The Omega Films

I found this question on Reddit, and I thought I'd regurgitate it here:

"Humanity is wiped out. What 10 movies would you suggest the advanced alien race that discovers our civilization watch to understand humanity?"

Just imagine: like in Superman, you are fully aware of the impending end of the world. But instead of saving the life of your only son, you schlep on down to the miraculously-still-in-business Blockbuster Video, and save ten films instead. And don't overthink this; just assume translations and subtitles are universal, region codes are non-existent, and the aliens have the required technology to watch these movies. What ten movies do you save?

I'm not asking you to pick your 10 favorite movies, and I'm not asking you to pick the 10 greatest movies. I'm asking you to pick ten films to represent Earth and the human race. Who we were, what we were, and what we meant we said "Humanity."


12 Angry Men
We fought for the truth. We believed in our fellow man. Even the corrupted and the criminal deserved the briefest benefit of the doubt. It was so easy to cast aspersions on others; somebody had to stand up for the wretched, the dark, the castoffs and the unwanted. Because among them may be an innocent. And we never give up in the name of innocence.

High Noon
We all wanted to be heroes. We all want to stand up for the little man, and protect him from oncoming evil. We knew it was dangerous, but we felt an obligation. A calling. Even if the little man we're protecting wouldn't stand beside us, we would fight the necessary fight. It was a thankless job, and frequently a dangerous one, but we did it nonetheless.

Schindler's List
We weren't perfect. We all made mistakes. Sometimes individually, sometimes as a nation. Sometimes we let our mistakes get out of hand. Even in mankind's darkest moments, the seemingly small actions of one man were able to shine through. True heroes made true sacrifices, and that made all the difference.

Inherit the Wind
We put our faith in two elements: What we believed, and what we knew. And often times, the two worlds collided. What was truth? What was folly? How did science and religion coexist when they seemingly contradicted each other, and how did the followers of the two opposing factions withstand each other? Ironically, in our eternal quest for truth, we neglected to answer our own questions.

To Kill a Mockingbird
As children, we saw life as simplistic and idealized to perfection. But there came a time when we matured, and saw the world for what it was. There was evil in this world, but there was always good to contrast it. There were victims, and there were victimizers. There were misunderstood people, feared, but good at heart. But there were also people in high standing who were rotten and repugnant. While it's not fair to blame these circumstances on any particular cause, it's easy to see how a childhood dies when confronted by them.

We had freedoms. We had pleasures. We had so many luxuries and extravagances we seldom bothered to think of negative consequences. And we were lazy. My god, were we lazy. Surely, somebody somewhere was fixing all the problems. We couldn't be bothered. We were enjoying our own lives. Somebody was doing all the dirty work for us. Yeah...

We were always searching for new ways to pass the time, to have fun, to experience new and exciting boundaries. We liked to indulge. Sometimes destructively. Our bodies were fragile, but we never had any qualms about pushing them to the brink, just for a fleeting, momentary high. Oh, but we weren't all bad. Some of us realized our destructive natures. Some wanted out. Some were willing to pay the price. Or at least try.

Throughout our existence, there was much immigration, emigration, exodus and diaspora. Our slight differences made us stupid, arrogant, prejudiced, and spiteful. For the longest time, we refused to accept a human life was a human life. And while we were slow to change, we eventually did so. Step by step. Inch by inch. One fight at a time.

Bicycle Thieves
Many were content with the bare necessities; a roof over our head, clothes on our back, food on our plates, and a family to love. And yet, the simplest of achievements was never an assurance. There were always people willing to muck up the works. Disobedience, malfeasance, and small acts of petty larceny all had the power to turn the life of a single man upside down. Simply put, playing by the rules was a loser's game. Life is brutal, and existence is suffering.

Wild Strawberries
Despite the pits and valleys, we all knew one thing: our time was short. Everyone dead once lived, and everyone living would die. It was such a short period of time; what was the purpose? Was there a purpose? Was there reason? Did we even matter? Did humanity matter? Maybe not on a cosmic sense, maybe not even in a worldwide sense. But in a close, immediate and deeply personal sense, yes. And that was all that mattered.

Here lies the human race. We existed. We mattered.


Louder And With Feeling

Below are ten of my favorite voice actors. I knew their voices. I even knew some of their names. But I never stopped to wonder about their faces.

So... I found out. And this was the result. Kinda thought I'd have more to say on the subject.

