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September 26, 2012 6:53 AM   Subscribe

History Of [US] TV Theme Songs (slyt / Jimmy Fallon & "Guys With Kids" Cast)
posted by zarq (30 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
It is very difficult to sing when your stomach is supporting your entire weight. Hats off to Jimmy Fallon for his rendition of the theme from The Greatest American Hero.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:00 AM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


So the history of U.S. TV theme songs doesn't begin until about 20 years after the beginning of U.S. TV broadcasting?
posted by Longtime Listener at 7:27 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Never much cared for Jimmy Fallon, but I have to admit he is one talented guy. He's a great talk show host, comedian, impressionist, singer and dancer. How many people are that flexible?
posted by gagglezoomer at 7:29 AM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of course the white dude in flannel is the one who does The Fresh Prince rap. Of course.
posted by Copronymus at 7:31 AM on September 26, 2012


Longtime Listener, it probably has more to do with what the writers and audience would likely recognize and enjoy. Seriously, who in the target demo for Late Night wants to hear about Dobie Gillis, identical cousins or a three-hour tour?
posted by infinitewindow at 7:36 AM on September 26, 2012


For a guy I never found that funny or likable on SNL, Fallon's Late Night hosting gig has been nothing short of delightful. You never get the feeling that there's a wall/distance between him and the audience. The show feels like one of your friends got his own talk show.
posted by KingEdRa at 7:36 AM on September 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


I dunno, Infinitewindow, a lot of those old shows got plenty of exposure to new generations on cable. A lot of people discovered 1960s TV in the 1980s, just as an early generation discovered 1930s Little Rascals, Three Stooges and Warner Brothers cartoons in the 1960s.
posted by Longtime Listener at 7:38 AM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


My 20-something wife just discovered Alf on Netflix. I really wish she hadn't.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:42 AM on September 26, 2012 [15 favorites]


My 20-something wife just discovered Alf on Netflix. I really wish she hadn't.

This.
posted by Fizz at 7:53 AM on September 26, 2012


Jimmy Fallon's audience may not know about TV theme songs before 1970, but Jimmy Kimmel's audience does.
posted by Longtime Listener at 8:02 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Late Night Jimmy Fallon is way funnier than SNL Jimmy Fallon.
posted by rocket88 at 8:13 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Family Guy's Live in Vegas TV Medley which is probably the best thing that exists right now in '80s theme songs.
posted by Talez at 8:20 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


My 20-something wife just discovered Alf on Netflix. I really wish she hadn't.



I couldn't watch it for two reasons: 1) Apparently the guy who played the dad was a horrible person to work with and made his sitcom fault miserable, and 2) seeing a puppet's feet always makes me uncomfortable. And I remember hating that idea of Alf walking around rather than just being sarcastic behind something.
posted by discopolo at 8:36 AM on September 26, 2012


*sitcom family
posted by discopolo at 8:37 AM on September 26, 2012


I understand them not doing Community, but no Scrubs? Miscarriage of justice there...

Slap*Happy: "My 20-something wife just discovered Alf on Netflix. I really wish she hadn't."

Jandrewedits gots you covered
posted by rebent at 9:04 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I couldn't bring myself to watch ALF because the damn puppet was modeled on our cute ol' avuncular Grampa Ronnie Reagan, who was at the time overseeing the Ronald Reagan Memorial AIDS Epidemic™. Fortunately, the show was so exquisitely stupid that, like boycotting Star Trek: Enterprise because Berman/Braga were assholes, it was exceedingly easy not to watch.
posted by sonascope at 9:08 AM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I couldn't bring myself to watch ALF because the damn puppet was modeled on .... Ronnie Reagan.

Wha?
posted by benito.strauss at 9:50 AM on September 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was a kid when Alf was on the air and managed to block it from my memory until my ex-boyfriend made a joke referencing Alf and his desire to eat cats bringing the whole things flooding back. That's the second worst thing he did to me. (The worst being breaking up with me by text message after 3 years of dating.)

I am sad, however, that they did not include Welcome Back, Kotter.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:51 AM on September 26, 2012


I understand them not doing Community, but no Scrubs? Miscarriage of justice there...

But isn't the Scrubs theme actually just a real song by Laszlo somebody? Same w/Community (in that they are both real songs).
posted by discopolo at 10:07 AM on September 26, 2012


Slap*Happy: "My 20-something wife just discovered Alf on Netflix. I really wish she hadn't."

HA, YOU KILL ME!
posted by symbioid at 10:29 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Of course the white dude in flannel is the one who does The Fresh Prince rap. Of course.

This is the great thing about our current culture of reprimand, it is always possible to scold anyone for anything connected to race/gender/sexuality. Because, hey, if they'd given that song to the "black dude" we get to make almost exactly the same comment:
Of course the black dude is the one who does The Fresh Prince rap. Of course.
And it is just as damning! Man, how stereotypical! Of course they have to hand the rap song to the one black guy!
posted by yoink at 10:29 AM on September 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


So the history of U.S. TV theme songs doesn't begin until about 20 years after the beginning of U.S. TV broadcasting?

It's worth noting that the bit itself is not framed as a "history of U.S. TV Theme songs." It is framed as just theme songs they know and love.
posted by yoink at 10:30 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


My top theme songs would have to be (In no particular order), and true, it is a fucking goddamned shame that we don't have that anymore.

