Thursday, June 29, 2006

Credits Due

I've got a great song in my head -- Warren Zevon's "Even a Dog Can Shake Hands" -- and it happens to be the perfectly suited theme song to the short-lived Jay Mohr Hollywood sitcom, Action. Here's a snatch of it, a twisted look at the art of the Deal:

All the worms and the gnomes are having lunch at Le Dome
They're all living off the fat of the land
Everbody's trying to be a friend of mine
Even a dog can shake hands

It sets exactly the right tone for the show, and there's nothing that I'd rather hum right now.

So what are your favorite TV theme songs? Lyrics and/or instrumental; I'm not picky.



Chris A. said...

Excellent pick, which reminds me that I've been meaning to rent the DVD's. (One of the great series endings, although it resonated more if you were watching the show when it originally aired.)

My favorites off the top of my head:

The Lone Ranger. 1812, shm-1812, this is cowboy fanfare for every generation.

Mission: Imposssible. I'm not sure I've ever even seen the TV series, but regardless of how you feel about the movies, this is everything you want in an adventure theme. (OK, everything but a surf guitar.)

The Office (UK version). I enjoy both the UK and US editions of the show very much. But the UK's melancholy theme has a trudging, weary-yet-noble theme that sets the tone perfectly (and is daringly downbeat for such a hilarious show).

Homicide: Life on the Street. Hard to separate from the distinctive visuals of the credit sequence, and not one to hum at idle moments. But perfect for the show; less about melody and refrain than texture and intensity; an aural sketch of restless energy aspiring to transcendence.

Mystery Science Theater 3000. This little ditty packs more setup into 60 seconds than the average person could in trying to describe the show. All that, and catchy as can be.

Rob S. said...

You named some of my faves. I love that distubing Homicide music, and Rod Stewart's "Handbags and Gladrags" is a song I never liked until its association with The Office. I also like the US version's instrumental theme; it does a really good job of wordlessly setting the tone for the series.

I also really like the theme to the Family Guy, in that it's a complete, out-and out lie.

bastard central said...

i love your hanbeck-esque line of questioning so i will take the bait.

"tank!" by the seatbelts is great driving music and the theme music for the anime series bowboy bebop

the prisoner. and that lotus that patrick mcgoohan is driving is the bomb

"c'mon c'mon" by the von bondies is the theme to rescue me. and while it very chunky and punky, it harkens to a more nostalgic time for all of us. "now we dream cause now it's gone cause things were good when we were young"

the saint. nuff said

tom waits' them to fishing with john. all the lyrics are "fishing...with john" says it all

i'm sure i could come up with more but you see, i'm on smoking alot of crack these days

Greg! said...

I'm sure this question will keep knocking around in my head for a while, but a couple of instrumentals come to mind:

Northern Exposure -- made me smile every time I heard it; still does. And apart from the show's scores, the source music choices for Chris In The Morning were almost uniformly excellent.

X-Files -- as appropriate in its identifiability and instant mood setting as my next choice...

Twin Peaks -- this show had some amazing music, and it took a break from the series and a visit to the movies (Fire Walk With Me) for me to be reminded of how evocative those first few notes are.

So I suppose it's not surprising that I own soundtrack music from all three of those.

Rob S. said...

I have to say, I really like the reworked Dr. Who theme for the new season.

Also, "WKRP in Cincinatti" had a wonderful theme. For a while, I wondered who was supposed to be the speaker of the theme song. I'd guess Andy, but it could certainly apply to Johnny or Venus as well. And looking back, that's one of the wonderful things about the song and the series itself -- it's about all of them, really.

But especially Baily.

Rob S. said...

Oh, and JtB -- what's Hanbeck-esque about the question? It's not like I have TV show pelts hanging in my living room.

hmmm... Dick Van Dyke's pelt would be quite a trophy.