Monday, July 06, 2009


We don’t have time for theme songs anymore. We want a quick opens like LOST and Heroes. But a good ballad that give you the whole premise of the show AND makes you feel good, that’s for yesteryear. 

Well, I for one miss it. I miss ballads that are sung over a montage of clips. So in honor I’ve decided to make a list of the top TV themes of all time. And I've decided to only include sit coms for the purpose of this list. I didn't want a list filled with the themes from MASH and ER. Where's the fun in that?

Just to be clear, I am not judging the show. This is purely a list based on the music that plays in the 60 seconds before the show begins. So now, in order, once and for all, the list of the top 5 greatest sit com themes of all time. 

5. (a)  Gilligan’s Island
This probably should be higher on the list. But this show was before my time. Still, this song gives the whole premise to the show, introduces and gives the occupations of the entire cast. Pretty impressive way to spend 60 seconds.

5. (b)  Mr. Belvedere
This song is epic. “According to our new arrival, life is more then their survival.” This song not only gives the premise to the show but also the theme of the show.

4. Perfect Strangers

The Perfect Strangers theme accomplished something that was rampant in 1980's--a sense of hope and purpose if we live life together (other shows TV themes that did this Family Ties, Growing Pains, Lavern and Shirley). And while all of those other shows maybe better TV shows, nothing was more sweeping and hopeful then the this theme.

3. Fresh Prince Of Bel Air

The Fresh Prince Getting a sit com. It was to good to be true. And this opening was shot just like a Fresh Prince and DJ. Jazzy Jeff music video. It had the same magic of Parents Just Don't Understand and Nightmare On My Street to this TV theme.

2. Friends

Now, I don't even like this song. It pains me to put it this high on the list. But seeing everyone playing in water fountains and acting so wacky and over-expressive defined the mid 90's. Coffee shops were at their height and it all started with a little tune from the Rembrandts.

1. Cheers

There aren't any clips of characters in the cheers theme. Most of it is just sepia 1800's looking photographs of guys with mustaches and top hats. But the lyrics, "Making Your Way In The World Today Takes Everything You've Got...Sometimes You've Got To Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name." There has not and will not be a better TV theme song then that right there. The end. Goodnight. 


Rob Stennett said...

Yes, I know. The Brady Bunch theme should have been on this list. I just couldn't do it. I'm sorry.

Anonymous said...

what about the Office?

Bob M. said...

Yeah, I think that Gilligan's Island should have been higher...but I had totally forgotten about Cheers! Good call...

- said...

Great list! I too have noticed the lack of theme songs these days and miss them sorely. Guess I'm getting old and cantankerous. It's long been a theory of mine that a great theme song can guarantee and great show, but a couple of your examples have disproved that theory.

Of course, Quantum Leap was always a favorite of mine, but the exciting inspirational song needed to stay instrumental so they prefaced it with a short narrative of the premise that I can now recite in my sleep.

Thanks for the Perfect Strangers link. Classic.

-John Conrad

- said...

oh and don't forget there are 2 versions of the gilligan's island song. the best being the original that ends the extensive cast list with "and the rest." before they figured out that it was pretty easy to squeeze "the professor and mary ann" in the same spot.

so now anytime i see a list that concludes with "...and many more." i always think, 'How many more? Two? Like the professor and mary ann?'

-John Conrad

Chris Well said...

A fine, fine list - "Cheers" wasn't just a great song, it was a great series. Since you're picking themes that 1) we can sing along with, and 2) explain the show, that would seem to indicate we can only choose songs with lyrics. I'd nominate the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" theme for that.

If we can include instrumentals, then the "Odd Couple" opening was tops in my book -- a great, hummable theme, matched with great, inconic images of the neat freak and the slob.

And while the "Taxi" opening credits were just the music over a film loop of the cab crossing the bridge, that melancholy melody matched to the urban scene really captures the sweet and sad mood of the show, doesn't it?

Rob Stennett said...


As far as The Office (best comedy on TV right now) it's great, but very modern. Not the classic TV theme I'm talking about. The best contemporary theme around I think belongs to "Monk."


Gilligan should have been higher on the list. I just grew up watching reruns and so it hasn't sunk into my heart. Clearly my age is a bias on this list, and if they had a channel of nothing but 1980's sit coms I would never get anything done.

I love AND the rest. Actually, I think the version I tacked onto the blog has that.

Forgot about the Mary Tyler Moore show. And Taxi, WOW, I almost could have put that on this list, that is up there with Cheers as the best blue collar comedies of all time.

Chad Gibbs said...

I always liked theme from Newhart, but it made me sad at the same time. Can't really explain it.

Rachel Stennett said...

For some reason, I still find myself humming a few theme songs: Full House, Family Matters, and Welcome Back, Kotter. The first two totally tell of my age, but the Kotter theme song is so good I can't tell you a thing about the show, I only know there was an Afro and a pleasant "Welcome back..." at the beginning of every episode.

Dan Gibson said...

I complete agree with the mention of John Sebastian's theme for Welcome Back, Kotter, which is just a great song, but also is one of the four TV themes to hit number one on the pop charts.

My personal favorite is "Best Friend" from The Courtship of Eddie's Father, but that's largely because it was written by one of the great American songwriters, Harry Nilsson. It's hard to beat that.

In the instrumental category, although Bob James' theme for Taxi is a close runner up, has to be Mike Post's theme for Rockford Files. So funky.

Matt Mikalatos said...

Dude. What about Zorro?

C'mon, you know you had Disney Channel growing up.