Before the internet and YouTube, themes from old TV shows were just a nice memory or, if you’re like me, an old TDK cassette languishing in a shoe box that was recorded right after Christmas 1973, when I got a Panasonic cassette recorder/player. I bring that out every once in awhile and listen to my 12 year old voice laughing as my grandmother asks me what I’m doing with that weird machine. “I’m taping the opening theme to Apple’s Way!”. Jeez, what a loser.
Anyway, my cassette is not the complete canon of opening TV themes from the 70s, just a snippet. But YouTube has all of this stuff. Amazing what has been compiled by YouTubers like FredFlix -they’ve done all the hard work for us. They’ve edited together the TV show openings for every day of the week in 1977 on ABC. I love it. Some of this stuff I remember very well - others, never ever saw. Man, most of TV back then was pretty not good. We remember and get all nostalgic about the halfway decent stuff, but we forget about all the downright bad TV shows that were around. But the TV themes were almost always good, or at least, interesting.
A young John Williams did the opening theme for Suspense Theater, from back in the 60s. Great great theme, and great animation. Search it out. Lalo Schifrin, of course, with his classic Mission impossible and his equally great Mannix theme. I watched these shows for the opening — and hung around for the actual show. The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, which was an early 1970s show starring Bill Bixby and created by James Komack, was a real hip, sweet show about a single dad and his young son. And the opening theme, played over them running on a beach and having fun, is by Harry Nilsson - “Best Friend”. It’s an iconic 70s theme song, and just a damned good song. Classic Nilsson.
Kathy, Burk and myself discuss Nilsson, and the staying power of his music and how a new generation of music lovers are discovering him with Gotta Get Up getting lots of plays on Netflix’ Russian Doll.
I lament the loss of most TV show beginnings. Now, most of the shows get right into it. Or the opening credits are super short. I guess I get it - more show to watch. But opening credits and the theme music are an imporant part of my viewing experience, even now. Hope more shows go back to that. That is all - Mark A.