Top Ten TV Sci-Fi Theme Tunes
Everyone loves a good top ten list. Or even a top ten list.
There was a thread on Google+ amongst my circles recently that asked people what their favourite TV theme music of all time was and while I pondered my ponderings on the subject I realised – not terribly surprisingly, as it happens – that a lot of TV shows that I liked were of the science fiction genre. There were some that weren’t – and they’ll be good fodder for another update at some point – but there were enough that caused me to consider picking just my top ten favourite sci-fi TV show theme tunes and showcasing them to you in the form of videos.
So here they are.
#10: Star Trek Enterprise
Now wait! I know, I know! There are a lot of people who don’t like this theme song. Actually, that needs some italicising: there are a lot of people who don’t like this theme song. I didn’t like it at first either. But it grew on me. It spoke to me. Think of it as a sentient fungus and what could be more science fiction than sentient fungus? Time-travelling sentient fungus, that’s what! But we’ll have to do without the temporal abilities for this music has none. Alternatively, if you want – if you really, really want – just consider this: I picked Dr Ruth Leavitt as my Hottest Sci-Fi Babe Ever; what were you expecting?
#9: Mystery Science Theater 3000
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (or MST3K if you prefer) was a stranger to these British shores until the SyFy (then Sci-Fi) channel brought it across via the power of satellite broadcasting. Subsequently, it’s with Mike at the helm of the Satellite of Love and Pearl in control of choosing the awful movies that they would have to watch that I first became attached to this fantastic show and that’s why I’ve picked the intro music from season eight as one of my choices here. I’ve since gone on to watch nearly every episode from the early broadcasts on local American TV channel KTMA right through to its poignant conclusion; I grew to like Dr Forrester too, and TV’s Frank, but I could never associate with Joel. I just never really bought into the whole hippy janitor backstory. Hippy janitors!
#8: Babylon 5
A good science fiction series with a well-defined story arc (the cycle of good versus evil in the universe set to the backdrop of security chief Michael Garibaldi’s receding hairline), good actors and actresses (and Mira Furlan), good cultures (especially the Centauri and their enormous appendages), occasionally ropey graphics rendering (thank you Commodore Amiga), and slightly different intros to each of its seasons. But which was the best? For me: season two. For you: I don’t know. Someone broke my telepathy hat. I’m looking at you Bester.
#7: Battle Of The Planets
I was almost obliged to include this particular sci-fi intro theme on account of me choosing to use one of the characters – Mark, strangely enough – as my avatar of choice on numerous social networks, but it’s good enough to warrant being included anyway. For a 1980s cartoon series with a lot of triumphant notes throughout (to instill unwavering loyalty and pride in the incredible G-Force team!) there is a rather odd part about two thirds through that sounds like it came off a Best of 1962′s Lounge Music collection. I say “odd” but I mean “incredible”, of course. Although I’d never admit that.
Firefly had country ‘n’ western-style theme music and Lexx had folk-style theme music; these two shows stood apart from the otherwise generally orchestral, funky, or synthy intro tunes for science fiction shows with which I grew up. The third series that had some stand-out music – at least for the first season – was Andromeda. Did someone say… bagpipey? Did someone say… ooh, Laura Bertram’s quite nice, purple girls are so hot right now? I’m hearing voices again.
#5: Doctor Who
Did you think there wouldn’t be a Doctor Who TV theme intro here? You foolish fool. Now, there have been many intros because the Doctor does like to regenerate every so often – well, the BBC likes to regenerate him every so often – and the intro must alter to reflect that change. It’s generally accepted that the intro you most like will be the one that you grew up with, cowering behind cushions, or the one that featured the Doctor (or companion) you’d most like to bump uglies with. This latter reason explains why Sylvester McCoy is still the most loved incarnation of the Time Lord to this day in the world (phwoar! Bonnie Langford! Woof!) but it’s the former that explains why I’ve chosen the Tom Baker intro.
#4: Ulysses 31
A French-Japanese cartoon series reworking of the classic story of the Odyssey set in the thirty first century with a bearded hero, lifeless crewmembers, an annoying blue girl character, and an almost-as-annoying robot character, coupled with some really quite dark storylines sounds pretty cool on its own but when you add in a kicking intro tune you’ve got yourself a show that’s made it all the way to the number four spot in some strange person on the internet’s highly-subjective list.
#3: Blake’s 7
Blake’s 7 was set in a dystopian vision of the future where a brutal federation rules all and a band of outlaws fight for survival, and the theme music to this unsurpassable, late 1970s, sci-fi classic series captures the bleakness and hope perfectly. A pummelling, orchestral start describes the totalitarian universe in one swoop while the latter part of the music soars upwards hinting at revolution. Did that all sound arty-farty enough? I was going for pretentious there. I hope I got it.
#2: Space: 1999
If someone asked you to compose some moon music where would you go with it? To the police to report for drug misuse is one possible answer, but assuming you decided to actually sit down and whip up some sort of tune that just screamed “moon leaving Earth’s orbit and zooming off through the galaxy encountering weird old crap along the way” then chances are good that the theme to the Gerry Anderson-produced late 1970s TV series Space: 1999 wouldn’t be a million miles away. It’d be closer to a trillion miles away. But it’s got a disco/funk vibe to it so that makes it awesome.
UFO was a British sci-fi series made by Gerry Anderson (of Space: 1999 fame, among many others) which was dreamed up in the late 1960s and aired in the early 1970s. That timing is enough to give you a clue to the music style of this particular theme song: 60s synths (and quite possibly: drugs) and 70s funk arrangements (and quite possibly: drugs) make this upbeat, retro, and futuristic all at the same time. That’s why it’s number one.