Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #28: Some of My Favorite TV Show Openings

Thirteen of my favorite TV show openings

A good opening title sequence can really set the tone for the show. If done right, they can sometimes get you to stick around for the rest of the show. Below are 13 of my favorite openings. Because of space and clip availability, there are a few that I wasn't able to include (such as The Simpsons and the Apollo Theater-styled opening for The Cosby Show).

1. The Avengers- Stylish and very 60s. The affection that John Steed and Emma Peel felt for each other really comes through.

2. Blossom- The two words I think of when I watch this opening are fun and energy. Plus, it features a bouncy theme song by Dr. John!

3. Everybody Loves Raymond- This hilarious sequence is from one of the earlier seasons and features Ray & Debra doing their damnedest to keep Frank, Marie, and Robert from coming over.

4. Fat Albert- A mix of live-action and animation with a funky theme song, this is probably my favorite opening of any Saturday morning cartoon series.

5. Freaks and Geeks- One of the dreaded school traditions (the yearbook photo session) set to the music of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

6. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air- A throwback in that the opening sequence and theme song set up the show's premise. It even uses the actress who played Will Smith's mom in some of the early DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince videos.

7. Get Smart- One of the most original opening sequences ever, it makes going to work seem fun.

8. Laverne & Shirley- The Lucy and Ethel of the 1970s in all their glory.

9. Magnum P.I.- Just like the show itself, the opening is a mix of action and tongue-in-cheek humor.

10. Martin- I almost went with the opening from the later years that had an animated Martin climbing out of the TV and interacting with the other cast members. However, I decided to go with the original opening sequence because it's funnier and has the better theme song.

11. The Monkees- This is the opening (from the 2nd and final season) that is most familiar to people today. When The Monkees is rerun, the 1st season opening sequence is only used for one episode. Although the 1st season sequence was good, the one for the 2nd season is livelier and more creative.

12. The Nanny- Just like the show itself, the opening title sequence is a throwback to sitcoms from the 50s and 60s. Not only does the theme song spell out the show's premise, but the opening features the cast in animated form.

13. What's Happening!!- Raj, Rerun, and Dwayne hanging out and having fun to the sounds of the one and only Henry Mancini.

Below are the 13 opening credit sequences. I hope they bring back fond memories for you. If you have any favorite TV show openings, feel free to share them with us in the comments section.

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Sandy Carlson said...

I agree with you. I sat through many a Fat Albert though the best part was the opening. Shows the importance of a good first impression!

Jay said...

That was a good list there.

I think my favorite TV show openings and theme music are The Rockford Files, Hawaii Five-O and Dallas.

Hootin' Anni said...

I remember The Avengers when the girl was played by Diana Rigg!!! Now that really ages me, doesn't it?

And,.......I'll be humming Laverne and Shirley's theme now all night.

My T-13 is posted. Won't you join me?

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Ahhh, Freaks and Geeks. I can't agree about that opening (or Laverne, either) any more.

A few more from me:

MamaGeek said...

Excellent list. I'm still singing the Laverne and Shirley theme - I love THAT classic.

Nicholas said...

I've only ever seen three of those -- The Avengers, Get Smart and The Monkees. The Avengers still pops up on BBC America from time to time. Very dated but a lot of fun. I used to have such a crush on Mrs Peel. Still do, actually!

The Gal Herself said...

Love the beginning of The Nanny. Truth to tell, it's the ONLY thing I loved about that show. But the opening is so charming it actually sucked me in for an entire episode or two. And who doesn't love that opening drum beat of The Monkees? (Thanks for visiting my TT. You asked about Kay and Marino -- yes, she knows. As the series wears on, you feel that her trying help him preserve his dignity by not confronting the issue was really a pretty toxic choice.)

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Hands down this is the best TT I've visited. I've been here forever too. Thanks for a walk down memory lane. I loved every single show opening. Bill Cosby was so young. Wow. And Tom Selleck. Well, yummy. Excellent. Have a great TT. :)

pjazzypar said...

You got some good ones here. Boy does the Blossom intro take me back to the "Big 80's". I am just realizing that Blossom's best buddy and Kim Parker's best buddy are one in the same. Cool post.

Janet said...

Malcolm! That was SO much fun! I'd forgotten half of those themes! Dr. John, I adore his music...ooh and that tall guy from Martin...yum!
What's Happenin' you can't help but smile along :-)

Thanks for the stroll down memory lane!

Lara Angelina said...

Magnum (of course) and I LOVED the Avengers! What a great show. The best openings seem to have a great tune playing too -- so you recognize the music just as much as the Fresh Prince!
Happy TT!

