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…
S is for the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour is an American variety show starring American pop-singer Cher and her husband Sonny Bono. The show ran on CBS in the United States, when it premiered in August 1971. The show was canceled May 1974, due to the couple’s divorce, though the duo would reunite in 1976 for the identically-formatted The Sonny & Cher Show (a title sporadically used during the run of the Comedy Hour), which ran until 1977.
In 1971, Sonny and Cher had stopped producing hit singles. Cher’s first feature film, Chastity, was not a success, and the duo decided to sing and tell jokes in nightclubs across the country. CBS head of programming Fred Silverman saw them one evening and offered them their own show. The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour was originally supposed to be a summer replacement series, but high ratings gave Silverman sufficient reason to bring it back later that year, with a permanent spot on the schedule. The show was taped at CBS Television City in Hollywood.
The show was a Top 20 hit in the ratings for its entire run. Each episode would open with the show’s theme song, which would segue into the first few notes of “The Beat Goes On”. Every episode, Sonny would exchange banter with Cher, allowing Cher to put down Sonny in a comic manner. Comedy skits would follow, mixed in with musical numbers. Three of the regular cast members who regularly appeared in sketches were Teri Garr, Murray Langston (who later found brief fame as “The Unknown Comic” on The Gong Show), and Steve Martin (who also served as one of the show’s writers). At the end of each episode, Sonny and Cher would sing their hit “I Got You Babe” to the audience, sometimes with daughter Chastity Bono in tow.
Among the many guests who appeared on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour were Carol Burnett, George Burns, Glen Campbell, Tony Curtis, Bobby Darin, Phyllis Diller, Farrah Fawcett, Merv Griffin, The Jackson 5, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ronald Reagan, Burt Reynolds, The Righteous Brothers, Dinah Shore, Sally Struthers, The Supremes, Teri Garr, Chuck Berry, and Dick Clark.
The show was scheduled to return for a fourth season in October 1974. However, Sonny and Cher separated that fall, resulting in the cancellation of the show.
S is for Starsky & Hutch:
Starsky & Hutch is a 1970s American cop thriller television series, which consisted of a 70-minute pilot movie (originally aired as a Movie of the Week entry) and 92 episodes of 50 minutes each. The show was created by William Blinn, produced by Spelling-Goldberg Productions, and broadcast from April, 1975 to May, 1979 on the ABC network. The series also inspired a theatrical film and a video game.
The series’ protagonists were two Southern California police detectives: David Michael Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser), the dark-haired, Brooklyn transplant and U.S. Army veteran, with a street-wise manner and intense, sometimes childlike moodiness; and Kenneth “Hutch” Hutchinson (David Soul), the blond, Duluth, Minnesota native with a more reserved and intellectual approach. Under the radio call sign “Zebra Three”, they were known for usually tearing around the streets of fictional “Bay City, California”. The vehicle of choice was Starsky’s two-door Ford Gran Torino, which was bright red, with a large white vector stripe on both sides. They used around four different cars for filming. Earlier shots had red wing mirrors usually for long shots or footage used in later episodes, close ups and later episodes had silver wing mirrors. The Torino was nicknamed the “Striped Tomato” by Hutch in the episode “Snowstorm”, and fans subsequently referred to the car by that nickname, too. However, this moniker didn’t come from the writers, it came from a real-life comment that Glaser made. In a segment titled Starsky & Hutch: Behind The Badge that was featured on the first season DVD collection, Glaser stated that when he was first shown the Torino by series producer Aaron Spelling, he sarcastically said to Soul, “That thing looks like a striped tomato!” In characteristic contrast, Hutch’s vehicle was a battered, tan, 1973 Ford Galaxie 500. It occasionally appeared when the duo needed separate vehicles, or for undercover work. However, the duo’s cover was often blown because Hutch’s vehicle had a bad habit; when its driver’s side door was opened, the horn would go off, instantly drawing attention. It was also noticeable due to the severely cluttered back seat, so cluttered that there was no room to transport both prisoners and the two detectives simultaneously.
