Wednesday, May 22, 2019

You Didn’t Have to Be There – But I’m Glad I Was

While Comfort TV was wrapping up the top 100 TV-inspired songs ranking (just keep scrolling down if you missed it), three of the medium’s most beloved stars took their final bows: Tim Conway, Doris Day and Peggy Lipton. 

For those of us who remember watching their shows in their original runs, the sadness of their passing was followed by a realization that we too are starting to get up there a bit.

Another reason to be sad? I don’t think so. We all get a certain span of years to exist on this planet, and I feel not only content but also fortunate that part of my time was shared with them. 

I started Comfort TV to celebrate the classic television of the 1950s-1970s (and to some extent the ‘80s, but that’s going to be a topic for a future blog). When I look back at that era and how the medium has changed since...I can’t say it’s “better” or "worse," as that is too subjective; but I can say I still prefer it to what’s on TV now. It depicts a world I recognize and understand better than the one I’m presently living in. Its stories and characters, for the most part, respect the things that I respect, and don’t shy away from the kind of absolutes that have vanished in this era of persistent relevancy.

They were just nicer shows, with nicer people.

Doris Day had forged a bond with millions of loving fans long before The Doris Day Show debuted in 1968. It was a series she didn’t even want to do (read her autobiography for the details), but the stars of that era held themselves to higher standards of professionalism and honoring contracts. So she not only did the work, she never let anyone know that she’d rather be spending time with her animals in Carmel. 

The series struggled to find itself over five seasons. Doris first played a widow who lived on a ranch with her father and two sons. Then she took a job in San Francisco and the rural series became more city-based. By season four, the father and her two sons were gone (not dead, just written out and never acknowledged again).

Through it all, the flair for light comedy that seemed so natural in Doris Day kept viewers coming back. As did a troupe of supporting players led by Rose Marie, McLean Stevenson, Kaye Ballard and Bernie Kopell (are there any shows he wasn’t in?). 

I wish she sang more often on the show beyond the familiar theme, which can lift your mood faster than unexpected money in the mail. And I wish they’d have gone without a laugh track, which seems especially intrusive on this series. But even here, with a show that should have been better than it was, I can recall Monday evenings in my family’s living room, and the happy memories of enjoying a pleasant and comfortable show together.

The Mod Squad debuted the same year as The Doris Day Show. Unlike Doris, Peggy Lipton was an unknown actress when she was cast as Julie Barnes, but quickly became an icon of counterculture chic. 

My first memory of the series was wondering what the heck they were running away from in the opening credits.

I don’t own the series, but I bought the first two seasons twice; this is the only show where the DVD disc quality has been consistently dreadful. There’s a box set of all five seasons available now for just 32 bucks. Maybe it’s worth one more try.

I was surprised that most of the articles about her passing mentioned Twin Peaks more prominently, though I was glad to see her among that quirky cast as well, still looking radiant. One of my favorites of her TV performances was in the Wings episode “Miss Jenkins,” where she played the high school English teacher every boy had a crush on. It’s a shame she didn’t play more comedic roles. 

While Tim Conway was also a regular in more than one series, it’s his genius on The Carol Burnett Show that became a landmark in sketch comedy. The relentlessness of his improvisational attacks inspired some of the funniest moments I’ve ever watched on television.

I’ve shared the elephant story clip in this blog before, and you’re certainly familiar with the dentist sketch, and Mr. Tudball and his shuffling old man character. And who could forget the sketch where he plays a Nazi interrogating captured G.I. Lyle Waggoner with a Hitler hand puppet? It’s a moment that rivals Monty Python in sheer absurdity, and Waggoner, usually pretty unflappable, dissolves as quickly as Harvey Korman ever did.

I honestly don’t know if people in their 20s and 30s would find any of these shows and any of these performers as engaging as I did. If not, then we’ve lost something. There’s an appreciation for the past that seems lacking now, that wasn’t there with previous generations. I wasn’t around for the heydays of Sinatra or Elvis, but I still enjoy their music and understand what made them special. Does that same perception exist now for Johnny Carson or Rod Serling or Mary Tyler Moore?

That said, I acknowledge that I will never feel the same connection to Elvis as teenagers did in the 1950s. Some of this is indeed generational and there’s no way to embrace a moment from the past with the same appreciation from 20 years after it happened.

