MIKE POST (1984)
After hearing this theme, you can't help but want to go cruise around in an armor-plated black van and empty thousands of rounds of bullets into a crowd of people (and of course, missing every single person by a mile).  TV theme God, Mike Post, does it again with this energetic theme which begins with a narrator grimly telling you The A-Team's back story, "In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune.  If you have a problem. If no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire, The A Team!"  You can visit
The A-Team Shrine for a ridiculously thorough look at the show, with a lot of great multimedia downloads as well.

It's hard to not type write about anything Muppet related and not miss the wonderful work of Jim Henson.  Just like the pale shadows the Looney Tunes characters have become since Mel Blanc died, the post-Henson Muppets just don't have that spark they did when he was running the show (and now that Disney owns them, I fear all hope is lost for them to be great again).  It's not really Kermit, but someone just using a puppet of him now.  Henson's brilliance extended into songwriting when he wrote the incredible theme to the 70s variety show.  A fun an upbeat tune that features almost every single character joining in, building into an visually and aurally amazing finale that features almost a hundred different characters proudly exclaiming, "This is what we call The Muppet Showwwwwww!"   It's also one of the few themes that actually disses the show's quality, with old cranks Statler and Waldorf complaining:

Waldorf:  Why do we always come here
Statler:  I guess we'll never know
Waldorf:  It's like a kind of torture
BOTH:     To have to watch the show
You're still missed Jim!  For a really swell guide to all the old Muppet Show episodes, CLICK HERE.

A total product of the funky 70s, The Match Game theme begins with an awesome bass and wah-wah guitar combination that is just great to listen to.  It's my favorite Robert Israel composed theme, who brought you classics like Family Feud, and The Price is Right.  The Match Game was a great game show full of celebrities that were actually fun to watch and looked like they were always drunk and having a great time.  The theme song really set the fun tone for the show and made you want to go to a BLANK and BLANK her BLANK until her BLANK made your BLANK BLANK off.  Take some time and visit
The Match Game Homepage for a great fan-site with lots of goodies and video to enjoy, and if you're in the mood for cheesecake, might I suggest The Brett Somers Official Website?

The team of Stu Phillips and Glen Larson make their second appearance on the list with their fantastic theme from Knight Rider.  The pulsating energetic theme was used by at least two different Sacramento radio stations during their morning traffic report, so I'm not sure if this is a phenomenon sweeping the entire nation or not.  My favorite use of the song is as a background beat in Panjabi MC's "Mundian To Bach Ke (Beware of the Boys)", which you can CLICK HERE to watch the full length video of on MTV.com.  You might not know that the narrator of the opening theme is Richard Basehart, who played the dying millionaire Wilton Knight that funded the whole KITT 2000 project on the debut episode.  In a rather eerie turn of events, Baseheart himself died just two years after filming the episode.  Some feel there's a Knight Rider curse, as the theme composer Stu Phillips got a parking ticket shortly after the first episode aired, and the show's star David Hasselhoff suffers from an incurable anal itch, that no cream seems to be able to subside.

Vic Mizzy's great theme to Green Acres is one of the most fun songs ever written for a show.  With the show's stars Eddie Arnold and Eva Gabor trading lines back and forth pining for "Fresh Air" and "Times Square" respectively, you can't help but smile when you listen to it.  Set in the same area as the original home of The Beverley Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction, Green Acres was a show with a tremendously talented cast of characters that made it a hoot to watch, my favorite of which was Patt Buttram's Mr. Haney.  The show was full of hidden insanity, sometimes as the theme ended and the show began, as Gabor's "Lisa" character would often react to the "strange words" that would show up during the opening credits.  It's truly one of America's best TV comedies of all time.  Vic Mizzy, who also gave us the incredible theme to The Addams Family, has a great website and is still going strong, CHECK IT OUT, and buy a CD of his music from him while you're there.  And give THE GREEN ACRES HOMEPAGE a look for more GA info than you can shake a pitchfork yet (including a French version of the theme song called "Surrender Acres").


According to the American TV Themes history page, the playful theme to Alfred Hitchcock Presents was from an 1872 tune by English Composer Charles Gounot.  Hitchcock heard it used in the 1927 film "Sunrise", and liked it so much he wanted to use it for his weekly TV mystery anthology.  The beginning of each show was also charming as Alfred Hitchcock filmed funny introductions to the episodes, with his inimitable, "Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen."  The show, which ran for over 200 episodes, was at times as good as The Twilight Zone, and is sorely in need of a DVD collection.  Why someone wouldn't think a boxed set of this master's work wouldn't sell well is a bigger mystery than anything his show ever featured.  He's a talent that is still missed. 

