Tag Archives: Judd Apatow

Whatever Happened to TV Theme Songs? (THE SEQUEL)

A little while back,  I wrote a blog entry entitled  Whatever Happened to TV Theme Songs?  In it, I complained about the fact that most television programs today seem to have done away with theme songs, opting instead to use a few bland instrumental chords to introduce their show.  Some shows, like Lost or The Vampire Diaries,  have scrapped their opening sequences entirely.

When I was done bitching, I chose ten theme songs and opening sequences that I really enjoyed from my TV watching past, and shared them with anyone who might be interested.  And you guys seemed to like it.  (By “like it,” I mean you “clicked on it.”  For all I know, you may have took one look at the theme songs I chose, said “That TV Recapper Girl  is a total Poopyhead,” and slammed your browser in my face.)

But here’s the thing. . . .   There are SO MANY really great theme songs and opening sequences out there, that I DIDN’T get to show you.  And, for that reason, I thought it might be fun to try this again.  So, without further adieu, I present to you, ten MORE old school TV theme songs (in no particular order) that I find pretty cool.

1) All in the Family

All right.  So I can’t really say that this show was part of my childhood.  After all, it was already off the air, by the time I was born.  But I catch it in reruns ALL THE TIME, mostly just to watch the opening sequence.  I’m not entirely sure why I like it so much.  Perhaps it’s because there is something about Archie and Edith Bunker that reminds me a lot of my paternal grandparents.  Also, any opening sequence that involves that much ridiculously bad, off-key singing, is pretty cool in my book . . .

2) The Jeffersons

Like All in the Family, its spinoff, The Jeffersons, aired a smidgeon before my TV watching time.  But I watch it in reruns whenever I can find it, basically because I think its Sherman Hemsley is “the bees knees.”  He could just be standing around doing nothing, and I would find it absolutely hilarious.  Sherman is just so cute!  To me, he’s kind of like a black Danny Devito . . .

Did I mention that the song in the opening sequence is super catchy?  I still find myself singing it out loud every time I move into a new apartment, much to the extreme displeasure of anyone unlucky enough to be helping me move.  Just listen, and I dare you not to sing along!

3) Roseanne

This “smarter than it looked” show, about a working class family, was on the air, pretty much throughout my childhood.  During its nine-year run, the show’s opening sequence underwent nearly annual tweaks and changes.  Ironically, my favorite opening sequences for Roseanne came near the end of its run, when the show itself was losing some of the good humor and sharp writing of earlier seasons.  The opening sequences for the last two seasons of Roseanne, featured these really cool character morphs, illustrating how (for better or worse) the characters had aged during the show’s long run.

My favorite morph was for the Becky character, who, during the show’s nine years, was played by two different actresses, Lecy Goranson and Saarah Chalke (Scrubs).  The sequence morphs the two together, as if they are the same person.  My second favorite morph was for Roseanne herself, who made some really bad hair and plastic surgery choices during that decade.  In one picture in particular, her entire face seems to droop downward in a perverse, overly-botoxed sneer that actually used to give me nightmares.  When you see it, you’ll know why.

(Unfortunately, there is no embedding on this video.  So, you have to click the internal link, to watch it on YouTube.  Sorry!)

4) The Wonder Years

I loved this show when I was a little kid, for so many reasons.  For one, I thought Fred Savage was a total hottie.  I wanted to be Winnie Cooper, so that I could date him.  If my first TV crush was Jonathan Taylor Thomas from Home Improvement, Fred Savage comes in a close second.  Also, the dad on the show, Dan Luria, looked a lot like my dad, which I thought was pretty cool.

And, of course, the opening sequence was amazing!  You see, I was an only child, and, from what I gather, not a particularly photogenic one.  Therefore, we never had home videos in my family.  (I don’t even think we owned a video camera.)  So, when I would watch The Wonder Years, as a kid, I liked to pretend that Kevin Arnold’s home videos were mine.  Sometimes I would even reenact Winnie’s parts, as I watched  . . . It was kind of embarrassing.

5) Blossom

You know what?  When I said that NO home videos exist of me as a child, that’s not entirely true.  I do distinctly remember one video that was taken just before one of my dance recitals.  In it, 7-year old me BORED MY POOR FAMILY TO TEARS, by suiting up in my dance costume, and reenacting the ENTIRE RECITAL, casting myself in all the crucial roles, of course. 

 Funny looking costume?  Bad goofy dancing?  I imagine it looked a lot like this . . .

6) Dinosaurs

The things you learn when researching a blog entry!  I distinctly remember watching this program as a kid, during ABC’s fabulous Friday night TGIF lineup.  The show was sort of a live action Flintstones, only all the characters in it were dinosaurs.  Now that I think about it, the whole thing was a little bizarre . . .

But regardless of the quality of the show itself, I remember really loving what I thought was the show’s theme song.  Today, I looked up the theme song to Dinosaurs on YouTube, and learned that what I THOUGHT was the theme song, wasn’t the theme song at all.  It was merely a song, and accompanying video, that was featured during one of the show’s episodes.  The actual theme song kind of sucked.  But THIS song was SO GOOD and SO FUNNY, that I’ve decided to share it with you instead . . .

7) Salute Your Shorts

By now, you already know how I feel about theme songs that  feature ridiculously bad and off-key singing.  So, of course, I simply had to include this theme song on the list, from a Nickelodeon show about a very poorly managed sleepaway camp . . .