But that’s the connection I have with the classic TV era. I can remember watching the shows featuring Doris Day, Peggy Lipton and Tim Conway when they were brand new. We had no way to save them at the time, so for years they existed only in our memories. Now we can watch them any time we wish on DVD or YouTube, and that’s great. But it’s not the same as taking life's journey alongside them. I’m glad I was around to do that. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The 100 Most Memorable Songs Introduced by Classic TV, Pt. 5

And we’ve reached the top 20 at last. Hope you’ve enjoyed taking this journey with me, even if your most memorable TV songs are different than mine.

“Different Worlds”

The jubilant “Different Worlds” charted in the top 20, and you can still hear it performed live if you happen to catch the amazing Maureen McGovern in concert. Since Angie has been out of circulation for so long, there’s still a freshness to the tune that is unachievable by themes from more popular shows that run every day on Antenna or Me-TV. 

“Secret Agent Man”
Secret Agent

This Johnny Rivers hit is better known than the show it introduced. In fact, there are probably people who don’t even know it came from a series. 

“Every Beat of My Heart”
Josie and the Pussycats

If you have any non TV-obsessed fans, here’s a record you can play and then ask them if they can name the band. Usually you’ll hear guesses of Motown groups and other 1960s pop trios, but no one would expect such a smooth and sophisticated track to come from Josie and the Pussycats. Of all the songs in my top 20 that were not chart hits, this is the one that most deserved a better fate. 

Shadows of the Night”
Dark Shadows

One of Bob Cobert’s greatest gifts as a composer is the ability to write music that sounds as if it were composed in a bygone century. That’s an especially valuable talent when you’re scoring a series with stories set in the 19th and 18th centuries. “Shadow of the Night,” also known as “Quentin’s Theme,” was recorded by numerous artists including Andy Williams. 

“It’s a Sunshine Day”
The Brady Bunch

If there’s one song that exemplifies Comfort TV for me, it is this one. I’m sure to those that didn’t grow up with it, this innocuous tune delivered with less-than-polished vocals hardly seems special. But if you grew up with The Brady Bunch in syndication, in the era before DVDs and VCRs, there was always some extra excitement every time this episode came around. 

“Welcome Back”
Welcome Back, Kotter

Gabe Kaplan’s sitcom already had a theme selected when former Lovin’ Spoonful lead singer John Sebastian submitted his effort. Producers quickly made a switch and this song, Sebastian’s only solo hit, topped the Billboard chart in May of 1976. 

“Long Lonesome Highway”
Then Came Bronson

This 1969 series lasted just one season and isn’t well remembered now. But the song that played over the closing credits, performed by series star Michael Parks, cracked the Billboard top 20. “Goin’ down that long, lonesome highway, goin’ to live my life my way.” 

“Daydream Believer”
The Monkees

This #1 hit is another obvious pick, and features Davy Jones’ best vocal on a Monkees track (though if you prefer “She Hangs Out” I won’t argue the point). 

“It’s You I Like”
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood

Music can entertain, motivate and inspire, but I believe it can also help to heal wounded hearts and give people the courage to carry on in the face of adversity. We will never know how many children, and adults as well, found comfort and strength in this tender, uplifting song written and performed by Fred Rogers. 

“Holly Jolly Christmas”
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Of all the Christmas songs to make this top 100 list, this is the only one that became a holiday standard. Fifty years after Burl Ives sang it as a stop-motion snowman, his version has re-entered the hot 100 chart several times over the decades, most recently last year. 


As with Then Came Bronson, here’s a show that didn’t last long and to my knowledge hasn’t played anywhere in decades. But it featured a theme song performed in 1964 by The Beach Boys, at the height of their popularity and creativity. It’s 60 seconds of bliss that leaves one longing for a full-length version. As long as the band is still around, I haven’t given up hope. 

“Sugar Sugar”
The Archies

Producer Don Kirshner knew this was a sure-fire hit and decided it would be a single for The Monkees. But that decision was made just as the group had tired of being told what to do and demanded more control over their musical output. So Kirshner took the song to a cartoon group that couldn’t refuse a direct order – and it was the top selling record in the year it was released. 

“Makin’ It”
Makin’ It

Those still harboring an aversion to disco may not like this high ranking, but genre prejudice aside it’s a great song. As I wrote in an earlier piece on TV theme songs that were better than the shows they introduced, “Makin’ It” was a Saturday Night Fever homage rip-off that debuted in February of 1979, and was canceled one month later. But the theme, performed by series star David Naughton, deservedly reached #5 on the Billboard chart. 

