STATEMENT THAT APPEARS AT THE BEGINNING OF ALL A-Z 2016 PAGES:
Welcome to the A-Z Classic TV Shows Theme Songs and Intros! Last year I did an A-Z Musical Tour of My Life and featured tons of classic rock music. I had so much fun with it that this year I decided to present classic television shows theme songs and intros. These are shows that I remember from my youth during the 60s and 70s…with an occasional 80s show thrown in. Each show is introduced with information (gathered primarily from my favorite go-to for info, Wikipedia) or associated memories, followed by a video of the TV show’s theme song intro. At first glance, the posts may seem long because of the number of videos included but it’s really laid out in a way that will enable you to scroll through and read, watch or hear just what you want and then either move on to the next A-Zer or linger and go back in time with all the fun theme song intros you’ll find here. Please leave a comment and share your favorite classic TV shows. By all means, bookmark my blog so you can come back! I hope you enjoy my collection. Now, let’s get started with…
B is for the Brady Bunch:
The Brady Bunch is an American sitcom created by Sherwood Schwartz that originally aired from September 26, 1969, to March 8, 1974, on ABC. The series revolves around a large blended family with six children.
Considered one of the last of the old-style family sitcoms, the series aired for five seasons and, after its cancellation in 1974, went into syndication in September 1975. While the series was never a critical or ratings success during its original run, it has since become a popular staple in syndication, especially among children and teenage viewers. The Brady Bunch’s success in syndication ultimately led to several reunion films and spinoff series: The Brady Bunch Hour (1976–77), The Brady Girls Get Married (1981), The Brady Brides (1981), and the 1988 television reunion movie A Very Brady Christmas. That movie’s success led to another spinoff series, The Bradys, which aired on CBS in 1990.
The show’s premise: Mike Brady (Robert Reed), a widowed architect with three sons, Greg (Barry Williams), Peter (Christopher Knight), and Bobby (Mike Lookinland), marries Carol Martin (Florence Henderson), who herself has three daughters: Marcia (Maureen McCormick), Jan (Eve Plumb), and Cindy (Susan Olsen). The wife and daughters take the Brady surname. Included in the blended family are Mike’s live-in housekeeper, Alice Nelson (Ann B. Davis), and the boys’ dog, Tiger. The setting is a large, suburban, two-story house designed by Mike, in a Los Angeles, California suburb.
In the first season, awkward adjustments, accommodations, and resentments inherent in blended families dominate the stories. In an early episode, Carol tells Bobby that the only “steps” in their household lead to the second floor (in other words, that the family contains no “stepchildren,” only “children”). Thereafter, the episodes focus on typical pre-teen and teenage adjustments such as sibling rivalry, puppy love, self-image, character building, and responsibility.
Here are the opening themes to all five seasons so you can see them age through the years!
B is for the Bob Newhart Show:
The Bob Newhart Show is an American situation comedy produced by MTM Enterprises, which aired 142 half-hour episodes on CBS from September 16, 1972, to April 1, 1978. Comedian Bob Newhart portrays a psychologist having to deal with his patients and fellow office workers. The show was filmed before a live audience.
The show centers on Robert Hartley, Ph.D. (Newhart), a Chicago psychologist. It divides most of its action between the character’s work and his home life, with Hartley’s supportive (though occasionally sarcastic) wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette), and their friendly but inept neighbor, airline navigator Howard Borden (Bill Daily). At the medical office where Hartley has his psychology practice are Jerry Robinson, D.D.S. (Peter Bonerz), an orthodontist who also has a practice on the floor, and their joke-loving receptionist, Carol Kester (Marcia Wallace), as well as a number of other doctors who appear occasionally.
Hartley’s three most frequently seen regular patients are the mean-spirited and neurotic Elliot Carlin (Jack Riley), the milquetoast Marine veteran Emile Peterson (John Fiedler), and shy, reserved Lillian Bakerman (Florida Friebus), an elderly lady who spends most of her sessions knitting.
B is for Bewitched:
Bewitched is an American television situation comedy fantasy series which was broadcast for eight seasons on ABC from 1964 to 1972. It was created by Sol Saks under executive director Harry Ackerman, and starred Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick York (1964–1969), Agnes Moorehead, and David White. Dick Sargent replaced an ill York for the final three seasons (1969–1972). The show is about a witch who marries an ordinary mortal man, and vows to lead the life of a typical suburban housewife. Bewitched enjoyed great popularity, finishing as the number two show in America during its debut season, and becoming the longest-running supernatural-themed sitcom of the 1960s–1970s. The show continues to be seen throughout the world in syndication and on recorded media.
