Category Archives: Tuesday Is Theme Tunes Day

Classic Clips – Red Dwarf and Twin Peaks (Happy Birthday (again) Leanne!)

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Happy New Year from the Choob – and a very Happy Birthday to exiled friend of the Choob, Leanne!

It’s only natural for one to reflect – usually the day after one’s birthday, with a hangover – on another year gone by and the relentless march of time. Just remember, as a wise man once said (well, two wise men, if you count me repeating it), “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage!”

Mind you, given that Leanne is working far, far, far away from her beloved Scotland, in Bermuda, I’m not sure what that implies…

Ahem. Anyway, hope you have a great day/night with your tropical island chums and maybe sip a sherry or two. I know you were home over Christmas but hurry back for another visit soon because we miss you (nothing at all to do with the Bermuda rum cake you bring, nope, no siree, not at all, I took a straw poll and missing you got, ooh, several more votes that the rum cake…).

By way of a birthday present to you from me, here are a few classic clips I think you’ll like. Happy birthday, with love from the Choob!

First up, since you had Cat singing Tongue Tied last year, here’s Rimmer’s Munchkin Song – in fact, the whole Rimmer Experience tour – from the fifth episode of Red Dwarf season 7:

But wait! There’s more. Here is the (very slightly) extended version of the song, introduced by Kryten:

Now, moving on to the awesome Twin Peaks, don’t forget to check out these brilliant Albert scenes and Agent Cooper’s Tibetan crimefighting, which I’ve already spotlighted. But just for you, here’s another couple of great scenes from this awesome show.

First of all, the extended opening credits from the pilot episode – with Angelo Badalamenti‘s beautiful, haunting theme tune, of course – plus the opening scenes of the show that made such an impact on us all back in 1990:

And here’s the legendary, backwards-filmed, Cooper’s dream scene from episode two:

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Lost Week: The Best Lost Fan Vids – Part One

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Here are a few of the best fan videos created during Lost‘s six-year run.

First, Lost meets 24 to show the crash of Oceanic flight 815 from multiple viewpoints, in real time! This is an outstanding little video:

Next, some animated music video shenanigans in Lost Rhapsody:

This song parody video was created between seasons five and six – and with just one episode left, it’s more pertinent that ever! To the tune of Downtown (aka Juliet’s song), this is the Lost Answers Song:

I’ve featured this next video a couple of times on the Choob but it never gets old. It’s the opening credits to Lost – 1980s-style:

And finally, for now, on a similar theme, here is what the opening credits might have looked like had Lost been made in 1967:

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Filed under Animation, Current and recent TV shows, Music, Stuff, Tuesday Is Theme Tunes Day, TV Themes

It’s Theme Tunes Day – The Muppet Show

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Computer animation is all very well and good but I still find it quite awe-inspiring how much character and emotion and humanity the late, great Jim Henson – and those who inherited his legacy – could convey with something so low-tech as a little green glove puppet.

The Muppets‘ enduring appeal is a testament to his creativity and genius and this week’s classic theme tune comes from what was arguably the Muppets’ finest hour – certainly their greatest showcase.

The Muppet Show was made in Britain by Lew Grade‘s ATV, part of the UK’s ITV network, after Henson found it tough to sell the idea of a puppet variety show to the big US networks.

It became a huge syndicated hit, running for five seasons (120 episodes) between 1976 and 1981 and launching the Muppets into a successful movie and TV franchise that is still going strong today.

The opening theme and title sequence varied from season to season, so here are versions from all five seasons:

Season 1:

Season 2:

Season 3:

Season 4:

Season 5:

And here is a “clean” version of the full theme song, without the interruptions from the televised opening credit sequences:

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It’s Theme Tunes Day – Sledge Hammer!

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Doreau: What, you think all women should be barefoot and pregnant?
Hammer: No, I encourage women to wear shoes.

Tucked away in the chaotic wilderness that was the late-night regional ITV schedules of late 1980s here in the UK was a little gem of a US comedy called Sledge Hammer!.

It was a parody/satire of the overly-macho, casually violent cop movies and TV shows of the time, particularly Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry films and the TV show Hunter – with a little Police Squad!/Naked Gun-style absurdism thrown in.

David Rasche was outstanding as San Francisco cop Inspector Sledge Hammer, a sexist, intolerant, sadistic, insensitive cop whose best friend is his .44 Magnum handgun – he even slept and showered with it.

The kind of guy who shoots first, doesn’t waste time asking any questions then shoots again, in the pilot episode he was teamed up with new partner Dori Doreau (Anne-Marie Martin) a kind, sensitive, cautious and competent officer – in short, everything he was not.

Adding to the parody of popular cop shows of the era (Starsky and Hutch in particular), Hammer’s boss was Captain Trunk (Harrison Page), a scary, short-tempered, shouty African-American.

