So, it turns out I may be slightly addicted to television...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Death of the Theme Song?

I have loved theme songs for as long as I can remember. I'm talking right back to the Muppets and Sesame Street themes. I have tape recorded, bought CD's and downloaded theme songs that I have listened to over and over again. I have started watching some shows based solely on a strong theme song (Charmed and My So Called Life immediately come to mind.)

I have sung along to Cheers, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, WKRP, and Fraggle Rock. I've been spooked by The X-Files and Unsolved Mysteries. I've danced to the Cosby Show and rocked out to Veronica Mars (original theme from seasons 1&2 only). The music from ER, The Unit and Everwood let me know it was going to be a good night.

But it's not just the music - it's the montage that I love too. How the characters are introduced, how the show is portrayed. It's like the cover of a book. It's the 20sec intro that tells me what I'm in for, relives the best moments of the show, and sets the tone for what is to come.

But this year, as I've been watching TV I've noticed something's missing. Then it hit me. The theme song. And I don't like it one bit. Glee, the Good Wife, Vampire Diaries all have no theme whatsoever. 90210 has been shortened. Even Little Mosque on the Prairie has gone through a change in music (though at least they kept an opening montage.) I haven't been this upset since ER cut out its iconic theme song and Veronica Mars slowed down the awesome "We Used to Be Friends" to sad, pathetic slowness.

I understand the show's rationale - skip the theme and get 1 minute more of show time. At least, that was ER's excuse. Skip the theme and don't have to pay any royalties. Skip the theme and skip paying the editors to put together a montage. Skip the theme and no need to pay those editors again when the cast changes.

But skip the theme and skip making your show iconic, or even memorable. Why do we love Cheers so much? Because everybody knows "Where Everybody Knows your Name."


I also have to take a moment to comment on Dexter. Frank Lundy's death was right out of left field and jarred me emotionally in a way I wasn't expecting. I felt like he had been taken to soon. I ached for Deb. Which is exactly how the writers want me to feel, so kudos to a show that doesn't play by the rules. And how much does Jennifer Carpenter deserve an Emmy for her parking lot scene with Dexter where she talks about how broken she is? I bawled. That was one of the best sad scenes I've ever seen on TV. Can't wait to see where the season will end up and not entirely sure who will be left standing. While my gut wrenches at the thought of Rita or Deb or the kids being killed, I'm in for the ride.


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