Great ’70′s Sitcom Theme Songs and Scenes

My son and I were enjoying the sunset on the porch and talking about many aspects of many things. Somehow we got to discussing commercial jingles and I related how easily I can remember old beer and cigarette jingles — and McDonalds and Breakstone Yogurt. And Tang Breakfast Drink, too:

“Do the Moonwalk like the astronauts! (Tang!) Join the space gang, drink your energy Tang! (Taaang!)…So if you want to do like the astronauts do, join the space gang, and do the Moonwalk, to, come on and Tang, Tang, Tang, Tang, Tang….”)

And of course,

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That all led, quite naturally, to a discussion on the current dearth of catchy commercial jingles and sitcom theme songs. My son was a little surprised to hear that the 1970′s was so full of great ones that they often ended becoming stand-alone hit records. He knew the theme from The Jeffersons, of course and the one from the The Greatest American Hero, but he was unaware of so many others. Like this one, which may have started the trend:

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And:

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And:

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And:

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Duly impressed that I could sing most of these accurately, my son wondered if the theme from “Diff’rent Strokes” had been done by Sly and the Family Stone.

I was confused. I mean, I knew he was slightly Sly-obsessed, growing up, but what song could he mean?

So he sang this and I said, “uh, no. Nowhere near as funky”:

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And then there’s . . .the great (and distinctly cooler) Donny Hathaway and the theme from Maude:

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It wasn’t just sitcoms, though. Dramas had their own theme songs, instrumentals, that also became hits. I think most of them were written by Mike Post: The Rockford Files, Hill Street Blues come to mind.

It was the sitcoms that got the big splashy vocals — with one huge exception:

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They heyday of great television theme songs started going downhill as stars negotiated to bark them out for themselves like this. There were still some great ones — Cheers extended things into the 1980′s, and Friends into the ’90′s. These days I like the themes from 30 Rock and The Big Bang Theory

Let me leave you not with a theme song, but with a great scene from an old ’70′s show full of great scenes:

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No, one more, I can’t resist, from another show with a great theme:

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I look back on all of it and it like during the 1970′s, despite the bad clothes and hair, and the social upheaval that has so negatively affected the family, we were perhaps doing better racially, than we are today. Back then everyone was watching the same stuff — television wasn’t segregated and balkanized into 500 theme-and-special-interest channels aimed at particular demographics. Back then, the demographic was everybody: everyone was watching Good Times and Sanford and Son and Chico and the Man, and Taxi and loving it all. We even dared to laugh at some of the stupider aspects of racial stereotyping — could Blazing Saddles even be made today without cries of outrage and victimhood from all corners, including from the Cranky Old Lady Community, the Mongo-Defenders; the Intestinal-Gas-Afflicted; the German Bombshell Brigade, the Chorus Line Gypsys, Animal Rights Activists and everyone in the world named Johnson?

Maybe it was the drugs, but we seemed to have more fun, back then, and take every little thing just a little less seriously than we do, these days. At least, it seems that way.

What about you? What commercials and themes and scenes do you remember?

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About Elizabeth Scalia

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