A young-looking witch named Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) meets and marries a mortal named Darrin Stephens (originally Dick York, later Dick Sargent). While Samantha pledges to forsake her powers and become a typical suburban housewife, her magical family disapproves of the mixed marriage and frequently interferes in the couple’s lives. Episodes often begin with Darrin becoming the victim of a spell, the effects of which wreak havoc with mortals such as his boss, clients, parents, and neighbors. By the epilogue, however, Darrin and Samantha most often embrace, having overcome the devious elements that failed to separate them.
The witches and their male counterparts, warlocks, are very long-lived; while Samantha appears to be a young woman, many episodes suggest she is actually hundreds of years old. To keep their society secret, witches avoid showing their powers in front of mortals other than Darrin. Nevertheless, the effects of their spells – and Samantha’s attempts to hide their supernatural origin from mortals – drive the plot of most episodes. Witches and warlocks usually use physical gestures along with their incantations. To perform magic, Samantha often twitches her nose to create a spell. Effective special visual effects are accompanied by music to highlight such an action.
B is for the Beverly Hillbillies:
The Beverly Hillbillies is an American sitcom originally broadcast for nine seasons on CBS from September 26, 1962 to March 23, 1971, starring Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, Donna Douglas, and Max Baer, Jr.
The series is about a poor backwoods family transplanted to Beverly Hills, California, after striking oil on their land. The Beverly Hillbillies series starts as Jed Clampett, an impoverished mountaineer, is living alongside an oil-contaminated swamp with his daughter and mother-in-law. A surveyor for the OK Oil Company realizes the size of the oil field, and the company pays him a fortune for the right to drill on his land. Patriarch Jed moves with his family into a mansion next door to his banker (Milburn Drysdale, of the Commerce Bank of Beverly Hills), in the wealthy Beverly Hills, California, where he brings a moral, unsophisticated, and minimalistic lifestyle to the swank, sometimes self-obsessed and superficial community. Double entendres and cultural misconceptions are the core of the sitcom’s humor. Plots often involve the outlandish efforts Drysdale makes to keep the Clampetts in Beverly Hills and their money in his bank. The family’s periodic attempts to return to the mountains are often prompted by Granny’s perceiving a slight from one of the “city folk.”
The Hillbillies are played by Buddy Ebsen, the widowed patriarch J. D. “Jed” Clampett; Irene Ryan, his ornery mother-in-law, Daisy May (“Granny”) Moses; Donna Douglas, Jed’s curvaceous and beautiful, yet tomboyish, daughter Elly May Clampett; and Max Baer, Jr. as Jethro Bodine, the brawny, half-witted son of Jed’s cousin Pearl Bodine. Pearl (played by Bea Benaderet) appears in most of the first-season episodes, as does Jethro’s twin sister Jethrine, played by Baer in drag, using Linda Kaye Henning’s voice-over. Pearl is the relative who prods Jed to move to California after being told his modest property could yield $25 million.
The Beverly Hillbillies ranked among the top twenty most watched programs on television for eight of its nine seasons, twice ranking as the number one series of the year, with a number of episodes that remain among the most watched television episodes of all time. It accumulated seven Emmy nominations during its run. The series remains in syndication on MeTV,
B is for Baretta:
Baretta is an American detective television series which ran on ABC from 1975 to 1978.The show was a revised milder version of a successful 1973–74 ABC series, Toma, starring Tony Musante as chameleon-like, real-life New Jersey police officer David Toma. While popular, Toma received intense criticism at the time for its realistic and frequent depiction of police and criminal violence. When Musante left the series after a single season, the concept was retooled as Baretta, with Robert Blake in the title role.
Detective Anthony Vincenzo “Tony” Baretta is an unorthodox plainclothes cop (badge #609) with the 53rd precinct, who lives with Fred, his Triton sulphur-crested cockatoo, in apartment 2C at the run-down King Edward Hotel in an unnamed Eastern city (presumably Newark, New Jersey). Like his model David Toma, Tony Baretta wore many disguises on the job. When not in disguise, Baretta usually wore a short-sleeve sweatshirt, casual slacks, a brown suede jacket and a newsboy cap. He often carried an unlit cigarette in his lips or behind his ear. His catchphrases included “You can take dat to da bank” and “And dat‘s the name of dat tune.” When exasperated he would occasionally speak in asides to his late father, Louie Baretta.
