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good ensemble comedy where Courtney Cox’s character is dating someone also in his forties and the stupid title is no longer applicable.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.
The first show Bill Lawrence created was Spin City, which he co-created with Gary David Goldberg. The show was very much a meeting of their two sensibilities. Following Spin City’s success, he created Scrubs on his own. What became more clear as the show went on, though, is that there was another creative force contributing mightily to the show. Guess whose? Zach Braff’s. Don’t guess, now you know.
Zach Braff is known pretty well for the Garden State soundtrack, and for the 104-minute video he made to accompany the soundtrack. The dude loves really delicate emotional songs. And guess what song he loved, and suggested to Bill Lawrence be the theme song for Scrubs? That’s right: Superman, by Lazlo Bane. Zach Braff also directed the music video for this song:
The other piece of the story is that Scrubs never got particularly good ratings on NBC, despite being basically pretty consistently decent throughout its run (with some exceptions, of course). Anyway, Following the show’s abortive seventh season on NBC (the planned run was seven full seasons, but the writers’ strike and his studio being pretty dickish created a problem), it moved to ABC for its eighth and ninth/final seasons. The ninth included a new young cast and a cover of the theme song by WAZ. Nothing too new, though:
There was potential here, but the ninth season was its last, ending the series in a weird place. Luckily, we’re ending our story on a more fun note. One of the actors on the show, Sam Lloyd, is in an actual a cappella group (The Blanks) which made appearances on the show as Lloyd’s character’s (Ted’s) a cappella group The Worthless Peons. They covered Superman, and their cover appeared over the end credits/blooper reel of the eighth season finale:
(Two things to watch for: Neil Flynn’s eternal genius, and Zach Braff being super emotional)
Spin City had a few theme songs in its run. Above, its best, for season 2-3, was a song written by The Spin Doctors (YUP), and featuring the whole cast wearing flannel and doing mugging-for-the-camera things (for more on this era, please see). What an era to be in the sitcom business! Syndication money was raining from the sky, and everyone was having fun.
Seriously, though, here’s the first season opening, composed by Shelley Palmer:
Like, what is that? A freaking sewer? Is this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Whatever.
When Michael J Fox left the show after the fourth season (Parkinson’s and so forth), they brought in Charlie Sheen, and had to change their opening credits to something much worse:
The song is serviceable, written by Danny Pelfrey, and basically has an urgency like “if we don’t get through this music quick enough Charlie Sheen will hit us.” Visually, though, it looks like what if the movie Crooklyn had been made before the invention of zoom lenses, you know (REALLY THINK ABOUT THIS ONE)? I have to admit, though, that I love the shots of Richard Kind and Alan Ruck, who apparently have no idea that they’re being filmed, or even that some people consider “staying in one spot and looking blankly in a direction” to be somewhat strange and upsetting behavior. On a side note, I’m weirdly enthusiastic whenever I see Alan Ruck in anything, like he’s hurting for work or something. He’s doing fine.