Thursday, January 31, 2008

What makes a great sitcom?

A lot of things, really, and most are very obvious to recount. This morning, however, I realised one of the most important factors: a great theme tune. A drama doesn't particularly need one because the audience expects to feel the whole gamut of emotions. I hate the credit sequence for House, for example; in fact, that trend of morbidly detached credits, which started with Six Feet Under, is equal parts annoying and hilarious. Yet I enjoyed House's first season immensely (not so much the latter two, and the fourth is, so far, pure wank).

That's not the case for a sitcom where its only objective is to make people laugh, and the best theme tunes also give an idea of what to expect in the storylines. So you have "Thank You for Being a Friend" or "Moving on Up" or "Where Everybody Knows Your Name." They don’t have to be catchy tunes either – Frasier and Seinfeld both have minimalist theme tunes, yet both are equally memorable. Arrested Development’s was almost elusive, yet it stuck with the fans (all four of them). Of the recent crop of shows, 30 Rock and The Office have excellent theme tunes, too. You hear any of those, and you are well on your way to giggle at the kerazee shenanigans awaiting your heroes. Conversely, a crappy theme tune gets you off to a bad start to begin with, and it's very difficult to shake off that initial disappointment.

Case in point: Mad About You. I really should have loved this sitcom: it had Paul Reiser, who was an idiot but my kind of an idiot, it had Helen Hunt, who was hot, hot, hot (at least before Pay it Forward), it was loveably low concept and had a Seinfeld crossover episode, for god’s sack. But I loathe that show. This morning, as I was watching the last episode of the show's first season, I realised why: I can't fucking stand that fucking theme tune. It's depressing and annoying and it’s just plain bad. That show could have brought about world peace and proven intelligent life existed outside this solar system, and I still would have hated the living fuck out of it. Just thinking about it now makes me want to get baptised and convert to Catholicism (and practice the teachings of Cathol) only to then rush to the nearby church for penance.

And talking about great theme tunes:

Update (01/02/2008) - How could I have forgotten about this gem:


Nomi Lubin said...

Ha. I think you're right.

Hey, thanks so much for your comment on my painting. That was a nice surprise.