The detectives’ main confidential informant was the street-wise, ethically ambiguous, “jive-talking” Huggy Bear (Antonio Fargas), who often dressed in a flashy manner and operated his own bar (first named “Huggy Bear’s”, and later, “The Pits”). The duo’s boss was the gruff, no-nonsense-but-fair Captain Harold C. Dobey (Bernie Hamilton in the series, and gravel-voiced Richard Ward in the pilot, only). Starsky and Hutch continued the 1960s trend in some prime-time, U.S. TV dramas of portraying African-Americans (e.g., Huggy Bear, Capt. Dobey) in a positive light.
Huggy’s immense popularity with viewers caused producers Spelling and Goldberg to consider giving actor Fargas his own TV series. The second-season episode “Huggy Bear and the Turkey” was the test pilot for a proposed spin off with Huggy and his friend, former Sheriff “Turkey” Turquet (Dale Robinette) becoming private investigators; however, this premise proved unpopular with viewers, and a spinoff never materialized. In the episode it was revealed that Huggy’s last name is Brown (no clue as to his first name was given, though). Two series characters were named for people from William Blinn’s past: Starsky was the name of a high school friend, and Huggy Bear was a local disc jockey.
Series creator William Blinn first used the name Huggy Bear on-screen for a character, also a confidential informant, in an episode penned by Blinn for the TV series “The Rookies”, during the 1973 second season, “Prayers Unanswered Prayers Unheard”, there played by actor Johnny Brown.
Regarding the show’s theme music: The first season of the show had a dark and ominous theme written by Lalo Schifrin that seemed to fit the hard action and violence of the season; the main title version was edited down from the chase climax cue of his score for the pilot episode (the climax contains the shot of Hutch leaping off a fire escape and landing on a car which appears in the opening titles of all subsequent episodes). The end credits featured a similar piece of ominous music.
The first season theme was replaced for the second season by a Tom Scott written theme entitled “Gotcha”. “Gotcha” is the best known of the show’s themes, and has been covered by several musicians, including the James Taylor Quartet and The Ventures. It also appears on the title screen of the Nintendo Entertainment System game Treasure Master, covered by Tim Follin. A version of “Gotcha” was featured on Scott’s 1977 album Blow It Out and is also on the album Best Of Tom Scott. For the third season, a more dramatic theme was used that highlighted the show’s move to more socially conscious and light-hearted stories. It was written by Mark Snow and released on an LP around 1979.
Here is the Season 1 intro:
Compare that theme music to the lighter version of later seasons:
S is for the Sixth Sense:
The Sixth Sense is an American paranormal thriller television series featuring Gary Collins and Catherine Ferrar. Based on the 1971 television movie Sweet, Sweet Rachel, the series was produced by and (largely filmed at) Universal Studios, and broadcast by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) from January 1972 through December 1972.
Synopsis: Dr. Michael Rhodes (Collins), a professor of parapsychology, with his assistant Nancy Murphy (Ferrar), attempts to solve supernatural mysteries. Joan Crawford, Sandra Dee, Patty Duke, Cloris Leachman, Carol Lynley, Lee Majors, William Shatner, Jane Wyman and Jim Davis, among others guest starred in individual episodes. The series, which was broadcast during Saturday nights at 10 pm, had tough competition from CBS’s Mission: Impossible and NBC’s Banyon. Despite mediocre ratings, The Sixth Sense was renewed for a second season, mainly due to its well-known guest stars. Ratings continued to decline, and ABC canceled The Sixth Sense on November 14, 1972, broadcasting the remaining episodes through December 1972.
Interestingly, for syndication, The Sixth Sense was packaged with Night Gallery:
For its syndication release, The Sixth Sense was edited and included with Night Gallery hosted by Rod Serling. As The Sixth Sense was an hour-long show, and the syndicated version of Night Gallery was a half-hour show, the episodes were edited quite severely. Serling’s newly added introductions usually covered the introductory scenes and plot point set-ups that had been removed.
S is for Soul Train:
Soul Train was an American musical variety television program which aired in syndication from 1971 until 2006. In its 35-year history, the show primarily featured performances by R&B, soul, and hip hop artists, although funk, jazz, disco, and gospel artists also appeared. The series was created by Don Cornelius, who also served as its first host and executive producer.