WKRP
Welcome Back Kotter
A-Team
Knight Rider
Voltron
Transformers

---
Jimmy Fallon - yeah, what I like about him is he just seems so goddamned genuine. That he's so excited to just be there talking to you and in a way it's really cheesy, but it doesn't seem like it's put on, which is why it's ok.

---

I think I told this story before, but my Jefferson's theme song story goes like this:

I was in 3rd grade and had a crush on a girl. I was chasing her around the playground demanding she kiss me (yes, I have learned so much since then, and thank god I have)... Thankfully, she had friends who kicked my ass, grabbing my arm, spinning me around, then one kicked me to the ground, and as I lay there, flat on my back, this one girl, Amanda, stood there towering over me all akimbo-like, and singing into my face...

MOOOOOOOOOOVIN' ON UP!

It was a very surreal moment. I'd like to say I learned after that moment not to demand girls kiss me, but it took me another year or so to figure that out. :\

Needless to say, the Jefferson's theme song is a bit traumatic for me, but also redeeming for the message it sends via that moment, and my appreciation for girl power.
posted by symbioid at 10:37 AM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


And it is just as damning! Man, how stereotypical! Of course they have to hand the rap song to the one black guy!

That reminds me of "Garth Marenghi's Dark Place", the episode with the '80s-style music video, and the rather inept and milquetoast publisher (Richard Ayode as Dean Lerner as Thornton Reed) got the rap-solo.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:53 AM on September 26, 2012


WKRP . . .

The lyrics to the closing theme are one of my favourite things.
 
posted by Herodios at 11:33 AM on September 26, 2012


Alas, I'm so old that I still sing "Chico, don't get discouraged" when I'm having a glum day, because I live in a van in Jack Albertson's run-down garage (in my mind), and if the melody of the opening to Family Affair gets in my head, I'm doomed to scat sing it for the rest of the day.

Mind you, as a weird kid who grew up in the seventies on radio drama because TV was a highly controlled substance in our household (the TV lived in the kitchen closet for some stretches and was wheeled out with all the ceremony of Elizabeth R shopping for crisps), I have theme songs in my head that are long forgotten even by grandparents.

I was in the supermarket some years back, whistling the theme song to The Life of Riley, one of my favorite old radio shows (starring William Bendix, a great big red hot lug who was one of my earliest superstar dream men), checking a carton of eggs for egg integrity, when a lively old gent sidled up to me with a big grin.

"Well there's a tune I haven't heard in a while! I bet you don't know what that comes from!"

"The Life of Riley, with William Bendix as Riley," I said, repeating the opening line of most episodes. The old fellow's eyebrows went up.

"How do you know about that?"

"I grew up on Riley. Mind you, Digger gets all the best lines."

"You look mighty young to have grown up listening to The Life of Riley."

"I'm considerably older than I look," I said in a very serious tone. "There was an accident with a contraceptive and a time machine."

"Wha—oh, you! Do they have those old shows on records now?"

"No, I listen to them on the regular radio."

In the seventies and early eighties, before WAMU changed format and concentrated on annoying the world with Diane Rehm's lackluster interviews, the station played two hours of radio drama late on each weeknight, with one hour of old school classic radio drama and an hour of challenging new stuff, like ZBS and NPR Playhouse and the trippy short-lived Word Jazz radio series by Ken Nordine.

"You're kiddin' me. That's neat!"

We chatted about radio for a while, reflecting on our common favorites, and I trotted out my finely honed Gildersleeve giggle for show-and-tell. In time, we went our separate ways.

"Wait, what do you do?" the guy asked, in parting.

"I'm a man with an action-packed expense account," I said, and smiled.

My brain's clogged with these themes, and they were important because they primed you for what was coming. I really can't say I like "Bahn Frei" at all, but "Bahn Frei" means it's Shep time, and Shep time is heaven.

Of course, one of the best ending themes, barring the piano dolally at the end of All in the Family (interpreted for voice here), has got to be the end of The Jeffersons, where TV's Wilona Woods, played by Ja'Net Du Bois, rocks the hell out of a melody with nothing but "mmm-mmm-mmm!"
posted by sonascope at 12:50 PM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of course the white dude in flannel is the one who does The Fresh Prince rap. Of course.

What do you think the primary audience of that show was?

Bonus! History of Rap w/ Justin Timberlake.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:07 PM on September 26, 2012


Ted's band from Scrubs also covered several theme songs. (Warning: catchy)
posted by borkencode at 1:27 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bonus! History of Rap w/ Justin Timberlake.

The fact that I did not hear anyone say "six minutes, six minutes, six minutes, Doug E. Fresh you're on" would indicate that this is not a particularly comprehensive history.

Also, no one's G.I. Joe is G.I. Gay.
posted by sonascope at 1:28 PM on September 26, 2012


What? No Small Wonder? It has a theme song that was surely written the marketing department at the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation:

♪♪♪
She's fantastic, made of plastic,
Microchips here and there.
She's a small wonder, brings love and laughter everywhere.
La La La LaLa La La LaLaLa La La La
♪♪♪
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:56 PM on September 26, 2012


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