Rss

Been & Going

[California Seething] The Very Best Part of a Very Crappy Year

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

Look, who are we kidding? 2016 is a horrible fucking year to be an American. OK, well, to be more precise, it’s a horrible fucking year to be ANYONE. Seriously, 2016- what the fuck? One minute you’re cute little baby new year, the next you’re a moustache twirling black-clad villain tying our hopes and dreams down to the tracks so they can be run over by the freight train of despair. Fuck you, 2016. You want to know how we feel about you? Just take a look at this:

 Cal-Seething--082116--phelp

And, while every county in the world has experienced it’s own brand of crappiness- in the US we’ve had to endure the sickening dread brought on by this god-awful presidential election. I was really struck by this a couple of weeks ago when the fires from the Santa Clarita valley were raging out of control. There I was- going about my business, running errands while the sky was darkened with smoke and lit with an eerie orange glow from the flames and I thought- yup, that’s being an American in 2016- trying like everything’s normal while a toxic orange cloud hangs over our heads.Cal Seething- 082116- trump

Now, he may be a Crypto-Fascist Oompa Loompa (“what do you get when illegals come in/killing and raping and dealing in sin/let’s build a wall and let’s make it real tall/and Mexico will pay for it a-a-all/Oh yeah, you’d better bet they will/ Truma lumpa drumphidie drumph/do lies sound like truth when you shout them enough?/Tumpa drumpha and Mike Pensey, too/ Jesus would never vote for you-oo-oo/he’d so be a Bernie guy”) but he certainly does have the crowds eating out of the palms of his tiny hands. And oh, what, fun they seem to be having! Frothing at the mouth, screaming “Mexico”, taking incomprehensible loyalty oaths, shouting down protestors- why is it any wonder that leftists decided to create a crazy pants movement of their own?

And so, Bernie or Bust was born! Now, for those that don’t know, the Bernie or Bust movement consists of Bernie Sanders’ most passionate and devoted followers- followers so loyal that they will do absolutely anything Bernie tells them to, except, vote for Hillary which is literally the only thing he’s telling them to do. These folks don’t care if they Nader the election and allow the most progressive Democratic platform in 50 years to be defeated by a hate mongering lunatic- they’re having too much fun! Complaining about how no one listens to them at the DNC while booing Cal Seething- 082116- throwmoneyElizabeth Warren so no one can listen to her, sharing links from Fox News about Hillary’s email, throwing money at cars as they drive to a Democratic fundraiser at George Clooney’s house- cause nothing says “I deserve higher wages and debt relief” like throwing your fucking money in the streets.

And now there are some Bernie Busters who insist their gonna vote Third Party- cause that just went so well  in 2000! Thanks, guys! How did you ever get so much student loan debt and stay so fucking dumb?

So- yeah- 2016 has been a terrible, horrible no good year, but that’s OK because the Olympics are here and the Olympics make everything better! That’s right- the Olympics- that magical event that occurs once every four years when the world comes together to Cal Seething-082116-lafingercelebrate peace and brotherhood by kicking poor people out of their homes to build wasteful sports venues nobody needs. Which, again, is why LA would make the perfect host city- hell, we threw our poor people out of their homes to build wasteful sports venues YEARS ago. And if we need to build more- no problem- just say the word and the Boyle Heights Equestrian Center is DONE. And the Athlete’s Village- well shit, we can just give them any under occupied mixed use luxury mega complex in Downtown LA with more gastropubs than parking spots. I mean, no one can afford to live there- might as well give ito the Serbian handball team.

Still- I love the Olympics. It’s the only time I get to feel good about feeling good about being an American. Because most days, I just feel smug about how bad I feel about being an American (like when we’re bombing someone) or guilty about how Cal-Seething--082116--unclesecretly psyched I am to be an American (like when it’s not us getting bombed). But during the Olympics I’m as unabashedly happy to be an American as a NASCAR fan in Florida eating Chick-Fil-A and blasting Kenny Chesney in his F-150 on the way to the gun show before hitting the Trump rally and getting dinner at Golden Corral (but only cause it’s Jeff Foxworthy’s favorite) then pounding down an ice cold can of Belgian made America beer. And that’s because the Olympics is the only time America can beat the living shit out of other nations and nobody dies or joins ISIS. Hell, the only consequence of American victory is that we get to pose on a podium looking fierce in shiny new jewelry and mouthing the words to a familiar song. It’s how wars would be won if Ru Paul ran the world! Say what you will about the Iraq War- we all agree that the Middle East would be safer if Sadaam had been deposed using balance beam and floor exercise scores. Cause if point deductions could kill, they probably will in games without frontiers, war without tears.

