Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It may be an unwise man who doesn't learn from his own mistakes, but it's an absolute idiot that doesn't learn from other people's.

I'm a poor sad wee thing today, as I'm at home with the lurgy. As I write this I'm in my warm clothes, under a blanket on the sofa. It feels like someone has scooped out my brain and replaced with with cotton wool. Yuck. Luckily for me, Nic is very kind and good at taking care of me and I'm sure I'll be fit for work in the morning.

Moan, moan moan...but I do have a more upbeat blog post, which I'm sure will cheer me up. On Friday night, fuelled by wine and giddy in the knowledge that I didn't have to get up for work in the morning, Nic and I spent some time watching the title sequences of some of our favourite TV programmes. It got me thinking about what a sucker I am for a good theme tune and what it can bring to a show. So here, for your delight, are some of my favourite theme tunes and the reasons why I think they're excellent.

New Tricks - It's Alright

The obvious Dennis Waterman theme tune to go for is I Could Be So Good For You from Minder, because it is much more famous. It is a good one (so good, in fact, that I own it on vinyl. I'm just that cool) However, I don't have all that much to say about it because I'm not too familiar with Minder as a show. I've written about New Tricks before, so I'll try not to repeat myself too much. For one thing, I think the fact that it is Dennis Waterman singing the theme tune makes this excellent. One of the chief pleasures the show offers is the nostalgia value, and the theme tune fits right into this conceit. The lyrics are pretty silly but, pleasingly, they include some of the show's ideas. You can teach an old dog a brand new trick. It helps that it's good fun to sing along with this one, and maybe one day they'll get around to releasing it as a single.

Neighbours/Home and Away/Sons and Daughters
I'm running these three together because I think the Australians got it right on this one: you ought to have a rather hysterical theme tune for your soap operas. I know Eastenders is meant to be all gritty and naturalist and everything (although. really? I think in its own way it's even more ridiculous than Sunset Beach or Passions) but I for one think that it would be vastly improved by a theme tune. With lyrics. Perhaps they could take in meditations on life in the east end of London as well as the wider ideas of relationships and feelings and shit like that. Anyway, with these Australian soaps the theme tunes all do just that. Of the three I've mentioned, I think Sons and Daughters does this in the most satisfying way with its frankly rather mad lyrics:
Love can happen now like it happened then
Wondered at the time what love really meant
When it came, it came from nowhere
When it came, it altered our lives...

Absolutely brilliant. It was also released as a single!

The Wire - Way Down in the Hole and The Fall
Damn, I bet you never thought you'd find The Wire and Sons and Daughters being written about in the same piece, did you? I love the theme from The Wire, all of its iterations (although I think my favourite is the Season 4 version). I wanted to write about it, partly to prove that it doesn't have to be silly or jolly to get my attention. In each season of The Wire the theme tune cues you in, and it's an essential part of each episode. I don't think I can say anything about The Wire that hasn't already been said better elsewhere on the internet, so I won't waffle on now. I've also mentioned the end theme, because its melancholy abstractness is very special.

Doctor Who

I'd like to do a spot of RTD-bashing again. I bloody hate the way the theme in the new Doctor Who episodes is orchestrated. It sounds shit. The original theme, by Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and arranged by Delia Derbyshire is amazing, however. It was one of the first TV themes to be produced using entirely electronic means and rather than using instruments, Grainer and the Radiophonic Workshop used magnetic tape loops and feedback and it sounds completely weird and unearthly. I always think how eerie it must have been to be watching An Unearthly Child in 1963. Of course, it makes perfect sense for a science fiction show to have such a weird theme tune. I confess, this is another one that I enjoy singing along with. I've never made up lyrics or anything, but I do enjoy a bit of singing "Oooooooh oooh, ooooooh oooooh oooooh" and, do you know what? I'm not one bit ashamed of that.

Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads - What Happened to You?

I'm sorry - I couldn't find a YouTube video of just the theme tune, this video also has part of an episode.
The theme tune from Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads was written by Ian La Frenais and Mike Hugg from Manfred Mann, and I like it because it is another theme tune that totally encapsulates the underlying melancholy of the show. Certainly it's a comedy, but it's also about the passage of time and about the ways in which we become unrecognisable to ourselves as we get older. It is aided by the title sequence, which combines photos from The Likely Lads with shots of a rapidly changing North East, and shots of Terry and Bob that show how they have moved in different directions. For viewers now, the theme tune has an added layer of meaning - what Terry and Bob were looking forward to was worse than the past, it was Britain in the 80s.

Of course, there are lots more theme tunes that I love, but this blog post could become very long so I'm going to stop here. I'll write about more in the future, however!

Well, I haven't left the house today so I haven't participated in Ruby Shoesdays this week, and I'm not going to put up an outfit shot - but I do have a new pair of red shoes coming in the post, so I'll have a nice wee blog post about it next week.