Best TV Themes #s 15-11.
I started it, so I guess I'd better finish it.
#15 Monsieur Ed
To what anxieties or other psychological needs was Mr Ed ministering? My theory is that he represented freedom from sexual and family worries, as well as the existential dilemmas posed by the divided soul of modern man, the corporate state, social competition, the threat of nuclear war and the like. Being a horse (of course) he was not burdened with any responsibility for those things, could be irreverent and so on. In a sense, we have all become more like Mr Ed now, and less like adults with the sense of a real stake in and responsibility for directing the affairs of society.
In the famous episode where Mr Ed hangs out at Dodger Stadium with the L.A. nine in '64--they had won the World Series the previous year--the legendary manager Leo (The Lip) Durocher, who was evidently a coach on that team, got a lot of camera time, and he was surprisingly good (on being introduced to Mr Ed he jibed, "I thought it was [rival manager and famous clown] Casey Stengel". He is always portrayed in baseball lore as a little wiseass punk kind of guy who was a good manager but continually got fired because he didn't have any class (his signature quote was "nice guys finish last")--I was going to say he was like Billy Martin to bring the image up to date, but Billy Martin's been dead for 20 years now too. Anyway, when Durocher was delivering his lines, I was thinking, my God, this guy is clearly more intelligent, or at least speaks better, than anybody I can think of who is managing now.
#14 The Sopranos
The show itself was a little too--I don't know, insensitive? cynical? knowing?--for me (Maybe I just identified a little too closely with the pretentious, mush-muscled Nietzsche reading and atonal music-listening guy who was going to testify against Tony on one of his murder raps but later had a change of heart about performing that civic duty). The opening was cool though. I drive on these highways and get lost in one of these neighborhoods all the time in my shufflings between the north and the mid-atlantic, and I do get kind of pumped up when I enter the North Jersey wasteland. I don't think my wife feels the excitement to quite the same extent however.
#13 Petticoat Junction
This was apparently one of my two favorite shows when I was four, though I have no recollection of it. This show was clearly all about the Petticoat Junction girls (the ones bathing in the water tower when the train comes through town), who also functioned as a singing group--interestingly, considering that they appear to live in deepest Appalachia, a feelgood pop group. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, their heretofore forgotten songs live again all over youtube in stereophonic sound, accompanied by footage and pictures of the girls.
#12 Happy Days/Rock Around the Clock Version
For many people my age, this was, probably unfortunately, the first impression of what the cultural moment known as the 50s was like, which impression was then further augmented by such spiritually related works as the films Grease and American Graffiti. Needless to say, I bit, as I used to say in a malapropism, hook, sink and ladder.
#11 Falcon Crest
I always liked the song here--thought it conveyed the drama of being obscenely rich and lording over a ruthless high status enterprise well. When I think of serious wealth I think of panelled walls, enormous greenhouses, vineyards and fruit orchards as far as the horizon, enormous chairs that require a crane to be moved, stables, a Chinese steward--basically everything they had on this show. And my goodness, was Ana Alicia sex on a stick or what? I don't usually bother wasting my affections on celebrities who are not in some way ideal representations of somebody I might once have had a chance of meeting, and 80s California beach babes with perfect bodies--tragic though it is--are not really in that category. But sometimes love will overcome not merely artificial obstacles but perfectly legitimate ones and insinuate itself against the best judgements of its victims.