Wednesday, September 22, 2010

10 FAVORITES (3) - 1980's TV Themes PART II: Dramas

As promised, this next list of 10 FAVORITES revolves around the theme songs to the drama shows of the 1980's. Last week, I focused on 1980's sitcom themes. Like the previous list, each of the shows featured were prominent in some way (either with critics, audiences or in my own household).


Knight Rider (1982-1986), NBC
There are only three things I really remember about this series: 1) The cool car (voiced by the great William Daniels); 2) David Hasselhoff's hair; and 3) This very 1980's theme song. Since those are the only memorable things about the show, the awesome theme music garners Honorable Mention on this list.

Murder, She Wrote (1984-1996), CBS
This series is considered the last of the great murder-mystery TV Dramas because it truly targeted its demographic. The show still does well in syndicated reruns thanks to viewers' fond nostalgia and the delightful legend that is Angela Lansbury.

Dynasty (1981-1989), ABC
This theme song just sounded like a soap opera theme about glamorous people, which it was. The elegance, the beauty, the grandeur and the pure bitchy catfights between the likes of Joan Collins and Linda Evans defined this series and primetime soaps for a generation.

L.A. Law (1986-1994), NBC
The award-winning legal drama about the lawyers and workers at a successful Los Angeles law firm was the definition of a great drama series for me when I was growing up. The theme song just serves as a reminder of that time of my life: a time when men and women in power suits were walking briskly with Kenny G style-saxophones playing in the background.

Moonlighting (1985-1989), ABC
This is a tricky one. Sometimes the show is considered a Comedy series and sometimes it is considered a Drama series. The show, which centered on the tempestuous relationship between two private detectives (played by Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd), had a mix of mystery, farce and soap opera romance plus a very catchy theme song written and sung by Al Jarreau.

Dallas (1978-1991), CBS
The series that created the little thing known as "Season-Ending Cliffhangers." This family would betray each other as fast as they would make love to each other. And J. R. Ewing (iconically portrayed by Larry Hagman) became one of the most loved (and most hated) TV villains of all-time. The theme song was big and epic, just like Texas.

Hill Street Blues (1981-1987), NBC
This groundbreaking series took cop shows to a whole new level. Its haunting theme (by TV composing legend Mike Post) set the standard for dramatic series opening sequences afterwards (just look at Law & Order, NYPD Blue and L.A. Law).

Miami Vice (1984-1990), NBC
There was something about Miami in the 1980's. NBC had two hit shows set in the exotic Florida metropolis: one was the hilarious sitcom The Golden Girls and the other was this series, the complete polar opposite. The show was about two detectives (Crockett and Tubbs!) and their pursuit of the seedy criminal element of Miami. The theme song (complete with synthesizer) by Jan Hammer was totally 1980's.

Magnum P.I. (1980-1988), CBS
There are so many things this theme song brings to mind: the Hawaiian islands, the helicopter, the mustache! I think every boy from my generation wanted to grow up and live like Thomas Magnum (played to perfection by Tom Selleck).

The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985), CBS
The style of this show so fit the time period. I mean the stars, Tom Wopat and John Schneider, both had "Farrah-hair!" The theme song, written and performed by country music legend Waylon Jennings, was just as fitting and became a #1 on Billboard's Music charts.

The Greatest American Hero (1981-1983), ABC
This is the most memorable theme song on the list (hence it being placed at #1!). Who doesn't want to sing along to this extremely catchy song? Even George Costanza (on Seinfeld) parodied the song for his outgoing message. Also, the show about a quirky superhero, ran from 1981-1983, making it the shortest lived series on the list.

So there you have it: The 10 Best Drama Series Theme Songs of the 1980's. Hopefully, this is a good compliment to the 10 Best Sitcom Theme Songs of the 1980's. If you have any suggestions for future 10 FAVORITES lists, just send me an e-mail.

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