The Real Folk Blues

SyFy Wire has a Top 30 TV SciFi Theme Songs clickbait post up. It’s partly tongue-in-cheek (no one seriously believes that Quantum Leap has an iconic theme, for example). But most of it seems serious … and lazy. Here’s my litany of complaints.

Omissions

  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It might just be the fanboy in me talking – I really love that show – but I think this one deserved a mention. It’s catchy, distinctive, and has an unusually good fit with the feel of the show. I certainly think Buffy is a more worthy Whedon entry than Firefly themesong-wise (everything-wise, really – Firefly and Dollhouse are good shows; Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a once-in-a-generation great one).
  2. War of the Worlds (Season Two). I seem to be one of the few people in the world who remembers that War of the Worlds even had a second season, but it did. I’m given to understand it wasn’t very good. I liked it at the time, but I was in junior high, and it was mostly the violence (which was groundbreaking for TV at the time) that appealed to me, and I can’t check whether it holds up because it’s pretty much never been in re-runs, and I only learned about the DVD release of it googling just now (for years there wasn’t one, and there were no plans for there ever to be one). Whatever the quality of the show, the theme belongs on this list. No, it hasn’t aged well. It’s very much of its time – but you really couldn’t ask for a better time capsule of that time. This theme, and the show it represents, could only have happened in the deeply weird inbetween time when it was neither the 80s nor the 90s. At the time of writing, there’s a really poor-quality upload of it on YouTube
  3. Battlestar: Galactica (1978). OK, I get it, it’s a little standard – but it’s also pretty musically interesting for its genre – the way the theme sort of keeps lengthening as it goes – and the voiceover is nothing if not iconic. On YouTube.
  4. Battlestar: Galactica (2004). I’ve never understood why so many people dislike it. In my opinion, it’s among the best opening themes that’ve ever been. For what, by rights, should have been one of the best shows ever to have been … but it really went south halfway through the second season, so oh well. The theme, like the first season, is amazing: YouTube
  5. Stranger Things. Are you honestly kidding me? How is this one not on this list? Has any show in any genre ever had a theme that better fit the show? It was fucking perfect. I’m OK with Doctor Who at the top spot on this list, but this one should really be in second. There is simply no excuse. YouTube.
  6. The Twilight Zone. Look, I think it’s overrated too – but it put the icon in iconic. You just can’t make a top 30 list of TV scifi theme songs without this one. You just can’t.

Unjustifiable Inclusions

  1. Quantum Leap. Are you fucking kidding me? A boring theme for a boring show. Get this off my list!
  2. MacGyver. Nothing in particular against MacGyver, but there’s nothing really special about the theme. It’s pretty standard TV stuff if you ask me. Not terrible, but it doesn’t belong on this list.
  3. Lost in Space. This is clearly only on here because John Williams wrote it. There is no other reason. Nothing whatever distinguishes this musically from any other 60s theme.
  4. Dark Angel. Terrible show, terrible theme. But OK, I’m willing to acknowledge some bias here – I don’t like rap and hip-hop. Since this is one of the few unabashedly hip-hop themes on TV, let alone in scifi, I will grudgingly admit it belongs on this list if you twist my arm. But you have to admit it’s shitty hip-hop, right?
  5. I Dream of Jeanie. Iconic song, no doubt about it. Belongs on some list. But not one for scifi shows. I Dream of Jeanie is "scifi" the way Gilligan’s Island is survivalist. The Jetsons has a better claim. This is a dumb sitcom from one of American television’s worst decades.
  6. Futurama. Really nothing special about this. It’s not awful, but there’s no way it’s top 30.
  7. The Munsters Ditto. And then some. This just isn’t scifi.

Misranked

  1. Cowboy Beebop. Another one of those where the theme is (a) pretty much perfect for the show and (b) truly distinctive. I’m glad it made the list, but it deserved a top 10 billing.
  2. The Greatest American Hero. Bleh. Put it on the list if you have to, but put it near the bottom. This is not, no way, the 2nd-best scifi TV theme. It’s not even in the top 20.
  3. The Addams Family. Again, iconic, but scifi? Probably not. Put it in the top 30 if you must, but near the bottom, please.
  4. Firefly. Good but overrated show, good but overrated song. I like Firefly, but Buffy was a helluvalot better. As was its theme song. If this is in the top 30 it’s somewhere below 21 – certainly not 12th!

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