Remote Destination

Ok, so last time I tried this out, I made the error of not specifying what the column was about. Basically, I usually write my columns on Thursday night/Friday morning. The thing is that it fell on Thanksgiving, and my roommate and I kind of held it at the new place. It stretched on to the early hours, which caused my to not write a column.

But rather than have you suffer a week without me, I figured I’d give you my 25 Favorite Sitcom Themes!. It was originally done a couple of years ago as a music centric piece, but I’d added commentary that’s decidedly of a TV tone. Enjoy, and I’ll be back next week.

MATHAN’S 25 FAVORITE SITCOM THEME SONGS

Car 54, Where are you?
The wacky hijinx of a couple of New York cops give us a delightful theme song. This song (which is great as it is) was even reworked for an ad campaign for Mario Bros. No, not Super Mario Bros, the original Mario Bros. Clearly this song is due for resurgence in popularity any day now.

TV Mathan Sez – Never seen this show. But given the era it’s from I’m sure that it’s full of slapstick. I can’t even image how I’d ever get a chance to watch this program, but I’ll jump at the chance.

Maude
This theme has more one-liners than an action flick. And while it’s assessment that Maude will be one of the key female figures in history may have been off a bit, it does neatly sum up the character. Plus the song is very catchy and energetic.

TV Mathan Sez – Yet another show I’ve never caught. I suppose that I could be considered a Bea Arthur fan, and I’d like the chance to see her young or at least younger. All I know about this show is that it dealt with abortion. And who could blame them? I know if I had an accident with Bea, I’d probably want one too.

It’s Garry Shandling’s Show
A truly original theme song that, while poking fun at the genre still manages to capture the genius involved in creating theme songs. A theme song that stretches for time and features whistling. Its genius is its simplicity. And hey, the guy’s from Tucson, I gotta support the hometown talent.

TV Mathan Sez – I used to love this show when I was a kid. I’m sure I barely got half of the jokes, but it was silly enough for me grasp. I recall the cheap set and thinking it was funny. Man, FOX really rocked back in the day.

What’s Happening?
Do you hear that? The opening of this theme prepares you for the hilarity that is sure to follow. This theme sounds like a romp it’s so buoyant. I mean this song could actually be classified as zany, and that is hard to achieve.

TV Mathan Sez – TV Land is really pushing this show right now. It’s funny how this show, which was pretty much shunned when it was on, is almost celebrated now. I remember when Rerun was like an inside joke, and how Fred Berry is practically a pop culture icon. I bet his spinning in his grave. Anway, what I remember most about this program was the revisitation that was What’s Happening Now?.

Three’s Company
This theme screams “madcap comedy.” From the kitschy vibe in the vocals, to the dead on lyrics, this theme captures the essence of the show. Hearing this song will forever remind me of comedic misunderstandings, John Ritter’s pratfalls, and two people inevitably being bound together at the most inopportune time.

TV Mathan Sez – I’ve really tried to watch this show. My Mom hated it. And even now I can barely tolerate Ritter’s mugging for the camera. I mostly watch for the fashions and Mr. Furley.

Laverne and Shirley
Working at a beer factory has never sounded more fun. Fast paced yet still possessing a sentimental tone, this is one of the two themes that I begin every day with. I do “do it my way, yes my way” and I plan to make all of my dreams come true. This is one of those great inspirational theme songs.

TV Mathan Sez – Ironically I enjoy this show. I remember as a kid thinking that they worked at such a cool place. I mean, was I the only one who thought that the brewery look cool? I think that it’s just a shame that Carmine’s start didn’t shine brighter than it did.

Golden Girls
This is actually a rerecording of a song from the 70’s, yet it sounds as though it were written for the show. Its message of friendship is so earnest. It is a perfect fit with this show about elderly friends. Just listening to this song touches something deep inside of me. Pardon me, I have to call Jason Torres, and thank him for being a friend.

TV Mathan Sez – I’ve been known to tune in to Lifetime and catch a the episodes some night. This was a really well written show. It’s still funny to this day. I don’t know who I love more Dorothy or Rose. They both slay me. What’s really funny is how I completely forgot about Golden Palace, the spin off, which was pretty bad. It really tarnished a sterling legacy that the show had.

I Love Lucy
Man, do I dig that fiery Latin rhythm. What’s really funny is that Desi didn’t even write this song. But it still possesses a rhythm so kinetic that your body is almost compelled to move. Those drums sound like they’re being beaten to death, but their loss of life is our auditory gain. Anyone who doesn’t have this song on their favorite theme song list has “some ‘splaining to do.”

TV Mathan Sez – C’mon the show is a classic. I, personally love Ricky and Fred. Fred is pure comedy. He’s so surly. On a side note, I dig how he and Ethel are hawking insurance. I really watch that commercial every time. I can’t get enough of Fred.