Anyhow, the US has been kicking ass at the Olympics and all the other countries are swimming pool green with envy. But even when the Americans aren’t demolishing much poorer nations, the Olympics are pretty great. Because the Olympics aren’t just a sporting event- they’re a two week orgy of non-stop Inspiration Porn. Just look at how fucking inspiring everything is! The historic accomplishments of Biles, Ledeckey and Phelps (BOOM! Named the women first. How ya like me now, Jezebel? (they don’t)); Simone Manuel shattering expectations and boundaries; Fiji winning their first medal- a gold in their beloved national sport of Rugby which was last played at the Olympics almost 50 years before Fiji’s independence.

And then there are the profound moments of inspiration which transcend competition- the Refugee Team marching proudly into the Cal Seething- 082116- selfieOpening Ceremonies, the South Korean & North Korean gymnast sharing a care free selfie, showing the world how easy it can be sometimes to do the impossible.  Yes, it seems the Olympics are a time when political differences are put aside and everyone is treated with dignity and respect, except of course for the Israeli team which is snubbed and insulted by athletes from Arab nations at every event they go and no one on the IOC says boo about it. But, hey- anti-Semitism is the only prejudice that the left and right can agree on- so the Jews are just bringing the world together!

Of course, the problem with all this inspiring crap is that it makes us dumb. Wait- no- maybe “dumb” is too harsh a word- let’s go with “generous of spirit”…..which, you know, means “dumb”. You see, for advertisers, selling us products on TV is like feeding a restless toddler- so they see Olympic competition is like moving a spoon through the air saying “look at the diver. Look at the pretty diver flying through the air!!! Now open up the swimming pool, cause here comes the diver” and then, Bam! We open up our minds and they shove in a big spoonful of University of Phoenix messaging all pureed up with a Maya Angelou poem. Speaking of diving, if you’re wondering why the Olympic diving pool turned green, it’s cause one of Rio’s finest pool technicians (sadly I’m not being sarcastic- he really was one of the best) dumped 160 gallons of Hydrogen Peroxide in to the pool which neutralized the chlorine and caused algae to grow. And if you’re wondering who the hell needs that much Peroxide at the Olympics- well, maybe take that up with the Shelly Fraser Pryce. Go on. I dare you.

Cal Seething- 082116- shellyprice

Anyhow, for companies like Sea World, it makes sense to exploit the feel-good spirit of the Olympics to improve their brand image. Cause if you’re watching the Olympics with your family, and thinking about where to go on vacation, you’re much more likely to consider SeaWorld if it’s “America’s foremost marine mammal rescue center and theme park” as opposed to “Auschwitz for Orcas”.

Of course, McDonald’s was one of the pioneers of using the Olympics to boost their brand image. Sure they’re plugging the white meat nuggets and Apple Dippers now- but as soon as Michelle’s gone, it’s Big Mac time, baby- cause Bubba’s back!

Cal Seething- 082116- bill

So- sure, I get why some companies would advertise. Like Subway, which is still trying get out of Jared’s pants with their Cal Seething- 082116- subway#SearchforBackgroundChecks…I mean….#SearchforBetter campaign. But the real head scratchers are companies like Exxon which has spent millions of dollars on their “Energy Lives Here” campaign. These ads feature self-consciously diverse mix of their most bright-eyed, earnest and not-evil-at-all employees talking about all the humanitarian, beneficial and totally not-at-all-evil things they do like studying biodiversity or fighting Cal Seething- 082116- exxonmalaria…none of which makes a damn bit of difference to me when I’m deciding where to buy gas. After all, if I wanted to do what was best for the planet, I wouldn’t buy gas at all- but since I need it to feed my car’s addiction all I care about it who’s closest, who’s cheapest and who takes damn Ralph’s Rewards points. What they are doing to combat malaria never enters into it- it’s like choosing a meth dealer for his 401k plan. Come on, Exxon, you’re a scumbag oil company- just own it. Don’t get all needy and weird. It’s like JR Ewing standing outside my house playing In Your Eyes on a boombox- not a good look for you. You want my respect- keep it real. Show me bloated executives lighting $100 bills on fire after dipping them in gasoline and tag it with “Yeah, we’re Exxon. Fuck you gonna do about it?” Or, better yet, skip the advertising altogether and TAKE MY RALPH’S REWARDS POINTS.

