Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The 100 Most Memorable Songs Introduced by Classic TV, Pt. 2

Welcome back, culture lovers, for the second installment of Comfort TV’s ranking of 100 memorable moments when music and television came together.

You’ll notice that most of the entries on the list come from the 1960s and 1970s. That’s not just my generational bias – it’s a reflection of the fact that in the 1950s creators were still figuring the new medium out, including how best to use original music. And by the 1980s series themes reverted back to being dominated by instrumentals, as the reputation of the opening theme began to take on a cheesy perception. Thus, the decades in between were the Golden Age for television music.

Now, let’s get back to the list.

“Castles in the Air”
The Bugaloos

The Bugaloos were the second best band created by Sid & Marty Krofft, and this is their second best song. We’ll get to the top-ranked band and song a bit later. 

“It Could Be Magic”

My affection for Lisa Hartman may have bumped this one a few spots higher than it deserves. But it’s still a good song. 

“Pfft! You Were Gone”
Hee Haw

A staple on Hee Haw for three decades, this skit was one of TV’s best running jokes, especially when it featured some of the greatest singers in country music. 

“I Believe in Santa Claus”
The Year Without a Santa Claus

In which Santa (voiced by Mickey Rooney) takes a trip to a small hamlet to find a lost reindeer, and encounters a child who no longer believes in him. Joined by the boy’s father, they let him know in song that some beliefs require a little faith, but they’re worth it: “Look at me and tell me, son, what is real to you?” 

“Trippin’ To the Mornin’”
Charlie’s Angels

Ed Lakso wrote more than 30 Charlie’s Angels scripts, but he was also a frustrated songwriter who added original compositions to his episodes anywhere he could. Most were not very good. This one, from “Angel Blues,” is the exception. It’s a melancholy country ballad that fits this somber story of the Angels investigating a troubled young singer’s murder. 

“Feels So Good”
The Hardy Boys

No, this is not the 1970s series featuring Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy. It’s from the 1969 Filmation animated series that tried to recreate the chart success of The Archies. That didn’t happen, but “Feels So Good” is first-rate bubblegum pop, reminiscent of Herman’s Hermits. 

“Pump Your Blood”
Happy Days

Schoolhouse Rock wasn’t the only place where music was used to help viewers in the classroom. In this rare, memorable moment from the series’ post-shark jump era, Potsie delivers a musical lesson on the human cardiovascular system – we can only guess how many high school (and maybe college) students earned higher grades as a result. 

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters

Granted, the song is better than the singer – in this case Johnny Whitaker. 


Most cartoons have cartoonish theme songs. The original animated Spider-Man series announced itself with a bold blast of brass and percussion. It was pretty cool in 1967, and is now iconic enough to hold its own alongside The Ramones in this year’s trailer for Spiderman: Far From Home

“Room Enough For Two”
My Sister Sam

This should be everyone’s second favorite Kim Carnes song after “Bette Davis Eyes.” 

“We Never Really Say Goodbye”
Captain & Tennille

Most of the 1970s variety series had closing themes, and with the exception of one other example higher up this list, I’ve always thought this was one of the best. Thankfully there’s a full-length version for even more Captain & Tennille goodness. 

“Let the Sunshine In”
The Flintstones

As with “Friends,” this is a better song than the version heard on the series. The “performance” by Pebbles and Bamm Bamm sounds like something off a Chipmunks album. The lyrics, about saying your prayers to keep the devil away, probably seem more provocative now than they did back then. Here’s a better version, by the band Frente!

“The Lumberjack Song”
Monty Python’s Flying Circus

I’ll resist the temptation to discuss how lumberjack Michael Palin’s life choices would be viewed very differently now than they were about 50 years ago, and just comment that this is probably the funniest song to make the list. 

The Electric Company

“They are the little marks that use their influence…to help a sentence make more sense.” I can’t think of a cooler way to learn about periods, commas, question marks and exclamation points than this song, performed with Latin flair by Rita Moreno and in calypso style by Lee Chamberlin.


This smooth jazz theme with vocals by Al Jarreau offers an appropriately cool and sophisticated introduction to one of the TV gems of the 1980s: “Moonlighting strangers…who just met on the way.” 

Eight is Enough

To some, it’s a lovely reminder of a time when there was no such thing as a TV-MA rating, and Grant Goodeve could sing a snark-free ode to the happiness of growing up in a close, loving family. To others, lyrics about a plate of homemade wishes on the kitchen windowsill are as cornball as it gets. I’m with the first group. 

“Big Red Car”
The Wiggles

Yes, we’re just slightly out of the bounds of the Comfort TV era, but no one planted earworms as deep into the brains of kids and their parents as this Australian quartet. Simple songs this catchy can be as tough to write as any type of music. Everybody: “Toot Toot Chugga Chugga…” 

“Time to Change”
The Brady Bunch

Greg wrote it (not really), Peter’s voice cracked all the way though it, and with this episode was launched a half-hearted attempt to turn the Brady Kids into America’s favorite fake family band. It didn’t take, but the song is still fun. 

“And I Never Dreamed”
The Krofft Supershow

I don’t care how much criticism I take for this – Kaptain Kool and the Kongs rocked. And you haven’t seen the last of them here. 

“My Dad”
The Donna Reed Show

Earlier we had a couple of songs that sounded better away from the episodes in which they were introduced. Here we have the inverse. On the radio it’s a sweet little song performed by Paul Petersen. In the context of the series, it has reduced more than a few grown men to tears. 

Next Week: #59 through 40

1 comment:

  1. "Pump Your Blood" was used in a St. Joseph's Aspirin ad a few years ago.

    "My Dad" has brought tears to my eyes a few times, including when I watched it here, not on the radio, but in the context of that Donna Reed episode. I've only seen the full episode once on Me-TV a few years ago.