Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Top 14: TV Show Title Sequences/Theme Songs (Instrumental)

The TV theme song: many such tunes have become pop culture staples. They might be songs you reminisce about with your friends. Or catchy numbers that can be sung at the top of your lungs while speeding down the highway. And there's no shame in that. (Okay, maybe there's some shame.) But most of us have loved a particular show (or two) and a particular theme song (or... three) in our lives. And oftentimes, the songs that are remembered best are the ones that have lyrics.

But today I'm going to give some love to the theme song without lyrics... those fun, pretty, or just plain epic instrumental pieces. However, I'm not just picking my Top 14 based on the music alone. I'm taking into account the entire opening theme -- title, credits, clips, images, or whatever else is used to get me hooked into watching the show. Does the opening help to capture my interest in the show? Is it amusing, creative, hauntingly beautiful, or just plain awesome? Is it one that I often sit through and enjoy when I watch an episode, or would I rather fast-forward through it?

Well, it wasn't easy, but I was able to whittle my list down to just 14. (TV Title sequences with lyrics will appear on a future list.)


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My Top 14: TV Show Title Sequences/Theme Songs (Instrumental)
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#14
The Cosby Show 
(1984-1992)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZZu1OHTQMg&list=PL6C2E872F8A1BAB61

The Cosby Show's opening sequence changed nearly every year, and each version is fun in its own way. The playlist above will eventually show you all of them. They did a cool thing for the series finale, where they combined all the different ones into one, showing how everyone had aged over the past eight years -- it was pretty neat. Unfortunately, I can't find it on YouTube, so you'll just have to trust me -- and try to catch the episode yourself sometime.



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#13
Beverly Hills, 90210 
(1990-2000)

I barely ever watched this show as a preteen/teen, yet seeing and listening to this brings me back to those days -- the days when every girl who'd graduated from the awkward New Kids On The Block phase was now mooning over Luke Perry and Jason Priestley. And I can certainly see why. Meanwhile, the music is lively, and the teens (plus... you know, the ones that were in their 20's) look super cool. I want to be their friiiiennnddd!



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#12
The Simpsons 
(1989-present)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rb82TUYoa88

We've seen it a thousand times, and yet we stick with it because of that one part at the end when something new happens to the family on or around their couch. Okay, the rest of it's pretty fun, too.


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#11
Call The Midwife 
(2012-present)



First, I like the music. Second, I like the vintage photographs and how they're presented almost as if they're three-dimensional. Or... as if they're not photographs at all. I'm not sure that it really gives the viewer any idea of what the show is about, but... I still think it's neat.


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#10
The Office 
(2004-2013)

Early Seasons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_9OGnmBTow
Season 8: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLh4mjf8c60

I appreciate this one because it's short and to the point, but it still captures the essence of the show. But I always wondered why it only showed five or six cast members, and why one of those was B.J. Novak, who often never even appears or has a plot. Where are Stanley or Kevin or Phyllis or the others? There were a ton of people on the show! Why didn't they...



Okay, that's better.:)


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#9
Road To Avonlea 
(1990-1996)



Road To Avonlea's opening credits changed several times over the years. In the early seasons, it had a sweet, melodic tune put to idyllic PEI scenes (see here). Season 3-4 saw a more upbeat number, but the scenes they chose were kind of silly and didn't really show Road's best sides. By season 5, things had improved, and I think season 6 has my favorite opening of them all -- the perfect combination of the more upbeat tune paired with some really great scenes.


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#8
Merlin 
(2008-2012)


Good music, good imagery, good times.


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#7
Robin Hood 
(2006-2009)

I love this music, and I like the opening sequence, especially the one for series two. Unfortunately, BBC Worldwide seems to have blocked every instance of it on Youtube. So you'll just have to trust me -- it's great. For what it's worth, here's a mediocre copy of the opening for series one, and here is (pretty good quality) audio of the theme song. So you can get the general idea.



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#6
Buffy The Vampire Slayer 
(1997-2003)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pp_uS59WmQs

The BTVS opening used a fast rock song, with hundreds of clips of everything the show was about: Buffy, her friends, the occasional vampire, random demon, or other creature, and, of course, the slaying thereof. Each season, the opening seemed to get a little more intense and cool. And is it just me, or did Sarah Michelle Gellar not age?



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#5
Ramona 
(1988)



Cartwheels in the rain. Happiness, sadness, standing on one's head. Childhood in a nutshell.


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#4
My So-Called Life 
(1994-1995)



How cool is this one? I love the fact that it shows so many different sides to Angela. You've got her happy, sad, insecure, over the moon, thoughtful, introspective. You've got snapshots of her friends and family. And somehow, even though I think most of the clips were taken from the first, or maybe the first and second episode, they really do capture what the show was all about. A teenage girl. Her life. That period in adolescence when anything's possible and nothing makes sense. And one look at the clothes people are wearing and you know this was circa 1994, which for me is significant because that's when I started high school myself. I did watch the show back then -- from time to time -- but it is now that I appreciate it. And this theme song totally puts a smile on my face.



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#3
Pride & Prejudice 
(1995)



This one's fairly simple; the quick piano music plays over the credits, which appear over different shots of old-fashioned fabric. I think it's beautifully done. The only thing that could make it better is more Firth. But then... that can be said for juuust about anything.



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#2
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. 
(1993-1994)


This one is great for several reasons: one, it quickly presents Brisco's backstory. Two, it has a bunch of kickass scenes from the show. Three, the music is epic! Everything you could ask for in an opening theme (aside from baby pandas).


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#1
The Kids In The Hall 
(1988-1995)

While the tune pretty much stayed the same each season (at least, I never noticed a major difference  -- though to be fair, I still haven't seen the later seasons) the clips would change from year to year. It looked like someone went out on the street with an old film camera and just tried to capture anything that seemed quirky, odd, or just so completely ordinary as to be like, "this is life."  I've always thought the opening theme complemented the show itself, because while the show did have some really wacky sketches, it also had ones that portrayed just... ordinariness. But ordinary or not, they were still brilliant.


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Honorable Mentions: Lois & Clark, The Pretender, Quantum Leap, Dallas, MacGyver, Brooklyn South, 3rd Rock From The Sun, The Tudors, John Adams, Little House On The Prairie, M*A*S*H, Early Edition


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