The 100 Greatest TV Themes: 42 - 35

42. The Ren & Stimpy Show
"Dog Pound Hop"
by Scott Huml, John Kricfalusi, Chris Reccardi and Jim Smith

Even though everyone unanimously agrees the show should simply be called 'Ren and Stimpy,' The Ren and Stimpy Show is a legacy in both animation and comedy. The high-energy insanity and repulsion-comedy that drive the show are classic trademarks, seen in abundance during the intro. Likewise, the theme song is equally recognizable; a 60's era swing number complete with bongos, double bass, and twangy electric guitar.

41. Dexter
"Dexter Main Theme"
by Rolfe Kent

While the music isn't particularly noteworthy or memorable (and don't flood my inbox in disagreement), I love the opening to Dexter because of its visuals alone. You would never expect to revel in somebody's morning routine, but as you would never expect to root for a serial killer, Dexter again does the impossible. The sinister imagery leads the black comedy, telling us everything we need to know about both the character and the series.

40. The Office
"Handbags and Gladrags"
Written by Mike d'Abo
Performed by Big George

I'm not here to debate the differences between the British Office and the American Office. Both are excellent shows with excellent casts. Both have distinct advantages and disadvantages, and both are worthy of your time. But the British incarnation does have the better theme. Not that there's anything wrong with America's piano and harmonica creation, but the English version just seems to fit better with the series. Woeful bluesy lyrics mocking the workforce during the closing, and imagery of soul-crushingly gray cityscapes during the opening. This was a sitcom.

39. The Muppet Show
"The Muppet Show Theme"
Written by Sam Pottle & Jim Henson
Performed by The Muppets

The Muppet Show is notable for being one of the few, if not the only, comedy/variety show to stand the test of time. The old-timey vaudevillian concept, complete with musical song and dance numbers of public domain standards really seem out of date and out of place on television. But somehow, when they're performed by felt pigs and frogs, they're hypnotically endearing.

38. The Kids in the Hall
"Having an Average Weekend"
by Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet

Always bubbling just under the mainstream radar, The Kids in the Hall were a Canadian sketch-comedy troupe consisting of five guys referred to individually by everybody as "You know, that one guy from that one thing." And what better intro for an underground hit than a song heavily evoking college rock motifs and imagery that's taken from any second semester sophomore film class?

37. Amazing Stories
"Amazing Stories Main Title"
by John Williams

An adventure anthology series. Steven Spielberg at the helm. With a score and theme song composed by John Williams. The recipe for the most epic TV theme of all time, mired down by bad CGI and corny imagery.

I've looked and looked, but I could only find one intact manifestation of the Amazing Stories theme on the internet, and it's from the Spanish dub. Sorry about that. Still, the video-less version above would play great on your MP3 Player.

36. X-Men
"X-Men Theme"
by Ron Wasserman

The X-Men have a long and storied history, spanning many different comic book series, controlled by many different writers, each with their own interpretation of the characters and their motives. The X-Men animated series was considered a huge success for condensing such a massive universe into a single standalone entity, but also being extremely faithful to its comic predecessor. As such, the epic metal theme song doesn't seem the slightest bit ironic. Every time I hear that electric guitar battle with the synthesizer, only to crescendo with a single bell chime, I get goosebumps.

35. Saved By the Bell
"Saved by the Bell Theme"
by Scott Gale

Saved By the Bell is not a good show. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy every episode. I love the corny jokes, I love the stock characters taken right from a middle school creative writing class, I love the fact that it looks like 1985 despite being made in 1993. I love the show, but it's so stupid. It's the Plan 9 From Outer Space of TV shows. The intro is a great accompaniment to such a spectacle; a nonsensical barrage of color and clip art, with lyrics that were probably scrawled on a McDonald's napkin in traffic on the way to a recording studio. I also love how the theme was blocked on Youtube for copyright reasons, but The College Years and The New Class are both present. Even NBC doesn't care about the spin-offs.

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