And GE is advertising a lot, which is really confusing because I never thought of them as especially evil…but now I’m starting to wonder what they’ve done! I mean, sure, there were all those kids who got stuck in discarded fridges back in the day, but that was when kids used to play outside and Apple solved that problem. And yet, still GE keeps running commercials to try and convince millennials that GE is a cool place to get a job while millennials are like, “dude- you had me at ‘job’.”

Frankly, I’m surprised Monsanto isn’t running commercials. They could show scientists working hard in labs inter-cut with gauzy, sunrise footage of Cal Seething- 082116- tomatofarmers in fields, happy kids around the world eating disturbingly oversized vegetables, then kids running in fields and city squares, then teenagers running on high school tracks, and finally adults running at the Olympics while a slowed-down, female-sung, acoustic version of “Feed the World” plays and a craggy American voice says “Get More Olympians with G.M.O’s”. Huh. That’s really satire. I swear.

But the most hateful ads during the Olympics are for NBC’s own programming. Look, you may think that the most powerful person in America is the President or the Chief Justice- but really it’s the NBC executive who can sit in a room full Cal Seething- 082116- kristenof otherwise intelligent people at the top of their field and say “hey- you know what we need- a snarky sitcom about the afterlife with Ted Danson and Kirsten Bell- where she plays a dead person who’s kind of a bitch and Heaven is just like the Grove!” and in the very long moments of dead silence that follows, not a single person in the room says “Are you out of your goddamn mind??? That’s the WORST FUCKING IDEA I’ve ever heard.” Instead they are all like  “I smell a hit!”, “Everyone loves Danson!”, “we can cram it down everyone’s throat during the Olympics!” Yeah- cause that strategy worked out soooo well for The New Normal. Remember The New Normal? No? OF COURSE YOU DON’T. NOBODY DOES. The only reason I do is that NBC spent two weeks trying to cram that ill conceived shit pile down my throat during the LAST OLYMPICS.

Then again, maybe the truly powerful person in this scenario is not the executive who greenlit the show, but the Svengali like producer who pitched it. I can just hear the pitch in TV-speak: “It’s like Cheers meets Touched by an Angel in a Samsung commercial” delivered in a peppy upbeat tone as if it’s not the most Cal Seething- 082116- pmbhorrifying combination of three things that the human mind has conceived since Puppy-Monkey-Baby. Just think of someone with these powers of persuasion could accomplish: bringing peace to the Middle East, reunifying North & South Korea, getting Republicans in Congress to do their damn jobs. And all of that miraculous potential wasted making terrible TV shows and earning lots and lots of money. I am horrified and disgusted and very, very jealous.

The other big show NBC is pushing is This Is Us- which appears to be a drama about people born in 1980 all turning Cal Seething- 082116- thisisus36 and finding themselves at a cross roads in their lives. And that means that….yes….wait for it…..millennials now have their own version of thirtysomething. As if Prince & David Bowie dying wasn’t bad enough, now we’ve got this little nugget to ponder when contemplating our mortality at 4 AM. Thanks, NBC for making 2016 even more depressing. I’d consider killing myself, but I’m terrified I’ll wind up in a Kristen Bell / Ted Danson vehicle.

Anyhow- I’m not sure why I’m acting so shocked that NBC’s programming is terrible. What more can I expect when everyone involved with the network who’s not named Wier, Lipinski or Questlove is hot garbage (as the kids say) (the “kids” are in their 30’s) (goddamn it) pretty much all of the time.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the Olympics, NBC is the only game in town. Mind you- there are a lot of different channels showing the Olympics- there’s NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, NBC Sports…uhm…NBC Basketball, NBC Soccer, NBC Universo- all sorts of options we can choose from to give ourselves the illusion of choice- late capitalism at its finest!  And because they have us by the balls, NBC has an interesting relationship with their Olympic viewers- it’s not as much “entertainer” and “audience” or “business” and “valued customer” as it is “bank robber” and “hostage”. They know we’re not going anywhere, so they feed us just enough Olympic action to keep us docile while they collect their ransom money from advertisers. And then, just for fun, they sadistically torment us with human interest stories and the inane blather of Al Michaels, Mike Tirico and Ryan Seacrest- the Three Amigos of Announcing Awfulness. And I know some of you are saying- “Hey wait- I love Al Michaels” but that’s just the Stockholm Syndrome talking. Cal Seething- 082116- alcrisThe only way to love Al Michaels is the way Patty Hearst loved the SLA- just ask Cris Collinsworth, if they ever get him deprogrammed.