Production was suspended following the 2005–06 season, with a rerun package (known as The Best of Soul Train) airing for two years subsequently. As a nod to Soul Train’s longevity, the show’s opening sequence during later seasons contained a claim that it was the “longest-running first-run, nationally syndicated program in American television history,” with over 1,100 episodes produced from the show’s debut through the 2005-06 season. Despite the production hiatus, Soul Train will continue to hold that honor until at least 2016, if and when its nearest competitor, Entertainment Tonight, completes its 35th season.
Soul Train has an interesting history:
The origins of Soul Train can be traced to 1965 when WCIU-TV, an upstart UHF station in Chicago, began airing two youth-oriented dance programs: Kiddie-a-Go-Go and Red Hot and Blues. These programs—specifically the latter, which featured a predominantly African-American group of in-studio dancers—would set the stage for what was to come to the station several years later. Don Cornelius, a news reader and backup disc jockey at Chicago radio station WVON, was hired by WCIU in 1967 as a news and sports reporter. Cornelius also was promoting and emceeing a touring series of concerts featuring local talent (sometimes called “record hops”) at Chicago-area high schools, calling his traveling caravan of shows “The Soul Train”. WCIU-TV took notice of Cornelius’s outside work and in 1970, allowed him the opportunity to bring his road show to television.
After securing a sponsorship deal with the Chicago-based retailer Sears, Roebuck & Co., Soul Train premiered on WCIU-TV on August 17, 1970, as a live show airing weekday afternoons. The first episode of the program featured Jerry Butler, the Chi-Lites, and the Emotions as guests. Cornelius was assisted by Clinton Ghent, a local professional dancer who appeared on early episodes before moving behind the scenes as a producer and secondary host.
Move to syndication
The program’s immediate success attracted the attention of another locally based firm—the Johnson Products Company (manufacturers of the Afro Sheen line of hair-care products)—and they later agreed to co-sponsor the program’s expansion into national syndication. Cornelius and Soul Train ’s syndicator targeted 24 markets outside of Chicago to carry the show, but stations in only seven other cities—Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco—purchased the program, which began airing on a weekly basis on October 2, 1971. By the end of the first season, Soul Train was on in the other seventeen markets. When the program moved into syndication, its home base was also shifted to Los Angeles, where it remained for the duration of its run. Soul Train was part of a national trend toward syndicated music-oriented programs targeted at niche audiences; two other network series (Hee Haw for country music, and The Lawrence Welk Show for traditional music) also entered syndication in 1971 and would go on to have long runs.
Though Don Cornelius moved his operations west, Soul Train continued in Chicago as a local program. Cornelius hosted the local Chicago and Los Angeles–based national programs simultaneously, but soon focused his attention solely on the national edition. He continued to oversee production in Chicago, where Clinton Ghent hosted episodes on WCIU-TV until 1976, followed by three years of once-weekly reruns. The syndicated version was picked up in Chicago by CBS-owned WBBM-TV at its launch; the program moved to WGN-TV in 1977 and remained there for the balance of its run.
In 1985 Chicago-based Tribune Entertainment (WGN’s syndication wing) took over Soul Train’s syndication contract; the series would continue distribution through Tribune for the rest of its original run.
Don Cornelius ended his run as host at the end of the show’s 22nd season in 1993, though he remained the show’s main creative force from behind the scenes. The following fall, Soul Train began using various guest hosts weekly until comedian Mystro Clark began a two-year stint as permanent host in 1997. Clark was replaced by actor Shemar Moore in 1999. In 2003, Moore was succeeded by actor Dorian Gregory, who hosted through 2006.
Soul Train pulled into its last stop when production of first-run episodes was suspended at the conclusion of the 2005–06 season, the show’s 35th. Instead, for two seasons starting in 2006–07, the program aired archived episodes (all from between 1974 and 1987) under the title The Best of Soul Train. This was because in later years, Nielsen ratings dropped to below 1.0; in the process, some of the stations which had been airing Soul Train on Saturday afternoons started rescheduling the program to overnight time slots. The future of Soul Train was uncertain with the announced closing of Tribune Entertainment in December 2007, which left Don Cornelius Productions to seek a new distributor for the program. Cornelius soon secured a deal with Trifecta Entertainment & Media.