From L to R: Richard Horvitz, Charlie Adler, H. Jon Benjamin, Billy West, Tara Strong, Lorenzo Music, Rob Paulsen, Grey DeLisle, Keith David, and Dan Castellaneta.


Dasher, Dancer, Sneezy, Dopey, Larry, Curly, Tito, Marlon, Janet, Brad, Rocky, The Professor, Mary Ann, and Jerry Mathers as The Beaver

It's been well over a month and I haven't posted a damn thing in this blog. The following post was originally intended to be a Tweet, but I fleshed it out a tad to give credence to the notion that I'm not yet dead.

There are two films ready to be released later this year. Actually, there are lots more than two, but I'm focusing on two specifically. Both are generating lots of buzz, both are eagerly anticipated by audiences, both received accolades at their respective festival premieres, and both are safe bets as serious Oscar contenders.

One is called 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.'

The other is called 'Martha Marcy May Marlene.'

The first is a Cold War-era espionage thriller, set in Britain, directed by the guy who directed Let the Right One In, starring everybody's favorite cinematic chameleon, Gary Oldman.

The second is a psychological thriller, set in the Castskills, starring the soon-to-be-much-more-famous sister of the Olsen twins, directed by some guy without a Wikipedia page.

But plots aside, I want you to think slowly about the two titles. Aren't they very similar?

Four, stand-alone words. No connection. No syntax. Just four, seemingly random words, batched together to form two titles of two very similarly anticipated movies, with very close release dates.

The first I don't care for. It sounds silly. And I don't care about its context or its history as a franchise. It sounds like a children's picture book, and I'm having trouble taking it seriously.

The second I will never remember. It will be the year 2144, my brain will be in a jar at the National Archives, hooked up to machines to offer all future generations insight about motion pictures, and I'll still be calling it something like "Martha May Megan Mallory."

But why do I bring this up? Because I like wasting your time. Also, because I can see the future. I can see all the way to March 2012. I can see the jokes being fed through the teleprompters at the Oscar ceremony. And I can hear them echo all the way back to today.They are all the same. They are all jokes about the similarity of the titles of the two films. And they are old. And unfunny. And they've already been told a million times before. Even Jay Leno is tired of making jokes about these two film titles.

I can smell a bad joke coming miles away. And this smells like sauerkraut, mixed with wallpaper paste, left in a musty attic.


I, Maximus

I'd like to rescind one of my philosophies concerning the modern Hollywood era. I recently saw the movie Contagion. And by recently, I mean last Tuesday. I am too damn lazy to run a film blog.

Anyways, I saw Contagion in Imax. Aside from science documentaries at the St. Louis Science Center Omnimax Theater (All rights reserved), I'd only ever seen two films in Imax; The Imaginarium of Dr. Convoluted Name and Harry Potter Part 7 Part 2. Both were in 3D. (I may not have the drive to run a successful film blog, but I have the cynical part perfected.)

My opinions of the films notwithstanding, I didn't care for either movie's presentation. 3D is a gimmick. I don't care how much hype you thrust in my general direction, I don't want to pay an extra six dollars just to see a background that is relatively recessed. Plus, everything looks dark and the peripheries are all shadowy.

But Contagion was not 3D. It was glorious 2D. Height and width. It made all the difference. The picture was clear, crisp, and detailed. I could see grain in wood, cracks in concrete, sweat beading on characters' foreheads. Imax does indeed provide a high-quality resolution of digital presentations, but I've never known it. I'd never seen it. Hollywood has been piling on gimmick after gimmick onto blockbuster films like six year-olds piling on toppings at a sundae bar. I've spent so much time raging about the candy corn and gummi worms, I've missed just how awesome the Oreo crumbles are.

Contagion was an intense and harrowing ride, made all the more powerful by its Imax presentation. I don't know if it's worth an additional five dollars, but Imax is certainly worth a look. A 2d look.


Why WAS there a watermelon there?

This is the greatest closing credits sequence in film history. And that's all.


The 100 greatest TV Themes: 10 - 1

10. Peter Gunn
"The Peter Gunn Theme"
by Henry Mancini

Have you ever heard of this show? Even if you haven't, I bet you've heard the theme song. It's the standard stock music that plays anytime a suave, smooth, sophisticated male character enters, or does something characteristic of suave, smooth sophisticated male characters. It's music whose reputation precedes itself, but here is its humble origin: a theme song to an otherwise forgotten private eye TV show. It's pure class, seeping in from every uncaulked opening. It's more cosmopolitan than Rock Hudson, to the power of single malt scotch, multiplied by Bentley. Rounded up, of course.

9. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
"Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"
by Rockapella

A Capella is typically associated with all-male college choral groups, usually at the whitest of white-bred universities. The exception is Rockapella. Rockapella rescues the genre from complete obscurity with a unique energy and style, even though they're only famous for two songs. First, a memorable Folgers commercial. Second, the theme song to the PBS game show, 'Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?' (Fun fact: Rockapella performs both of these songs at live shows. Talk about giving the audience what it wants). While the beat and refrain are infectious like hepatitis, the true charm is the geography-related puns and genius wordplay. Ogden Nash and Shel Siverstein together couldn't come up with something this perfect. The only downside is the mention of Czechoslovakia, which dates the entire performance.

8. The Twilight Zone
"The Twilight Zone Main Title Theme"
by Bernard Herrmann and Marius Constant

I had no intention on flooding this list with horror anthology shows. I didn't even know so many horror anthology shows existed, and I especially didn't realize so many featured epic introductions. But sure enough, they appeared on this countdown at 65, 57, 50, 37, 23, and the king of them all at number 8.

Every week on The Twilight Zone, the creepy and surreal mind of Rod Serling presented stories of the unexplained, the mysterious and the paranoid. The theme assured us the show's content was not bound by the restraints of Earth, but by an ever-shifting set of rules. One week, Santa Claus was real, another week, toys were evil, sentient beings. Simply put, if Mr Serling's ominous warnings don't send chills down your spine, and the eerie music doesn't make you reach for a security blanket, you may already be in... The Twilight Zone.

7. Speed Racer
"Go Speed Racer Go"
by Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass.

I think about the long, harrowing journey anime has taken just to reach the fringe of cultural relevancy, and I wonder how it possibly could have began in the 1960s. There was Speed Racer, Astroboy, then nothing for 30 years, then suddenly, Boom! Everything! Imagine if there was a precursor to the Big Bang that made just scallops, then the Big Bang came and made the rest of the universe.

The Speed Racer theme is your typical hero song. It boasts the protagonist, outlines his abilities, and heralds the feats of derring-do displayed in every episode. But what makes the Speed Racer theme stand out amongst others? It just keeps amplifying. It starts out with a high-tempo synthesizer arpeggio, coupled with engine sounds, and just keeps bringing climax after climax. At the end, the vocalist is practically screaming in jubilation. Also, watch the video. Speed blatantly kills a man by ramming him off the road. His car explodes in a giant fireball, and Speed doesn't even blink. Not that Speed ever blinked, it was an anime after all.

6. Doctor Who
"Doctor Who Theme"
Composed by Rob Grainer and Delia Derbyshire

The word epic is thrown around too loosely. It used to be, "epic" was reserved for the truly awe-inspiring, intimidating and boundless things. Nowadays, everything is epic ("He said 'your' instead of 'you're!' Epic fail!") But howsabout the story of an intergalactic time traveler, the last of his species, jumping across planets, galaxies and generations in an attempt to maintain order and save civilizations, squaring off against intimidating foes, bound to immortality and eternally questioning his place in the universe and responsibility in life? That is epic.

And what better accompaniment to Doctor Who's epic sci-fi saga than an epic sci-fi theme? The 100% electronic theme instantly gives us the sensation of both futurism and retro-futurism. It evokes feelings of adventure, fantasy and thrills. It lets us know we'll be departing from the mundane, and begin darting around the cosmos in five seconds flat. It is a perfect piece of science fiction instrumentation. And here it is performed on a pair of Tesla Coils with a dancing Mythbuster.

5. Duck Tales
"Duck Tales Theme"
Composed by Mark Mueller
Vocals by Jeff Pescetto

I have nothing to say about Duck Tales. My opinions and have already been expressed perfectly by Doug "The Nostalgia Critic" Walker:

"This song will never leave your mind. You think you're trying to answer the questions on your math test, but nope! All you're thinking about is-Duck Tales (woo-ooh!)
You think you're playing basketball with your teammates, but nope! All you're thinking about is-Duck Tales (woo-ooh!)You think you're about to achieve enlightenment, the pearly gates of knowledge are opening up, and all the secrets of the universe are about to be revealed. BUT NO! ALL YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT IS-Duck Tales (woo-ooh!)It will never leave, IT WILL NEVER LEAVE, IT WILL NEVER LEAVE!!!"

