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…
O is for the Odd Couple:
The Odd Couple, formally titled onscreen Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, is an American television situation comedy broadcast from September 24, 1970, to March 7, 1975, on ABC. It stars Tony Randall as Felix Unger and Jack Klugman as Oscar Madison, and was the first of several developed by Garry Marshall for Paramount Television. The show is based on the play of the same name, which was written by Neil Simon.
Felix and Oscar are two divorced men. Felix is neat and tidy while Oscar is sloppy and casual. They share a Manhattan apartment, and their different lifestyles inevitably lead to conflicts and laughs.
The success of the 1968 film version of the stage play of The Odd Couple, which starred Jack Lemmon as Felix and Walter Matthau as Oscar, served as the catalyst to bringing the characters to television. The original casting considerations for the TV show included Mickey Rooney or Martin Balsam as Oscar and Dean Martin or Art Carney as Felix. (Carney had originated the role on Broadway.) Eventually, Tony Randall (as Felix) and Jack Klugman (as Oscar) were hired. Both had starred in different productions of the play.
Once the casting was in place, the show’s writers (Marshall, Jerry Belson, Jerry Paris, Harvey Miller, Bob Brunner, Mark Rothman and Lowell Ganz, among others) came up with a multitude of situations for Felix and Oscar to be in, while staying true to the soul of the play, which always reverted to the human tensions between the two that created the comic situations.
Trivia: The show struggled in the Nielsen ratings and was canceled at the end of every season. However, ABC renewed the show for each upcoming season because the ratings for the summer reruns were high.
O is for Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law:
Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law is an American legal drama, jointly created by David Victor and former law professor Jerry McNeely, that starred actor Arthur Hill. The series was broadcast on ABC from 1971 to 1974. A two-hour pilot movie had aired as a 1971 ABC Movie of the Week entry prior to the series run.
Hill starred as Owen Marshall, a compassionate defense attorney who defended various clients in Santa Barbara, California with the help of his young assistants. During the series run, several actors played the role of Marshall’s assistants, including Reni Santoni, David Soul (later of Starsky and Hutch) and Lee Majors, formerly of The Big Valley and The Men from Shiloh. Majors co-starred in the series prior to his appearance in The Six Million Dollar Man.
Trivia: Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law had two crossovers with another David Victor series – Marcus Welby, M.D.. In “Men Who Care”, Welby persuades Marshall to defend a man who’s accused of killing his daughter’s boyfriend, the daughter being one of Welby’s patients. In “I’ve Promised You a Father”, Marshall defends Welby’s colleague Dr. Steve Kiley in a paternity suit filed by a young nurse, who claims that Kiley is the father of her child.
More show trivia: The series marked one of director Steven Spielberg’s earliest television directing stints and boasted several guest stars.
O is for One Day at a Time:
One Day at a Time is an American situation comedy that aired on the CBS network from December 16, 1975, until May 28, 1984, starring Bonnie Franklin as a divorced mother raising her two teenage daughters, played by Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli, in Indianapolis. It also starred Pat Harrington.
The show was created by Whitney Blake and Allan Manings, a husband-and-wife writing duo who were both actors in the 1950s and 1960s. The show was based on Whitney Blake’s own life as a single mother, raising her child, future actress Meredith Baxter. The show was developed by Norman Lear and was produced by T.A.T. Communications Company (1975–82), Allwhit, Inc., and later Embassy Television (1982–84).
Like many shows developed by Lear, One Day at a Time was more of a comedy-drama, using its half hour to tackle serious issues in life and relationships, particularly those related to second wave feminism.
O is for The Outer Limits:
The Outer Limits is an American science fiction/horror television series that aired on ABC from 1963 to 1965. The series is often compared to The Twilight Zone, but with a greater emphasis on science fiction (rather than simply fantasy, bizarre, or supernatural) stories. The Outer Limits is an anthology of self-contained episodes, sometimes with a plot twist at the end.
The series was revived in 1995, airing on Showtime from 1995 to 1999, then on Sci-Fi Channel from 1999 until its cancellation in 2002.
Each show would begin with either a cold open or a preview clip, followed by a “Control Voice” narration that was mainly run over visuals of an oscilloscope. Using an Orwellian theme of taking over your television, the earliest version of the narration ran as follows:
“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to – The Outer Limits.”
A similar but shorter monolog caps each episode: “We now return control of your television set to you. Until next week at the same time, when the control voice will take you to – The Outer Limits.”
Later episodes used one of two shortened versions of the introduction. The first few episodes began simply with the title screen followed by the narration and no cold open or preview clip. The Control Voice was performed by actor Vic Perrin.
The Outer Limits was originally broadcast on the American television network ABC from 1963 to 1965. In total, 49 episodes were produced. It was one of many series influenced by The Twilight Zone and Science Fiction Theatre, though it ultimately proved influential in its own right.
Comparison to The Twilight Zone: Like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits had an opening and closing narration in almost every episode. Both shows were unusually philosophical for science-fiction anthology series, but differed in style. The Twilight Zone stories were often like parables, employing whimsy (such as the Buster Keaton time-travel episode “Once Upon a Time”) or irony, or extraordinary problem-solving situations (such as the episode “The Arrival”). The Outer Limits was usually a straight action-and-suspense show which often had the human spirit in confrontation with dark existential forces from within or without, such as in the alien abduction episode “A Feasibility Study” or the alien possession story “The Invisibles”. As well, The Outer Limits was known for its moody, textured look in many episodes (especially those directed by Byron Haskin or Gerd Oswald, or photographed by Conrad Hall) whereas The Twilight Zone tended to be shot more conventionally – although there are, of course, notable exceptions to these rules of thumb on both series.
Reception and Reputation: In the first year, the series earned a very loyal audience. So devoted, some were reported to take a TV set with them if they had to be away from home, so they would not miss an episode (home video recorders were many years in the future). However, the second season fared rather poorly in the Nielsen ratings after moving from Monday to Saturday night, going against Jackie Gleason. This was the main reason that producer Joseph Stefano chose to leave the show after the first year, he realized that competing against the more popular Gleason Show would kill his show (proven by its cancellation midway through the second season). However, the series retained a following for many years after its original broadcast. Many decades later, horror writer Stephen King called it “the best program of its type ever to run on network TV.”
Outer Limits intro from 1963:
Did you watch any of these shows? What are your favorite TV shows, past and present?