Here is a video of the various Intros the show used from the years 1971 to 2006:
S is for the Streets of San Francisco:
The Streets of San Francisco is a 1970s television crime drama filmed on location in San Francisco, California, and produced by Quinn Martin Productions, with the first season produced in association with Warner Bros. Television (QM produced the show on its own for the remainder of its run).
It starred Karl Malden and Michael Douglas as two detectives in San Francisco. The show ran for five seasons, between September 16, 1972, and June 9, 1977, on ABC, amassing a total of 119 60-minute episodes.
The show revolved around two police officers who investigated homicides in San Francisco. The center of the series was a veteran cop and widower, Lt Michael Stone, star # 2248, (played by Karl Malden), who had more than twenty years of police experience and was now assigned to the Homicide Detail of SFPD’s Bureau of Inspectors (ex: Detective Division). He was partnered with a young, plainclothes detective and energetic partner, Assistant Inspector Steve Keller (played by Michael Douglas), a college graduate, aged twenty-eight, who had no experience in the police force. Stone would become a second father to Keller as he learned the rigors and procedures of detective work. Eventually, Keller was promoted to full inspector. As the series went on, Douglas became a star in his own right. Mike’s daughter, Jeannie Stone (Darleen Carr), made occasional appearances.
S is for Star Trek (the original):
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry and owned by CBS and Paramount Pictures. Star Trek: The Original Series and its live-action TV spin-off series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise as well as the Star Trek film franchise make up the main canon.
The first series, now referred to as The Original Series, debuted in 1966 and ran for three seasons on NBC. It followed the interstellar adventures of James T. Kirk and the crew of the starship Enterprise, an exploration vessel of a 23rd-century interstellar “United Federation of Planets”. In creating the first Star Trek, Roddenberry was inspired by Westerns such as Wagon Train, the Horatio Hornblower novels and Gulliver’s Travels. In fact, the original series was almost titled Wagon Train to the Stars.
Most Star Trek stories depict the adventures of humans and aliens who serve in Starfleet, the space-borne humanitarian and peacekeeping armada of the United Federation of Planets. The protagonists have altruistic values, and must apply these ideals to difficult dilemmas. Many of the conflicts and political dimensions of Star Trek represent allegories of contemporary cultural realities. Star Trek: The Original Series addressed issues of the 1960s, just as later spin-offs have reflected issues of their respective decades. Issues depicted in the various series include war and peace, the value of personal loyalty, authoritarianism, imperialism, class warfare, economics, racism, religion, human rights, sexism, feminism, and the role of technology. Roddenberry stated: “[By creating] a new world with new rules, I could make statements about sex, religion, Vietnam, politics, and intercontinental missiles. Indeed, we did make them on Star Trek: we were sending messages and fortunately they all got by the network.”
Roddenberry intended the show to have a progressive political agenda reflective of the emerging counter-culture of the youth movement, though he was not fully forthcoming to the networks about this. He wanted Star Trek to show humanity what it might develop into, if it would learn from the lessons of the past, most specifically by ending violence. An extreme example is the alien species, the Vulcans, who had a violent past but learned to control their emotions. Roddenberry also gave Star Trek an anti-war message and depicted the United Federation of Planets as an ideal, optimistic version of the United Nations. His efforts were opposed by the network because of concerns over marketability, e.g., they opposed Roddenberry’s insistence that the Enterprise have a racially diverse crew.
S is for the Six Million Dollar Man:
The Six Million Dollar Man is an American television series about a former astronaut with bionic implants working for a fictional government office known as OSI. The series is based on the Martin Caidin novel Cyborg, which was the proposed title of the series during pre-production. Following three successful and highly rated television movies which aired in 1973, The Six Million Dollar Man was developed and aired on the ABC network as a regular series for five seasons from 1974 to 1978. The title role of Steve Austin was played by Lee Majors, who subsequently became a pop culture icon of the 1970s. A spin-off series, The Bionic Woman, ran from 1976 to 1978 (and, in turn, was the subject of a remake in 2007). Three television movies featuring both eponymous characters were also produced between 1987 and 1994.
