The RP: The Top 5 Awful TV Shows with Terrific Theme Songs

OK, OK, RP Nation:  Lay down your pitchforks…The latest RP top five pop culture list is here.  And don’t forget its predecessors: The RP’s Favorite Breakup SongsFavorite Hoops Books,Most Jew-ish GentilesFavorite “Docs” who Weren’t Doctors,Pretty Boys I Begrudgingly AdmireGuilty Pleasures, and Pop Music Lyrics.

With the recent passing of Sherwood Schwartz, it is fitting to honor his memory by highlighting a Sherwood trademark:  Awful TV show; Terrific Theme Song.  Combine a catchy three-minute ditty with a truly awful 24 minutes of predictable plots, unfunny comedy and horrendous acting, and you have a magic formula for high ratings and unforgettable childhood memories.

So without further ado, here goes The RP’s Top Five Awful Television Shows with Terrific Theme Songs:

5. (tie) The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale; here’s a story of a lovely lady…We start off with the Sherwood Schwartz Daily Double.
If you are between the ages of 35 and 50 and cannot recite every word of the two theme songs, then you either are suffering from dementia or compulsive lying disorder. These are the seminal melodies of my childhood, two songs that indelibly conjure up all of the joys and anxieties of prepubescence.  But while the tunes hold up with time, the shows are simply a tribute to insipid plotting, acting and dialogue. And that’s the way, they became the Brady Bunch, right here on Gilligan’s Isle!

Here’s the magic:

SPECIAL!!! All 5 seasons of Brady Bunch theme songs:

4. The Beverly Hillbillies

A few weeks ago, I discussed a recent controversy when a candidate for statewide office in Kentucky was revealed to have made some unfunny, demeaning jokes about Eastern Kentuckians.  That was pretty much the entire theme of this program, episode after episode, year after year. If some coastal elites don’t understand the heartland, it may be because of the pernicious stereotypes fed by this awful program.  But the show had a fantastic theme song, a bluegrass ditty played and performed by the legendary Flatt and Scruggs.

Listen to this story about a man named Jed:

3.  The Love Boat

OK, I admit it. My pre-high school Saturday night ritual was the double feature of The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. Pitiful, huh?  Still, before I suffered through silly Gopher and ladies’ man Doc and hip cat Isaac, at least I was charmed by Jack Jones’ theme song. Thankfully, Aaron Spelling abandoned his vision to emerge as the next Sherwood Schwartz by dropping the catchy theme song motif by the time he produced Beverly Hills, 90210.  Or maybe his daughter Tori insisted on it.  Or that geek who’s somehow married to Megan Fox.

Anyway, for some love, exciting and new, climb aboard, we’re expecting you:

2.  Hawaii Five-O

OK…I don’t exactly remember any of the shows in the original series, and I haven’t checked out the reboot. But the theme song has a special place in my childhood: During lunch at summer camp, an asthmatic dude with big glasses named Sanford would put the Hawaii Five-O theme song over the cafeteria speakers, climb on top of a table, and convince the entire camp to pantomime rowing imaginary oars as he yelled “Stroke, Stroke, Stroke.”  What happened to that dude?  He’s now a beloved and nationally-respected rabbi and spiritual leader.  That should tell you something.

Here’s the song:

1. The Barry Gibb Talk Show

All right, this is not really a television program — it is a somewhat recurring skit on Saturday Night Live.  But it is a prototypical example of this column’s theme.  The show itself is horrible:  Jimmy Fallon (as Barry Gibb) and Justin Timberlake (as brother Robin) do awful impressions as they bother their guests with unfunny questions.  But man the theme song is simply awesome.  A brilliant take on a pre-Saturday Night Fever Bee Gees masterpiece, “Nights on Broadway,” accompanied by Fallon and JT’s incredibly funny and skillful disco dancing.  I look forward to the possibility of this show every week, but have to turn it off once the Brothers Gibb sit down.

Try it out for yourself:


OK, RP Nation:  Your turn.  What did I miss?  Comment away below:


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