Fish
This them is almost as funky as the show that it’s spun off from. It’s also a pretty jarring contrast to the actual show. Whereas when I heard the theme I was picturing a suave Abe Vigoda (well as suave as you can be when you’re Abe Vigoda) living a swinging lifestyle. In actuality it’s a show about Fish and his wife playing foster parents to a bunch of kids (including a young Todd Bridges, who is apparently typecast as a motherless child.) Anyway the theme is still great.

TV Mathan Sez – I caught this one when TV Land was doing some kind of spin off theme weekend. I was weak. It’s nutty to see Fish in a domestic setting, and even more so to see him with a multicultural bunch of kids running around. It was the pilot, so it was really just establishing the status quo, but it was still pretty entertaining to watch.

Mad About You
Dude, this song makes marriage sound like fun. I wish I could feel those things about someone. It has a great melody, and lyrics that capture the feel of the show. This theme is the truth.

TV Mathan Sez – I got into this show via syndication. It was a really well written show, and I actually appreciated the risks they took in the later years. Having a kid wasn’t the best idea, but the “what if they never met” episode was kind of neat. I really dug this show. What can I say, I’m a fan of Paul Reiser’s shtick.

Family Ties
Without a doubt this song is Johnny Mathis’ greatest contribution to popular music. I’m so walking down the aisle to this song. It perfectly captures the sentiment of love and devotion. Of course when the focus of the show shifted from Michael and Elise to their precocious kids, the song didn’t quite fit. But it’s still a beautiful portrait of storybook love.

TV Mathan Sez – Alex P. Keaton was like my role model, when I was younger. I so admired his character. Nutty, right? I also like Nick, back when he was monosyllabic. When he got more lines and fleshed out as a character, I lost interest in him. Skippy was cool too.

Cheers
This may be the most enticing theme ever. I would love to go to a place where everybody knows my name. Hell, I would settle for a place where half of the people could pronounce my name, on their second attempt. I’d be happy for a place where a quarter of the people didn’t try to call me Matt. But I digress, this theme is good.

TV Mathan Sez – I love this show. I thought that Phil was mad funny in the later years. He would have me rollin’. The fact that this show spawned a successful spin off, survived cast changes and was still hugely successful is a testament to the writing. And to this day I call people who spout useless trivia “Cliff.”

All in the Family
What could be better than Jean Stapleton and Carroll O’Connor sitting at a piano and singing about the good old days, in character? From the theme Archie doesn’t sound that bad, more like an old fashioned guy than a racist anti-Semitic homophobe. But from the theme you understand that Archie is out of touch with the times, yet the off key crooning is certainly in touch with the pulse of the show.

TV Mathan Sez – Archie was a great character. I do think that this show gets a bit too much credit as time goes by, but it was still a quality program.

Perfect Strangers
This is the other theme that is a great way to start the day. It is so inspirational. The show may have featured a cynical jaded “Cousin” Larry, but the song embodies the optimism of Balki. Sure the song is cheesy, but its sentiment is a great one; “nothing’s going to stop me now.”

TV Mathan Sez – Cousin Larry is always going to be Cousin Larry. (Ironically “Balki” will probably always be “Meego” to me). This is another one of those corny sitcoms, that my Mom hated. I can tolerate this a bit more, but mostly for ironic purposes. The show is funny to laugh at, as opposed to laugh with. But Cousin Larry does frazzled very well.

Silver Spoons
This song is a great uniting song. For goodness sakes man, they are find their way, together. Sure its about a millionaire and his newly discovered adolescent son, but it could easily be about Jerry Falwell and Barney Frank. Or about G. Dub and Hooked on Phonics. The point is together, nothing is impossible.

TV Mathan Sez – Ah, back in the day when Ricky Schroeder was the coolest kid in the world. Good times. Personally I always favored Jason Bateman on the show because I’ve always dug the “Eddie Haskell” type. But seriously this was like the coolest house on TV. I was so envious of Ricky.

Diff’rent Strokes
This is a pretty good example of a theme song that explains the show premise. A man of means, adopts two brothers who have nothing but their jeans (or possibly genes.) Again this is a message of unity. How this isn’t the theme song of the United Nations, I have no idea. Perhaps we should be blasting this at our enemies in the Middle East.

TV Mathan Sez – Time has not been kind to this show. I don’t really recall this show being particularly controversial at the time, but I could barely read so that’s not saying much. I can’t imagine a show like this being on the air now. But you’ve got to give this show props it showed us the dangers of molestation (via Dudley), the horrors of unseen bullies (via the Gooch), and the evils of redheaded step-kids (via Sam).

