Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How Does it All Begin?


Yesterday, I was talking about kinder, gentler days of relationship humor, and I linked to a video clip of the opening sequence to Love, American Style.  This got me to thinking about something I miss far more than I miss the references to “hanky panky” rather than something more contemporary like “hide the salami”.  You see, almost entirely gone are the days when programs actually had a full-fledged opening sequence.TV credits 10-16-12

It used to be that the opening credits would run a minute or two, have some readily identifiable music playing along (the really cool ones had lyrics), and we’d get a little background into the show we were tuning in to see.  These days, you’re lucky if you get 20-30 seconds of a jaunty little tune with some quick flashes of images.  Cast credits often run over the first moments of the actual program rather than in the opening sequence, and—the biggest loss of all—there are no more episode titles.  Oh, the titles still exist, of course.  You can see them on your channel guide listing, or IMDB, and they’re used during the Emmy nominations.  But actually see them on the screen, so you can associate a title with the episode it belongs to?  Nah.  Doesn’t happen.  Between dropping episode titles, playing down the actor credits, and shortening (or eliminating) theme songs, I find that I really long for the days when an opening sequence was an integral part of the show.

Currently, I’m most fond of the openings of Leverage, because it’s a nice set-up for the series, and Hawaii Five-0, because it’s really faithful to the original, even if it is about half the length. (Though most shows do have longer versions of their themes available, just in case they need to pad a bit.)


















And here are a few of my classic favorites . . .


  I loved this song, both on the show and on the radio.  In addition to longer opening credits, most older programs also ran significantly longer closing credits.  Welcome Back, Kotter was one of the few that used the lyrical version of their opening even at the end of the program, often including the full version of the song.


  Who could forget The Brady Bunch, with the story premise spelled out so clearly every week?




  Chico and the Man.  I loved this show, and am still saddened by the tragic events that took the life of star Freddie Prinze.


  Don’t you ever wonder where all these new actors come from year after year?  And, more important, where do they all go?  Either way, I enjoyed the ensemble of WKRP in Cincinnati.


  Another program that had a hit single for a theme song, and quite possibly my favorite sing-along theme of all time, Greatest American Hero.


  The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a classic in about a gazillion ways, including the opening.  Is there anyone who wasn’t rooting for Mary by the time that hat flew up into the air?




  Well, you knew I couldn’t skip this one, right?  I mean, I co-wrote a whole book on the show!  Anyway, Hardcastle and McCormick had exactly the kind of opening I enjoy: a brief explanation of the series set-up, fun clips showing the characters in action, and a song—with words—directly relating to the program.  In truth, I preferred the early 2nd season song, but most people didn’t, and it was pulled pretty quickly; this 1st season theme came back and stayed through the remainder of the series run.

Didn’t I tell you most of the really cool themes had words?  What theme songs do you remember fondly?

31 Days of TV