4. Firefly
"The Ballad of Serenity"
Written by Joss Whedon
Performed by Sonny Rhodes

The concept of a Space Western is difficult to sell to audiences. Westerns are simplistic: rough and tumble action set against a natural backdrop. Science Fiction is grandiose and complicated, set against a backdrop as expansive as the human imagination. The two are complete opposites. But ask any Firefly fan, and they will tell you (in great, nerdy detail) just how well the two mesh. But if you detest the notion of talking to an obese, neckbeard-sporting geek in an Invader Zim shirt, at least check out the theme song (The real theme song, not these fanmade, fakie ones). The heartfelt country ballad accompanies a series of sepia-toned sci-fi scenes; The Ballad of Serenity makes space westerns seem not only feasible, but downright plausible.

3. The Sopranos
"Woke Up This Morning (Chosen One Mix)"
by Alabama 3

I've never been a fan of the mafia/gangster genre. I've seen films like Goodfellas and The Godfather, and I admit they're interesting and well-made, but they're just not what interests me. And I don't know why. Despite this, Woke Up This Morning earns its spot in the top three. The everyday, unglorified images of New York City and the New Jersey Turnpike, partnered with the a half-blues, half-dance hall song of violence and revenge, plus the intimidating presence of James Gandolfini enjoying a cigar? Immediately, the viewer's mind is placed in the glamorized world of organized crime and unflattering Italian-American stereotypes, all without resorting to gunplay, fancy suits or mentions of spaghetti sauce. It's all about the subtlety.

2. Mission: Impossible
"Mission: Impossible Theme"
by Lalo Schifrin

One of the all-time greatest spy franchises appropriately boasts the greatest espionage theme music, and the second greatest TV theme of all time. Listening to it, you feel the adrenaline pumping through your veins. It doesn't just make you excited for a televised spy caper, it makes you want to be a spy. It makes you want to stand up and dart behind furniture, holding your hand like a gun. It makes you want to slink around in shadows and use overly-complicated pieces of technology to interrogate your roommate. It's one thing for a TV theme to make us eager for a TV show to start, but Mission: Impossible has created an aural bridge into our very psyche. Or maybe that's just me. Either way, I stand by my decision.

1. Fraggle Rock
"Fraggle Rock Theme"
Written by Philip Balsam and Dennis Lee

Kids television. You gotta love it. Television seems to be targeted to adults, but if you look closely enough, you'll see children are the keystone of the industry. I could have filled this entire list with kids TV show themes. There's something so innate about television and childhood. When you're young, you want to explore the world, learn everything, make new friends, and most importantly, have fun all the time. This is why the Fraggle Rock theme is so perfect; not only does it represent the TV theme as a whole, it's catchy, singable, and a perfect anthem for the target audience. Hell, it even reached the Top 40 status in Britain in 1983. I can't think of a single theme song more enjoyable and precisely executed as Fraggle Rock. It is the perfect TV theme.



Well, that took longer than necessary. Let's sum up; A good TV theme needs four things: It needs to be catchy and memorable. It needs to draw you in, grab your attention and get you excited to watch the actual show. It needs to compliment and represent the series as a whole. Finally, the music and the visuals need to correspond in an appealing manner; neither are more important. Other than that, TV themes are an essential element of the television medium, which is unjustly being pared away. Take some time and enjoy your favorite TV themes because one day, they may be gone for good.

Before we go, here's one final countdown: things I've learned while amassing this list:

1) Viacom and WMG are dicks who hoard their intellectual property like Gollum.
2) There is a special place in Hell for people who point their cameras at TV screens.
3) Horror Anthology shows are the illuminati of television: Everywhere, and with more power than you realize.
4) I do not fully understand how Blogger works concerning hotlinked images.
5) I can be nostalgic for things I don't actually like.
6) You can prepare and prepare and prepare for weeks and even months, still forget The X-Files, and have to slip it in last minute hoping nobody noticed otherwise.
7) Sound equalizing is apparently really really hard.
8) It can take upwards of three weeks to find the right words to describe something nobody cares about.
9) Slideshows of images taken from Google are not movies, and should not be uploaded to Youtube, you assholes.
10) Don't watermark a video if you don't own it. Hell, just don't watermark anything. The internet is a global village; creative commons and all that. Just because you uploaded something doesn't mean you get to taint it with free advertising for your crappy website full of other watermarked videos.