Waylon Jenning's theme to The Dukes of Hazzard is one of the more beloved TV themes of them all, and his contribution to the show is even more impressive when you realize he also narrated every single episode of each season (even during the infamous period where Jon Schneider and Tom Wopat quit the show, so they were replaced with "Coy" and "Vance).  The theme was released as a single and sold over a million copies in it's day.  FUN TRIVIA NOTE: Over 200 versions of the famous General Lee car were destroyed during the 7 year run of these series.  There's a bizarre but thorough ITALIAN DUKES OF HAZZARD site that has plenty of sounds, pictures, and good things to enjoy.  Many people don't realize that I, myself, once recorded a version of this song back in the day, and frankly I think it's a superior take on the classic.  If you're ready to listen to this masterpiece, you can CLICK HERE.

Such a friendly song that perfectly captures the spirit of a bar to just chill out with friends, "where everybody knows your name."  Cheers is definitely a show that had to fight for it's audience, debuting at a miserable #77 the first time it aired, it was nearly canceled after the first season was through.  The fun and familiar atmosphere in the show really grew on people, and the theme song certainly played a large part in selling that to the viewers.  Some think the theme song is aimed at George Wendt's character "Norm", who's name is shouted by the studio audience every time he enters the set.  I think the theme is aimed at the mites that live in my eyelashes, but what do I know?  Jennifer Harper has an incredibly obsessive but cool Cheers Webpage that's been going strong since 1997 and is worth a look.  Tons of sounds, lyric info, and more for your viewing pleasure.  Also check out SITCOMS ONLINE to hear many different versions of the theme that were used.

#41 SWAT

There wasn't much fantastic about the original TV series, and frankly I was surprised that it was recently retrofitted as a feature film, being that it was canceled after it's debut season, but it's the song that I'll always love. It was a successful hit single back in the day, and plenty of kids (myself included) would sing the theme song out loud while pretending to shoot each other and do other kinds of S.W.A.T. activities.  Some freaky whistling at the beginning, then a great funky melody make this one of the best TV Cop show theme songs of all time.  SWAT Composer Barry Devorson also created the well known theme for "The Young and The Restless" the following year, showing an amazing versatility to do both action and moving drama themes will equally amazing results.  You can CLICK HERE to listen to the SWAT theme song.


Aside from the 60s Spider-Man show, I can think of no other cartoon theme song with lyrics as exciting as Speed Racer.  "Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer, he's a demon on wheels!", is a fantastic beginning to one of the original shows to bring Japanese animation to Americans.
  Peter Fernandez, not only wrote the theme song for the US version of the show, but also did the voice of Speed and Racer X!  Fernandez, who had already did voice work for the US dubbed versions of other Japanese shows like Gigantor and Ultraman is a pretty amazing guy who' has a very impressive cartoon resume.There's a great OFFICIAL WEBSITE that has a lot of fun stuff, including a flash intro with part of the theme song to listen to (you've got to sign up to be a member, but just pretend you're Racer X, they'll never now).


The theme to Pee Wee's Playhouse is as insane, crazy, and fun as the show itself (and that's no easy accomplishment).  With Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo working the musical side and Cyndi Lauper (uncredited) singing the vocals, it's a great time. And the intro to the song, which uses exotica music legend Martin Denny's "Quiet Village" is a lot of fun, too.  Pull up a chair and visit the OFFICIAL PEE WEE SITE for a ton of great things to look and listen to and play with.  The opening page has the intro part of the theme playing right away, and when you click CHARACTERS you can hear the main theme. 


Known to many kids of the 80s as "that music from the Spy Hunter game", Peter Gunn's theme has an influence far and wide.  The website "Classic TV Themes" quotes Mancini on the theme in his autobiogra
phy, "I used guitar and piano in unison, playing what is known as an ostinato, which means obstinate. It was sustained throughout the piece, giving it a sinister effect, with some frightening saxophone sounds and some shouting brass. The piece has one chord throughout and a super-simple top line. It has been played throughout the years by school marching bands as well as rock bands throughout the world. The synth group The Art Of Noise had a major hit with it in 1987. Never has so much been made of so little."  According to the IMDB, "The show was one of the first television shows to have its own original score and it was the first to feature modern jazz for a television soundtrack. Previously, producers used generic music scores that were used in many television productions. RCA released an album of music from "Peter Gunn" featuring the title song and other pieces. It reached #1 on Billboard's chart, stayed there 10 weeks, and stayed on the list for the next two years. It was so successful that RCA put together a sequel. Mancini received an Emmy nomination for the theme and won two Grammys for the album"  CLICK HERE to hear the theme from the fine folks at SONY.


