I was thinking about posting a different thing today, then I realized I wanted to reference this, so I figured I’ll post that other thing later and this today.
Full disclosure: I did not grow up in the 1960s. I was not alive during the 1960s. When I watched The Wonder Years, I watched it with my dad, who had grown up during the 1960s. Now, when I hear “A Little Help from My Friends” as sung by Joe Cocker, or see The Wonder Years on TV, I feel an urge to call upstairs to my dad: “Daddy! The Wonder Years is on!” and have him drop what he’s doing and run down to watch with me. I live 3,000 miles away from him now, and almost never watch the show anymore, and have begun to primarily think of Fred Savage as a prolific and talented television director (whom I met once, and to whom I handed his keys!) rather than as a confused suburban kid trying to establish something concrete when everything around him was changing rapidly. If there’s anything that has ever understood what it means to watch these opening credits, it is surely the greatest three-and-a-half minutes of television ever (I might stand by this, actually):
When Cougar Town was but a gleam in the eyes of Bill Lawrence, Kevin Biegel, and Courtney Cox, they thought “a show about a 40something woman starting to date again - like a cougar or something. That’s what all the kids are talking about these days!” Unfortunately, they accidentally made the show a really good ensemble comedy where Courtney Cox’s character is dating someone also in his forties and the stupid title is no longer applicable. Sincerely, it’s a good show with a bad title. And Bill Lawrence knows it - he considered changing the title, but:
“I’m not changing the title,” Lawrence tells me. “We never thought of a good new one, which kind of sucks. And when you look at the modern landscape of television, changing the title means changing your DVR and all this other stuff.”
So what’s a guy to do? Well, undercut the title and make fun of it in every single opening sequence. In its first season, as it zooms in on suburban Florida (this is the second-best show taking place in Florida, btw), it said “Welcome to” above Cougar Town. In its second season (so far) it has changed to:
- “(Still) Cougar Town”
- “Badly Titled Cougar Town”
- “Not What the Show Is: Cougar Town”
- “100% Cougar Free Cougar Town”.
These definitely create the impression that Bill Lawrence is simpatico with his audience, which he has always seemed to be. And the music, along with the show’s score, is composed by WAZ, who you may remember from another Bill Lawrence joint.
Sung by The Presidents of The United States of America, occasionally you can hear the cast singing along. It doesn’t quite have the same home-made feel of the Five O’Clock World one, but how can you not love this? Seriously. As Ken Levine said:
A good theme and opening title sequence ATTRACTS viewers. Some people tune in specifically because they LIKE the title sequence. That was me with the Drew Carey “Cleveland Rocks” opening. If only the show was that good.
And while I did enjoy The Drew Carey Show, I must agree. This theme song was a large part of what led me to return to the show, week after week. I would watch almost any show that used this theme song, which explains its longevity as the show’s theme, after its early shuffling.
Welcome back to Drew Carey Week! In today’s edition, we’re moving on to the second credits sequence for the show, set to Five O’Clock World, sung by The Vogues. And honestly, this is what I’m talking about when I talk about great theme songs. (Do I talk about that? If I did, this would be it.)
The song discusses the theme of the show: working until five o’clock every day when your real life starts. But a choreographed dance sequence? Who could ask for more?
What’s also really great about this is that it’s also a dream sequence (in my interpretation). It’s a kind of 2 pm fantasy from an office day - what if my job were more exciting?
Also, weirdly, you’ll notice that in the carpool scene, Drew Carey is flanked by Ian Gomez and (I’m pretty sure - she was definitely on the show, and I believe it is her in the car) Christa Miller. Those two would end up playing a married couple on Cougar Town! How about that, you know?
This dance sequence also does a good job of establishing character relationships, but not as good a job as a later musical number from the show:
Welcome to Drew Carey Week here at I Love TV Themes Dot Tumblr Dot Com! This week we’ll be discussing the various theme songs used by The Drew Carey Show over its run, and maybe even learn a little bit about ourselves in the process.
This first theme, used in the show’s first season (before smash sensation talk show host Craig Ferguson even joined the cast!) was Drew Carey singing “Moon Over Parma.” There’s a long version on the show’s soundtrack that I could SWEAR I saw on the show sometimes, but cannot find on youtube. So whatever. What I really like about this is that Drew Carey is not a particularly strong singer. A show about occasional moments of excitement and fancy in a mundane office life deserves a fun love song sung by a regular-sounding guy. And the song is about Cleveland, a fairly unspectacular place. See also.
So here’s a theme song (composed by Joe Raposo and sung by Ray Charles [NOT the famous one] and Julia Rinker) that knew what the show was about before it did. Three’s Company (based on the British series like “Cock About The Henhouse In the Northernshire” or something to that effect) was ostensibly a series about a man living with two women (!!!!) who has to pretend to be gay when the landlord’s around, because of Morals. As the show went on, nobody seemed to care about any of that, so instead it became a show about a talented physical comedian living with a hot (?) blonde and a brainy but unattractive (???) brunette. Consider:
But of course, everyone gets along great and has a wonderful time living together. And that’s what the theme song’s about. Come over, because everyone’s having fun. It’s another entry in the tradition of theme songs about hanging out with the main characters. What I think is best about the song, though, is the INSANELY, INAPPROPRIATELY funky tune that it starts. It’s like it’s a completely different song from this one (start at 2:04). I suspect that the intro to the song is what helped get it lodged in America’s brains forever, but we still recall the lyrics as though they were the exceptional thing about the show, which they aren’t (as the linked clip should demonstrate). And if you’re fans of Three’s Company (aren’t we all?) you may enjoy this:
(This embed would not work the way I wanted, so you can watch the relevant part here.)
If you ask me, it’s really a shame that Sons & Daughters didn’t last longer, because this show was so funny. There are numerous clips of it online, and really Jerry Lambert (who you will know from various ad campaigns) shines as the most hilarious guy ever.
The show, created by and starring Fred Goss, had one big problem, and that was Fred Goss. He didn’t really think things through well enough, and used Cheap Trick’s Surrender as its theme song, ensuring the show would never be released on DVD. But it’s a fun show about a multigenerational family, and Surrender works great here. You thought you were rock and roll, but your kids think you’re boring, etc. It’s fun, and lamented (by me).