Shesawriter said...

I loved Fat Albert. :-)

Happy TT!

My Thursday Thirteen: Favorite American Idols

YellowRose said...

What a fun TT!!! I loved those themes, Blossom was such a fun one as was The Monkees, gosh, that one is awesome!! Some of my favorites also include Happy Days & Dallas.

Open Grove Claudia said...

How fascinating. It's amazing how the introduction to something can leave such a powerful impression. My favorite from your list is Get Smart!

Happy TT!

DrillerAA said...

Laverne and Shirley is one of my favorite commedy shows of all time. What's not to like about them.

Thanks for stopping by.
Happy TT

X. Dell said...

Numbers 1, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 11 would make my list, although not in that order.

The Simpsons would probably be near the top, because sometimes the openings could be very interesting. The fact that they varied in the first place was an innovation.

My other six:

The Addams Family (click, click)
Monday Night Football (doesn't matter what year)

The Dick van Dyke Show--Tripping over that footstool was often the biggest laugh of the episode.

Soap--The opening usually included a recap of the previous episode.

Wild, Wild, West--I didn't like the show, but I liked the comic-book look of the opening.

Law & Order--minimalism at its best

Hard Drinkin' Lincoln--well, there's no accounting for taste.

SJ Reidhead said...

Very good. Exp. Magnum!

My favorite - Bonanza!

the Pink Flamingo

Anonymous said...

Is it sad that I know all the words to the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"?

Candy said...

i loved the avengers and everybody loves raymond. :o)

Gattina said...

I know a few of the listed once like the Prince of Bel Air, Nanny etc. but not all.

stephanie said...

Oh, my Monkees...I have a cardboard record of "I'm A Believer" from the back of a Honeycomb cereal box. *Sigh* I can picture the entire opening scene; thanks for that, Malcolm!

And Laverne & Shirley was so great, true.

You are pretty amazing with this stuff.

(BTW, I can't believe you didn't have a crush on Gopher...hehe)

Xakara said...

I haven't thought about Blossom in years. Fat Albert was always a great one.

Now I've got to go think about some of my favorites...

Happy TT


DoubleDeckerBusGuy said...

Excellent list! Number one had me already mooning... how Mrs. Peel ruined me for ALL women (save my wife)!

mica said...

Great list!The Nanny is one of my favorites!

Bloggers said...

great and fun list.

Toni said...

I loved Blossom when I was a kid and it was still on. Hadn't thought about it in a while. Also, Fat Albert. And I don't think I have ever seen the Avengers...musta been before my time. Super list and thanks for the walk back in time!

jeanjeanie said...

Great list! I love the Freaks & Geeks opening (and I had totally forgotten James Franco was in that show).

Candy Minx said...

Wow that YouTube clip was pretty incrredible...did you put that together?

Good list and isn't it amazing how sentimetal and positive feelings are associated with opening sequences of tv shows?

Hope you're having a fun Thursday Malcolm!

Samantha_K said...

Oh, Freaks and Geeks. I loved that show!
Of your list my favorites are 2,3,5,6,and 12.

I have to add Three's Company.

Malcolm said...

Sandy: I wish that somebody would bring back Fat Albert in reruns. The last time I saw a full episode was when USA ran it in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

Jay: Thanks! The Rockford Files and Hawaii Five-O almost made my list. I remember when I went on a canoe trip as a teen, me and the other kids started doing the theme to Hawaii Five-O while we were paddling.

Hootin Anni: Remembering Diana Rigg doesn't necessarily have to age you. You could just tell people that you watched "The Avengers" in reruns. :-) I'll be checking out your TT later today.

Susan: Although I have seen some of the first season eps of "Buffy", I don't recall the opening. After reading your comments, I tried finding one of the opening sequences. Unfortunately, it was hard to tell if they were the actual sequences or ones created by fans of the show.

MamaGeek: Laverne and Shirley was a last minute addition to the list. When watching it again on You Tube I said, "I don't know what opening I am going to cut, but I have to cut one to make room for Laverne and Shirley".

Nicholas: Watching the opening of The Avengers reminded me how sexy Diana Rigg was. I wish I had watched it more when A&E aired the reruns in the early 90s.

The Gal Herself: When I was putting this TT together, I was thinking that there are probably people who don't like "The Nanny"... but enjoy the opening sequence. One of my favorite parts is the cloud of dust the 3 kids make when they come into the picture. Btw, thanks for answering my question about the Kay Scarpetta/Marino relationship.

Sandee of Comedy Plus: Thanks so much for the kind words! Because you currently don't watch TV, I wasn't sure if that was also the case in the past.

