I’m sure it didn’t begin with Seinfeld’s beat-box popping, but around that time, T.V. producers started to figure that folks were tuning out of their programs because the opening title sequences were too long. I have no idea what gave them that idea–it’s just part of the insanity that executives assert as rational thought. (A topic for a future essay? I’ve long thought that it is not illegal downloading that has killed the music industry, and that is the true threat to network TV/big studio movies–it’s greed. The market has finally found its breaking point, and people aren’t willing to $pend on the same types of things they used to be able to afford. But this is not today’s topic.) Speaking for myself, the title sequences were the main reason I tuned in to–and the only thing I remember about–shows like The Love Boat, Chico and the Man, Barney Miller, Emergency One!, and many others.

What were the best, though? And I don’t mean the best musically, I mean the most annoyingly catchy. Certainly, lots of commercials fit this bill–from the dozens of McDonalds songs to the Meow Mix cats . . .

Meow Mix Cats (mp3).

. . . But this is about T.V. themes that were supremely catchy–so powerful that they became part of our culture. Songs that stuck to your brain like peanut butter, and which even inspired cover versions. I’m not counting cartoon themes, because those deserve a post of their own. (Sing it with me: “When Captain America throws his mighty shield!”) Note: Shows that appropriated existing hits don’t count (I’m looking at you, C.S.I.).) I’m partial as well to story-telling themes, so there’s quite a few of those on this list.

Each theme will get its own post, I’ll be posting all 40 in a row. Here’s the first post, last one on the list:

40. WKRP IN CINCINNATI. It’s hard to call this one great ’cause of the cheese factor at the end, where the angelic voices harmonize, “I’m at WKRP in Cin-cin-atttttiii . . .” But that so thoroughly summed up the vibe of the show, which is that it was “edgy” because it had a black guy and a white dope addict, but soft and pillowly at the same time because it had Les Nesman and Loni Anderson’s boobs.

I did love this show, though I’m ashamed to admit it.

WKRP in Cincinatti-My Morning Jacket. (Only a tease.)

Improv Song about WKRP-Ryan Adams

WKRP IN Cincinatti-Magicyclops

Here’s how “edgy” it got . . .

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