Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Lattanzi Ten - 3/3/15

Originally, I was going to do a Ten on annoying characters in children's programming, but I can only stand so much aggravation in a week. Instead, I am going to do ten great sitcom theme songs that I enjoy. Some are well known; others are only known to those of a certain era. 

The theme song is a dead art form, unfortunately. At one time, it could be used to establish the premise of a program to a new audience, or provide an identifying mark to the returning audience. With the ever-inceasing advertising market, shows have decreased their length as well as eliminated their theme songs. It is tragic in the sense that we have lost the ability to pass along the joy of singing or humming the tunes in short bursts; they are great bridges of generations and easy for children to learn. Now, we identify shows by catchphrases or annoying character traits. And that's a shame. -- J.L.

The classic fish out of water sitcom from the 1960's, and the picking of the banjo is absolutely wonderful. The theme songs of that era tended to give the "how we got here" story, and this was no exception. The visual of Granny sitting on her rocking chair in the back of the truck has given to lots of delightful parodies and jokes. Y'all come back now, hear?

This is the quintessential "how we got here" theme song, and for many people, the gold standard of theme songs (although I disagree with that). The interesting thing is that I prefer the original, more folksy (and mellow) version of the theme song. The one that most people know, which includes the naming of the Professor and Mary Ann, more resembles a sea shanty. Either way, a classic and don't forget the ending theme, either. It is also worth knowing.  

Just to hear the back and forth on this one is great. My old scoutmaster used to sing this one around the campfire, with both voices, to great hilarity. One of the catchiest beats ever devised in the history of theme songs.

I much prefer Bewitched as a television show (and I prefer the natural classic beauty of Elizabeth Montgomery to the sultry look of Barbara Eden), but the theme song to Jeannie is head and shoulders above many others. The jazzy song along with the little cartoon explaining how everything came to be is everything opening credits ought to be. 

I spent a semester in college being the "Oscar Madison" of the dorm room (my first semester of freshman year). It wasn't that I was filthy, but my then-roommate was very Ungerish. Anyway, the link is to the "classic" Odd Couple opening with the explanation of how they ended up living together along with the juxtaposition of their habits in the credits. It was a very funny show with a very catchy tune, which by the way, came from the 1968 film.

Full of soul and the source of one of the funniest moments I can ever remember in my class. While most intuitively get the whole "movin' on up" concept, when you realize that the Jeffersons lived next door to Archie Bunker in Queens, it takes on a whole new meaning!

The song is great, but watching it with the opening credits is even better, especially with the chant at the beginning. It is kind of amusing that this made the list, but its parent series, Happy Days, did not. 

8. Cheers

This is the gold standard of theme songs, full stop, which I mentioned in last Tuesday's Ten. If we were to come up with the top ten theme songs of all time, every other theme would be competing for number two. I love the art in the credits as well, how every figure represents the character played by the actor displayed. Even when the cast expanded, the art changed, and fairly seamlessly. The only exception was the clearly created picture to stand for Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth) in the last couple of seasons. But that is such a minor quibble.

This is a very sweet sounding theme. It's too bad they had to step into the slop that was 80's rock and give it a power-anthem sound in the updated version. The original theme is one of the most underrated songs, for a pretty underrated show. 

My entire generation ought to be able to sing this one in unison. It was one of the last great theme songs to come about. By the end of the 90's, the art form of the theme song was nearly dead, left to be a relic in the wake of ever-expanding corporate harlotry. Even better is the fact that it was Will Smith himself singing it. 

A great song to show (unwittingly) the growing relativism of the age. I say "unwittingly" because it is supposed to be about different families can still be nurtured and such, but still unintentionally sends another message. Nevertheless, it is very catchy, and although it was 1978 when it started, the song itself reaches back to the previous decade in that "how did we get here" fashion.

Bonus #2. Friends

Love the song. Absolutely loathe the show.

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