Weird Movies

Top 70s TV Show Intros

posted by Chris Valentine

Top 70s TV Show Intros

Entries 6 through 10

10. Hawaii Five-O

Hawaii Five-O starrred Jack Lord and James MacArthur as detectives for a fictional Hawaii state police department. For awhile, it was the longest running police drama – kicking off in the late sixties and finally finishing its run in 1980, a good 12 years. It inspired a lot of police dramas to come (including Magnum P.I., which used some of the show’s equipment). A lot of other types of cultural influences too – the most obvious being that “5-O” is street slang for the police.

The Hawaii Five-O theme song was composed by Morton Stevens and later covered by The Ventures. It is a popular tune for college and high school marching bands, especially at the University of Hawaii, in which it has become the University’s unofficial fight song.

From Wiki:

The opening credits were no small part of the show’s popularity. The show would begin with a “teaser” or prelude suggesting the sinister plot for the night’s program. Cut to the big ocean wave and the start of the show’s dynamic theme song. Fast-zoom-in to the top balcony of the Ilikai Hotel, where McGarrett would turn to face the camera followed by many quick-cuts and freeze-frames of Hawaiian scenery and of the supporting players, thus setting the mood for the show, and then ending with a flashing blue light on a police motorcycle racing through a Honolulu street.

At the conclusion of the action-packed, suspense-filled episode, after the obligatory “Book ’em Danno!”, Jack Lord would narrate a teaser for the next week’s episode, often emphasizing the “guest villain”, especially if it was a perennial such as Khigh Dheigh, Hume Cronyn, etc, then closing the preview by saying “be here…aloha!”

During the first season closing credits, the theme music was played along with a short film of a flashing blue light attached to the rear of a police motorcycle racing through Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki heading west. This image was eventually satirized in Police Squad!

9. Happy Days

Ah, Happy Days. The days of Mr. C. and Fonzarelli. The show that spun off Laverne & Shirley, Mork and Mindy, and Joanie Loves Chachi. The show that led to the creation of the phrase “Jumping the Shark”. The 1950s nostalgia that happened during the 70s is understandable – given how shitty things were, everyone looked to a time when things were simple and more innocent. (Hell, it helped get Reagan elected). Happy Days encompassed this feeling. Even the Fonze, a supposed rebel and former gang member, was a nice guy.

Wiki Says this about the Theme Song(s):

Seasons 1 and 2 of the series used a newly recorded version of “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets (recorded in the fall of 1973) as the opening theme song. This recording was not commercially released at the time. When “Happy Days” entered syndication in 1979, the series was retitled “Happy Days Again” and used an edited version of the 1954 recording instead of the new version.

The show’s closing theme song in season 1 & 2 was “Happy Days,” written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel. According to SAG, this version was performed by Jimmy Haas (lead vocal), Ron Hicklin, Stan Farber, Jerry Whitman and Gary Garrett (backing vocals), plus studio musicians.

From seasons 3-10, this replaced “Rock Around the Clock” at the beginning of the show. Released as a single in 1976 by Pratt & McClain, “Happy Days” cracked the Top 5. For the show’s 11th and final season (1983-84), the theme was redone in a more modern style.

8. Welcome Back, Kotter

Comedian and poker player Gabriel Kaplan plays Gabe Kotter, a wise-cracking teacher at James Buchanan High in Brooklyn, New York who teaches the Sweathogs, composed of Vinnie Barbarino (John Travolta), Epstein (Robert Hegyes), Freddie (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), and Horshack (Ron Palillo). This show had catchphrases all over the place, usually by Vinnie (Up your nose with a rubber hose/What? Where? Why?) or Horshack (ooh! ooh!/ Mister Kotter-r-r) and it’s famous for introducing John Travolta to the world (like it or not).

Anyway, the theme song is fabulous and is performed by John Sebastian. It’s one of the few songs written for a television show to become hits on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. (#1 in May, 1977). Onyx sampled it when they did the song “Slam Harder”.

7. The Six Million Dollar Man

Lee Majors as the 6 Million Dollar Man. This intro is great because of the memorable opening speech: Gentlemen, we can rebuild him… we have the technology… We love the graphics and the overlay of the oscilliscope too.

Listen for the sound effects and watch the slow motion that accompanied his jumping. The show tended to get really silly with stuff like androids, Fembots, and Bigfoot, but what the hell – it’s the 70s. Spun off the Bionic Woman, starring Lindsay Wagner (which was recently remade).

Trivia: the opening sequence featured NASA’s 1967 footage of a real-life accident of the Northrop M2-F2 lifting body tumbling end for end down the runway caused by piloting error. The pilot, Bruce Peterson actually survived reasonably unscathed, although he lost an eye due to an infection acquired while in the hospital.

6. The Muppet Show

Since 1969, Sesame Street had given Jim Henson’s creations invaluable exposure; however, Henson began to perceive that he was being pigeonholed as a children’s entertainer. He sought to create a program that could be enjoyed by young and old alike. Enter The Muppet Show.

We loved the chaos of the Muppet Show, how poor Kermit managed to keep the thing going despite the fact that it was one step away from being brought down by all the crazy characters. The Muppet Show featured a different (human) guest star every week. If you made it to the show as a guest host, you finally made it in the entertainment business. (Rocky III even riffed on this).

The intro is fun and gets you into the mood for the show. It has ever-changing bits similar to The Rockford Files, The Simpsons, etc. (Statler & Waldorf in the box seats always have a new insult, Gonzo messing up the trumpet in a new fashion). We don’t have a favorite character, but we remember that Beaker always made us laugh.

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