The Munsters
This song is thrilling! It’s so fast paced, yet still jovial, just like the show. That guitar riff is la a classic piece of must. Sure there are no lyrics, but this is one of TV’s most memorable themes. That is probably why Fatboy Slim sampled it for his hit “Rockafeller Skank.”

TV Mathan Sez – I used to love this show, but now as I’ve grown older, I can’t take too much of it. It’s a nice throwback to a fun time, but it’s a bit much to take in large doses. Still Grandpa and Herman classic characters.

Bob Newhart
I love this theme and the show. Just as the style of the show was way 70’s, the theme is just as representative of the era. It’s a cool jazzy type song. Bob Newhart may not be cool, but the theme to his show sure is.

TV Mathan Sez – It sucks that no one knows this show. It’s got great writing and great acting. I loved this show as a kid, watching reruns in the afternoon. I still love it now. Bob’s timing is amazing. I seriously love this show. I can’t get enough of it.

Alice
Listen to the sass in Linda Lavin’s voice. This theme will have you moving with it. And the story that it tells is not only a great lead in to the show, but it’s pretty uplifting too. Sure it leaves out Mel and Flo, but it’s still a good song.

TV Mathan Sez – Mel is dope. I’ve got a thing for surly characters and you don’t get too much more surly than Mel. Sure everyone remembers Flo’s “kiss my grits” but to me Mel was the star of the show. Working at a diner never seemed more fun.

Barney Miller
This instrumental theme is perhaps the funkiest TV theme ever. That opening bass line is sick! And when those horns jump off, it’s over. Your head will nod so much you may miss the cool freeze frames. This is a real chill song.

TV Mathan Sez – Truly dope show. The characters on this show were so vivid and distinct. Fish, Wojo, Barney himself. My Mom loved this show, and since she watched it, I learned to love it. I’m really fiending for some Barney Miller right about now.

Gilligan’s Island
Here is a prime example of the theme that explains everything you need to know. Three-hour tour… weather’s getting rough… character rundown. They even remind you to watch every week. This is a fine example of the craft.

TV Mathan Sez

This is a classic show. Sure it’s a bit far fetched, but not much more far fetched than the current hot show Lost. And c’mon Thurston Howell III is such an incredible character. But, yeah, I’d have killed Gilligan pretty early on in the tenure.

Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Easily Will Smith’s best song, ever. His acting during the credits is on par with any of his work before or since. Again the theme tells you all you need to know about the show. The extended version is the better one, as it goes into story with more detail. I never thought I’d see the day when there would be a rap song as a theme. Smell you later indeed.

TV Mathan Sez – This show was cool, until it tried to mimic Martin. By then the “fish out of water” theme had run thin and they tried to emulate rather than innovate. But seeing Tyra every week was quite the treat. And who doesn’t love Jazz?

Taxi
Bob James is a genius. You can hear snippet of his work everywhere. Ghostface Killah sampled “Nautlis” for Daytona 500. The good folks at “Taxi” took the beginning of James’ melancholy tune “Angela” and used it as the theme for the show. It’s a great theme, but it doesn’t match the comedy at all. Still it’s one a very memorable theme.

TV Mathan Sez – One of those great shows that everyone loves. It gave us Tony Danza, but we shouldn’t hold that against it. It also gave us Rev. Jim and Latka. Plus you throw in Louie and it’s a wrap. This show deserves more acclaim.

Sanford and Son
This was going to be my #1 pick as sitcom theme song, but it has to settle for #2. It’s a great piece of music by a little known composer/producer named Quincy Jones. It certainly matches the tone of the show, as it sounds a tad cantankerous, yet still lighthearted. Whenever I move I blast this song.

TV Mathan Sez – Redd Foxx was an immense talent. The show had it’s highs and lows. I personally love the episode when they watch the show that’s based on them. My mind was blown when I saw that episode. Oh and I one day hope to have a beard as cool as Redd Foxx.

The Odd Couple
This theme came from the movie version. This theme just does something for me. It takes me back to summers when I was a kid watching “The Odd Couple” while I ate my lunch. The music theme fits the show like a glove. The intro, where the premise is explained really builds. Then the beat drops. It’s almost as though the two characters personalities are manifested in the theme. The point is it’s my favorite.

TV Mathan Sez – This show really is dear to my heart. I love the intro. I so dig the premise of two opposites living together. And Jack and Tony had really great chemistry. Tony truly inhabited Felix. The 80’s remake was forced, but this show is a classic.

And there you have it. My fill in is done. Next week will be better

J.A.M.

Since “reality” is the craze around here, Aaron has news on Paula Abdul. He’s also got a story about the Vibe Awards, and no, no one got shot.

Joe has a new caption contest, which actually involves reality as well.

I’m done. Later.