Of course, NBC executives would deny that they are deliberately torturing viewers and would insist that they are just giving viewers what they really want. And, if these executives actually believe that’s the case- well, I have even less respect for them than ever.

You see, NBC’s research team discovered that more women watch the Olympics than men- and NBC wasn’t really sure what to do with this information. So they turned it over to their cracker jack team of all male team executives who brilliantly deduced that women who watch the Olympics aren’t actually interested in “watching the Olympics”. No- what they’re really interested in is the human drama- who the athletes are, where they come from, how much their moms had to sacrifice for their success, the extent to which having babies has changed their perspective on sports (but only if they’re women, natch- boys don’t change when they have babies, silly), the vital role played by their husbands/fiances in their success (also- only if they’re women or Tom Daley). Female viewers don’t actually want to watch “sporting events”- no! For those gals, the Olympics is just one big reality show, like The Bachelor with medals or the Real Athletes of Rio, so it’s important to cram the broadcast as full as possible of human interest stories, interviews and extended shots of swimmers between events sitting in the ready room – cause there’s nothing more exciting than watching the best athletes in the world at the Cal Seething- 082116- readyroompeak of their abilities sitting in folding chairs listening to Coldplay- can’t you just feel the drama?? “She’s sitting in a chair….She’s glowering straight ahead…wait…yes… she might be….YES…she put on her earbuds! She’s listening to music!!! She’s listening to COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD play.” And it doesn’t matter if they air events long after they end and the whole world knows the score. Everyone knows women don’t care about scores- why all those big scary numbers just boggle their scatterbrained little heads!

 

And what’s really impressive about these NBC executives is that they were able to gain such insight into the minds of female viewers without talking to any actual females. I’m not sure what, exactly, their stringent research protocol was to gain such a scientific understanding of the female mind- but I can only assume it had something to do with sitting in the parking lot of a gas n’ sip drinking beer on a Friday night saying “Bitches, man” (when asked why they didn’t consult any female viewers- they responded “by choice, man. Personal choice”.)Cal Seething- 082116- final5

Ironically, the real story of these games is that women- and particularly US women have been kicking huge amounts of ass which I’m sure NBC would notice if they weren’t so focused on their marriage proposals. I’m sure every young girl in America who watched the US Gymnastics team was totally inspired to follow her dreams and achieve greatness– that is, assuming her parents let her watch gymnastics at midnight- which a questionable timeslot for family inspirational togetherness viewing but a great one for lonely guys on the couch eating Pringles in their underwear and wondering when Beach Volleyball is coming on already.

Look, NBC- the Olympics don’t need you to make them great any more than American needs Tumpa-Lumpa. Trust me on this- I’ve been holed up in Palm Springs watching 12-14 hours of Olympic action each day subsisting on a strict Cal Seething- 082116- drinkregimen of breakfast cocktails and blender drinks (the Lochte diet.) And the daytime programming is way better because the focus is on the sports not inane blather, human interest schmaltz and inspirational advertising. I guess the evil corporations of the world figure that if you’re watching team table tennis in your underwear at 11 AM drinking pina coladas, then a lack of inspiration isn’t really as pressing a problem for you as, say, updating your LinkedIn profile or getting the hell out of Rio before the cops come for your passport.

But I think they’re just jealous- I proudly watched the Team Table Tennis finals and they were fantastic even though I had no idea which country was which or what gender they were or how many points were in a game or how many games in a set or how many sets in a match or why they kept switching between Singles and Doubles or how they would possibly know who won and when they won and how much they won by or how the hell Ping Pong ended up in the Olympics when the far superior games of Air Hockey and Skee-Ball still languish on the sidelines. And the announcer was no help- he just kept explaining the format by saying, “you know, it’s just like Davis Cup!’ – which is like giving directions to East Bumfuck by saying “you know, it’s just east of Bumfuck!” All I know is that it was crazy and fast moving and for that moment in time in that one place in the universe there was absolutely nothing more important than who came out on top. And as much as I love theatre- if I could produce or even see just one play that meant this much the people watching it or involved, then I could walk away happy except then I would have to get a real job and seriously, fuck that.

