In honor of March Madness, I thought I’d take a look to determine, bracket-style, what really is the best TV theme song ever. Rather than a full 64-song bracket, I started with a top 32. A few caveats: Obviously, I’m biased more on recent shows, although the art of the great TV theme song is vanishing. Also, I tend to favor songs with words (plural), so no Batman, Parks and Recreation (even with Star Wars references), or The Office (US version). Lastly, these had to be opening theme songs, so the chung-chung from Law & Order doesn’t count. (And I was torn whether to include the Jeopardy! music as well).
To me, the ideal theme song conveys enough of what the show is about to catch up casual viewers (i.e. blatantly spelling out the plot, like in The Brady Bunch or Green Acres). But it also has to be a good song; that’s crucial. Catchy, but also good enough that you won’t mind hearing it, say, 400 times.
First, some notable omissions and shows that just missed the cut: Hey Dude (sorry, Micah), Family Ties (sha la la la), ALF, Happy Days, Three’s Company, All in the Family, The Bevery Hillbillies, Ducktales, The Facts of Life (I linked to the Clooney version!), The Office (UK version), Family Guy, The Addams Family, The Big Bang Theory, Barretta, The Cosby Show, The Jeffersons, Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Seinfeld, LOST (the opening noise, though alternate titles like these would have been amazing), How I Met Your Mother (great clip), Dawson’s Creek, My Three Sons, New Girl, Entourage, Chuck, Scrubs, The West Wing, M*A*S*H, Mad Men, The Sopranos, I Love Lucy, Diff’rent Strokes, Taxi, Webster, Flight of the Conchords, A Different World, Mr. Ed, The Wonder Years, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Freaks and Geeks. Feel free to add others I missed in the comments.
One show that I had to dismiss entirely out of turn: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Yes, yes, I know. You know all the words to that song!
Great. So does everyone else. It’s gotten so beyond overdone, it’s the point where I can’t listen to it anymore. We get it: it was an effective theme song (catchy, explained the premise of the show). But if I have to hear one more person at a party bragging about how he or she knows all the words, I’m going to give up TV entirely (and neither you nor I want that to happen). I mean, there need to be multiple facebook groups about this? With thousands of members? No. The line must be drawn here. No Fresh Prince. Cool? Cool.
And now, the full list of shows, paired with their first-round opponent (and linked to a youtube video of the song, so you can judge for yourself): Growing Pains/The Odd Couple, The Andy Griffith Show/Dragnet, Golden Girls/Welcome Back, Kotter, The Jetsons/The Simpsons, Friends/The Greatest American Hero, Gilligan’s Island/Sanford and Son, The Munsters/The Love Boat, The Muppet Show/Perfect Strangers, Who’s the Boss/The Flintstones, Boy Meets World/Cheers, Mary Tyler Moore Show/Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The OC/Beverly Hills, 90210, Saved by the Bell/Charles in Charge, The Dick van Dyke Show/The A-Team, The Brady Bunch/Full House, Green Acres/Hogan Family
Click on the bracket to see what show was ultimately named champion! (Or, this being inspired by March Madness, what show had its One Shining Moment.)
Not a shocker that Growing Pains pulled out the ultimate victory. In fact, that and Cheers going to head-to-head show just how great the 80s were for churning out classic themes.
But let’s be honest: BJ Thomas’s theme is an all-time great song. I may not be a poet, but I know what poetry is, and “As Long As We’ve Got Each Other” is pure poetry.
Really curious what everyone else thinks, so please leave a comment!