I was glad that You Tube had the Fat Albert opening where Bill Cosby was still sporting the afro. My fave part of the Magnum opening is when he is teaching a female how to snorkel and that expression he makes when he looks at her ass.

Pjazzy: I gotta hand it to Jenna Von Oy (Blossom and Kim's best buddy)... she definitely could fill out a pair of jeans. I know at least one episode made a joke about her being part black because of her booty.

Janet: After finding the Blossom opening, I want to see about getting the theme song. One of the funniest things I heard was when somebody said that the theme to What's Happening was the sound that Rerun's pants made when he ran.

Lara Angelina: You are right about great openings also have cool theme songs. If there is a downside to watching these openings, it's that I now want to watch the actual show too!

Shesawriter: I used to love it when something funny would happen and they would cut to that stock scene of the Fat Albert gang all laughing. I wonder if they ever updated that thing!

Yellowrose: Happy Days is another opening that almost made my list. I think it's safe to say that I'll be doing a sequel to this TT at some point in the future.

Open Grove: I don't know if you saw it, but there was a two part episode of Get Smart with Don Rickles that showed where the trap door in the phone booth led. If I am not mistaken, it led to a chute in the Chief's office.

Drilleraa: The only thing bad I can say about Laverne and Shirley is that they never should have left Milwaukee.

X. Dell: My all-time favorite opening is the one from "The Monkees" that I included. Since it's too much trouble to decide what's better after that, I usually just alphabetize my TT...which is what I did in this case.

I wanted to include The Simpsons, but couldn't find it on You Tube. If I had dug a little deeper I might have lucked out, who knows.

The openings to The Addams Family and The Wild Wild West were also in the running for making this list.

Btw, you made a good point about Law and Order.

SJ: Bonanza is another opening that almost made my list. Years ago on some TV retrospective, they showed the closing scene of the first episode of Bonanza. It feat. the Cartwrights singing the theme song! It was kinda cool.

Candy: I think they only used that opening of "Everybody Loves Raymond" for one year. I think they should have stuck with it because it really set up the premise nicely.

Gattina: Since you live in Belgium, I know that sometimes you are unfamiliar with things I feature on my TTs. I am glad to hear that you recognized some of the shows.

Stephanie: Like I mentioned earlier, the opening credits sequence for the 2nd season of "The Monkees" is my all-time favorite. Davy riding a bike into the water, the name mixup near the end of the sequence... what's not to love!

I have been thinking about doing a post on cereal box records. A book that might interest you is one called "Bubblegum Is the Naked Truth". Here is the link to Amazon for more info:

Not only did I not have a crush on Gopher, but I never really bought Doc as being a ladies' man. :-)

Xakara: I am surprised that Nickelodeon, Nick At Nite, or some other channel hasn't shown Blossom in reruns. Although the "very special episodes" got tiresome, it could still be a fun show. Now that I think of it, the "very special" episodes are probably worth some unintentional laughs today.

Nissa said...

I'd add Cheers. Just the theme song makes me want to hang out with the gang..

Hey, do you know what it is that Laverne & Shirley say at the beginning? I've never been able to figure it out..
"Shlameel, Shlavavel..." I dunno..

Happy TT!

Malcolm said...

DoubleDeckers: Mrs. Peel had that effect on a lot of people. Did you ever hear the story about the origin of her name? Apparently, the writers named her Emma Peel because she would be a character that had male appeal or m. appeal for short.

Mica: Some people scoff at me, but I still love watching The Nanny. The jokes are sometimes obvious and Fran's double takes and eye-rolling is over the top, but that's the whole point.

Bloggers: Thanks

JeanJeanie: James Franco's character (Daniel) was one of my favorites on the show. NBC really messed up when they pulled the plug after only 19 episodes.

Candy: I wish I was that talented, but I can't take credit for posting the clips to You Tube. Luckily, all I had to do was find them and put them in the custom video player.

I'll be having a better day once I get out of work. :-) At least the time is going by fast.

I can't wait to see your TT for this week!

Samantha K: Three's Company is another good one! I think my favorite opening from that show is the one that has Jack falling off his bike while looking at the nice looking brunette and Janet mistakenly waters a sunbathing Chrissy's back.

Nissa: Thanks for stopping by! Cheers is a damned good choice as well... for the reasons you mentioned. As for that theme song, it's one of my all time favorites. I have the complete version and whenever I listen to it, I can't help but sing along.

In answer to your question, here is the spoken opening to the theme to Laverne and Shirley:

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Schlemeel, schlemazel, hasenfeffer incorporated.

julia said...

