February 09, 2005

Theme song nostalgia

When I growing up, I was allowed to watch about an hour of television every week. Usually, this meant two half-hour shows that the whole family watched together. Here are the shows from my childhood/teenage years that I can remember watching often enough to recognize the theme song:

1. Batman (with Adam West)
2. The Monkees
3. The Beverly Hillbillies
4. I Dream of Jeannie
5. Bewitched
6. My Three Sons
7. The Brady Bunch
8. Green Acres
9. The Partridge Family
10. Gilligan's Island
11. Happy Days
12. MASH

I often wonder what bizarre influence those television shows have had on me. My first crush was on Davy Jones ... yeah, I still have a thing for men with accents. And my second crush was on Robin, Batman's sidekick. He always seemed like the underdog, never getting the respect he deserved, while everyone fawned over Batman. For creeping out my feminist sensibilities, I would have to say that "I Dream of Jeannie" wins, hands down. Stumbling across the show as an adult and watching it was most horrifying.

The main thing I remember from any television show is the opening theme song. I liked the stability of listening to the same song the same time every week. I'd be lying on the living room floor, squeezed in between a bunch of siblings and some extras, all of us fighting for a good spot, all grabbing for the popcorn or pretzels or whatever the snack was that week. After the theme song, I'd usually return to the book I was reading - which is perhaps why I remember almost nothing from these shows - but still I liked the stability of hearing that same music every week.

I can remember Spouse singing television theme songs to me when I was in labor with my second child. I'd been in labor for about 24 hours, a slow, easy labor, and I was in a dimly lit room, relaxing in a tub of hot water. Spouse, sitting on the floor next to the tub, had been entertaining me for hours and the lack of sleep made him punchy. So he started to sing television theme songs, often doing imitations of the characters as well. I couldn't even do the Lamaze breathing we'd practiced because I was laughing so hard. When the midwife came in to check my vitals, she would tease us and say, "What's going on in here? It doesn't sound like you are having a baby. You are laughing way too much." And she was relieved to find that I was fully dilated and ready to push the baby out. "Thank God. I don't think I could stand to hear the Brady Bunch theme song one more time."

Boy-in-Black, the child whose birth was accompanied by laughter and song, is now the kid whose job it is to tape whatever television show the family has agreed to watch each week. This season the kids chose the show Scrubs. It's a ritual for us to gather in a dark room, with snacks assembled and a book in my hand. I swear, it takes about half an hour before we can actually watch the show because someone is always running downstairs to get another glass of juice or something. We fight over pillows and With-a-Why is still young enough to fight for a spot next to Mom. Boy-in-Black always tries to fastforward through the theme song and opening credits, and the whole family teases me because I won't let him. I like listening to the opening music, while the kids jockey for position, shoving each other playfully, grabbing for snacks, teasing each other, and joking throughout the opening credits. I don't really watch the show; the theme song is the part I like best.


Ianqui said...

Scrubs really is one of the greatest shows on TV right now, and last night's episode was pure genius. Just thought I'd mention it :)

Dr.K said...

I have two weekly TV rituals: my wife and I never miss "The OC." I should be emarrassed about that, but I don't care who knows it, I just LOVE that show. My son and I scrunch into the same chair and watch "Nova" every Tuesday--we never, ever miss it--and that is such a pleasure. Once in awhile during football season, I like lying all day on the couch in my underwear with lots of cheap cold beer, greasy potato chips, onion dip, zesty dill pickles and a big Polish sausage, watching Bengals football. You should try that just once--you'd get a whole new perspective on what it's like being a guy!

jo(e) said...

I've never seen OC but Daughter watches it with her friends as part of their weekly bonding riutal at college.

I've never tried the semi-naked football watching ritual either. My teen-age sons get freaked out enough about my belly dancing -- I'm not sure how they would react to my stripping down to my underwear to watch football on television.

Dr.K said...

Pajamas actually are better. The way to do it is switch from the Nachos with jalapenos to chips and onion dip just when the heartburn starts to actually burn, remembering that the beer has to keep steadily flowing to make it all work properly. Don't overdo the pickles, but don't neglect them either. Hot brown mustard on the sausage keeps things from getting too bland, and I find that the occasional chocolate chip cookie and rum-and-Coke keeps things interesting over the long haul. If the Bengals score, don't jump up too quickly, because you'll be drunker than you realize. Sit up carefully, pat your belly, dip a pretzel into the horseradish mustard, crunch and say, "Oh, yeah." If you get hit with a wave of nausea, that's not good, and you'll need a nap, but a good, clean vertigo is what it's all about: That's how you know you're in the zone. It's an art, but anyone can do it. You won't be able to sleep that night, but if you drink enough you can pass out in bed and it amounts to the same thing. God, I love football.

jo(e) said...

Dr. K -- I laughed aloud. But the season is over, isn't it? So I've got an excuse not to try this.

Dr.K said...

The Pro Bowl is this Sunday, so you get one last chance.

jo(e) said...

No way would I give up skiing to watch football ...as appealing as your description of it is ... we just got a few inches of fresh snow.

dr. m(mmm) aka The Notorious P.H.D. said...

hee hee--belly dancing, skiing, TV-less poetry professor.

For what it's worth, I shamelessly watch about 10 hours of TV per week. I rationalize watching these shows by claiming that I need to be on top of popular culture and youth culture to be an effective teacher.