As promised, although a day late, more 80s goodness. I decided to pull a switcharoo and have the 80s TV mix tape this week, with the more obscure stuff in a couple weeks.
Not all of these shows are that great, to be honest, and a couple of them I’ve never seen, but they have such fun theme songs it doesn’t even matter. Likewise, some of them don’t have the most memorable themes, but I have a soft spot for the show itself. But most of them, of course, I love both the show and the theme.
1. HBO Feature Presentation. This is one of my favorite things about the stuff we taped on VHS when we had HBO back in the 80s. Please, listen and watch the rock-awesome goodness. Everything about it makes me smile 142,000 shades of happy.
2. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (BBC). Another one that makes me go all fuzzy inside when I hear it. If you don’t mind cheesy costumes or effects and you love the humor of Douglas Adams, I highly suggest watching the series. I have a nerd crush on Ford Prefect, by the by. And he’s not even Jewish.
3. Night Court. I also have a nerd crush on Judge Stone. To you youngsters: yes, Night Court is the show that had its fictional reunion on 30 Rock (which made me almost pee my pants, I’ll have you know).
4. Amazing Stories. A few years ago Sci-Fi Channel played reruns of this, well, amazing show. Created by Steven Spielberg, main theme by John Williams, Twilight Zone-esque stories—what’s not to love?
5. Family Dog. This was actually an episode of Amazing Stories, but I’m giving it its own slot because it is by far my favorite. Written and directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille, The Iron Giant) with music by Danny Elfman. Love? Love. Apparently it was spun off into its own show (which only had 10 episodes), but I’ve only seen the original Amazing Stories episode. It happens to remain one of the funniest damn things I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately there’s only parts 2 and 3 of the episode on YouTube, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that the beginning is just as hilarious.
6. Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Also by Danny Elfman. This isn’t the main theme, but it’s part of a suite from the show. I really love this particular piece, not just because it’s so fun, but because my sister’s class danced to it in one of our dance academy recitals when I was a girl. It was everyone’s favorite dance, so us younger girls all tried to learn it and were dancing along backstage during the performance.
7. Beetlejuice: The Animated Series. Another great Danny Elfman tune. I watched the show long before I watched the entire movie (the movie scared me when I was little). When I eventually did sit down and watch the film, I was surprised to find out Beetlejuice is, in fact, the villain. Anyway, I’ve now seen the movie several times and it still makes me giggle whenever Catherine O’Hara or Jeffrey Jones are on screen.
8. The Real Ghostbusters. I also watched this cartoon before seeing the movie, so as a kid I always pictured Slimer as a good guy and Egon with white hair. As with Beetlejuice, I am now far more familiar with and fond of the movie. I recently got the movies on DVD, and one of the special features is some episodes of the show. Cool! I thought. Sadly, this is one of those shows that is best kept in ignorant memory-bliss. Watching the title sequence was fun enough, but it was difficult to get through an entire episode. As a side note, I didn’t realize at the time that Venkman (Bill Murray’s character) was done by the Garfield voice actor. Which is funny, because didn’t Bill Murray voice Garfield in the live action movie?
9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Turtles in a Half-Shell! You might be spotting a trend, because I also watched this cartoon before becoming familiar with the live action movies. Although those movies were done in the early 90s, so this time I had an excuse. Once again, though, I prefer the movies. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it until someone takes me seriously: the first Ninja Turtles movie is actually a really good film, nostalgia aside. But this is the theme to the show, back when April O’Neil wore yellow jumpsuits.
10. Transformers. I have a robot crush on Optimus Prime. And I hope that’s the last of my embarrassing crushes I reveal in this entry…
11. Care Bear Family. Not just Bears, but Lions and Monkeys and stuff, too! This is from the Care Bear movie, not the show. But I don’t have the theme to the show, so make due with this. Haha. I like this song, anyway. It’s groovisational!
12. Adventures of the Gummi Bears. Oh, Disney. Way to cash in on the Care Bears’ success. That’s what I love about you. I hope this show is actually as fun as my memory tells me, but after the Real Ghostbusters fiasco, I’m afraid to find out. I also wanted to put the themes to Ducktales and Darkwing Duck, but Erin beat me to it here.
13. TaleSpin. Technically this show is from 1990….but because Erin stole my thunder with Darkwing Duck and everything, I thought I’d slip this one in. My dad worked on the design for the “This is what we’re planning on doing with this awesome show, so listen up, Producers!” notebook, so he has a couple. It’s really neat, it has character backgrounds, the colours they use, and ideas for merchandising. I have the show on DVD, and while I have to admit the premise and style of the show is better than the actual execution, it has held up to my expectations fairly well. It’s one of the shows I secretly want to remake (another is SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron).
