Theme Songs & Patience

We live in an era of on-demand streaming, with a surfeit of entertainment options. We are collectively a culture defined by impatience.

Recently, while sitting down to watch a program with Agent Bun, she availed herself of the “Skip Intro” feature on Netflix. I’m not ashamed to say she got an earful from me for being so impatient.

I complained about this feature when Netflix first introduced it. I don’t think I complained here on the blog. Regardless it still irks me.

It irks me because it’s so lazy. We can skip or fast forward commercials already. We can watch subscription services that never bother with commercials. (This is true with the exception of Amazon, which forces me to watch an ad for Troop Zero on such a constant basis that I refuse to watch it on principle.)

Setting a Mood

Theme music and introductory credits set a mood. They remind you to remove yourself from immediate distraction and enter a different mindset. Naturally they’ve gotten shorter as we’ve moved away from the once-a-week model for TV shows, though LOST was the first major show where I’m aware they jumped past that as well.

Either way, there were at least a few moments to act as overture and remind you that the real world needs to melt away for awhile.

As I’m watching The Office for the first time, I’ve grown very fond of the opening music. I’m not a binge watcher per se, though I may watch more than one episode over the course of a day.

In that lower right hand corner, though, is the “Skip Intro” option. It’s tugging on that childish impulse to pronounce myself too busy for that extra thirty seconds of music to set the mood.

It was there as the theme song from Cheers struck up on my relatively-recent rewatch of the entire series. One of the greatest television theme songs in history, and they prompted me to skip it. I never did, but the prompt was there.

I imagine, if they ever stream the classic Sanford & Son they’ll prompt people to skip past Quincy Jones’ melodic masterpiece. The same would hold true for All in the Family, or The Jeffersons.

I’m completely aware that it’s a choice to skip ahead and I’m electing not to use it. Why, someone might ask, would it bother me that the option is there if it’s not my choice (and never will be)?

Honestly, I think it’s just because it’s a reminder of how lazy and distracted we’ve allowed ourselves to become even when at leisure. It’s about consuming the content, as opposed to appreciating the craft or, in the most fortunate of experiences, the art.

In Conclusion

Regardless of what you might think of a piece of entertainment and whether Mr. Belvedere would ever be considered “art,” or if Who’s the Boss? demonstrated any actual “craft,” the intro music should be appreciated and respected.

It’s a part of the experience. What’s it cost to spend that extra little bit of time to immerse yourself as much as possible?

Does my argument extend in an absolute way to include watching the end credits? Of course not. I’m not a madman.

P.S. The incident to which I refer at the opening, where I got cranky with Agent Bun? It’s because she exercised the option of lazy indulgence and didn’t even ask if I wanted to watch the opening credits, which I did. I’m willing to compromise on occasion if it’s a shared experience, but at least ask.

P.P.S. She doesn’t read what I write or listen to my podcasts, so don’t worry about her getting huffy about that last part. I can speak with impunity and unless on of you were to rat me out, she won’t even know I said it.

P.P.P.S. If you want to listen to one of my podcasts, you should try out “House of Fincher” on The Nerd Party.

4 thoughts on “Theme Songs & Patience

  1. The opening music definitely helps set the mood. I like your way of describing it as letting the real world melt away. But…how does your standard of watching the intro hold up in the event of binging 2-3 episodes at a time? If the mood has been set once, is it optional or does it need to be set again for completeness. It is unfortunate that Hollywood itself seems to have moved away from using traditional musical main titles/intros. It was a very sad day when Stargate: Atlantis and Eureka shifted away from their opening music. They both did such great jobs of setting the tone for those shows that it just made me a little disappointed every time they skipped them—and I don’t think I’d want to lose them even during a binge.


  2. I’m not sure how you can look at yourself in a mirror having not mentioned the Rockford Files theme song.

    I would carve out an exception. I don’t need the intro music to set the mood if there’s music within the show. That is a more powerful way to set the mood.

    I also want to mention a memory revived by this post. Stephen King’s the Stand miniseries had a different theme song for each episode. For example, the first episode started with the plague, so the song was Don’t Fear the Reaper by BOC. That option isn’t necessarily available for a sitcom, but it certainly sets the mood better than a simplistic, repetitive dirty. The episode of the Office that had musical number at the start could (should?) have replaced the theme for that episode to creat that effect.


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