Baretta drove a rusted-out Mist Blue 1966 Chevrolet Impala four-door sport sedan nicknamed “The Blue Ghost” (license plate 532 BEN). He hung out at Ross’s Billiard Academy and referred to his numerous girlfriends as his “cousins”.
Supporting characters include: Billy Truman (Tom Ewell), retired cop who used to work with Baretta’s father Louie at the 53rd Precinct; Rooster (Michael D. Roberts), a streetwise pimp and Tony’s favorite informant; Inspector Shiller (Dana Elcar) and Lieutenant Hal Brubaker (Edward Grover), Baretta’s supervisors; Detective Foley (John Ward), police detective; Fats (Chino ‘Fats’ Williams), a gravelly-voiced, older detective; Detective Nopke (Ron Thompson), a rookie detective; Little Moe (Angelo Rossitto), a shoeshine man and informant; Mr. Nicholas (Titos Vandis), a mob boss; Mr. Muncie (Paul Lichtman), the owner of a liquor store at 52nd and Main.
The theme song, “Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow”, was written by Dave Grusin and Morgan Ames; initially an instrumental, lyrics were added in later seasons that were sung by Sammy Davis, Jr. Every episode of Baretta began with the song, which contained the motto, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” The song was released as a single in Europe in 1976, reaching number one in the Dutch Top 40 as “Baretta’s Theme”. The music for the theme song was performed by Los Angeles-based Latin Rock band El Chicano.
B is for Bonanza:
Bonanza is an NBC television western series that ran from September 12, 1959, to January 16, 1973. Lasting 14 seasons and 430 episodes, it ranks as the second longest running western series (behind Gunsmoke), and within the top 10 longest running, live-action American series. The show continues to air in syndication.
The show is set around the 1860s and it centers on the Cartwright family, who live in the area of Virginia City, Nevada, bordering Lake Tahoe. The series stars Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker, Michael Landon, Pernell Roberts (who left after six seasons), and later David Canary and Mitch Vogel.
The title “Bonanza” is a term used by miners in regard to a large vein or deposit of ore, and commonly refers to the Comstock Lode.
In 2002, Bonanza was ranked No. 43 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, and in 2013 TV Guide included it in its list of The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time. The time period for the television series is roughly between 1861 (Season 1) to 1867 (Season 13) during and shortly after the American Civil War.
During the summer of 1972, NBC aired reruns of episodes from the 1967–1970 period in prime time on Tuesday evening under the title Ponderosa.
The show chronicles the weekly adventures of the Cartwright family, headed by the thrice-widowed patriarch Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene). He had three sons, each by a different wife: the eldest was the urbane architect Adam Cartwright (Pernell Roberts) who built the ranch house; the second was the warm and lovable giant Eric “Hoss” Cartwright (Dan Blocker); and the youngest was the hotheaded and impetuous Joseph or “Little Joe” (Michael Landon). Via exposition (Bonanza, “Rose for Lotta”, premiere September 12, 1959) and flashback episodes, each wife was accorded a different ethnicity: English (Bonanza, “Elizabeth My Love”; episode #65) Swedish (Bonanza, “Inger My Love”, episode #95) and French Creole (Bonanza, “Marie My Love”, episode #120) respectively. The family’s cook was the Chinese immigrant Hop Sing (Victor Sen Yung). Greene, Roberts, Blocker, and Landon were billed equally. The opening credits would alternate the order among the four stars.
The family lived on a 600,000+ acre (937+ square-mile) ranch called the Ponderosa on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada. The vast size of the Cartwrights’ land was quietly revised to “half a million acres” on Lorne Greene’s 1964 song, “Saga of the Ponderosa.” The ranch name refers to the Ponderosa Pine, common in the West. The nearest town to the Ponderosa was Virginia City, where the Cartwrights would go to converse with Sheriff Roy Coffee (played by veteran actor Ray Teal), or his deputy Clem Foster (Bing Russell).
Bonanza was considered an atypical western for its time, as the core of the storylines dealt less about the range but more with Ben and his three dissimilar sons, how they cared for one another, their neighbors, and just causes. “You always saw stories about family on comedies or on an anthology, but Bonanza was the first series that was week-to-week about a family and the troubles it went through. Bonanza was a period drama that attempted to confront contemporary social issues. That was very difficult to do on television. Most shows that tried to do it failed because the sponsors didn’t like it, and the networks were nervous about getting letters”, explains Stephen Battaglio, a senior editor for TV Guide magazine (Paulette Cohn, “Bonanza: TV Trailblazer”, American Profile Magazine, p. 12, June 5, 2009).