The masterful Vic Mizzy (who also composed GREEN ACRES, #45 on our list) put together this equally creepy and kooky theme s
ong that you can't help but snap your fingers and sing along to.  According to Vic's OFFICIAL SITE, "Filmways opted not to pay for singers on the show's Main Title, so Mizzy sang it while overdubbing himself three times to give the impression of multiple vocalists."  Mizzy has always been his own agent, still owns the rights to the music, and gets a royalty even when it's played at a baseball game.  When I was in grade school (OK, I still do it) we would sing a version of the theme that went, "The Addams Family started, when Uncle Fester farted, they all came out retarded, THE ADDAMS FAMILY!"  That's up there with "Jingle Bells/Batman Smells" in the scatalogical schoolyard classics.  Actually, if that parody version of the song is true, then Fester somehow was able to have a biological brother, nephew, and niece simply by farting.  The genealogical ramifications of this are mind boggling.  You can hear the theme if you CLICK HERE.

#36 M*A*S*H

Originally used in the 1970 film (which also had lyrics), the TV theme for MASH by Johnny Mandel is an all time classic that was unchanged for the entire 11 year run of the series (which lasted longer than the Korean War itself).  The contrast of the gently strumming guitar with the sounds of helicopter blades was as unique as the comedy/drama set in a bloody atmosphere of combat was.  Mandel is an accomplished Jazz musician who was lucky enough to play with legends like Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie,
and Miles Davis at a very young age.  Johnny says of the MASH theme's creation, "The 'Theme From MASH' wasn't even meant to be the theme. It was written for that last supper scene, and because it actually had to be played by one of the actors, it had to be written before the movie was shot. [Director Robert] Altman wanted something that was funny and kind of stupid to accompany this scene, and he came back after three days and said, 'I can't write anything that ridiculous.' So he got his teenage son to do it, and I wrote what you now know as the 'Theme From MASH' to those lyrics," he chuckles. "So they all come differently." So unlike many great instrumentals that end up having stupid lyrics thrown on them, the MASH theme was actually composed after the lyrics (by Robert Altman) were written. You can CLICK HERE to listen to the theme song, and there's a great MASH Page with tons of trivia, background information, and an episode guide HERE.


According to the IMDB, Jose Feliciano
was asked to write a theme song. He was worried that the producers would reject his song, so he wrote two. The producers bought both of them and used one at the beginning and the other at the end.  The theme remains one of the only Hispanic influenced TV themes, and certainly one of the best TV theme songs, period.  You can listen to this wonderful theme if you CLICK HERE.  Sadly Freddie Prinze committed suicide while the show was still in production, and they tried to keep the show going by explaining that his character went away to go work for his father.  CLICK HERE to listen to a bunch of versions of the song, including a truly weird cover by Sammy Davis, Jr.!  And if you'd like to chat with rabid Chico and The Man fans (frankly, who doesn't), you can CLICK HERE to visit the CHICO AND THE MAN MESSAGE BOARD.


Though Boots Randolph's classic "Yakety Sax" was released in 1963, it
's perhaps more widely known to most people as "That Benny Hill Song".  Indeed, the whimsical and fun fast paced saxophone instrumental was perfectly suited for the wackiness of Benny Hill.  Ol' Boots is still active and is even touring.  Why not pay him a visit at his OFFICIAL SITE?  And if you'd like to hear the song, CLICK HERE.  Benny himself has passed on sadly, dying while watching television in his favorite chair.  I can certainly think of a lot of worse ways to go (in ways that involve a soldering iron, an Etch-A-Sketch toy, and a box of scorpions, so don't ask!). 


The team of Richie Adams and Mark Barkham didn't do much else besides The Banana Splits theme, but what a great theme it is!  The beginning lyrics of "Tra la la, la la la la, Tra la la, la la la la" is about as infectious as you can get.  The Banana Splits were great characters with wonderful costumes designed by the famous Sid and Marty Kroft named Bingo, Fleagle, Drooper and Snorky.  Like The Monkees, they hung out in a swingin' pad and would rock out to cool songs, inbetween hosting great cartoons and the occasional live action show (Danger Island). Nearly 40 years later, the show still stands out as one of the most creative and wild kid shows ever made, with an influence that clearly affected later wacky fare like Pee-Wee's Playhouse.  TOON TRACKER has a really cool look at a long lost Banana Splits LP, with all of the songs listenable via Real Audio.


