Thursday, 14 April 2011

Top Ten Themetunes from When I was a Lad

Ah, shows from your past always look better in retrospect don't they? I mean, if a show gets the themetune right then just playing a few bars can bring on a case of the warm and fuzzies.

With that in mind, I decided to do a quick list of the my top ten favourite theme songs and title sequences from when I was younger. Hopes that people remember these shows as well.

10. Captain Scarlet

Okay, first things first, although this show was made in the Sixties, it was on a tv a lot in the Nineties which is when I watched it.

Captain Scarlet was a series by the immortal Gerry Anderson, and the plot was basically: after accidentally blowing up a city on Mars belonging to the invisible and god-like aliens the Mysterons, the Earth finds itself under constant attack by the Mysterons' indestructible and mindcontrolled duplicates.

The titular Captain Scarlet was the only dude to undergo the duplication process and keep his free will, and as a result he's roped in as Earth's main defense against a hoarde of pissed off aliens. Although he has the same problem faced by all immortal fictional characters, in that as he's able to survive a lot of damage he ends up in situations where he is damaged a lot, as the end sequence shows.

Fun fact: the band that perform this song, the Spectrums, were brought on board with the tv show when one of the show's creators heard about them, and were worried that they'd sue, as they had the same name as Captain Scarlet's alien-battling organisation: Spectrum. By all accounts they seemed to be good sports about it, and came up with a rockin' theme too, so all turned out well.

9. Round the Twist

Ah, Australians, you sure know how to make weird stuff. Kangaroos and platypuses are good example of this, as are both the show Round the Twist and its theme.

The premise of this show involved the wacky hijinx that happened to the Twist family, their lighthouse home and the surround town. Weird crap like an earring that attracted rubbish, possessed dolls and the youngest kid falling in-love with an ice sculpture happened to happen.

Bizarre, but a lot of fun, though kind of gross.

8. The Real Ghostbusters/Extreme Ghostbusters

I think that most people my age went through a Ghostbusters phase at some point or another, with a theme tune burnt into our brains like a hot saucepan on a wooden tabletop. So very funky. The sequel to the show though, I think might be a little controversial.

Admittedly it's just a rocked up version of the original, but I think that it worked well with the show it was attached to. It lead on from the original show in a way that both respected it and the intelligence of those who were watching to come up with something new... at least to start with.

Seriously, Extreme Ghostbusters (note: this was before Extreme became consumed by irony) was actually a pretty solid show, and managed to homage a lot of classic horror movies and stories in a way that was both really cool and actually suprisingly scary stuff for kids. Like the episode with the Clive Barker inspired monsters in it. Or the season opener when one of the team is possessed by an ancient plague demon, who infected everyone in a subway car except this one blind dude, just to make him nearly break into hysterics before getting him too.

As the series progressed though, it seemed to loose a lot of its edge and became more tame, and less engaging. Which is kind of sad.

7. Gargoyles

Rewatched this show recently, actually holds up pretty well. Its themetune still rocks too, which is awesome.

The firm application of Keith David's voice doesn't hinder things either.

6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Weird, why is it so hard to find a Buffy title sequence that isn't fan made on Youtube? Anyways, Buffy was a show about a teenage girl who had been given supernatural powers to fight vampires and various other beasties, in a show that rapidly dipped in quality towards the end.

Made up a huge chunk of my childhood and early teenage years, and probably, along with Ghostbusters, contributed to my interest in various supernatural monsters and female heroines in later life.

Fun Fact: Buffy is a Power Girl fan. No, seriously, she is!

5. the Saint

I blame my dad for this one. Another show from the Sixties, the Saint revolved around the adventures of Simon Templar, a former master criminal, who now travelled the world and foiled other people's crimes instead.

It was later made into a movie starring Val Klimer in the 1990s, though it was more a prequel to the original series than anything. Their redo of the theme was kind of cool though.

4. Doctor Who - Pertwee Era

Another case of watching repeats in the 1990s on this one, back before BBC 2 went from showing the Simpsons, Buffy, Dr Who and Farscape to broadcasting primarily shows about antiques and looking at windmills.

I am a fan of the new series, though Russel T. Davies' habit of repeatedly using a deus ex machina to get out of his season finales was kind of irritating. The Pertwee era kind of had a bit more of an explanation for sticking around on Earth, specifically contemporary England/Wales, for the most part though, as he'd had his TARDIS driver's licence confiscated or something, meaning he had to stick around the UK in the 1970s/80s. At least initially.

3. Batman Beyond

Ah Batman Beyond, you wonderful gateway drug into the world of cyberpunk, you. I love this series, and this theme. All full of chugging guitars and electric screeching that broadcast that it's targetted at a younger generation than the original BTAS.

Based forty years in the future, Batman Beyond is the story of Terry McGinnis, the new Batman who is being mentored by a now elderly Bruce Wayne. Featuring a host of cool new villains (and the return of at least two great old ones), and an environment based on some movies as Akira, this was an awesome piece of work. Fab.

The new comicbook series is actually pretty good too, though the mini series that started off the new ongoing has art that is tremendously awful. I guess that it was such a success despite its godawful art shows how stable the franchise is...

Fun fact: Batman Beyond originally came into being when Warner Bros tasked the BTAS crew to come up with a tv show featuring teen Batman so they could sell more toys. And the result was something a whole lot more dark, violent and creepy than the original show. Heh.

2. Thunderbirds

Another speculative fiction series from the Sixties, what a suprise! Yeah, this was another obsession of mine from when I was very young, in the period between the end of Ghostbusters but before BTAS got a regular time slot.

Thunderbirds was a show about five megarich brothers, the Tracys, who lived on their private island with their dad, an inventor with the unsubtle name Brains, Kyrano, their polymath cook, gardener etc., and his daughter Tin-Tin.

Whenever they got a distress call, beamed down from their satellite Thunderbird 5 by their brother John Tracy, who was seeming exiled their by his family for some unstated reason, the other Tracy brothers would fly off to where ever people were in trouble, to rescue as many people as possible with their International Rescue organisation.

I was always puzzled as to why they seemed to have secret identities and why they just restricted things to the Tracys and occasionally the rockin' Lady Penelope and her assistant Parker. Surely they'd be able to save more lives if they went public, formed bases around the world and hired more staff?

Anyways, this is an endearing piece of retroscience fiction, with a lot of care and attention to detail put into the models, sets etc. on display. And if there's one thing I like it's visible effort being put into stuff.

And my number 1 favourite themetune from when I was younger...

1. Batman: the Animated Series

This show rocks. Even to this day I think that this show rocks. As well as scarring me with a love of the retrofuturistic, it also instilled in me my love of comics, specifically DC ones, and it was my later rewatching of the series that got me into the actual comicbooks, leading to an obsession that lasts until this very day.

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