Episodes ranged from high drama (“Bushwacked”, episode #392, 1971; “Shanklin”, episode #409, 1972), to broad comedy (“Hoss and the Leprechauns”, episode #146, 1964; “Caution, Bunny Crossing”, episode #358, 1969), and addressed issues such as the environment (“Different Pines, Same Wind”, episode #304, 1968), substance abuse (“The Hidden Enemy”, episode #424, 1972), domestic violence (“First Love”, episode #427, 1972), anti-war sentiment (“The Weary Willies”, episode #364, 1970), and illegitimate births (“Love Child”, episode #370, 1970; “Rock-A-Bye Hoss”, episode #393, 1971). The series sought to illustrate the cruelty of bigotry against: Asians (“The Fear Merchants”, episode #27, 1960; “The Lonely Man”, episode #404, 1971), African-Americans (“Enter Thomas Bowers”, episode #164, 1964; “The Wish”, episode #326, 1968; “Child”, episode #305, 1969), Native Americans (“The Underdog”, episode #180, 1964; “Terror at 2:00”, episode #384, 1970), Jews, (“Look to the Stars”, episode #90, 1962); Mormons (“The Pursued”, episodes #239-40, 1966), the disabled (“Tommy”, episode #249, 1966) and “little people” (“It’s A Small World”, episode #347, 1968).
Originally, the Cartwrights tended to be depicted as put-off by outsiders. Lorne Greene objected to this, pointing out that as the area’s largest timber and livestock producer, the family should be less clannish. The producers agreed with this observation and changed the Cartwrights to be more amiable.
You can see by these two intros how they rotated the order of the credits so that all four major actors received equal billing:
B is for Barnaby Jones:
Barnaby Jones is a television detective series starring Buddy Ebsen and Lee Meriwether as a father and daughter-in-law who run a private detective firm in Los Angeles, California. The show ran on CBS from January 28, 1973, to April 3, 1980, beginning as a midseason replacement. William Conrad guest-starred as Frank Cannon of Cannon on the first episode of Barnaby Jones, “Requiem for a Son”, and the two series had a two-part crossover episode in 1975, “The Deadly Conspiracy”. The series was produced by QM Productions (with Woodruff Productions in the final two seasons), and lasted longer (seven and a half seasons) than any other QM series except The FBI.
The Plot: After Barnaby Jones (Buddy Ebsen) had worked as a private eye for many years, he decided to retire and left the business to his son Hal. When Hal was murdered while working on a case, Barnaby came out of retirement to find the killer. His widowed daughter-in-law, Betty Jones (Lee Meriwether), joined forces with him to solve the case. The two decided that they worked so well together, they would continue to keep the detective agency open. Jones was unusual, ordering milk in restaurants and bars, counter to the stereotypical hard-drinking detective.
Until the cancellation of Cannon, the characters of both series moved back and forth between the two shows. In 1976, the character of J. R. (Mark Shera), the son of Barnaby’s cousin, joined the cast. He had come to try to solve the murder of his father, but stayed around to help Barnaby and Betty, while also attending law school.
During the first year of the series, a common theme would be where Jones would make an astute observation or collect a sample, such as mud on a car’s tire. The criminal, in some cases, called his accomplice and had a conversation along the lines of “there’s a Mr. Jones and he’s asking a lot of questions,” after which the criminal was assured that Jones would be “taken care of”. In view of his advancing age (Ebsen was in his 60s for most of the series) Jones rarely engaged in fistfights in the climactic scene of a given episode; instead, anticipating a violent act from an adversary, Jones would draw his revolver and get the drop on the villain, or he would use self-defense tactics such as slamming the door on a shotgun-toting villain, or using a judo hold to subdue the bad guy, or rely on others (such as J.R. or the police) to overpower and detain the criminals.
Toward the latter part of the series, as Ebsen aged and expressed an interest in slowing down a bit, Meriwether’s and Shera’s characters became more prominent, allowing Ebsen to reduce his role; during the last two seasons, the episodes were divided evenly among the three actors, with Ebsen, Meriwether, and Shera each being the focus of a third of the season’s episodes.
The show was cancelled in 1980 due to declining ratings; Ebsen had also finally had enough of playing the role. After the series’ cancellation, reruns could be seen in syndication.
Intro and Outro:
B is for The Big Valley:
The Big Valley is an American western television series which ran on ABC from September 15, 1965, to May 19, 1969. The show stars Barbara Stanwyck, as the widow of a wealthy 19th century California rancher.