The 100 Greatest TV Themes: 17 - 11

17. Neon Genesis Evangelion
"A Cruel Angel's Thesis"
by Yoko Takahashi

The theme song for Neon Genesis Evangelion is a cliff's notes version of anime. With the exception of lolitas in uncomfortably short skirts, the Neon Genesis Evangelion theme features every stereotype of the anime theme song. A rocking electronic j-pop intro, giant gundam robots, flashing lights and colors onscreen for roughly eight picoseconds, completely vague symbolism, lots of shots of the sky, people dramatically turning, and absolutely no connections whatsoever to the show's actual content.

16. Malcolm in the Middle
"Boss of Me"
by They Might Be Giants

In sitcom land, the family dynamic is rigid; adults have authority over the kids. Malcolm In the Middle offered a change. The theme song is smart and satirical by reflecting this idea, reconstituting a familiar playground taunt as children jeering authority figures. Mix in the everpresent jocularity of They Might Be Giants and you have a great theme song. What makes it top 20 themes great is the plethora of non sequitur visual imagery. When you were a kid, TV was an escape; you watched it, even if there was nothing worth watching. That awkward period of time every Saturday after cartoons, but before mom kicked you outside to play. The canting, static, saturated imagery evokes feelings of idle channel surfing. You kids reared on cable and satellite TV don't know how lucky you were.

15. Melrose Place
"Melrose Place (Theme)"
by Tim Truman

Remember everything I said about Beverly Hills 90210? Just repeat it here. I'm convinced they were the exact same show; the only difference being Melrose Place features 40 and 30 year-olds pretending to be 30 and 20 year-olds instead of 90210's 20 year-olds playing teenagers.

The theme song is an expression of musical theme and representation; I know exactly what this show is about without even watching the accompanying imagery. I can tell it's a soap opera, I know it's about young, fashionable people in a posh urban setting, I can sense there is much drama and exploitation stemming from sexual pursuits, infidelity, and treachery. Also catfights, but that's just extrapolating. The only thing I can't deduce purely from the music is the swimming pool.

14. Hawaii Five-O
"Hawaii Five-O Theme"
by Morton Stevens

While the show may be an antiquated relic by entertainment standards, one element of Hawaii Five-O remains relevant. If you can't guess what that one thing is by now, you have incredibly lousy reading comprehension skills. I'm talking about the theme song. Easily one of the best driving songs ever recorded, the music is a surf rock masterpiece, on par with anything written by Jan & Dean or The Ventures. The Hawaiian slideshow instantly transports us to the Aloha State, but the understated intensity of Jack Lord and crew tells us just how serious things can get on a Hawaiian beach.

13. Star Trek: The Next Generation
"Star Trek: The Next Generation Intro"
by Alexander Courage and Jerry Goldsmith

Space. The Final Frontier. The words carry such a deep cadence... Oh, right. I already said that about the original Star Trek. No matter. While Star Trek was a pinnacle of early science fiction, the changes demonstrated by Star Trek: The Next Generation detail the genre swing in a post-Star Wars era (combining Star Wars and Star Trek in the same article; aren't I daring?) The original Star Trek evoked a feeling of discovery; everything is new, captivating, scary or unprecedented, like 15th century sailors navigating uncharted waters. The Next Generation made the crew seem arrogant; confident, but constantly taunted by challenges, like explorers traversing unexplored jungles. As such, the ST:TNG theme takes a brash, adventurous tone, complete with sci-fi whooshes. When things go whoosh, you know you're in the future.

12. Mystery Science Theater 3000
"Love Theme from MST3K"
Composed by Charlie Erickson and Joel Hodgson
Lyrics by Best Brains
Vocals by Joel Hodgson (Seasons 1-5) and Michael J Nelson (Seasons 5-10)

Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Or MST3K to people who hate typing all that out) was originally made for public access TV. The premise was simple: instead of just airing public domain sci-fi flicks, air public domain sci-fi flicks while improv comedians mock the low production values, plot holes and bad acting. The irony of a public access show mocking a movie's low budget was not lost on the cast and crew. The theme song is a tongue and cheek explanation of the show's absurd setup, characters and premise, featuring poorly constructed models and puppets, as well as the greatest handwave of inconsistencies in all of TV and science fiction: "Repeat to yourself: 'It's just a show, I should really just relax.'" The theme song evolved over the show's run, with lyrics swapped in and out to reflect casting changes, network changes, and other crucial plot elements. Nonetheless, the song remained endearing and alluring to b-movie fans everywhere.