Wow - what a great TT! Really, really enjoyed it. 'Get Smart' and 'The Avengers' are my favorites, with 'The Monkees' very close after, 'Fresh Prince' and 'Everybody Loves Raymond'.

I agree with X.Dell about 'The Addams Family', and SJ Reidhead and 'Bonanza'.

For me 'Little House' is a huge sentimental favorite.
Though technically it's a British miniseries of sorts, the opening theme for the Richard Sharpe peninsular war dramas are simple but always get me immediately fired up for the episode. The closing of each episode always has Sharpe heading 'over the hills and far away', each time slightly different than before - very well done.
And the original 'Star Trek' opener is another big fave.
But maybe my absolute fave has to be the opener for the 60's British spy thriller The Prisoner with Patrick McGoohan.

Cindy Swanson said...

Wasn't Freaks and Geeks awesome? I discovered that show on DVD long after it had been cancelled. I loved James Franco in the opening...the cute little smirk on his face.

Loved the Blossom opener, too!

Nap Warden said...

I so loved Laverne and Shirley...Great list. I heart TV!

Holly Smith said...

I used to love the openings to Blossom and Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Didn't they air on the same night? Nice memories. I also remember the Fat Albert theme. We used to watch films in PE in elementary school sometimes...and that's where I remember watching Fat Albert....but now I'm thinking what did that have to do with PE? Maybe Health? Still it was a stretch. :)

Zenmomma said...

Get Smart and the Monkees. Two of my childhood favorites. :o)

Dane Bramage said...

Well some of these take me back and some I have never seen before. Weird.

Thanks for visiting my T13!

MondaythroughSunday said...

Great list! I LOVE the classics!!

Karen MEG said...

Those were great...I loved Get Smart and The Monkees too!

The Rock Chick said...

Oh I think Laverne and Shirley are tops on this list! I've always loved their opening song!

This was a fun list! I'd forgotten about some of them and am now happily humming away!


K. said...

What a great idea for a list, and such fun choices. It's almost a lost art these days, the opening credit sequence.

Malcolm said...

Julia: Thank you very much! When I was in my early 20s, TBS used to show two episodes of "Little House" back to back on weekday mornings. I started watching it and got hooked. I still catch it from time to time on The Hallmark Channel. I always liked the closing credits that showed Laura running down the hill imitating an airplane.

I'll have to search You Tube for the Sharpe openings/closings because I haven't seen them. "Star Trek" is another opening that almost made my list. It's simple, but very effective.

Good call on "The Prisoner". I have only seen it a few times so I had forgotten about the opening. I just watched it on You Tube though.

Cindy: I caught "Freaks and Geeks" once when it was still in prime time. A few years ago, I checked out the complete series on DVD from my local library. It impressed me so much that I bought the set shortly thereafter. Daniel (James Franco) was one of my favorite characters on the show.

Nap Warden: I still say that the L&S episode called "Guinea Pigs" is one of the funniest sitcom episodes of all time. Here is the link in case you want to see a clip of it:

Holly: Yes, "Fresh Prince" came on at 8 and was followed by "Blossom". Do you remember an early episode of "Blossom" where Will Smith made a cameo? I don't know if you speak Spanish, but here is the clip en Espanol:

You were lucky to be able to watch "Fat Albert" in P.E. class. It was a stretch like you said though.

Zenmomma: Maxwell Smart always drove a cool car in the opening credits. I also like the closing credits when his nose gets smashed in the door.

Dane Bramage: I hadn't seen some of these openings myself in years. That is why I love You Tube.

Monday through Thursday and Karen Meg: Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Jessica: Speaking of theme songs, there is an excellent 2 disc set called "All-Time Top 100 TV Themes". It goes in reverse chronological order from "Six Feet Under" to "The Lone Ranger".

K: You make an excellent point about opening credits almost being a lost art. Do you remember in the mid to late 90s when many shows did away with opening credits sequences? The networks were concerned about dwindling audiences and thought that they could keep viewers tuning in by superimposing the credits over the opening scene. I always thought this was a bad idea. It looks like most shows have gotten back to doing opening sequences.

Calliope said...

I love #1, 7, and 11. I actually own all of the Diana Rigg Avengers on DVD.


Malcolm said...

Celtic Angel: Thanks for taking the time to check out both my current TT and this one as well. You mentioned that you are a fan of "The Avengers" and "Get Smart". Do you remember the episode of "Get Smart" that was a spoof of "The Avengers"? It was called "Run, Robot, Run" and featured two KAOS agents: a derby wearing gent named Mr. Snead and his sexy sidekick Mrs. Neal. Funny stuff!

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