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“Latins are tenderly enthusiastic. In Brazil, they throw flowers at you. In Argentina, they throw themselves." -- Marlene Dietrich

Bring back TV theme tunes

During lunch earlier this week, I brought up the greatness of the classic TV show Knight Rider. My much younger co-worker MJ, much to my vocal dismay, said she had never heard of it.

MJ: “Isn’t the movie coming out soon?”

Arjewtino: “Yes, so you HAVE heard of Knight Rider?”

MJ: “Yeah, it’s the one with Nicolas Cage, right?”

Arjewtino: “No, that’s Ghost Rider.”

MJ: “Ghost Rider? Isn’t that when someone else authors your book?”

After slapping my forehead and briefly considering the confusing effects of “ghost writer” as a homophone, I inevitably started to sing the theme tune to Knight Rider in my head. Then I tried to remember all the great 80s TV show theme tunes and wondered, “Where did the art of ‘theme-tuning’ sitcoms and dramas go?”

My best friend Blue and I, when we were younger, used to challenge each other to remember a TV show based on the humming of its song (yes, we were nerds). All the great tunes –- Doogie Howser, M.D., Perfect Strangers, Golden Girls, A-Team -– were easily remembered and others -– Empty Nest, Voyagers!, Sledge Hammer –- were a bit tougher to recall.

So why don’t modern TV shows create great theme tunes anymore? The answer is, as it usually is, money. By cutting down the introduction segment of a show, networks can run at least one more ad. By axing a theme song altogether, the network can cash in even more.

Theme tunes used to set up a TV show for the viewers, like in Gilligan’s Island or Brady Bunch (which thankfully explained the shows’ complex plots). Nowadays, TV viewers are more savvy and less in need of elucidation. This concurrently allows networks to reap more advertising dollars, but at the expense of creating fun yet vapid songs.

Never again will people hear, “Well, the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum…” and instantly think of a show like Diff’rent Strokes, or get “Making your way in the world today takes everything you got” stuck in their heads and think of Cheers all day long. Seriously, can anyone think of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and NOT start humming, “Now this is a story all about how my life got flip turned upside-down…”

There is a musical hole left in today’s TV shows. Viewers are starving to sing along to a theme tune, and CSI’s The Who songs as well as Law & Order’s “dum-dum” just aren’t cutting it.

If only we could once again sing the intro to Perfect Strangers, like I often do in the shower:

“Sometimes the world looks perfect,
Nothing to rearrange.
Sometimes you get a feeling
Like you need some kind of change.
No matter what the odds are this time,
Nothing's going to stand in my way.
This flame in my heart,
And a long lost friend
Gives every dark street a light at the end.

Standing tall, on the wings of my dream.
Rise and fall, on the wings of my dream.

The rain and thunder
The wind and haze
I'm bound for better days.
It's my life and my dream,
Nothing's going to stop me now.”

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