11. The Adventures of Pete and Pete
"Hey Sandy"
by Polaris

The Adventures of Pete and Pete is one of my favorite TV themes, but fairly inconsequential on a grand scale. As such, I place it outside the top ten for objectivity's sake. But just barely. After all, I do love it so.

Pete & Pete was a mid-90's show on Nickelodeon, and describing it is no easy task. It was a slice-of-life show, but disconnected from reality. Everything seemed to exist in its own little universe, detached from all rules of logic and just shy of insanity. The theme features a garage band playing an indecipherable alternative tune on the lawn of Typical Suburbia, USA, surrounded with common accessories like lawnmowers, sprinklers and banana-seat bicycles. Intercut with the absurd imagery of the cast, and you know this show will be like nothing else you've seen before. All in all, that's a theme song's goal: Represent the show, and entice you want to watch the entire episode.

The Final Ten theme songs are up next. We'll be back after a word from our sponsors.


The 100 Greatest TV Themes: 25 - 18

25. Bill Nye the Science Guy
"Bill Nye the Science Guy Theme"
by Mike Greene

The spiritual successor to Mister Wizard, Bill Nye was a professional scientist who demonstrated scientific concepts to elementary and middle-school aged kids through experiments, explanations, sketches, and a blatant abuse of After Effects. The series' goal, and the theme song by extension, was to make science seem cool. The intro sequence achieved this by barraging the senses with scientific imagery, fluctuating sound bytes and an apparently narcissistic host. Bill's name being repeatedly shouted has turned the theme into an internet meme, and an enjoyable one at that. And check out this cover by Mudhoney.

24. Underdog
by W. Watts Biggers, Chet Stover, Joe Harris, and Treadwell Covington

Superheroes rely on two things: Their abilities and their reputation. Aquaman can command an army of sharks to rip his enemies to shreds, but nobody will take him seriously because he's Aquaman. This is why the Underdog theme is a thing of beauty. It turns an anthropomorphic beagle whose name implies he is a weakling, whose costume resembles an ill-fitting pair of footie pajamas, and who speaks only in rhyming couplets into an intimidating force of nature. And check out this cover by Butthole Surfers.

23. Alfred Hitchcock Presents
"Funeral March of a Marionette"
by Charles Gounod

Alfred Hitchcock was more than just a legendary director, he was a celebrity, equally famous as any actor or actress of the era. So much so, he lent both his name and image to the anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents despite only directing 18 of the 363 episodes. Hitchcock knew the value of branding. The opening theme has become the synonymous lietmotif for Hitchcock's whole career and filmography. His opening silhouette is perhaps even more recognizable than his face. His trademark welcoming,"good evening," delivered in a deep, sloshing baritone sends unsettling chills down my spine every time. All of this has ensured the legacy of the great director will never fade. And check out... no, I'm not making that a running gag.

22. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
"Journey of the Sorcerer"
Composed by Bernie Leadon
Performed by The Eagles

Understanding British television is complicated when reared on the American model. In America, a good TV show will last around six seasons, producing around 114 episodes. A great TV series will last even longer. In Britain, most TV shows air for a single season, producing six episodes. The industry is different across the pond; writers, producers and actors aren't bogged down by a single project for a lengthy stretch of their careers. Americans are just happy for job security.

To the Brits' advantage, English TV shows don't have the handicap of padding out an entire season with filler. When the adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy came to fruition, the entire novel and most of its sequel were adapted without any concern. But no one cares about that, I'm supposed to be talking about the theme song. Journey of the Sorcerer greatly evokes the feeling of wonder and trepidation which come from traveling through outer space. What wondrous experiences would a novice intergalactic traveler experience? What perils would they encounter? How will they manage to keep a straight face amidst the malfunctioning robot head and shoestring special effects budget?

21. True Blood
"Bad Things"
by Jace Everett

In a world saturated by vampires, love stories and vampiric love stories, True Blood found a way to stay relevant and interesting: By being scary. Vampires are parasitic creatures of the night. They hunt humans and feast on their blood. The concept should terrify you, not titillate you. True Blood's intro reinforces these morbid feelings with a dark and looming country tune that sounds as if its echoing from a Louisiana marshland. The imagery reinforces this, showing contrasting and contextual imagery that evokes a gut feeling of unease. Even though this is standard southeast America, something smells rotten in the state of Denmark.