In addition to the ironic humour generated by Hammer’s outdated attitudes towards women, law-enforcement, violence and society in general, much of the comedy came from the fact that, for all his bluster and opinionated speeches – Hammer’s catchphrase was “Trust me… I know what I’m doing” – he was pretty rubbish at being a cop. Although he usually got the bad guy in the end, it was generally due to sheer luck, getting bailed out by his partner or by leaving a trail of extreme chaos and destruction in his wake. Or all three.

The show, made by ABC, ran for just two seasons between 1986 and 1988. At the height of its fame, the show even had it’s own comic-book spin-off, published by Marvel:

Despite a good critical reception and respectable viewing figures of around 19million in the US, the producers were so sure it would be cancelled after season one that they had Hammer blow up the city at the end of the season finale while trying to defuse a nuclear bomb.

This caused problems when the show was renewed for season two at the last minute – to get round it, they used a soap opera-style spoof plot device, explaining that season two takes place five years before the finale of season one.

Sledge Hammer! was a great little show, ahead of its time in many ways. Both seasons are available on DVD and although, like many 80s shows, the production values of the time mean that Sledge Hammer! shows its age a little when you watch it now, the humour is timeless and it’s well worth a purchase.

Trust me… I know what I’m doing!

In the meantime, here are the opening credits:

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It’s Theme Tunes Day – Northern Exposure

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I was, and still am, a big fan of groundbreaking 1980s hospital drama St Elsewhere, as you may remember from this, this and this.

It was created by Joshua Brand and John Falsey, who went on to create another show I was exceptionally fond of back in the day, Northern Exposure.

The gentle, quirky comedy-drama featured a cast of eccentric characters living in the fictional rural town of Cicely, Alaska.

We initially observe them through the eyes of reluctant newcomer Joel Fleischman (played by Rob Morrow), a young, ambitious New York doctor tricked into becoming the town GP after the town patriarch, former astronaut Maurice Minnifield (Barry Corbin) pays off his medical school loans.

Although essentially a light-hearted, character-driven, culture-clash comedy-drama, Northern Exposure, like St Elsewhere before it, was not afraid to veer off into more fanciful and, on occasion, surreal territory.

It’s interesting that Northern Exposure first aired just a few months after David Lynch’s Twin Peaks began. Both shows had much in common: remote small town location, eccentric characters, surreal overtones, an outsider from the big city.

But while Twin Peaks, like much of Lynch’s work, sought to expose the darker side of human nature, the rotten core just barely hidden beneath a thin veil of small-town respectability, Northern Exposure explored broadly similar small themes in a much more poetic, optimistic, uplifting and hopeful way. If Twin Peaks was about confronting and defeating the darker side of human nature, Northern Exposure was about recognising the positives in people and embracing all that is good in life.

Northern Exposure outlasted Twin Peaks by some way – the series ran for six seasons (110 episodes) between 1990 and 1995.

Here are the opening titles, with the catchy, memorable theme tune and, of course, Mort the moose:

And here is the full version of the theme tune:

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Excellent TV Theme Tune Medley

As you know, the Choob loves a good TV theme tune.

And here are 22 of them, in seven minutes, played and sung by a Swedish guy called Fredrik Larsson, accompanied by… himself!

It’s great stuff, with a pretty eclectic mix of themes, ranging from the 1960s right up to date.

It’s not the first time Fredrik’s done something like this. Here, he performs a medley of 32 pop and rock songs in eight minutes (see how many you recognise – full list is on the video’s YouTube page):

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It’s Theme Tunes Day – The White Horses

A real cracker of a theme tune for you this week, one which is regularly tops greatest TV theme polls.

It’s White Horses, the theme song from kids TV drama The White Horses. It is sung by Jacky, aka Irish singer Jackie Lee who, you will remember, also provided the vocals for the wonderful Rupert The Bear theme song (click here for my post on that classic).

The series was a Yugoslavian/German co-production called Počitnice v Lipici in Slovenian and Ferien in Lipizza in German. These translate literally as Holidays In Lipica but when it was dubbed into English and broadcast on the BBC, it was renamed The White Horses, after the distictive Lipizzaner horses bred at the stables where the story takes place.

The plot centres on Julia (Helga Anders),  a teenager from Belgrade who leaves the city to spend the summer on her uncle’s stud farm.

The series consisted of 13 half-hour, black-and-white  episodes. It was made in 1966 and first aired on the BBC in 1968.

The memorable song White Horses was written especially for the English-language version by Michael Carr and Ben Nisbet but proved so popular (it was released as a single and reached No.10 in the UK charts in April 1968) that it was later dubbed onto the original Slovenian and German versions of the show, replacing the theme originally used overseas.

Like many classic kids’ shows from that era, it continued to air regularly in the UK throughout the 70s before finally being put out to pasture in 1978. It has not been seen on UK TV since and, in fact, the English dubbed soundtracks from all but one episode have been lost.

Here are the original TV opening titles plus about 10 minutes of the sole surviving English-language episode (unfortunately embedding is annoyingly disabled, so you’ll have to click the link below to go to YouTube to watch this one):

And here is the full version of the theme song, uploaded to YouTube by Jackie Lee herself (this one plays fine):

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