Classic TV Show Themes


The Lost Art
TV show openers used to blend melody and lyrics to lay out setting and premise. But we just don't have that kind of time anymore. Can you imagine ABC's Lost starting with cheezy theme music and a voiceover?

"They were on a plane but they crashed on an island and there was this hatch thing and a smoke monster and did we mention the polar bear...?"

Not So Long Ago
But there was a time that TV theme sequences were integral to the programs we watched. For example...

Mission: Impossible
Lalo Schiffren's iconic 5/4 time signature and pulse-pounding beat set the tone for this series.. Married to the theme music was a masterwork of film editing. A sequence of rapid-fire jumpcuts carefully tailored for each episode ratcheted up the sense of urgency that was the lifeblood of the series.




Miami Vice
The opening sequence for this show, allegedly pitched to NBC as "MTV Cops," set the stage for fashion-forward glamour and high-life excitement. Jan Hammer's Top-40 current, on-the-money theme was pitch perfect.




Hawaii Five-O
The Miami Vice opener seemed to draw its inspiration from Hawaii Five-O.
When this show premiered a lot of people thought Hawaii was a quiet place where people lazed around on the beach all day, eating cocoanuts and sipping pina-colodas.

Not so, screamed the classic theme sequence. In one short minute, the beautiful island culture and history blends with a darker, gritty undertone of big city crime and punishment.

As a side note, Morton Stevens, composer of this, one of the best TV themes ever, also composed the melody for Gilligan's Island.

Our continuing question though: did Kam Fong really need the different character name, Chin Ho? Did Zulu really need the different character name, Kono?




The Prisioner
Does a TV theme really make a difference?
You be the judge. Here's is the official opening of the breakthrough TV series,The Prisoner, with Ron Grainer's theme music that fused contemporary and traditional influences into something quite different for the time.




And here's what the theme might have been...



How ordinary...

What are your choices for Classic TV show openers?