Wednesday, April 12, 2006

New Poll - Which of the following TV shows has the best original opening theme music?

Periodically there is an attempt by some of the networks to to get rid of the opening theme music for series. You may have noticed for example that ABC has cut the opening themes for a number of their hit shows including both Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. The usual explanation for this is to "fit in more show" which should be another way of saying that there are too many commercials but no network will admit that. ABC has cut the themes - and the opening title sequences that go with them - for a number of their shows to a few notes.

Personally I think it's wrong headed. A TV show's theme is almost instant recognition to the point where music from other sources used as themes instantly becomes identified with a show. Who won't admit that when they hear the last section of Rossini's William Tell Overture they don't at least think the words "A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty 'Hiyo Silver!' The Lone Ranger rides again!" I know that I can't watch the movie Backdraft and hear the movie's soundtrack without expecting a flamboyantly dressed Japanese gentleman to suddenly appear and take a big bite out of a yellow bell pepper - that's how much the music is tied to Iron Chef in my conscious mind. And what about The Who's music and it's links with the various CSI series?

The idea behind theme music is simple enough - that you can hear a particular piece of music and instantly identify it with the show, whether you're seeing the show or just hearing the music incidentally. I once had the experience of sitting in a half full theater waiting for Three Men And A Baby (with Tom Selleck) to start when the theatre's incidental music started to play the theme from Magnum P.I. You could literally feel the collective sense of recognition in the crowd and the expectation that the start of the movie was close at hand...but preferably not before the Magnum theme ended.

What I really want to do is to come up with a definitive poll to find the best TV themes in TV history but I'm sort of struggling with how to work that out. It will probably mutate into a series of polls. In the meantime I'm offering this poll which I confess is more than a little skewed towards shows that I watch. This means no sitcoms because I rarely watch them. I was tempted to add the Survivor and Amazing Race themes but reluctantly decided against it, so basically what we're left with are dramas that I watch, and because few people outside of Canada know it, I haven't included Canada's second national anthem, the Hockey Night In Canada theme. I was also tempted to exclude ABC themes because they started this whole thing but in the end I couldn't ignore the Grey's Anatomy theme.

Any suggestions on current original themes that you prefer, or general comments would be appreciated.

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