YouTube has a bunch of video collections called “TV Show Openings,” where someone has collected together the intros for various shows that were on the air in a particular year, flops and hits alike. These are great to watch if you have time, because they have many intros that aren’t available anywhere else on the internet, and they give you a real collective idea of what television was like (for good and ill) at a particular time.
1983, for example, was not a good time for television on the whole — there were a few good shows, a few hits, but this was the time when the sitcom was dead, hits like M*A*S*H were going away, and the Hill Street Blues-style quality drama was still struggling to gain acceptance with the public. And you can see the signs of a struggling TV business in all the high-concept shows, unnecessary spinoffs (Aftermash) and just plain weird ideas (Mr. Smith, Manimal) that premiered that year.
This is also one reason to miss the full-length main title: it’s a way of understanding what a show was like even if you never get to see the show itself. It’s like a historical tool for us lazy historians.
Here’s the 1983 series of openings; I’ve placed part 2 first because it includes the bomb Mr. Smith (which I mentioned in an earlier post) and the success Scarecrow and Mrs. King (which was just announced for DVD release), as well as the most infamous bomb of that year, Manimal.
But for sheer 1983-ness, nothing matches the intro to Whiz Kids at the 6:10 mark in part 1: the theme music is Mozart’s 21st piano concerto rearranged for synthesizer.
Part 3 brings us such deservedly forgotten shows as Stephen J. Cannell’s country-fied “The Rousters” (with Mike Post’s attempt at a country theme song) and Fred Silverman’s attempt to bring back the “jiggle” show with We Got It Made.