconds and a bit of musicianship again.

#17 of 26 OFFLINE   Joseph Bolus

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Posted January 25 2004 - 01:09 AM

That's a good list, but surely you know that the M*A*S*H theme was originally written for the movie!
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#18 of 26 OFFLINE   JustinCleveland

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Posted January 25 2004 - 01:21 AM

Sadly, I'd prefer to see just a title screen for a TV show, and more time dedicated to the program itself. I hate those minute-long songs that drag down the show. Just MHO.

#19 of 26 OFFLINE   Jason Seaver

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Posted January 25 2004 - 08:41 AM

Quote:
24's intro works fine but back in the day you know it would have had funky guitar and saxaphone solos!
Which would be wholly inappropriate for that show. It's about tension and there being no time to waste, so diving right in rather than wasting a minute on repeating the same thing where nothing new happens every week is absolutely the right way to go.
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#20 of 26 OFFLINE   Raasean Asaad

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Posted January 25 2004 - 03:49 PM

I have to say that i disagree with the statement that "The Shield" theme isn't a great TV show theme. I think its an excellent staccato sonic collage the symbolizes the crazy hectic life of Det. Vic Mankey.
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