Sunday, May 21, 2006

Worst TV Theme Song Ever?

Important, world-shaking question: what's the worst theme song in TV history?

I've been going through Retro Junk and Sitcoms Online looking for really terrible theme songs (Retro Junk has the main title sequences for many TV shows; you click on a show, scroll down and watch the intro), but I've frankly been a little disappointed. Most shows have songs that are more annoying than terrible; I mean, the "Diff'rent Strokes" theme is evil -- as you would expect from any song co-written by Alan Thicke -- but it's not exactly bad. What are some TV theme songs that are just plain terrible?

I think I might nominate "Hello, Larry" as the worst-ever theme song. It's not just that the song is dumb; lots of dumb shows have dumb songs. There are two things that make it stand out as particularly bad. One is the fact that it has backup singers repeating "Hello, Larry, Hello, Larry" all through the song. If you took a shot every time they sing "Hello Larry," you'd be smashed in less than the minute it takes to sing the song. And second, the lyrics are the most on-the-nose, dry, unsubtle lyrics ever. My favourite bad line in a TV theme song lyric may be "Portland is a long way from L.A." Yes, it certainly is.

The theme song of "Charles in Charge" isn't actually all that terrible, but the arrangement (in the infamous syndicated version, anyway) is the ultimate in '80s cheese and fully deserves a place in the pantheon of bad.

I would also put in a good/bad word for the Garry Marshall atrocity "Blansky's Beauties", though it's hard for me to say whether it's the theme song I hate or just the whole title sequence. One way or another it's one of those inappropriately uplifting theme songs for a truly crass show -- kind of like the way the "Laverne and Shirley" theme tried to convince us that the show was some kind of feminist statement.

And while it's not exactly a theme song, I think there's a case to be made that "The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang," which has been called the worst cartoon series of all time, also has the single worst title sequence of all time.

Update: Some other suggestions received are:

- "Joanie Loves Chachi" -- still another entry in the Scott Baio Hall of Shame.

- "It's About Time" (a Sherwood Schwartz production that proved that he did not, in fact, have the magic touch when it came to theme songs).

Update 2: How could I have forgotten "Small Wonder?"

Update 3: Sarah reminds me that we both hate Billy Goldenberg's theme song for "Rhoda."

And there's something deeply wrong about the theme song of "The Ropers."

22 comments:

VP19 said...

The theme song for "It's About Time" is pretty miserable...and stupid. But then again, so was the show.

John said...

Going way, way, way back (but since PaxTV is airing it right now, it's fresh in my memory), the theme for "I Married Joan" really grates on my nerves -- plus the fact the opening annoucment proclaimed Ms. Davis as "America's Queen of Comedy" for a show that was a second-rate ripoff of "I Love Lucy".

My cousin worked for Mr. Schwartz on "It's About Time", so I have a certain bias here, but the theme isn't that bad, even if the words -- both versions -- are pretty inane. I can think of a few other short-lived sit-coms from the 1960s, like "The Pruitts of Southampton" or "Captain Nice". And although this just missed being part of the 1960s group, the lyrics are enough to enduce diabetic coma in some listeners.

Anonymous said...

Star Trek: Enterprise
Chris

Tor Y. Harbin said...

Can't think of a choice, but I have to defend "The Pruitts of Southampton". As far as I'm concerned, Vic Mizzy can do no wrong.

Alexandre S. said...

I really hate the "Home Improvement" theme.

DrBear said...

A nomination for "The Farmer's Daughter."

And when I was a small lad, we used to sing the "It's About Time" theme song (adapted) in school
"It's about time/it's about space/it's about time/to slap your face" followed by a face slap.

Anonymous said...

The theme song for "The Living Dolls" was pretty rancid.
http://www.sitcomsonline.com/sounds/livingdolls.wav

Mary said...

I remember the show It's About Time. Wow and I dating myself. But I gotta say that the version of the theme song that usually runs through my head is "Its about time, its about space. Its about time to slap your face." Not sure where I got that one from.

Mary said...

Oops, just read drbear's comment (should have done that before posting). Well, at least I now know that I'm not the only one to have that alternate version in my head.

Anonymous said...

What about that treacly song for "Family Ties:" "What would we do baby without us? What would we DOOOO baby, without us?" Particularly egregious is the quadruple-negative of "Ain't no nothing we can't love each other through."

JD Rhoades said...

Last night's Family Guy repeat suggested that every TV channel in Hell is plying "Who's the Boss"..and I've had that damn theme in my head all day.

All that said, Chris is right: the them from ST: E made me throw up in my mouth.

Chris Fung said...

The really slowed down version of the "Growing Pains" theme was horrible in my opinion. I think it was the season that Leonardo DiCaprio was on the show.

I hope you do a post for best theme song ever. I think DALLAS has to be in the Top 3 at least.

JD Rhoades said...

For Best Theme? Hill Street Blues or Rockford Files.

Anonymous said...

Best? Mission: Impossible is way up there, and Hawaii Five-O, and The Avengers, and The Addams Family.
Chris

Rob Bates said...

I often hum the Rhoda song when I walk around New York (not often, but it happens.) It's a great making-your-way-through-life song.

Anonymous said...

Best, hands down: Peter Gun.

TV Guy said...

god, just reading about these as I was "researching" my bad sitcoms of all time entry today was just hilarious... charles in charge is absolutely my least favorite, but i'm headed over to retrojunk to see if "Hello, Larry" deserves a special place in my circle o' hell as well..

great blog!

Anonymous said...

Worst theme song hands down was Barney Miller. it was as dead as the show itself. It is like listening to fingernails scrapimg on a blackboard.

Golden Silence said...

Anonymous #...I don't know:

I actually like the Living Dolls theme! It's catchy and cool.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect -- you have lost yo' damn mind. The Ropers is an awesome theme song. Tacky, but fun and playful.

Albee said...

Try the theme song for "The L Word." The show is actually pretty decent, but I have to mute the volume every time the theme plays...

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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