20. Justice League/Justice League Unlimited
"Justice League Theme"
by Lolita Ritmanis
"Justice League Unlimited Theme"
by Michael McCuistion

Justice League began in 2001 with a cast of seven, and remained that way for two seasons. In 2004, the cast ballooned to over thirty superheroes, and every episode focused on a different combination of cast members. Technically, it was the same series, but under two different names. Likewise, each incarnation had a different theme song. As such, I couldn't rightfully choose between the two. The original Justice League theme is a slow, majestic orchestration. It evokes the heroic deeds of warriors, on par with mythological gods and titans. Justice League Unlimited takes an alternate approach. It feasts on modern sensibilities, playing hard, fast and electric. The two themes are opposite sides of the same coin, and I'm clearly way too emotionally invested in superheroes.

19. Pee-Wee's Playhouse
"Pee-Wee's Playhouse Theme Song"
Composed by George McGrath, Mark Mothersbaugh & Paul Reubens
Performed by Mark Mothersbaugh
Vocals by Cyndi Lauper

Pee-Wee's Playhouse was a live action series which aired on Saturday mornings, a time slot normally reserved for cartoons. But watching just the opening sequence, it's easy to forget Pee-Wee's Playhouse isn't a cartoon. The colors are bright and vivid, Pee-Wee Herman is maniacally energetic and practically bouncing off the walls, and the theme song announces itself with energy like a hummingbird on a sugar high. The absolute ecstasy of this song careens into the nuttiness of the show, almost making you forget the surprisingly lengthy intro makes up nearly 1/9th of the runtime. If your 22 minute show has a three minute intro, it had better be worth it, and the theme to Pee-Wee's Playhouse certainly was.

18. The Amazing Race
"The Amazing Race"
by John M. Keane

The Amazing Race is not a reality show. I just want to make this clear. It is a game show with reality elements. First and foremost is the competition and the challenges. The contestants and their affairs/interactions are only there to fill in the cracks. The show is barely about foreign culture; the visited countries are nothing more than backdrops for troublesome physical challenges and mentally taxing activities, both of which make great TV. The show is about a race, which is a motif quite easily scored. The Amazing Race theme gets the blood pumping, it gets the adrenaline flowing, it makes you want to circumnavigate the globe at the behest of an omnipresent host from New Zealand. All while carrying a poorly intertwined product-placement garden gnome.


The 100 Greatest TV Themes: 34 - 26

34. My So-Called Life
"My So-Called Life Theme"
by W. G. Snuffy Walden

My So-Called Life was destined for greatness. Unfortunately, everything conspired against the show, dooming it to failure in its first season. Despite it's all-too-brief run, the show achieved legendary status thanks to a devoted fanbase and critical praise (reruns airing seven times a day on MTV also helped a bit). Listening to the deep emotional resonance emanating from the opening theme, it's very clear the producers knew they had a hit on their hands. They knew they couldn't saddle such a show with a halfhearted, cookie cutter theme. They pulled out all the stops, giving us a beautiful instrumental piece that could just as easily be included in an Oscar winning score. Meanwhile, the desaturated visuals tell a story all on their own; a story about a young girl trapped in the universally familiar yet equally alien realms of suburban teenagedom and high school. It was a masterpiece of a series with a breathtaking opening and damn the individuals responsible for its demise.

33. Gilligan's Island
"The Ballad of Gilligan's Isle"
Written by Sherwood Schwartz and George Wyle
Performed by The Wellingtons/The Eligibles

I didn't want to include the Gilligan's Island theme. Not initially. The purpose of this list was to establish a new, different, and fresh perspective on theme songs. I was tired of seeing terrible theme songs to old TV shows being heralded by everyone and their mothers (especially their mothers). These old theme songs weren't good. They were simply riding the coattails of nostalgia. Green Acres. Terrible theme. Three's Company. Terrible theme. All in the Family. Terribly terrible theme, even by terrible theme standards.

To quote Bill Watterson, nobody recognizes greatness until some authority confirms it. And since I'm kinda, sorta an authority (after all, you're reading this), I took the initiative to challenge the preconceived notion of what makes a good TV theme song. And that's why I didn't want to include Gilligan's Island; I wanted a fresh perspective. I took a very hard 'out with the old, in with the new' stance. But I couldn't go through with it. I just can't bring myself to hate Gilligan's Island. It is unhatable. It is a great theme, and it deserves recognition. It may not be the greatest, but it is certainly is a contender, even after all these years. But I still maintain WKRP In Cincinnati sucks and Cheers is overrated.