And it’s not even like I’m some huge table tennis fan. I much prefer Rugby 7’s – where, as my wife said, the whole game is like the last five Cal Seething- 082116- hockeyseconds of a football game when the whole thing just devolves into a crazy series of laterals – and who doesn’t want 14 straight minutes of the Music City Miracle (Bills fans excluded). And then there’s field hockey- where the field is as blue as the diving pool should be; and handball, invented by an alcoholic Yugolslavian gym teacher in the dead of winter who was running out of ideas for what to do inside and clearly getting desperate. Years later on his death bed, he was heard to mutter repeatedly “Goddamn it, Dodge Ball!! I forgot about Dodge Ball!!” And then there’s soccer, basketball, volleyball and all the running, jumping, twisting, turning, throwing, thrusting, stabbing, slashing, splashing, paddling, peddling, punching, rassling, riding, rowing, ribbon tossing, gun shooting and, I guess, whatever, golf. All of which has made of a terrific distraction from the floods, fires and fuckwads which have fouled up 2016.

But all things must end, except NBC’s contract with the Olympics. Just two weeks ago, the Olympics began with a festive tribute to slavery using a human hamster wheel and an earnest segment about how the earth is getting hotter because of the actions of man. Specifically this man:

Cal Seething- 082116- shirtless

 

Holy crap! What’s Tongalese for “hubba hubba”? I hope you’re watching Exxon- Cause THAT’s an ad for oil!

In all seriousness, though, sustainability is an important theme of the Olympics which is why the medal winners are getting little Cal Seething- 082116- riostatueplastic statues of the Olympic logo instead of flowers. After all, flowers are wasteful cause they die and decompose but these plastic statues will last forever in a landfill! Oh well- at least the Olympic venues are sustainable since as soon as the games are over, they’ll be recycled into homeless encampments.

And that’s going to be pretty soon- because the games are just about over. The Closing Ceremonies are upon us, and Simone Biles will be carrying the flag for the US (Ryan Lochte was invited to do it but the invite came from the Rio police.) And the team she leads out reflects not only what is great about the Olympics- with their athletic prowess, sheer determination and mostly non-douchey behavior- but what’s actually great about America. Because it is a team that reflects the population of our country- and that in turn is a reflection of the entire world. And all of you that are composing angry messages to me in your heads about how that’s a load of crap because the team is still WAY TOO WHITE and all the power is in the hands of WHITE MEN and we still have a WHOLE LOT OF WORK TO DO- well- you guys also make America great since, like Subway, you’re always #StrivingforBetter and I totally mean that in the least patronizing way possible, no matter what Jezebel says about me.

And that gives us something to shoot for in 2020- or better yet, 2024 in LA! Just picture it- President Clinton enjoying the games as her second term winds down- and why shouldn’t she? She’s done a great job and once her granddaughter taught her Snapchat her presidency was scandal free. And she can be confident knowing that her legacy will be secure- after all Michelle is kicking ass in the polls- and while that may not be great news for McDonalds- it sure is great for America (not the beer, the country. You DO NOT want to hear Michelle’s opinion of beer).

And where will I be for the 2024 LA Olympics? Where do you think? In Palm Springs, of course, watching NBC and complaining about it (a Ted Danson / Elle Fanning sitcom about the Rapture? Are you kidding me????) with a pitcher of pina coladas and a mimosa.

Cal Seething- 082116- mimosa

Oh yeah. That sounds pretty great to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Jersey Joe’s Top 100 TV Themes (1-10)

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...

Here they are – the top 10 of my top 100 TV theme songs summer countdown.  Over the past 10 weeks, I’ve been counting down ten at a time what I think are the best TV themes ever created.  The list is not just about the music. It’s also about the editing, the style of the credits, and how well they introduce each series.

 

Just like David Letterman – let’s get to my top 10 list!

 

#10 LA LAW

Airdates: 1986-1994 (NBC)

 

 

I’ve always loved that rocking saxophone intro and hit during the credits.  Over all 8 seasons, the only change to the credits was the stars, with both Harry Hamlin and Susan Dey, leaving the series and others coming and going.

 

This show has finally been released on DVD, with seasons 1 through 3 hitting stores in by the end of 2014.

 

You could look at this show as the template for which all other legal shows would follow.  Each episode featured humor as well as hard hitting drama, usually on a recent topic such as the 1992 LA riots.

