Friday, March 22, 2013

My Favourite TV Themes

Back a few months ago, I did a podcast with The Basement Vagrants where we discussed our favourite TV themes/intros. I went back and listened to that and thought that while my list was good, there were some choices that I either neglected to include or shouldn't have put on in the first place. 

It's very hard for me to rank these to other than the final two on this list (Which I consider the best), so any other entry on this list, I enjoy equally. 

Teen Titans

This has probably got to be the catchiest theme to a superhero show since the theme to Batman back in 1966. Despite that series just repeating it's name over and over, this theme more or less gives the viewer a gist of what the show is about: A group of teenagers live in a base shaped as a 'T' and fight crime. Oh and there's also a mix of American and Japanese animation styles which gives the show it's unique look. The song was sung by Japanese pop-duo "Puffy Ami Yumi", who were given their own short-lived animated series shortly after this one came out.
I put this on the list mainly because it's catchy and if you hear it enough, chances are you won't get it out of your head. Teen Titans Go.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

I was probably six or seven when I heard this theme for the first time and thought it was simply lovely. Believe it or not, this version you're seeing was introduced in the fourth season. The one between seasons one and three had the same music but the into mostly consisted of shots of the station from different angles.

The newer intro had the same theme but played in a more grand theme which really suited the scope of the show but also showed more going on around the station, which made sense. This is a very strategic outpost so of course there are going to be ships coming and going, repairs going on and we get to see the Defiant taking off. And of course, it ends with an awesome glory shot of the wormhole. An awesome intro for a very underrated series.

The Sopranos

Never has driving home after a hard day of "work" looked so cool and badass. The lyrics reveal so much about what to expect from the show and the shots of New York and New Jersey make you feel like you're riding shotgun with Tony Soprano. I think the best thing about this intro is that we never really see Tony's face until the end when he gets out of his car.

Star Trek: The Next Generation

A beauty to look at. Before you even see the starship Enterprise, you take a look at the clusters of stars, the nebulas, planets and are just blown away at how beautiful our galaxy really is. The cherry on top is Patrick Stewart's narration of the classic Star Trek intro "Space...the final frontier."

The Enterprise-D herself is also a thing of beauty to look at, especially in HD with the nacelles and deflector dish lit up in all their red and blue glory. The music itself is classic and chances are if you just played the audio out loud almost everyone who heard it would say, "Oh yeah, that's from Star Trek." And they would probably admit that it's a great intro as well.

The New Batman/Superman Adventures

In the late 90's the WB Network decided to air the latest episode of their Batman and Superman animated series under this anthology series. Despite the fact that it was more or less a rerun show, this intro is awesome. Footage from each series plays in the background while silhouetted images of our heroes take action above them.

What's great about this intro is that it's a combination of everything that is Batman and Superman. It is both dark and grim much like Batman while at the same time being heroic and uplifting which is more or less the embodiment of Superman. Hell, just close your eyes and listen to the music and chances are you'll get images of both heroes flashing through your eyes. In fact, try it with someone who hasn't heard this theme and see what they come up with. I'll be honest, up until last night, I had forgotten completely about this theme. Once I did remember it, I began playing it on a loop over and over. When a theme song puts you in a mood to fight crime, you know it's good.

This theme was composed by the late Shirley Walker who did the soundtrack to Batman: The Animated Series.

WWF Smackdown

A lot of you are probably scratching your head and saying, "Schweitzer-Man, what the hell is the matter with you?" I honestly can't give an answer to that but...there's something about this intro that just really sets the mood perfectly. And I know Smackdown has had several intros throughout the years and this was the best one. It was the late 90's and early 2000s and the Attitude Era was at it's highest in terms of popularity.

Yeah, it sounds like a stroke victim is shouting at you but that combined with the pyrotechnics that ended after each intro would easily put anyone in the mood for awesome wrestling action.

For these last two, I suggest you watch them in full screen for maximum enjoyment.

Cowboy Bebop

I'd heard of Cowboy Bebop in passing. And I assumed that it was just an anime western about a singing cowboy and his horse. Then I played the intro after hearing everyone say how awesome it is. "Yeah right," I thought. But boy was I blown away. So blown away that I decided I would check the series out. If this intro hasn't given you the same urge, I urge you to do so anyway.

There's not much about this intro that screams, "Misfit bounty hunters in the not-to-distant future" but it works so well much like the rest of the soundtrack for this series. Composer Yoko Kanno seems to do no wrong with her work on this show and hits all the right notes with this perfect intro. See you later, Space Cowboy.

Batman: The Animated Series

It says so much without saying or showing a word.
Unless you count the Warner Bros. logo in the beginning (which makes that brilliant transition into a police blimp), this intro has no credits. It doesn't need to show the words "Batman: The Animated Series" because you know-by the time this intro is done-what you're watching. And that was a deliberate decision by the creators of the show. They knew that anybody (Notice I didn't say 'kid') in any language would watch this and know what it was about.

It set your expectations high with Batman easily disarming and disabling two would-be criminals before sneaking off into the shadows as the police arrived. It set the stage for whatever episode you were about to watch and off the top of my head, I can't think of a time where they fell short. There's a reason why this show that aired on weekday afternoons is regarded as one of the greatest animated series of all time.
If the music sounds similar to the intro from the 1989 Batman film, that's because they were composed by the same man, Danny Elfman. While the theme was strictly his, each episode and occasionally character would have their own set of music.

The previously mentioned Shirley Walker, who was the main composer for this show even won an Emmy award for her work in 1996. She also wrote the intro for the later seasons which is excellent in it's own right. In 2008, Warner Bros. released a limited edition soundtrack for the show which sold out quickly. I'm not one to collect music, but this as well as the soundtrack to Cowboy Bebop are ones that I would be proud to own.

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