“Johnny Angel”
The Donna Reed Show

Shelley Fabares will be the first to tell you she’s not really a singer. But with the right song, the right arrangement, and backing vocals by the likes of Darlene Love, “Johnny Angel” became her first and only #1 hit. She recorded several albums after the song’s unexpected success, but never got close to a hit again. 

“Summer Days”
The Partridge Family

Why “Summer Days” was never released as a single remains a classic TV music mystery. It’s not just my favorite Partridge Family song – it’s one of my favorite records from any group and any musical era. From the explosive opening riff to David Cassidy’s exuberant vocal to a buoyant chorus that bounds and rolls out of your speakers, “Summer Days” delivers three minutes of unbridled joy. The 1970s may not have been as carefree as the song suggests, but while it’s playing you can close your eyes and pretend they were really that wonderful. 


“I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”
Coca-Cola Commercial

As with “Country Sunshine” from earlier on the list, this is a song that originated in 1971 as a Coca-Cola jingle, in one of the most famous commercials ever broadcast. The success of that much-beloved ad inspired full-length recordings by The New Seekers and The Hillside Singers. One hundred years from now, when television’s best commercials are still being ranked, this commercial featuring teenagers from around the world gathered in song will still be fondly remembered. 


“Hello Mary Lou”
The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet

Originally released as the B-side to “Travelin’ Man,” this song first written and recorded by Gene Pitney became a hit in its own right. It’s also the only Ricky Nelson song to be covered by Led Zeppelin. 


“I’m a Believer”
The Monkees

This is not only one of the band’s most popular and successful songs (seven weeks at #1), I think it belongs in the select company of the most perfect pop records ever made, alongside The Ronnettes’ “Be My Baby.” 


“Love is All Around”
The Mary Tyler Moore Show

The season one version of The Mary Tyler Moore Show theme by Sonny Curtis is more than just a catchy tune or a means to introduce characters; it told the story of a generation of women breaking free from traditional stereotypes (“How will you make it on your own?”), and encapsulated a transitional moment in the culture. In subsequent seasons the lyrics changed to a celebration of the charms of Mary Richards, thus rendering the theme less substantive but still memorable.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The 100 Most Memorable Songs Introduced by Classic TV, Pt. 4

We’re reached the top 40 – so let’s channel our inner Casey Kasem and count them down once more. 

“Inside, Outside, Upside Down”
Josie and the Pussycats

This is bubblegum pop at its sweetest and most irresistible. If you remember ordering this 45 record from the back of a Kellogg’s cereal box, your childhood was awesome. 

Here Come the Brides

Bobby Sherman’s recording career didn’t take off until after he was cast in Here Come the Brides. But it wasn’t the show’s theme song that did it. In fact, “Seattle” was never released as a single. However, the song was a top-40 hit for Perry Como. I like Perry Como, but Sherman’s version is better. 

“Mah-na Mah-na”
Sesame Street

Technically, this song was not introduced by Sesame Street. It was first heard in a forgotten Italian film, and was also used as background comedy sketch music on The Red Skelton Show and The Benny Hill Show. However, it has become so associated with the Muppets that it belongs on this list. 

“Making Our Dreams Come True”
Laverne & Shirley

Some theme songs, like some TV shows, have aged better than others. This theme, I think, is one that has never lost its sunny appeal. The recording by Cyndi Grecco topped out at #25, and she was never heard from again. But she’ll be celebrated as long as people still watch the show.

“Conjunction Junction”
Schoolhouse Rock

With its Jack Sheldon vocal and jazzy arrangement, this may be the most popular of the Schoolhouse Rock shorts. 

The Love Boat

Sure, there’s a cheesy, Vegas lounge quality to this Jack Jones song, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It fits the escapist appeal of the series, and its description of love as “an open smile on a friendly shore” is a better lyric than most TV themes manage. 

“I Love Lucy”
I Love Lucy

It’s best remembered as an instrumental but there was a lyric, first heard when the song was performed by Desi Arnaz in the episode “Lucy’s Last Birthday.” 