 

This show may have also been America’s first introduction to vanity license plates?

 

#9 ALL IN THE FAMILY

Airdates: 1971-1979 (CBS) & 1979-1983 (CBS, as Archie Bunker’s Place)

 

 

All in the Family is one of the most controversial shows to ever hit TV.  The series was way ahead of it’s time with all the off color topics that were handled, especially for the 1970s.  Racism, same sex, and bigotry were handled with lots of laughs and that kept viewers coming back for more.  You never knew what Archie was going to say or who he was going to insult next?  Nobody was safe!

 

The show took years to develop and was originally titled Justice for All, as Archie and Edith’s last name was originally Justice, not Bunker and was to shot for ABC.  Here’s a look at the original, rare unseen pilot.  You’ll notice the different characters for Meathead and Gloria, as well as a few different lyrics.

 

 

Did you also catch the disclaimer “suggested for the mature audience”?  That would remain when the second pilot was shot, now titled Those Were the Days.

 

 

There are actually several verses of the song that were recorded, but never broadcast.  The main reason behind Archie & Edith singing in the first place, was a cost cutting measure, as there was no more money after the first pilot was shot.

 

All in the Family also has the most amount of spin-off ever for a TV show including, The Jeffersons, Maude, Gloria, and 704 Hauser.

 

Although the series ended after 8 seasons, it technically continued on as Archie Bunker’s Place for 4 more.  The focus of the show shifted from the Bunker house to Archie’s new bar, after most of the cast had no longer wanted to be part of the series.  Here’s an episode of Archie Bunker’s Place:

 

 

#8 THREE’S COMPANY

Airdates: 1977-1984 (ABC)

 

 

Originally inspired by a British show, Three’s Company was a ratings blockbuster for ABC, but was just as famous for the behind the scenes turmoil with the cast.

 

Three roommates, sharing an apartment – with Jack having to pretend he’s gay in order to stay with two women.  You can instantly see where the comedy begins, but that was far from the end of it.

 

The first big change to the show was when the Ropers, the downstairs landlords were given a spin-off of their own, The Ropers.  Check out the really bad opening to their show:

 

 

After The Ropers leave, Don Knots is brought on as new building manager, Mr. Furley.

 

 

The show continued to do well with Knotts, but Suzanne Sommers (Crissy) then demanded a pay raise, producers fought back and had her only appear in one minute taped sequences at the end of the episodes during season 4.  After her contract was not renewed, a new roommate played by Jennilee Harrison was brought in as her cousin Cindy.  She lasted for one season, before Priscilla Barnes took over the third roommate Terri.

 

 

Ratings started to dip after season 8 and ABC wanted something new, so they kept Ritter’s character and developed a continuation of the show under the title Three’s a Crowd.  This show has often been packaged with the Three’s Company episodes under the title, Three’s Company Too.

 

 

 

#7 THE GOLDEN GIRLS

Airdates: 1985-1992 (NBC) 1992-1993 (CBS as The Golden Palace)

 

 

Three widows and an elderly mother share a Miami house, a whole lot of cheesecake, and big ratings for NBC on a Saturday night.  Who knew that these four older women could be so funny?  The NBC executives did!

 

Most people don’t remember, but in the pilot the girls also had a live in cook, Coco who never again appeared after that episode.

 

The series also created a spin-off show; Empty Nest that aired in the time slot directly after, featuring The Weston’s who lived across the street.  The characters and pilot for Empty Nest was actually part of a Golden Girls episode with a different cast.

 

After 8 seasons, Bea Arthur decided to leave the show and the series was cancelled by NBC.  CBS wanted to continue with the characters, so they created a continuation known as The Golden Palace, where Blanche, Sophia, and Rose ran and lived in a beach front hotel.  It lasted for only one season.  It wasn’t that bad and would have been fine if they had kept it around for another season (which they very nearly did).

 

 

And now the big announcement – The Golden Girls have made a comeback!  Well, in the Netherlands!  It began airing in 2012 and is using old scripts and music from the original series.  Here’s a look at their opening credits!

 

 

#6 THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR

Airdates: 1990-1996 (NBC)

 

 

Just about anyone who was watching television in the 90’s can sing the theme song to this show.  They kept the opening in tact through most of the show’s run, although it too was cut down in later seasons.  Unlike, TBS who cut it down to just a few terrible shots and beats for the reruns.  Over all the seasons, there was only one minor cast change, with two different actresses playing the role of Vivian, the mother of the house.

