What do TV series have that make them special and unique?
Story – Tick
Direction – Tick
Script – Tick
But even before you see any of these, you watch and listen to the title track of the show and try to get the idea what the story is all about. An opening sequence should be in such that it explains the show and the motive of the main characters. We don’t want a weird Jack-in-the-Box, where there is no Jack.
Here is a list of 21 opening themes that I think have so well conditioned my mind that every time I hear them, I feel like I know them.
21. THE ADDAMS FAMILY
Charles Addams, a cartoonist who created the haunted family, first published this as a single panel cartoon gags. He had not given any name to the family, it was only later, when the cartoons made it to TV, that the name Addams was adopted.
“They’re creepy and they’re kooky” was first composed by Vic Mizzy in 1964. It was again used in the 1990 animated series and even in 2007. This shows how creepy the song is that it still defines the Addams Family. For me it is number 21 (I am not easily intimidated) as there are better themes here, and some theme has to be at number 21.
20. HAWAII FIVE-O
To be honest, I have not watched this show, but I had heard that the theme music of this series was so popular that a reboot of the show also used the same theme music. I cannot critically comment on this, but I will give my views.
I know this is a police procedural drama and hence I can guess what the background of the show may be. Composed by Morton Stevens, the unique thing about the track is that it has survived more than four decades - from the time when it was first used in the 1968 show to the 2010 show. The theme song is full of life, adventure and sense of pride. Yet the repetitive use of same tune has dropped it to number 20 in my list.
19. DOCTOR WHO
The Timelord is traveling and has landed his TARDIS in an era where I am rating his theme song at number 19. The theme was first used in 1963, when the show was first aired, and the same theme is still being used today.
The show’s first streak ended in 1989 and the show properly re-aired in 2005 and it is still going on, as is the theme song. The theme song was composed by Ron Grainer. It gives an out of the world feeling (and of course the show is all about an alien), though after a time, the whole theme becomes repetitive and hence it is at number 19.
18. THE AMERICAN HORROR STORY
The bizarre show starts with a bizarre music (bizarre in good sense). I mean when I first listened to the music, I was thinking is it really music? But then I found myself humming the same (witch charms?) now and then. The theme is sinister, as if something is lurking in the darkness, waiting for the right time to attack.
The music is composed by Cesar Davila-Irizarry and Charlie Clouser and starts with instrumental humming which in itself is scary. The theme videos are changed to match the season’s story and this was obvious considering the anthological nature of the show. But there are changes in theme music as well. For example, the music of season 4 Freak Show is slightly altered from the one we heard in seasons 1, 2 and 3.
17. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE
I have not watched the show, but the movies. There was this tune in the movie that stuck in my mind and I kept on whistling that tune, that unique mysterious and adventurous tune. Every time I heard the tune, I felt like walking like a boss, using cool gadgets and catching the bad guys (the Tom Cruise way).
It was only recently that I learned that this theme music was originally used as the theme music of the show that aired in 1966 (jaws dropped?) and was composed by Lalo Schifrin. The start is very typical of the shows at that time… credits rolling on the close-ups of the actors. Since the theme was originally used in this show, we should listen to and rate the original.
16. SWAT KATS
Swat Kats is another strange, yet for me deserving, entry into the list of my favorite theme songs, chiefly because of the adrenaline rush that it gives and the way it sets the mood of the show. I remember watching the show but humming the theme all the time during, and even after, the show. Composed by Randall Crissman, the show starts with the trouble literally falling from the skies onto the Megakat City… everything is in ruins, until the strange alarm at one of the junkyards start buzzing. Here comes the deadly duo to save the day… Swat Kats definitely deserve a place here at least at number 16.
15. THE X-FILES
Okay Scull and Moulder fans, X-Files finds the folder numbered 15 in my list of top 21 themes. It is little hard to give all the themes a better rating and hence this theme is number 15. Creepy, intense, suspenseful and extra-terrestrial is what can describe the whistle that chiefly covers the score. Many great things are made out of luck, and this theme is one such thing.
