My Top 10 TV Theme Songs (Instrumental)

Continuing from the last post, this entry will focus on my 10 Favorite TV openers — sans words.

Looking over these lists, it’s apparent that I’m very partial to — fast, driving melodies/beats.

Which is why slower and sweeping epic scores from: “The Incredible Hulk“, “Battlestar Galactica“, and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” — despite all being extremely John Williams/cinematic worthy — didn’t make the cut for me.

Television (when I watched it a lot) was a whole, different kitschy beast altogether and I think my selections reveal that aspect (as demonstrated by the many synthesizer created ditties on this list).

There’s one exception — I’ve always held an affinity for NBC’s (unjustly canceled) time-jumper drama “Journeyman“‘s theme song and even used it throughout Secret Identities‘, The Blue Scorpion & Chung” video.

I pondered over many, upbeat selections: “Sanford and Son“, “The Andy Griffith Show“, “What’s Happenin!“, “Charlie’s Angels” — and finally narrowed it down to these ten:

10.  “The Munsters” – I like the older version equally as well — both distinctively utilizing the electric guitar to perfectly capture the hip, creepy and goofy nature of the show.

9.  “S.W.A.T.” – Granted it starts off sounding like a porno, but the catchy tune served as my inner theme song whenever I rolled around playing ‘Cops & Robbers’ back in the day.

8. “MacGyver” – Just a great ‘Aw, shucks’ theme that encapsulated the always, good natured and unassuming man that could make anything as long as he had: Duct Tape, a Pocket Knife and String.

7. “The A-Team” – The rousing crescendo after the machine gun’s ‘rat-tat-tat’ is unmistakable.  The best part?  The mid-song instrument change from horns to heavy electric guitar and then back.  Brilliant.  Makes you want to blow sh*t up.

Although it actually loses points for being butchered with Season 5’s rendition.  Sometimes there can be such a thing as — too much synthesizer (at the :25 sec mark after the inane and monotonous taps at the beginning).

6. “Batman” – How can this not be on everyone’s list?  The horn blasts literally sound like the exclamations, “WHAM!”, “BOOM!”“BAM!”.  And then sometimes if you were really lucky — at the end you might hear the throaty, whine of a motorcycle and realize in delight, “HOLY CRAP!!  BATGIRL’s in this episode!!

Since only a singular name is repeated throughout the song with some “Na, Na, Na’s” tossed in, this one counts as an instrumental in my book.

5. “Hawaii Five-O” – Once you hear those pounding drums at the top, you know you’re about to get smacked down with a tidal wave of song awesomeness.  Brian Tyler’s updated version is slick, but I still prefer the old school version.

4. “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” – Like every good melody, this theme tells a story.  It starts off eerie and spooky when he’s frozen in space and all seems lost.

But then, as he passes through the centuries in a state of suspended animation, the music become increasingly more confident and more optimistic — mirroring his positive outlook towards his new future living in a new and strange world.

Or am I just reading too much into this?

3. “Knight Rider” –SYNTHESIZER HEAVEN, baby.

2. “CHiPs” – I suppose I just dig any 70’s song that starts off with a disco/bow-chika-bow-bow beat.  But this remained a constant fixture inside my head whenever I rode a bike (in pairs or solo) from the ages of 6 – 12.

I still get giddy whenever I see a pair of CHP motorcycle cops riding along the freeway (with California budget cuts, it’s a very, very rare sight).

1. “Beverly Hills, 90210” – The addition of the ‘double chin-punch‘ by Jason Priestley/Brandon Walsh in the Season 2 re-tooled version, significantly infused some much needed pizazz into the anemic Season 1 theme and even lamer pilot version before that — thereby shooting it straight to the top of my list.

I was reaaallly tempted to ask for the ‘double-chin punch‘ while snapping this pic while working with Jason on ‘Tru Calling” many years ago — but even though we were in perfect formation I thought better of it.

I know, I know — “Seriously?! 90210?”  But yes, and here’s why

Theme songs like these are almost a generational thing from a bygone era sprinkled with a dash of subjective nostalgia and a pinch of hokey.

Theme songs now are all cinematic and serious with composers such as Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman scoring them.

Truth be told, my absolute favorite opening hands down — is from “Dexter“.  But the music doesn’t stand on its own for me — it needs the beautifully shot visuals of Dexter’s deliberate morning routine to accompany it.  How taut he pulls his laces, slices his food, and wraps his fingers around the French Coffee Press handle.

But fun TV Tunes that can be listened to ala carte?  These are mine, for better or worse.

Honorable mentions also go out to: “Mission: Impossible“, “The Benny Hill Show“, “Airwolf“, “The Rockford Files“, “AutoMan“, “Hill Street Blues“, “Dallas“, “Barney Miller“, and “L.A. Law“.

I’m sure I’ll be chastised for leaving out some personal favorites.   So lemme hear ’em!

Next entry… Top 10 Animated TV Theme Songs.


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7 thoughts on “My Top 10 TV Theme Songs (Instrumental)

  1. abe and i had a long conversation the other night about the 90210 theme song. it was after we drove past melrose place, and i spoke of how utterly forgettable their opening song was. abe agreed it was bad, saying it was like 90210. then i tore into him. no comparison. the double punch is brilliant, and the melody that follows (played slowly during the episodes’ heartwarming scenes) was composed by a sheer musical songwriting prodigy

  2. Pingback: My Top 10 TV Theme Songs (Animated) | Parry Shen's Blog

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