 

There are several other verses to the theme and a few of them have made it to air.  For a handful of early first season episodes, the credits were 40 seconds longer, and contained additional scenes.  Take a look…

 

 

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was the ultimate rags to riches story, from the means streets of Philly to the post life in LA.  Both for the character and actor, Will!

 

#5 LAVENRE & SHIRLEY

Airdates: 1976-1983 (ABC)

 

 

I got in trouble for airing this theme on our high school news.  I still don’t know why.  Some teachers are just plain mean!

 

Anyhow, Laverne & Shirley was the story of two Milwaukee roommates who were just trying to make their way in the 1950’s.  We all grew up with them, through their jobs, their dates, and their weekly adventures.  The series was a spin-off from Happy Days, where both Laverne & Shirley were introduced as love interests for Fonzie (Henry Winkler).

 

While the show mostly focused on the two title characters, their upstairs neighbors Lenny and Squiggy were also featured.  It’s been said that actors David L. Lander and Michael McKean, created the characters while high on pot one night at Carnegie Mellon University.  They toured the country with the characters as a comedy duo, before being picked up by the show.

 

I always loved how Laverne (Penny Marshall) wore an L on all of her clothes.  Her favorite drink was milk & Pepsi, a combination I’ve never tried!

 

After 5 seasons, producers decided to move the characters to Burbank, California.  It was explained that they lost their brewery jobs to automation and they wanted to start fresh.  The rest of the cast followed.  As a result, the opening credits were changed, but the now classic theme song was kept…

 

 

Usually, a move like this is a last ditch effort to boost ratings, but the ratings weren’t that bad and the show held on.  In season 8, actress Cindy Williams who plays Shirley, became pregnant and after some harsh negations with the network, was let out of her contract.  She disappeared after two episodes with a note apologizing to Laverne.  The show would continue on as Laverne & Shirley, with Williams name and shots removed from the credits.

 

 

But, the show without Shirley just couldn’t make it.  Even Lenny was gone by the end of the season.  The LA episodes were still good, but they should have kept the series in Milwaukee making beer.

 

#4 THE FACTS OF LIFE

Airdates: 1979-1988 (NBC)

 

 

The Facts of Life focused on four girls and their housemother at an all girls school in Peekskill, New York.  But, that’s not how the series started.

 

The head housemaster, Mrs. Garrett (Charlotte Rea), was actually the housekeeper for the Drummonds on the first two seasons of Diff’rent Strokes.  During the second year, NBC executives loved the character and producers sent the Drummonds to visit an all girls school upstate as a potential place for daughter Kimberly (Dana Plato) to enroll.  Garrett is offered the job, but turns it down at the end of the episode, only to reconsider and take it during the summer hiatus, leaving her to suddenly disappear from Diff’rent Strokes.

 

During the first season, there were about a zillion different girls, along with a different headmaster.  While the theme song was written by Alan Thicke (who we’ve discussed before), for this season Charlotte Rea herself sings along!  Take a listen and look at all the confusion as the editor tries to squeeze the giant cast members into boxes!

 

 

After the first season was done, producers retooled the show, letting many of the girls go, and reformatted the sets and role of Mrs. Garrett.  I kind of wish they would have kept all of the cast, but adding Jo (Nancy McKeon) in season two was pretty cool.  The changes worked and the show scored high ratings.

 

It was during season 6, that the opening credits took on an updated rock version of the theme, but the biggest change was about to happen at the end of season 7, when Charlotte Rae decided to leave the series and passed the torch to her long time friend Chloris Leachman as her sister Beverly Anne to take care of the girls.  Check out the updated intro after a retro Saturday night NBC promo.

 

 

The show was never as good without Rae and it was cancelled after two seasons in this format.  Had she stayed with the show, who knows how long it could have been on the air?

 

#3 CHEERS

Airdates: 1982-1993 (NBC)

 

 

Who wouldn’t want to pull up a stool at the bar where everybody knows your name?  If this thing was in my neighborhood, I’d be a regular!

 

Cheers was a staple of NBC’s Thursday nights, but was almost cancelled after a low rated first season.  The producers worked out the bugs and kept the laughs coming with this great group of barflies week after week.

 

The opening theme has become a TV classic and is featured prominently on the new Cheers slot machine on casino floors!

