Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Musing over music in kiddie-centric TV shows

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 3:51 PM

A nasty flu forced me to take some sick days and spend time at home a few weeks ago. While I was stuck in the bed, I found myself watching some weird TV programming; at one point, I flipped to an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood — and I was immediately stunned by the quality of music being played on the show. Remember that closing theme song? It was filled with some seriously jazzy piano riffs. And that got me thinking about just how good music was on children's television back in the day. Yeah it was cheesy, but just on sheer musicality, the shit was on the up-and-up.

For example, let's check out that closing theme from Mister Rogers. Listen for that piano at the end. That's some fresh improvisation — and it was different every episode:

Speaking of jazz in children's program, obviously the Charlie Brown cartoons always presented the best stuff. Here's a sample:

Going back to Mister Rogers, as I stated before, I dug his closing music; however, in other children's programming some of the best music came at the start of the show. My favorites were always the opening themes to those Marvel Comics cartoons from the late 1960s. The themes featured catchy lyrics and some rather off-beat musical accompaniment. Here's a sample:

And of course, Marvel's other mega-star superhero Spider-Man probably had the best theme of all:

Then again, I think I dig this 1970s version of Spidey's theme from the Electric Company a little more than the original one. And pay attention to the funky background music:

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