32. G. I. Joe
"G. I. Joe: A Real American Hero"
by Ford Kinder & Spencer Michlin
Narrated by Jackson Beck

When someone talks about great TV themes, you can accurately pinpoint their age because they always include cartoons from their childhood. This is the exception. G. I Joe was before my time, and I still think it's a great piece of music. The thundering chorus is intense by itself, but the overlapping harmonies accelerate it to new levels. Who cares if it's blatantly a toy commercial? Who cares if it promotes a military industrial complex? Who cares if a 1930's-era football player is firing a bazooka at point blank range? Who cares if every character is simultaneously firing a gun, but all bullets are replaced with lasers so as not to send out the message that violence has consequences? This theme kicks ass.

31. Beverly Hills, 90210
"Theme From Beverly Hills, 90210"
by John E. Davis

White people hanging out, having fun, looking pretty, and facing problems only upper-class white teenagers could face. Some of the oldest looking teenagers to ever walk the face of the Earth, I might add. Despite my misanthropy, the 90210 theme was a great way to introduce the series. It worked as sort of a beacon. When those opening notes played on Wednesday night, any teenager or young adult within earshot was socially obligated to make a b-line to the nearest television set. Luckily, I was young enough to not give a crap.

30. Spider-Man (1967)
by Paul Francis Webster and Bob Harris

How awesome is Spider-Man that he has two series on this list? The 1967 Spider-Man theme song is a loving ode to the webslinger with classic lines devoted to his heroic nature and his super abilities. By every measure, it should be considered campy and stupid, but it never quite reaches that level. Instead, the opening stays as authentic and genuine as Peter Parker himself (*spoiler*). It's an inseparable element of the Spider-Man mythos, going so far as to be featured canonically in each installment of the Sam Raimi film trilogy. Plus, The Ramones covered it, which is more than anyone's ever done for Batman.

29. Six Feet Under
"Six Feet Under Title Theme"
by Thomas Newman

A TV show about death. How depressing, right? Your mileage may vary. Six Feet Under's intentions were to make the audience think about death. It's all around us. It can happen to anybody, anytime, and will indeed happen to everyone eventually. We shove the notion of death to the back of our subconscious; it's the last thing we want to think about. But the Six Feet Under theme brings it to the forefront with it's chilling music and morbid imagery. Much like how a funeral home emits disconcerting, uncomfortable vibes, the Six Feet Under theme music alludes to the feeling of death without ever concretely making a connection. The funeral imagery, however, depersonalizes the experience so we can view it from a whole new perspective.

28. 3-2-1 Contact
by Tom Anthony

This is my dark horse. 321 Contact was a PBS series pop-science show targeted at middle schoolers, specifically focusing on the concepts of observation and analysis. It was produced in the late 80s, back before PBS gave up completely with children and focused entirely on the preschool demographic. But that's not important. What is important is 321 Contact boasted one of the most retro-fantastic themes I can remember. The whole thing sounds cutting edge if it were produced in the mid-to-late 70's, but for the 80's... well, PBS had a government grant, they didn't have to be hip and popular.

27. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"
by Will "The Fresh Prince" Smith

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme is the new Gilligan's Island theme. Anyone born after 1982 will undoubtedly consider this among the greatest of all TV themes. Most will have it in their top five, but I don't like it quite that much. The theme is entertaining and quirky; it compliments both the series and Will Smith's character But alas, that's also it's biggest downfall: Will Smith. I don't like Will Smith on a good day, but his music career really makes my head hurt. I can't decide whether he's trying to be goofy or if he wants to be taken seriously. His lyrics are unimpressive and poorly written, he takes himself too seriously as an artist and he never has anything important or worthwhile to say. I take his rap career as seriously as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. That being said, the Fresh Prince theme song gets a pass since it was never intended to be taken seriously. Orange juice out of a champagne glass indeed.

26. The X-Files
"The X-Files"
by Mark Snow

The X-Files is a freaky show. On a weekly basis, FBI agents would confirm the existence of the supernatural, psychic abilities, extraterrestrial life, and an international conspiracy seemingly impervious to lung cancer and emphysema. The oft-terrifying adventures were expertly preceded by a haunting theme. The haunting whistling has become synonymous with the horror/sci-fi subgenre, complimenting the imagery of the so-called "conspiracies." It's one thing to imply monsters exist, but to make the monsters seem as though they're lurking in your backyard is a stroke of genius.