 

The show underwent many cast changes, starting in season four with the off-screen death of Coach (Nicholas Colansanto).  He’s replaced by Woody (Woody Harrellson) as head bar tender for the rest of the show’s run.  Shelly Long, who plays Diane decides she wants to leave the show to pursue an ill fated movie career and is replaced by Rebecca (Kirstie Alley), who first manages the bar, then burns it down.  Kelsey Grammer as Frasier and his wife Bebe Neuwirth as Lillith would eventually join the cast as main characters as well.

 

Though all the changes, America still loved to tune in and see former Red Sox player Sam Malone (Ted Danson) keep everything together, no matter what.

 

Here’s a look at a later set of opening credits, with the awesome song and classic pictures, and the cast changes.

 

 

#2 STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION

Airdates: 1987-1994 (Syndicated)

 

 

This show has one of the best musical scores in the history of television.  Not only did it have excellent writing, excellent acting, it also had a full orchestra that gave every episode an epic feel.  I was glued to the TV each week and would sit there for the end credits, just to see the promo for what was coming next week, hoping it would be a new episode.

 

Star Trek: The Next Generation was a spin-off of the original 1960’s Star Trek series and an earlier version almost made it to the air in the 1970’s as Star Trek: Phase II, using many of the same elements such as the Riker – Troi romance.

 

The show has been in reruns, non-stop since the series left the air and every episode is now being remastered and released on Blu-Ray.

 

I’ll still stop and watch every time it’s on. I put in on in the background just about every day at work.

 

The cast stayed mostly intact, throughout the seven year run with only Denise Crosby as Tasha Yar and Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher, leaving the series.

This show also launched two official spin-offs, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager.  Another spin-off Star Trek: Enterprise has loose connections to this show as well.

 

Check out the opening credits for the original pilot… notice anything different?

 

 

#1 DALLAS

Airdates: 1978-1991 (CBS) & 2012-present (TNT)

 

 

So, here’s my pick for the best ever TV theme – Dallas!

 

The show was must see TV for anyone with a set on Friday nights.  It’s the story of Ewing Oil and the crime, corruption, and family battles for the empire.

 

At the center was tycoon J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), who was the only character to appear on every episode of the original CBS run.  The classic Who Shot JR? cliffhanger episode left America gasping to know who pulled the trigger and would the character survive during the six month summer hiatus of 1980.

 

Through the 14 seasons, there was a large turnover in the cast that is far too many to go into in this countdown blog.  Here’s a look at the opening as it appeared during the final CBS season.  One mistake they made was getting rid of the iconic three way boxes that were featured on every episode, except for the last two seasons.  But, the iconic theme was there in all its glory!

 

 

I was too young to fully understand this show during the early seasons, but I know how much I loved the theme.  My grandmother would watch the show and I would make sure to stick around for the opening credits, before running away to play with Matchbox cars or whatever I did as a kid.

 

Most of the main characters stayed including Ewing, Duffy, and Gray, all of which would return for the TNT remake that launched in 2012.  It’s awesome that they still kept the music, although they have shortened it a bit for modern audiences.  Hard core fans of the show should be able to tell where the music edit is.  Take a listen and see if you can spot it…

 

 

One thing you can definitely spot is the changes to the Dallas skyline over the two decade hiatus.

 

Sadly, actor Larry Hagman passed away last year during season two of filming.  His character JR was also killed off the show, using some unused takes that had already been shot.  The producers paid homage to Hagman with a special orchestration of the theme and special opening credits featuring Hagman, that are nothing short of poignant, touching, and absolutely respectful.

 

 

 

THE 411

 

What: TV Theme Songs

 

Use: themes used to open a TV series or cartoon

 

Purpose: introduce main cast and introduce audience to the theme of the series

 

Numbers reviewed: 1 – 10

 

JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS:

 

So, here they are… the final 10 of my top 100 TV themes!  Did you find any of my choices shocking?  Again, these weren’t chosen just for the music, but also for the editing style, and how well they introduced the series and characters.

 

Next week, I’m going to do a special HONORABLE MENTION blog.  I have a few shows, that didn’t quite make the list that we should take a special look at.  Let me know what you thought of the countdown. I hope that many of your favorites as well as a few surprises made the list.

 

I don’t own any of the rights to these, nor did I upload them to YouTube.  This blog is presented for educational and informational purposes.

 

Image credit – Eduardo Basto