The premise: When NASA astronaut Steve Austin is severely injured in the crash of an experimental lifting body aircraft, he is “rebuilt” in an operation that costs six million dollars. His right arm, both legs and the left eye are replaced with “bionic” implants that enhance his strength, speed and vision far above human norms: he can run at speeds of 60 mph (97 km/h), and his eye has a 20:1 zoom lens and infrared capabilities, while his bionic limbs all have the equivalent power of a bulldozer. He uses his enhanced abilities to work for the OSI (Office of Scientific Intelligence) as a secret agent. This job gets Austin into dangerous situations that require his bionics to get out of safely.
The show intro that I wanted to post was blocked for copyright issues but here is an alternate intro:
S is for S.W.A.T.
S.W.A.T. was an American action/crime drama series about the adventures of a Special Weapons And Tactics (S.W.A.T.) team operating in an unidentified California city. A spin-off of The Rookies, the series aired on ABC from February 1975 to April 1976.
Like The Rookies, S.W.A.T. was produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg.
S.W.A.T. stars Steve Forrest as the unit’s leader, Lt. ‘Hondo’ Harrelson, and Rod Perry as Hondo’s second-in-command, Sgt. David ‘Deacon’ McKay. The show also featured early starring roles by Robert Urich as Officer Jim Street, James Coleman as Officer T.J. McCabe, and Mark Shera as Officer Dominic Luca.
The series is known for its theme song which became a number-one hit single in 1976 for Rhythm Heritage. The title sequence that used that piece was also familiar with the principal characters responding to a muster signal, grabbing their weapons and running to their specially-equipped transport van driven by “Sam,” an uncredited, non-speaking role.
The show’s setting was rarely, if ever, specified and the shoulder patch the team members wore on their uniforms said, “W.C.P.D.”. Richard Kelbaugh, a former member of the LAPD’s S.W.A.T. team, was the technical advisor for the series.
S is for Scooby Doo, Where Are You!
Scooby Doo, Where Are You! is the first incarnation of the long-running Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon series Scooby-Doo. Created by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, it premiered on CBS September 13, 1969, and ran for two seasons for a total of 25 episodes. Its final first-run episode aired on October 31, 1970.
Scooby Doo, Where Are You! was the result of CBS and Hanna-Barbera’s plans to create a non-violent Saturday morning program that would appease the parent watch groups that had protested the superhero-based programs of the mid-1960s. Originally titled Mysteries Five, and later Who’s S-S-Scared?, Scooby Doo, Where Are You! underwent a number of changes from script to screen (the most notable of which was the downplaying of the musical group angle borrowed from The Archie Show). However, the basic concept—four teenagers (Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy) and a cowardly, clumsy Great Dane (Scooby-Doo) solving supernatural-related mysteries—was always in place.
The plot varied little from episode to episode. The main concept was as follows:
The Mystery, Inc. gang is driving in the Mystery Machine, returning from or going to a regular teenage function, when their van develops engine trouble or breaks down for any of a variety of reasons (overheating, flat tire, out of gas, etc.), in the immediate vicinity of a large, mostly vacated property (ski lodge, hotel, factory, mansion, cruise ship, etc.).
Their (unintended) destination turns out to be suffering from a monster problem (ghosts, Yetis, vampires, witches, etc.). The gang volunteers to investigate the case.
The gang splits up to cover more ground, with Fred and Velma finding clues, Daphne finding danger, and Shaggy and Scooby finding food, fun, and the ghost/monster, who chases them. Scooby and Shaggy love to eat, including dog treats called Scooby Snacks which are a favorite of both the dog and the teenage boy.
Eventually, enough clues are found to convince the gang that the ghost/monster is a fake, and a trap is set (usually by Fred) to capture it; or, they may occasionally call the local sheriff, only to get stopped by the villain half-way.
If a trap is used, it may or may not work (more often than not, Scooby-Doo and/or Shaggy falls into the trap and/or they unwittingly catch the monster another way). Invariably, the ghost/monster is apprehended and unmasked. The person in the ghost or monster suit turns out to be an apparently blameless authority figure or otherwise innocuous local who is using the disguise to cover up something such as a crime or a scam.
After giving the parting shot of “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids” (sometimes adding “…and your stupid dog!”), the offender is then taken away to jail, and the gang is allowed to continue on the way to their destination.
Lots of S shows! Did you used to watch any of these shows? Are there other shows beginning with the letter S that should be here? What are your favorite TV shows, past and present?