“The Littlest Lamb”
The Flintstones

This is the only lullaby to make the list. As Pebbles drifts away to its calming melody and Ann-Margret’s soothing voice, the song plays over a simple but affecting dream sequence in the classic Hanna-Barbera style. The animation is evocative of nursery rhymes, and will take many of us back to our earliest television watching memories. 

“Good Ol’ Boys”
The Dukes of Hazzard

Series creator Gy Waldron once told me that the best Dukes of Hazzard episodes were those that could be adapted into a great country song. So it’s fitting that the series itself was introduced with a great country song, performed by one of the genre’s iconic artists. 

“High Fidelity”

Many talented young vocalists graced the halls of the High School for the Performing Arts (no, not you, Lori Singer), but for me the voice of Fame has always been Valerie Landsburg (Doris). This is my favorite of her many series performances. 

“Best Friend”
The Courtship of Eddie’s Father

Harry Nilsson had 8 top 40 hits. “Best Friend,” his joyful theme to The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, was not one of them. It should have been. The song was never released as a single, perhaps because it was adapted from an earlier Nilsson composition called “Girlfriend.”


As with I Love Lucy here’s a classic theme with a rarely heard lyric (and quite a good one, too). You can hear it in records cut by Steve Lawrence and Peggy Lee. 

“True Love Is On Its Way”
The Krofft Supershow

Our third and final Kaptain Kool and the Kongs entry features Debra Clinger’s Superchick on lead vocal. Clinger should have gone on to much better things. Instead, she starred in the quickly canceled series American Girls and hasn’t been on TV since a 1982 episode of Hart to Hart

“The Sweet Sweet Sway”
The Electric Company

The show’s house band, The Short Circus, delivered several fun songs that helped kids learn about the English language, but this one was always a cut above the rest and it was clear the show knew it as well. It received a special introduction by Morgan Freeman’s DJ Mel Mounds, and was performed with the rest of the show’s cast in attendance. 

“The Ballad of Davy Crockett”

The series that arguably inspired the biggest merchandising craze of the 1950s also inspired one of the decade’s most famous theme songs. Several versions were recorded and three of them made the top 40, including one by series star Fess Parker. But it was the Bill Hayes rendition that went all the way to number one. 

“Keep Christmas With You”
Sesame Street

Anyone who watched Sesame Street into adulthood would not be surprised that it introduced a memorable Christmas song. “Keep Christmas With You (All Through the Year)” was featured on several of the series’ holiday shows, beginning in 1975 and continuing through 2006’s Elmo Saves Christmas. Stick with the early versions. 

“The Mickey Mouse Club March”
Mickey Mouse Club

Composed by genial head Mouseketeer Jimmie Dodd, this is one of the great singalong tunes of TV’s golden age. Bonus points for the use of two equally memorable versions – the robust march that opened each episode, and the slower, gentler variant that signaled the end of our visit with the Mouseketeers (“Now it’s time to say goodbye…to all our company”)

“I Think I Love You”
The Partridge Family

I know it’s debatable whether there were 21 better TV-inspired songs than this chart-topping classic, but if it’s any consolation we haven’t seen the last of the Partridges on this list. 

“Travelin’ Man”
The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet

My second-favorite Ricky Nelson song. It was introduced on the series in 1961, in a sequence that may be among the first music videos ever produced. 

“Country Sunshine”

Yes, commercials do count on our top 100, especially when the music is as good as this. The song, performed by Dottie West, debuted in a commercial for Coca-Cola, and an extended version was later recorded by West (with the Coke reference removed). 

Next Week: We count down all the way to #1. Any guesses?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The 100 Most Memorable Songs Introduced by Classic TV, Pt. 3

Once again, we move further up our top 100 moments when music and television came together. You already know the drill by this time so let’s dive right in. 

The Addams Family

The delightfully named Vic Mizzy came up with this finger-snapping classic. Who doesn’t treasure the close-up of Carolyn Jones slightly breaking her deadpan expression during this memorable opening-credits sequence? 

“Three Is a Magic Number”
Schoolhouse Rock

This was the very first attempt at a new way to teach lessons through music and animation on Saturday mornings. And what a great start it was. Multiplication tables were never easier to memorize as when they were set to the gentle strains of this Bob Dorough composition. 

“Movin’ On Up”
The Jeffersons

I didn’t know until I started compiling this list that Sammy Davis Jr. recorded a cover version of The Jeffersons theme. How has this escaped me all these years? 

