As Canadians, we have a mild embarrassment when it comes to our television programs. There’s always something that seems a little off compared to big-budget American shows. It may be the lower production values, the actors who are starring in commercials at the same time, or the fact an animal often gets billed above the human actors in the opening credits. But when it comes to theme songs, Canadian TV takes a back seat (or chesterfield, as we call it) to no one!
The theme song is a lost art form. If you turn on a TV now, the song may be way too short like Mr. D’s or unnecessarily aggressive like Dragons' Den’s. In the 1970s and '80s, producers recognized the value of the theme song. They were long and expositional and often more memorable than the shows themselves. As a result, most of the theme songs on this list come from that era.
The Canadian game show with the greatest theme song (sorry Bumper Stumpers, Just Like Mom and Acting Crazy), Definition uses a pre-existing tune: Quincy Jones’s “Soul Bossa Nova.” It gains extra points for cultural significance, as Dream Warriors used the same song for their “My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style.”
9. The King of Kensington
This is a prime example of the golden age of theme songs. In the minute-long intro to Al Waxman’s 1970s sitcom, we learn the plot of every episode of this show ever. Also, it has crazy Greek music and a bunch of hilarious gags being offered up from voices off-screen.
8. The Tom Green Show
Like the show itself, the theme is an absurd comedy piece. Tom Green sings the theme, which makes it very clear what we’re watching. Of the 51 words in the song, eight of them are “show.” That’s about 16 per cent.
7. The Edison Twins
Another show where the opening credits’ budget seemed to be bigger than the rest of the show’s. The opening credits have everything: math, a green laser and a catchy tune that may as well have been performed by Doug and the Slugs.
6. Degrassi Junior High
There have been many iterations (and generations) of Degrassi, but none has a greater theme than Degrassi Junior High. With its new wave hooks, it’s the soundtrack to Canadian puberty.
5. Mr. Dressup
Unlike The Friendly Giant’s renaissance fair lullabye, Mr. Dressup’s theme is a modern, edgy tune for the kids of today. Well, OK. It’s not. It’s a gentle, twinkly tune that transports you back to your parents’ TV room, where you wondered about Casey’s gender assignment.
4. The Kids in the Hall
The instantly recognizable jangly tune is called “Having an Average Weekend” by Toronto instrumental group Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. It was originally released on their 1985 EP, Love Without Words, and the show used other song fragments from the band in between sketches.
3. Danger Bay
This song is reminiscent of Magnum, P.I.’s theme. It’s a perfect action-adventure theme, and it’s so engrossing that you end up watching the opening credits to discover that everyone on this show has awesome names. Donnelly Rhodes? Ocean Hellman? Hagan Beggs? Yes please.
2. The Littlest Hobo
I’m pretty sure 90 per cent of this show’s budget went to its theme song. “Oh no, we ran out of money for lights, cameras or action!” But it’s an awesome theme song. In fact, the song is the only thing many people know about the show. For years, I didn’t even know this show was about a dog.
1. Hockey Night in Canada
While HNIC switched up their theme a few years ago, “The Hockey Theme” by Dolores Claman was the Saturday night anthem from 1968 to 2008. Dozens of versions of the theme exist, including this one arranged by Rush drummer Neil Peart.
What's your favourite Canadian TV theme? Let us know in the comments below.
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on Oct 17, 2012