Composed by Mark Snow, the theme was inspired by How soon is now? from the album William, It was really Nothing. The visuals are also great, explaining the plot of the show while the credits roll. The blinking eye at the end of the theme makes it look creepier. So guys, this is my verdict, but hey! Truth is out there, find it and rate the song…
14. THE REAL ADVENTURE OF JONNY QUEST
The first of its kind, Jonny Quest was one of the first shows to use both 2D and 3D graphics in one. It was (I may still watch it) one of my favorite shows: adventure seeking teenagers going out there to unveil mysteries and legends.
What was most striking to me about the show was the theme music: a little change in the original theme by Hoyt Curtin and we had to rank this show’s theme here at number 14. The visuals give the show’s premise: adventure, adventure and adventure. I love the way the Questworld’s windows are there displaying love, adventure and exotic locations (which sadly I never saw in the episodes).
The favourite lawyers of the TV are here at number 13. Ima Robot’s Greenbag Boogie is used as the title track of the show. People aspiring to be at the top, people aspiring to make more and more money and people doing all sorts of things for that.
I follow the series and I know it’s about all these things. An aspiring intern, a high class lawyer and company politics is what defines the show. An apt song for a complicated yet beautiful show (and I am not referring to Donna Paulsen). The video shows how an aspiring intern and a famous lawyer reach their office on a normal day, one on bicycle and other in a luxury car.
12. TWO AND A HALF MEN
For me the show boomed while Charlie Sheen was a part of the family. It lost its quality once he was cast out of the show. I can’t say whether he deserved that or not, but I am a huge Chuck Lorre fan. The men are at number 12.
Chuck Lorre himself along with Lee Aronsohn and Grant Geissman composed the title track of the show. The show starts with the main characters (in all the seasons) lip-syncing to the song Men, Men Manly Men. As the show progresses, the visuals of the opening sequence is changes. Jake Harper grows with time in seasons 1-8 and from season 9, they introduce Ashton Kutcher to the title video as well.
11. THE SIMPSONS
America’s favourite family of Springfield could only make up to the 11th position in my list (“D’oh!”). I love the show and am fan of the behind the show performers. I like the theme video of the show more than the theme music. There is a reason to it. It’s different. I mean there are probably hundreds of different couch gags that the show has shown to us.
Danny Elfman composed the theme of the show, but what is more charming than the fast paced and yet comical theme track of the opening sequence is the one liner that Bart writes on the board as part of his detention.
10. THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Jeremy Brett to Sherlock Holmes, for me, is what Christopher Reeves is to Superman, a perfect match. I first watched this show in 2006 (and the show was made in 1984, when I was not even born) and it still appealed to me. I felt that it had perfect casting and perfect story telling.
The music is somewhat suspenseful yet delightful. The video shows a morning in Baker Street, the abode of the world’s most famous detective. I am glad and proud to announce the show’s theme as 10th in my list. This tune by composer Patrick Gowers has conditioned my mind so well that every time I hear this, I feel like I really am in Sherlock Holmes’ time and on my way to meet him.
9. LIE TO ME
It is sad that sometimes channels think they are doing something right, but instead they get it wrong. A show, highlighted so much by the presence of Tim Roth (my favorite since seeing him as Pumpkin), deserved a little respect. I mean there are only handful of shows that are different from the word go (okay for all Breaking Bad fans, I give to you the name here). The show needed a little time to pick-up and it did. But we are not here to discuss the fate of the show but the theme of the show.
Ryan Star tells us about the “Brand New Day”, in the title track of the show. What does it has to do with Dr Cal Lightman’s abilities? I guess nothing! But it might have to do something with the Doctor’s personal life and how he came to become Cal Lightman and learn the ‘micro’ details. The track of the show is soothing, and not much related to the concept of the show, but still I think many people know about the song due to the show itself. The visuals of the first season were beautiful. It was all from the eyes of the man himself. He puts on his mode and starts judging people (only his judging is not that judging). It tells us how expressions can let us know what the man is really thinking (try Patrick Jane there). The show’s theme is at number 9 (and even Dr Lightman can see that I am pleased with my decision).
8. BIG BANG THEORY
The show is all about a group of friends which are all scientists (and there is Penny). The show is qualified as sitcom; hence light mood in the opening sequence is intended. The Big Bang Theory starts with the beautiful theme song which goes as “Our Whole Universe…” The show is all about science (and Penny).