“The Most Wonderful Day Of the Year”
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The entire score of this annual holiday special is among the best ever composed for television. This song received an unlikely but wonderful revival a few years ago in an episode of Glee

“It’s Not That Easy Bein’ Green”
Sesame Street

How many songs are introduced by Kermit the Frog and later covered by Frank Sinatra? Here’s the really strange part – Kermit’s is better. Joe Raposo wrote this and many other amazing songs for Sesame Street, including “Sing,” later a hit for The Carpenters. 

“Crazy World”
The Krofft Supershow

This song only hints at the greatness that was Kaptain Kool and the Kongs, but it’s the only one most people remember. 

“Jingle Jangle”
The Archie Show

This song went to #10 on the Billboard pop charts. On the current Riverdale series, “Jingle-Jangle” was a name given to a potent recreational drug. Yet another reason why I prefer older shows to new ones. 

“The Twizzle”
The Dick Van Dyke Show

I don’t know why this episode isn’t more popular: Sally discovers a new dance craze launched from a Connecticut bowling alley, and tries to get its creator to perform on The Alan Brady Show. The dance sequence is a lot of fun, and while singer Jerry Lanning never became a household name, he enjoyed an impressive under-the-radar career on the musical stage. 

“Believe It Or Not”
The Greatest American Hero

The Joey Scarbury hit is one of those songs that are kind of awesome and kind of terrible at the same time. But who didn’t love the pop culture boost it received from George Costanza’s answering machine on Seinfeld?

“I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together”
The Carol Burnett Show

This was the musical sign-off that set the standard for such moments in variety shows for the next 20 years. 

“The Ballad of Jed Clampett”
The Beverly Hillbillies

It’s hard to imagine a better way to introduce the premise of this long-running sitcom. Next time you hear it, try not to focus on the lyric with its famous “swimmin’ pools, movie stars” references, and instead savor the first class bluegrass picking of Country Music Hall of Fame inductees Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. 

“Where Everybody Knows Your Name”

The 1980s doesn’t seem like that long ago – to me, anyway – yet think about how times have changed. Back then an ode to a bar as heartening as “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” was actually commended, and not condemned for encouraging alcoholism. 

“The Tra La La Song”
The Banana Splits

Saturday mornings in the late ‘60s and early 1970s were a time of cartoons and frenetic, psychedelic live-action shows created for kids already hyped up on sugarcoated cereals. The energetic “Tra la las” of the Banana Splits theme were the perfect fix for our habit. Liz Phair did a great cover of it as well. 


Not too many western songs on our list, sadly, but this one was a no-brainer. It was recorded by Frankie Laine, and revived for a new generation by the Blues Brothers in 1980.

“Snow Miser/Heat Miser”
The Year Without a Santa Claus

Ba Dump-Bump-Bump….Baaaaaaaaa-Dump… this may be the most powerful earworm unleashed by any Christmas show ever. I’m slightly partial to the slower tempo of Heat Miser’s version, but whether you prefer it hot or cold, it’s...too much. 

“Hey Mr. Cool”

Long before High School Musical, this bouncy track brought Broadway and basketball together. 

"The Menu Song"
The Electric Company

After becoming America’s coolest college professor, Tom Lehrer brought his songwriting genius to the Children’s Television Workshop. This is my favorite of his Electric Company contributions, for the escalating insanity of the menu selections, and for the performances by Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno. 

“It’s Late"
The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet

And now, as we near our top 40, we finally get into the heavy hitters. Ricky Nelson was the archetype for how to launch a successful music career through television. He’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame now, for a string of pop and rockabilly classics like this one. 

“The Girl That I Knew Somewhere”
The Monkees

And after Ricky came The Monkees, who are not in the Hall of Fame but certainly should be. This was the first song they wrote and recorded as a “real” group. 

“I’ll Meet You Halfway”
The Partridge Family

It was Ricky Nelson in the 1950s, The Monkees in the 1960s, and The Partridges, a.k.a David Cassidy with first-rate studio backing, continuing the tradition of introducing chart-topping hits in a situation comedy. There’s a surprising sophistication to “I’ll Meet You Halfway,” with an almost classical quality to the strings and piano arpeggio that set the mood before the singing starts. Wes Farrell wrote it with Carole King’s songwriting partner Gerry Goffin. 

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