Men's Club

EN QuickLinks Movies Music TV Books Jokes The EN Boards EN Chat
 TV Bites With Neena Louise


by Neena Louise

I love TV shows' theme music. I actually find myself humming a theme song only to have it get stuck in that can't-get-it-out-of-my-head realm that can make you crazy. I don't understand, then, why so many returning shows this season have changed their opening themes. It seems to me that it would make more sense to stick with a known quantity: when you think of the theme, you think of the show and vice-versa. Instead, some shows have changed their themes to such an extent that they are either no longer recognizable or so obnoxious that they're painful to listen to.

The worst offender is Third Rock from the Sun. The original nifty guitar-based lick was SO appropriate to the show's premise - so why has it been changed to this season's dreadful jarring racket? Sure, it's the same tune, but it's been butchered! Leave it alone if it works!

And what about shows that change their opening themes entirely? The big question is WHY? When the show Ellen used a different opening each week, it was kind of a cute gimmick, and it worked (at least at first) because the opening "theme" was actually the lack of a theme. But how do you explain what's happened to shows like The Drew Carey Show? Its opening has been the same for a few seasons now, but there was actually a backlash when it changed from the amusing, singable ditty to the embarrasing rock-video nonsense that has become its opening (and the Sweeps Gimmick of improvising a polka rendition was spectacularly bad). Other (though not all) offenders are Sabrina (what IS that noise???), The Pretender and Early Edition (though the new theme's okay, I still prefer the original). For some shows (like Spin City), I can't even put a tune to anymore, since their theme has changed so often. Of course, some series' themes (like Vonda Shepherd's awful Ally McBeal caterwauling) would benefit from a song change (or at least a better singer), but the ones that really need it never change.

And has anyone else noticed that all the new shows this season seem to have a similar feel - both in music and atmosphere? What's up with the gritty music? The cute camera tricks? The similar lighting? The talk-to-the-camera narratives? The, well, SAMENESS? Some original opening music would certainly help distinguish these series from one another. With so many different shows on so many different channels, theme music helps a series stand out. This season, though, I can't easily call to mind a single tune from any new show. One can conclude, then, that the opening themes are either so bad that I don't want to remember them, or they're so similar that I CAN'T remember them.

Cheers never changed its theme. Nor did I Love Lucy. Or M*A*S*H. Or Seinfeld. Or most other long-running shows. Perhaps the Powers That Be don't understand the impact of distinctive theme music, though I can't see how they could be so oblivious. Do they not understand that a show's loyal viewers like the fact that the package (including the theme music) remains the same? The producers seem to get musically bored, or think we're bored, or want us to think we're bored, or want us to think something's actually become fresh and new on the show (other than its theme music). Whatever the reasoning is behind changing themes on established shows, I wish they'd stop it. If they can't pick a tune that's good enough to last five or so years, then pick ANOTHER one! Don't change it midstream. It annoys viewers and makes the show to lose some of its distinctive flavor.

In my collection of ancient LPs, there is a record of early TV theme music. I am too young to remember many of them (Bat Masterson anyone?), but my mother immediately recognized what show each and every piece of music was for. And I knew a surprising number of them myself, even though most of them were way before my time. Where are the tunes like that these days? We need more themes like the ones for Cheers, X-Files, M*A*S*H, Friends, Law and Order, and even fairly recent entries like Dawson's Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. They're all tunes that evoke the series they introduce. They're all memorable and catchy enough that you find yourself humming them, even when there's not a TV in sight. That's what good theme music should do: make a series live on and on, partially through the power of its theme music. Instead, what we are left with these days is the digital equivalent of fingernails on a blackboard with the staying power of chalk 
We would love to know what you think, sound off on the TV message boards and let us know what you think!


Copyright 1997-2005 NutzMedia.com   
All Rights Reserved.