The opening bass of the Barney Miller theme is the stuff of legend.  Composed by Jack Elliott (who's also on the list at #95 with the equally "Bass-cool" Night Court theme), it's still very recognizable and catchy, despite not being in any sort of strong syndication an longer.  The police comedy/drama is one of the best show's America has ever produced, and a cast of mostly
unknowns really shined with hard hitting stories that were funny and high quality.  Soundtrack writer Jim Aquino wrote of Elliott's 2001 passing, "Jack Elliott, the composer who co-wrote one of my all-time favorite TV themes, the Barney Miller theme, died August 18. I didn't know The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was based on Elliott's family and their relationship with Fresh Prince's creator, record label exec Benny Medina. Elliott also composed the themes from Night Court and Charlie's Angels, which he wrote with his frequent collaborator Allyn Ferguson (speaking of which, I've lately been giving Apollo Four Forty's "Charlie's Angels 2000" remake some airplay on my program). But the Barney Miller theme is the coolest. I remember reading an interview with that stand-up comic Tom Rhodes in which he recalled when he was little and his family would watch Barney Miller. He and his siblings would jump up and down and dance all over the living room whenever Elliott and Ferguson's theme music came on. Who wouldn't? You can read more about Barney Miller and download many versions of the theme song and closing tune if you CLICK HERE


With a TV composing career that goes back to the early 70s (Starsky and Hutch, Vega$, and Hart to Hart, for starters) it's Mark Snow's eerie theme to The X-Files that is his most memorable and brilliant piece of work.  From the
opening creepy notes, to the eerie high pitched Theremin style whistling, it perfectly sets the tone for the scary show.  Of creating the theme, Snow told The Orange County register in 1996:

"We did The X-Files main title (theme) five times before Chris liked what was happening. I mean, he was very polite, but I finally said, "Why don't you just politely go away and we'll start from scratch?" Literally an hour after he walked out of the room, I put my hand down and there was a sound there that repeated duh-duh-duh-duh. And I said, that could be the rhythm, now we need a pad under it, a melody. I tried a female voice, a female chorus, a boy chorus, saxophones, piccolos, guitars, oboes, trumpets. And I thought "Ordinary, not cool." Then that whistle thing popped in and I said: "Wow. I haven't heard that in a long time."...There's a real, real special eeriness to the whistle that plays so well against the show. I mean, you think X-Files - Nyeeahhh. But this whistle has mystery and simplicity and transparency." 

Snow was apparently influenced by the whistling in The Andy Griffith Show theme, and had worked with Earl Hagen who composed it.  Who'd have thunk it?  You can CLICK HERE to listen to the theme song (and a ton more, for that matter).


What's Happening was a great show with a black cast from the 70s like The Jeffersons and Good Times, but unlike those shows, this one had more broadly defined storylines (like Rerun being duped into making a bootleg tape of a Doobie Brothers concert) that could have worked for any ethnic group.  The opening of the show, with the slow motion basketball dribbling while Rog, Rerun, and Dwayne ran down the street was accented perfectly with Henry Mancini's wonderful theme.  A weird bouncy rubber twang sound provided the rhythm to a brilliant horn arrangement even more energetic than his Peter Gunn theme.  I was really tempted to show off Mancini's work for The Pink Panther cartoons here instead, but I feel that music is more known as a movie theme than a TV hit to most.  Mancini was certainly one of the greatest theme composer of them all, with a ton of memorable film work, and one of my favorite things by him is the non TV theme, "Baby Elephant Walk" that's been used in millions of things (including a memorable episode of The Simpsons).  What's Happening!! (with the bizarre punctuation of two exclamation points instead of a single question mark), was a highly successful show, and one of the first to reappear in with new episodes in syndication with good ratings as well (What's Happening, Now!, which came out 6 years after the original show was canceled, and still had two exclamation points in the title).  Billy Ingram has written a fascinating look at the history of this show at TV PARTY, that I found to be a great read.  You can also watch and listen to the various incarnations of the show's themes if you CLICK HERE.