Historical Background: The TV series was based loosely on the Hill Ranch, which was located at the western edge of Calaveras County, not far from Stockton. The Hill Ranch existed from 1855 until 1931, including almost 30,000 acres. Lawson Hill ran the ranch until he was murdered in 1861. His wife Euphemia (aka “Auntie Hill”) then became the matriarch. During their marriage they had four children, one daughter and three sons. Today, the location of the ranch is covered by the waters of Lake Camanche. A California state historical marker standing at Camanche South Shore Park mentions the historic ranch. The set used to film the exterior of the Barkley Mansion stood on the backlot of Republic Studios from 1947 until 1975.
Victoria Barkley, portrayed by Barbara Stanwyck, was the widow of Thomas Barkley. She was the head of the wealthy, influential Barkley family who lived in 19th century Stockton in California’s Central Valley. She was the main character of the series. Victoria Barkley was the owner and head of the Barkley ranch. In fact, Stanwyck’s refusal to portray Barkley as fragile was controversial at the time.
Jarrod Thomas Barkley, the eldest son, was a respected attorney. Richard Long played the role of the educated, refined and calmer of the Barkley sons who handled all of the family’s legal and business affairs. While Jarrod preferred the law to settle disputes, he was known to resort to frontier justice and violence when necessary.
Nicholas “Nick” Jonathan Barkley, the hot-tempered brawling younger son who managed the family ranch, was portrayed by Peter Breck. Well known for his black leather vests, large black hat and black leather gloves, as well as his loud and brawling demeanor, he was notorious for getting into fist fights. At times, he would fight with his brothers as well, though underneath the gruff surface he was warm and caring, had a fun-loving carefree side and a great sense of humor, and loved his family deeply.
Audra Barkley, played by Linda Evans, was Victoria’s only daughter. Audra was somewhat self-absorbed, bold, and forward. Far from demure, she performed daring stunts and rode astride, like her brothers.
Heath Barkley was the illegitimate son of Victoria’s late husband, and he literally had to fight his way into the Barkley home. Lee Majors portrayed even-tempered but rough and tumble Heath, who was often angry and aggressive throughout the early episodes due to his belief that Tom Barkley had abandoned his real mother after she became pregnant. In truth, Tom Barkley never knew about Heath, as Heath’s mother had never told him, and never told Heath until she was on her deathbed. Heath gradually gained acceptance from the rest of the Barkley clan as the first season progressed until he became as much a “Barkley” as the rest of the family, and his love for them became equal.
Despite the show’s popularity, the series’ ratings never made the top thirty in the yearly ratings charts. The Big Valley was canceled in 1969 as the TV western craze began to fade out to make room for more modern shows.
The Big Valley Intro and Closing Credits:
My blog-buddy Sir Leprechaunrabbit over at Your Roots Are Showing Dearie pointed out that I had forgotten one very major television show of that era: Batman. How could I have left out Batman and his Boy Wonder Robin?? I loved that show! And it has the best theme song and intro! So, without further ado…
B is for Batman:
Batman is a 1960s American live action television series, based on the DC comic book character of the same name. It stars Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin — two crime-fighting heroes who defend Gotham City from a variety of villains and their henchmen. It is known for its camp style, upbeat theme music and relatively simplistic youth-aimed moral lessons, including championing the importance of using seat belts, doing homework, eating vegetables and drinking milk. One hundred and twenty episodes aired on the ABC network for three seasons from January 12, 1966, to March 14, 1968, twice weekly for the first two and weekly for the third.
The series focuses on the adventures of Batman and Robin; although the lives of their alter-egos, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are typically shown, it is usually only briefly in the context of their being called away on superhero business, or in circumstances where they need to employ their secret identities to assist in their crime-fighting. The “Dynamic Duo” typically come to the aid of the Gotham City Police upon the latter being stumped by a supervillain. Throughout the episodes, Batman and Robin have to deduce clues and discover the supervillain’s plan, and also figure out how to thwart that plan and capture the criminal.
The style of the series is campy and somewhat tongue-in-cheek. This increased as the series went on with the addition of more absurdity. The characters, however, always take the situations very seriously.
The series used a narrator (producer William Dozier, uncredited). He would end many of the cliffhanger episodes by intoning, “Tune in tomorrow — same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!”
The Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, and the Mad Hatter, villains who originated in the comic books, all appeared in the series, the plots for which were deliberately villain-driven as well as action-comedy heavy.
The theme song is widely recognized. Hopefully this will bring back memories for you:
What other classic shows belong here with the letter B? What are your favorite TV shows, past and present? Did you have a favorite of the intros that were presented?