14. Fraggle Rock. Jim Henson is one of my favorite artists. His imagination was so beautiful. While I was visiting my brother when he lived in Ireland, we drove through a crowded street in Cork near the university. An apartment had writing on the windows that said “Let the Music Play” and the apartment below it said “Down at Fraggle Rock”. Too bad we didn’t have time to pull out a camera and take a picture. We did, however, have time to take a picture of this awesome place, straight out of Blues Brothers.
15. Mystery Science Theater 3000. Moving from muppets to robot puppets… This song is called the “MST3k Love Theme,” because the ship that Joel and the ‘Bots are stranded on is called the Satellite of Love. I have a nerd crush on Joel. And Dr. Forrester. And a robot crush on Crow. So, I guess that wasn’t the end of my embarrassing crushes revealed. This time for sure, though….really. (At least I didn’t mention my inexplicable crush on Moltar from Space Ghost Coast to Coast….d’oh!)
16. Star Trek: The Next Generation. For all my sci-fi geekiness, I’m not a Trekkie. That is to say, I’ve only seen a handful of episodes (if that, even) from each of the series. I keep meaning to watch more, because I’m so nerdy I might as well go all the way, but I never do.
17. Quantum Leap. Oh, how I loved this show! It started my old man crush on Dean Stockwell (oh em gee, why can’t I stop confessing?). Funnily, there’s a portrait in my university’s English building of the professor the building was named after, and he looks exactly like Dean Stockwell. Seriously, if you exchanged his Victorian coat with a gaudy 80s shirt, the book in his hand for Ziggy, and put a cigar in his other hand, you would think our school just really liked Al.
18. Knight Rider. My brother has a funny story about meeting the composer of this theme, Stu Phillips (who also did the incidental music for the Monkees show). But I’m not going to repeat it here because I’ve taken enough time digressing.
19. Alien Nation. This is a show I’ve actually never seen. I recently saw the movie it was based on, though, and it’s got a great premise. It’s about the near future, when an alien race has immigrated to earth and peacefully assimilates into our society, but there is still racial (special?) tension on both sides. The two main characters are a human and alien, both police officers, who are assigned as partners in the LAPD’s effort to publically show equality between the species. It’s really interesting. Kind of like a science fiction version of In the Heat of the Night. Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya in Princess Bride) plays the alien in the movie, by the by. And the theme song, used also for the show, is amazing.
20. Max Headroom. This is another show with excellent style. It’s very cyberpunk—think Blade Runner—which happens to be one of my favorite forms of dystopian storytelling (the other being steampunk—think Jules Verne). Interestingly, the character of Max Headroom precedes the show. He was a talking head (literally) before his backstory was incorporated into a series. We have one episode taped, and I watched a couple on a website before they were taken down. I wish they were on DVD so I could see all of them.
21. Moonlighting. I think of Moonlighting in tandem with Max Headroom not because they have anything in common stylistically, but because the same tape that has the Max Headroom episode has one of Moonlighting. It’s the only one I’ve seen, but it seems like a funny show. And it’s great seeing Bruce Willis with hair.
22. Whose Line is it Anyway? This is the original British series. I used to watch it on Comedy Central long before the Drew Carey one. They’re both hilarious.
23. Mork & Mindy. Oh, Robin Williams. This show is so bizarre. It’s basically just an excuse for Robin Williams to run around and be crazy. I love it.
24. The Cosby Show. This is one of the seven variations of the song used for the credits of The Cosby Show. Erin has another one on her mix tape.
25. Roseanne. I also have two versions of this theme, but I’m only putting this one up.
26. Father Dowling Mysteries. I used to stay up late in the 5th and 6th grade specifically to watch this show on the local channel. Diagnosis Murder came on at 10, and Father Dowling at 11. Yes, that’s right, I voluntarily (and even really looked forward to) watching the murder mystery shows everyone else was forced to watch with their granny.
27. Murder, She Wrote. Now this show I was forced to watch with my granny. Okay, not really forced, but it was her favorite show so I would sit with her even though I didn’t really pay attention. Don’t ask me why I was fascinated with Father Dowling and yet couldn’t follow Angela Lansbury. But I do remember the show fondly, even if I can’t recall a single plotline.
28. MacGyver. My eldest brother used to watch this show, which is how I became familiar with it. Like Murder, She Wrote, though, I mostly remember just being in the same room rather than actually watching the show. I was more into The A-Team. Probably because of my nerd crush on Murdock (and that, I promise, is the very last you’ll hear of my crushes—in this post). In my senior English class in high school, we somehow got onto the topic of MacGyver, and eventually one of the girls in our class said, “Isn’t….isn’t MacGyver, like, chocolate?” And a boy said, “You’re thinking of Godiva!” We subsequently put it on our list of ridiculous class quotes.
And that concludes my very lengthy but very fun to write post for today. I’m counting this twice, as my Mix Tape for yesterday and my usual Wednesday post. Sorry.