Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Soundtracks of Our Lives

My childhood was a time of TV theme-song nirvana. These three are STILL going through my head at various times of the day or night (not every day or night--have mercy). All three shows are (in my opinion) not as good as their theme songs, being heavily formulaic with stiff dialogue and really disturbing violence. And one show was just downright ridiculous. That show was:

Three petty criminals rounded up by "the man" and trained for undercover work to avoid jail time. Way to subvert the counterculture, television executives. Even as a child I didn't get the basic concept of Mod Squad. Maybe because I grew up in California, surrounded by aging beatniks and hirsute hippies. I knew none of them would ever join the police force, nor would they be any good at police work. They would just serve their time and write poetry about it.

Great theme song though. And the leads were so good looking. I love how Peggy Lipton must be "supported" by the guys as they run through the tunnel. Very 60s, when women could not be counted on to run athletically without falling down every three to four feet en route. Actresses back then always swung their arms back and forth across their bodies when they ran, as if their hips impeded their progress. I wonder if that girly style of running will ever come back. I hope not. Maybe steroid-use in track and field has made it completely obsolete. Now women run their asses off, arms pumping like pistons.

I watched ten minutes (which was ten minutes too long) of the Claire Danes remake on the TV recently. Ms. Danes, you are no Peggy Lipton.

Next up: Mission Impossible. This is a video a guy made by editing a bunch of MI plot themes together and he extended the song unecessarily. I couldn't find a non-bastardized version on YouTube and I've yet to figure out how to post MP3s here (yes, I am lame). But here it is. Still effective:

My parents loved this show. I thought it was completely boring but I always sat through the opening theme even if I was too young to follow the intricate plotlines. Maybe they were fascinating. I kind of doubt it though. I loved the smoking tape player at the top of the show every week with the explanatory: This message will now self-destruct. Did it melt? Did it crumble? Did it destroy a new tape player each time? They never showed that--just the smoking tape. Very mysterious and cool. No, I haven't seen the Tom Cruise re-makes. If I didn't like the show then, why would I like it now? With Tom Cruise? He is one crazy mo-fo and I don't support that.

Moving on: best for last. I think this is the all-time greatest TV theme song ever. True, an innocent shop keeper, hairdresser or bystander was brutally murdered in the opening moments of each show, but America didn't care. We just wanted to hear this:

An overly violent or ridiculous teleplay did not detract from Hawaii 5-O's 12 seasons of popularity. I remember seeing an episode where two bumbling kidnappers dragged a little girl all over the big island while being pursued by the law. I guess no one on the writer's staff wanted to write dialogue for the little girl because she slept through her entire kidnapping, over the course of a day and night. Even one of the kidnapper's noted it when, after they had basically rolled her down an eroding embankment and into a bush to hide out, he looked at his partner and yelled, She's still asleep!

My mom regularly played The Ventures' cover of Hawaii 5-O, causing our teenaged neighbors to sneer at us, but I knew (even as I blushed and hid myself away): that we were secretly cool.

Here's a cover of Mission Impossible by Vanilla Mood:


Bathtub said...

Thanks you for entertaining me this morning with your own unique brand of infotainments and snarky comments.

Oh, by the way, on your strong rec, I did rent "My Life on the D List" and I LOVE it! I stayed up till like 2:30 am cuz I couldn't stop watching it!

Morningside said...

My first "teen" magazine was Young Miss with Peggy Lipton on the cover. I thought she was SO cool! However, I don't remember the soundtrack -- I must've tuned in a few minutes late every week.

(My second "teen" magazine was Seventeen with Patti Hansen on the cover -- I thought she had a lot of freckles and I had no idea who Keith Richards was.)

Did you ever see the masks they would peel off their faces on Mission Impossible? Scarey!

I STILL love Hawaii 5-O. Somewhere in my garage, I have a cassette of theme songs I taped during the early 70's: The Flintstones, The Banana Splits show, Leave it to Beaver, The New Zoo Revue (horrible show, but I loved the tune), ZOOM, etc... The cassette led me to ask my high school counselor about a career in broadcasting, music production, film soundtracks, etc...

Lisa Mc said...

"...We learn from our friend DOUG. And his helper Emmy JO (Emmy Jo!). With Charlie! Freddy! Henre-eh-eh-eh-tta! We have fun learning what we don't know!"