We’ve got all sorts of historical numbers about TV on the site, but opening theme music length wasn’t part of them. Until now.
I found this article in Variety about opening theme music length geekily fascinating. I can probably still sing the opening theme from Laverne & Shirley word for word (although you wouldn’t want to hear it).
Nearly 35 years ago, producers Thomas Miller and Edward Milkis put together a 20-minute presentation to convince ABC that two guest stars on “Happy Days” could be spun off into their own series.They shot just a few new scenes of Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams as “Laverne & Shirley” but, recalls composer Charles Fox, they insisted on a 75-second main-title sequence with a fully produced song, “so, right from the beginning, people would know what it was about.”
Fox and lyricist Norman Gimbel came up with “Making Our Dreams Come True.” It became a top-25 hit — one of many TV theme hits for Fox, who won an Emmy for “Love, American Style” and wrote themes for “Happy Days,” “The Love Boat,” “Angie” and others.
Today a composer is happy to get 10 seconds on a broadcast skein, and hit TV themes are rare.
Over the past 15 years, the broadcast networks have demanded shorter main-title sequences, preferring to jump into the action faster and thus reduce the chance that viewers will flip to another channel.
The article also points out yet another way that the absorbent one cannot be stopped:
“Eighty years from now,” he adds, “today’s kids, sitting in their wheelchairs in the nursing home, will be humming the ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ theme in much the same way that we know the theme songs of our youth. It’s more than just a TV theme. It becomes a communal thing, a shared cultural point among your friends, your community.”
Here’s a list of the shows and their opening theme music length from the article:
Rome: 90 seconds
Laverne & Shirley: 75 seconds
Monk: 45 seconds
Ugly Betty: 12 seconds
Heroes: 10 seconds
read the rest at Variety.