Monday, September 15, 2008

The Golden Years of TV Theme Songs

We saw this great Golden Girls T-shirt at the NBC store, where they sell merchandise of some of NBC's past and present popular TV shows. And then it happened. "Thank you for being a friend, traveled down the road and back again, your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant . . ." All week, from morning until night, this opening song to the Golden Girls has been stuck in our heads. Then you start thinking about the show and remember the characters - the masculinely voiced Dorothy, the child-like naive Rose, Southern man-hungry bed-hopping Blanche, and our favorite the Sicilian one-liner, sarcastic, brutally blunt, balls and tongue of Steel Sophia.

Seriously, it's been ages since we last saw this show and yet we remembered all the words to this sitcom's opening song. But we wanted to actually hear the music and we found it on You Tube. The TV theme songs of the 80s and early 90s were memorable, and to this day you can still happily sing along to them. Thanks to You Tube, you can find all the classic theme songs: Cheers, Taxi, Growing Pains, Dynasty, Love Boat. (Side note: Did you know there was this line in the Cheers theme song: "And your husband wants to be a girl, be glad there's one place where everybody knows your name." Well, I'll be darned, missed that one.) You can even find your childhood cartoon favorites like Fraggle Rock. I'm telling you it's addicting. Once you start hearing some of the opening songs, you're hooked. Try it. Sorry if I just got a song stuck in your head.

The nostalgia tied to certain shows - Remembering the dance lessons I took after having Fame as my babysitter many night when my parents were pulling double shift at work late at night.

Family Ties has probably one of the greatest TV theme songs (and it was a great show). It's a bit sappy but don't tell me the "What would you do baby, without us . . . sha la la la" doesn't tug at you one bit. And who doesn't remember the young Reaganomics Republican Wall-Street wannabe Alex P. Keaton played by Michael J. Fox, whose character was a great contrast to his hippie parents.

And my favorite show, The Wonder years, set in the 1960s – 1970s, that dealt with adolescent pains, social and historic issues of the time seen through the eyes of Kevin Arnold, narrated by Kevin as an adult. The most annoying TV character has to be Winnie Cooper. But the show always had a "lessons learned" moment of reflection at the end, and a great soundtrack to accompany that. The show’s theme song was Joe Cocker's cover of The Beatles’ “With a little help from my friends.”

When we were growing up, there were a lot of these family-centered shows like Family Ties and Wonder Years that had strong memorable characters and great dialogue. Where have these creative writers vanished to? And why did Seinfeld have to end? Now there's most crappy reality shows.

Before we moved to New York, when we were trying to save money on weekends, we opted for free entertainment by watching old music videos online as well. Remember when MTV, which is supposed to be Music Television, actually played music videos all day all night? Remember when you actually wanted to say "I want my MTV?" What the hell happened to television?