Jerry Goldsmith, who's groundbreaking work with films like the Planet of the Apes, The Omen, and many more was given the had to follow task of coming up with a new Star Trek theme for the 1979 film version of the original TV series.  The theme from the 1966 original was so ingrained in the conscience of sci-fi fans, that to win the jaded trekkies over with a new song was about as easy as getting William Shatner to tone down his acting.  The great symphonic score he used was incredibly well received, and was a natural choice to be the new theme when 1987's Star Trek The Next Generation was introduced.  Jerry Goldsmith passed away in 2004 at the age of 75, and is also known for creating the themes to Dr. Kildare, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  For more information about Jerry, visit JERRYGOLDSMITHONLINE.com.

"C'Mon Get Happy" the theme song from The Partridge Family succeeds in it's request to make you forget about your troubles and enjoy yourself.  According to the Internet Movie Database, "During the first season, the theme song had a different arrangement, different lyrics and even a different title, "When We're Singing". However, during the second season the more familiar arrangement of the theme song with the more familiar title "Come On Get Happy" was used and remained the theme song throughout the run of the show.
"  You can read the lyrics to bother versions if you CLICK HERE.  For some cool Partridge Family photos and to download the theme song, CLICK HERE.  Also check out this INTERVIEW WITH JACKIE WARD, who was the lone female voice in the "real" band that provided The Partridge Family music.  Did you ever wonder what happened to the bus?  HERE'S THE ANSWER!

Perhaps no show defined the 80s as much as MIAMI VICE.  From the style and look of the it's stars, to the cars, fashion, and locale, it was the epitome of 80s coolness.  The show perfectly integrated edgy popular music of the time (well, if you consider Don Henley edgy), but Jan Hammer's theme was a great instrumental that perfectly matched the show, and was quite the monster hit (the soundtrack was a #1 album for 14 weeks), as well.  TV GUIDE did an online poll in which Miami Vice was voted the #1 TV theme of all time, but the criteria was kind of screwy as they only let one show from each year be eligible.  Needless to say, it's still one of the best.  By the way, if you go to the Swap Shop Flea Market in Sunrise, Florida, you can get a look at Sonny Crockett's Ferrari (according to IMDB, so don't blame me if it's just an old Pinto when you get there).  In the meantime, you can CLICK HERE to listen to the theme song.

Though Mike Post is largely considered one of the god's of TV themes, I think his groundbreaking work on the 30 year old "The Rockford Files" show is clearly the best thing he's ever done.  With cool high pitched synthesizers, wonky harmonicas, and deep booming drums, it's a unique and super catchy theme that doesn't sound like anything else used on TV.  Even the goofy answering machine greeting, "This is Jim Rockford, at the tone, leave your name and message and I'll get back to you", is cool.  Make sure you visit The Rockford Files Home Page for a TON of obsessively crazy Rockford trivia, including a complete listing of messages left on his answering machine.  Also, let me use this spot to gush about Stuart Margolin who played "Angel" on the show, who's one of my favorite TV characters of all time.  The sleazy charm he brought to the part was amazing and hilarious.



I'd like to thank the following websites for proving to be invaluable resources in putting this feature together.  Some of them have incredible multimedia libraries for your listening pleasure.  Each of them has a nice specialty, and they all have the retroCRUSH seal of approval.

MIKE'S CLASSIC CARTOON THEMES A ton of high quality MP3 files of many era's classic cartoon theme songs, with pictures of each show, to boot! 

While you're there, make sure you visit MIKE'S CLASSIC TV THEMES as well, for all the non-cartoon greatness.

CLASSIC TV THEMES Tons of information about TV shows up through the early 70s with many interesting behind the scenes story and drama about each of them.

80S TV THEME SUPER SITE Lots of obscure, weird, and alternate versions of things to listen to here.  Includes areas dedicated to network promos, commercials, and game shows.

MY THEMES.TV Another fun TV archive, with some neat interactive things to look at.

RETRO JUNK Cool 80s focused site with a lot of great actual video clips so you can SEE the TV Themes they way they were meant to be enjoyed.  And RETRO VANDEGRIFT looks to be a German site with a similar setup.

TRIPLETS ARE US not a dedicated theme site, but a nice directory of themes to listen to, nonetheless.

KIT JUNKIE a huge list of TV show themes to click and listen to, including many rare and unusual ones from the UK.

THE BIG CARTOON DATABASE Tons of information about nearly every single cartoon.
SITCOMS ONLINE has a lot of obscure multimedia and information for SITCOMS
TV TOME has just about everything for every TV show, ever!