8 ) Step by Step

Yet another installment from ABC’s TGIF lineup makes the list at Number 8.  Step by Step was kind of a revamped Brady Bunch for us ’90s kids to enjoy.  It starred Suzanne Somers — as the mom of a blended family — one who looked remarkably similar to Chrissy Snow from Three’s Company.

Around the time this was on the air, I was spending a lot of free time hanging out at amusement parks with my friends.  So, of course, I absolutely adored this amusement park-themed opening sequence.

9) Freaks and Geeks

I’m cheating a bit here, because I didn’t actually watch this show during its initial run.  Rather, I caught it recently on Netflix, and was amazed by how brilliant it was, and how many of its cast members (and writing staff) eventually went on to do bigger and better things.  If, by chance, you are interested in my take, on the show itself, you can find that here. 

However, right now, I am here to talk about its kick ass opening sequence, which features the rebel anthem Bad Reputation by Joan Jett, and accurately portrays the extreme awkwardness and pure horror that is Yearbook Picture Day!

10) What I Like About You

Even though it has been off the air for a few years now, I still enjoy watching repeats of this classic WB show about two very different sisters living under one roof, and navigating life and love in New York City.  On the surface, it looks like your typical cheesy teen romcom.  However, Jennie Garth and Amanda Bynes made the show way better than it should have been, with their amazing on-screen chemistry and fabulous comedic timing. 

But, of course, my favorite episodes of the show were the ones from later seasons.  After all, these focused on Amanda Byne’s character, Holly, and her relationship with on-again, off-again boyfriend, Vince, played by MY TV boyfriend, the painfully gorgeous, Nick Zano.  This guy doesn’t get nearly enough work these days in my opinion . . .

Oh, and did I mention that the show’s opening sequence features the cast riding and dancing around Times Square to the tune of Lilix’s awesome cover of the song What I Like About You?

So, there you have it folks — ten more TV theme songs to add to my collection of nostalgic television awesomeness.  Have I missed any of your favorites?

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Freaks and Geeks – The Best Show You Probably DIDN’T Watch (and neither did I), But We Should Have

Before Katherine Heigl got Knocked Up, before Jason Segel spent an entire Hawaiian vacation Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and before Steve Carell endured the ignominious label of The 40-Year Old Virgin, there was a funny New Yorker named Judd Apatow, and a little  television show called Freaks and Geeks.

Although the show aired roughly ten years ago, I didn’t come across it until fairly recently.  I was looking for a prospective candidate to fill my ever-dwindling Netflix queue, at the timeThe show was described as a “period piece” of sorts, in that it took place at a Michigan high school during the 1980-81 school year. 

Now, as you can probably tell from this blog, I LOVE my high school dramedys.  Plus, I have always been a bit obsessed with the ’80s as a decade, despite the fact that I was itty bitty during most of it.  (The Breakfast Club was the first R-rated film my mother let me watch on video.  It is still one of my favorite movies of all time.)  So, I figured this was right up my alley.

The Pilot episode opens with a clichéd jock and his clichéd cheerleader girlfriend engaging in a vapid discussion about the nature of their relationship, while cuddling on the bleachers at the high school football field.  Within moments, the camera pans beneath the bleachers to reveal the show’s real stars: a group of stoners smoking weed, and a trio of nerds discussing Star Wars.  I was instantly hooked.

The series follows the lives of Lindsay Weir (played by Linda Cardellini of ER), a shy overachieving mathlete who becomes disillusioned with her dull life and quickly falls in with a “bad crowd,” and her younger brother, Sam (John Francis Daley of Bones), a good humored and intelligent, but diminutive and undeveloped (his voice still hasn’t changed) high school freshman.  Lindsay hangs with the titular Freaks of the show, played by James Franco, Busy Phillips, Jason Segel, and Seth Rogen (all of whom have gone on to become regular staples in Judd Apatow films).  Sam’s friends comprise the Geeks, who are played by Sam Levine and Martin Starr. 

Rather than creating a glossy and stylized version of high school, as most teen dramas tend to do, Freaks and Geeks portrayed a more realistic version of the teen years, one rife with awkwardness, discomfort, growth spurts and acne.  Unlike most teen shows airing during that time, the actors here actually looked like real teenagers (even Cardellini, despite the fact that she was already 25 when the show started taping).  They even talked like real teenagers — their speech rife with the trademark inarticulate umms and uhhs that characterize “teenspeak” (and, on occasion, my own “speak”).

Freaks and Geeks  stood out from other teen television shows, in that it was primarily NOT about romance.  The “couples” in the show weren’t portrayed as soul mates, star-crossed lovers, or adults trapped in young bodies.  Instead, the Weirs’ respective relationships much more closely resembled those of  my limited high school dating experience.  Namely, they were frightening and cringe-inducingly uncomfortable. 

I love, for example, how Lindsay’s “love interest,” Nick (Jason Segel of How I Met Your Mother), is not smooth or cool at all.  In fact, he is kind of smothery and more than a tad creepy at times.  Lindsay generally sticks with him because he is part of her social circle, and because she wants to have a boyfriend.  Unforunately, I too have been there . . .

Freaks and Geeks also took risks with its storylines.  One episode dealt with a hermaphodite student in a way that was surprisingly tasteful and heartfelt.  In another episode, viewers spent a good deal of time watching the Geeks watch a pornographic film.

So, if your Netflix queue has been looking a bit anorexic lately, and you are in need of some quality programming, I highly recommend Freaks and Geeks.

Oh, and did I mention James Franco looks really hot in it?

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