I think to start with a nerdy song which has a little jolliness in the presentation sets the mood of the show. The title track was been performed by the band called as Barenaked Ladies and the title of the song is History of Everything. The theme features a timeline of everything, where cells evolve to chimpanzees which evolve to Neanderthals and then to the characters of the show. Of course, considering the theme of the show, which is science (and Penny), the spectacle is totally worth it.
7. MAD MEN
I guess being at number 7 will not make the businessmen commit suicide! The show is about an advertising agency and its creative director (and later founding partner) and the struggle to survive the adverse market scenarios.
The theme video features the office, the ideas and even the people crumbling and eventually falling down. The theme music has been composed by RJD2 and is an instrumental score called as A Beautiful Mine. The music is intense, tragic and gloomy as is the video.
My childhood was the best part of my life. I must confess I am lucky to have been born in the time,when I was able to enjoy real cartoons. One of my favourite title themes as a child was audible on sunny Sunday evenings: Disney’s Ducktales. The track was composed by Ron Jones, the guy who has composed themes for Family Guy and Star Trek: Next Generation.
The theme starts with “Life is like a hurricane…” I love the theme personally as it has conditioned my mind with the visuals of Uncle Scrooge, the three duck brothers and Launchpad. The tune is adventurous and its lyrics are comical and adventurous. The lyrics even in Hindi (in India) are so beautiful that even today many of us have it as ringtones (nerdy isn’t it?). Fighting and dancing ducks that wear no pants! I mean it is cuteness and adventure together. The famous ‘Scrooge dive’ in his money, the crash-landing of Launchpad and of course the ‘do-dare’ act of the three twins is all shown in the theme video. It is so beautifully presented that I get the same chills today that I used to get when I was a kid.
Now is the time for my all-time favorite sitcom, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. I will certainly name all the characters here: Chandeler, Ross, Joey, Rachel, Monica and Phoebe. This is, as far as I feel, the best sitcom. But we certainly are not debating about it here. We want to judge the theme song and video of the show.
The show starts with the famous lines “I’ll be there for you…” This song, which was co-written by show’s producers, is in itself a huge hit. The song has been performed by the band The Rembrandts and the video features all the six F.R.I.E.N.D.S characters. The song is jolly and shows the value of friends who are there for you in life. I personally think the song fits perfectly for the show. The first episode of the first season features all the characters of the show dancing near a fountain wearing all in black and white attire. However as the show progresses, there are clips and scenes from the show itself.
4. THE WALKING DEAD
The walkers have learned to climb and have climbed to number 4 in my list. The thrilling and chilling music composed by Bear McCreary sounds terrific. Kudos to the editors, the music starts at the intense prologue scene of the show and hence builds the mood so perfectly that you will be trying to whistle the tune even after the show ends. A perfect example of how music sets the tone of the episodes. This is also one of those shows whose theme videos changed with seasons to match the theme of the season.
3. PRISON BREAK
When I first heard the theme music of the show, I was totally mesmerized. Hence I took an opportunity to escort the runaways to number 3 on my list. Ramin Djawadi has composed many masterpieces and this is one of them. The intense, thrilling and ambitious theme perfectly sets the mood of the show. The video of the theme perfectly matches the season’s main theme and that is why the video gets changed in each season.
They are searching, detecting and now they have reached number 2. The show has various beautiful scores but the title track tops them all. The music is composed by David Arnold and Michael Price. The video shows glimpses of the “Consulting Detective” and his “Doctor Friend” solving mysteries. I personally loved all the seasons, but for me, the third season was little disappointing.
1. GAME OF THRONES
HBO’s popular cash cow show Game of Thrones tops my list. The show is all about competing families, and this show wins this competition of title track. The track sounds like something ancient, something classical and somewhat little tragic is happening.
The theme track has been composed by Ramin Djawadi, who is not an unknown name. Mr Djawadi has been nominated for Grammy for his scores in this show, Prison Break and many more. The instruments are used in a way that is makes a beautiful ambience and you can feel that something grand is beginning. I personally listen to this epic composition at least once daily. The visuals are pretty simple: every house is trying to construct their empire. The throne is getting ready for someone to sit on it. And then there are scenes where we see clashes and blemishes to depict the fight and competition.