By Andrew Rabin
Last week, to complement our Roundtable Reviews of classic Nickelodeon shows, I started counting down the top 40 theme songs in Nick history. This week, we delve into the middle of the pack, with help from monsters, puppets, and Marc Summers.
32. Little Bear (1995-99)
The more you watch the theme song to Little Bear, the more confusing it gets. Little Bear leaves his family to walk off where he is followed by a parade of friends. They walk for several seasons before walking onto a whale who blows them up to the moon. They then return to Little Bear’s family for a picnic. But what happens to the owl who joins Little Bear’s parade? Why is he not invited to the picnic? Still, this serene theme fits with the series, and the sequence leaves no question as to who the main character is.
31. Welcome Freshmen (1991-93)
There is nothing bad about the Welcome Freshmen theme song. Visually, it does what I have asked of previous theme songs, clearly showing a high school setting and introducing the cast with character names as well as the actor names. But the music adds nothing. Literally any music could be added to this and it would seem just about the same. So this is a replacement level theme; it does not add anything to the show, but it does not subtract anything either.
30. KaBlam! (1996-2000)
The KaBlam! theme song is visually cool looking. The comic-style sound effect text is fun. The announcer is exciting. The whole thing works perfectly for the show KaBlam! was supposed to be, an animated sketch comedy show featuring the different types of cartoons one might find in the comics section of a newspaper. The problem is this wasn’t the show KaBlam! actually was, and the most memorable characters, those from “Prometheus and Bob,” “Angela Anaconda,” and “Action League Now!” either do not appear at all in the intro or make only a brief cameo in that quick shot of a comic book. But shoutout to the season 2 theme song, which does not seem to be on YouTube, where Henry and June’s dance is replaced with them doing the Macarena. Oh, 1997.
29. Rocket Power (1999-2004)
The Rocket Power theme is right to the point. This is a show about kids who board- skateboard, snowboard, or surf. There is not much there, but you also know pretty much what you are getting from this show.
28. Aaahh!!! Real Monsters (1994-97)
The Aaahh!!! Real Monsters theme suffers a similar, though less extreme, flaw as the KaBlam! theme. While the Real Monsters opening features the proper lead characters, the footage fails to highlight the humor that makes this a good kids show. With no outside knowledge of the series, a viewer may take the theme to be for a show intended to scare the audience (although one unlikely to do a good job in doing so). Still, the visual of a creature juggling his own eyeballs cannot help but be funny.
27. What Would You Do? (1991-93)
When the audio of a theme song says the name of the show while the visual footage shows the name of the show, it is best to have the two line up. Unfortunately, What Would You Do? fails that basic test. As the sing recites “What Would You Do,” one word shows up on the screen as each word is sang. The words appear, however, as “What Would Do You,” which seems like an entirely different show, probably not suited for Nickelodeon. Additionally, while the serious is about what various contestants would do in unusual situations, the clips seem to show what Marc Summers would do. And the answer is probably “create another Food Network show.”
26. Cousin Skeeter (1998-2001)
I am not sure if I have ever seen an episode of Cousin Skeeter, but I had some expectations of what Cousin Skeeter was like. And then I was the theme song. Look, maybe the theme song is just for fun. It’s funny to see a puppet dressed like a pimp, and have girls sing about how they want to be with him. But it is also somewhat troubling for a children’s series. And while late-90s Nickelodeon was fairly balanced in racial casting (this show features Meagan Good, still one of only three women ever to be the central character of a network drama), this song could be construed as racist, or at a minimum enforcing racial stereotypes.
25. The Journey of Allen Strange (1997-2000)
We are starting to get to the better Nickelodeon theme songs, and Allen Strange is right on the borderline. The music, like with Welcome Freshmen, adds nothing, but here I can clearly tell what the series is about- aliens landed on earth, Allen was one of them, he joined this traditional family, but he can still do strange things. Also his eyes can go crazy. My biggest beef with this intro, however, is the change from the very cool, alien-esque font that first appears with the name “Allen Strange,” around the 51 second mark, to the far less interesting font used for the actual title card, which it becomes around the 56 second mark.
Next time: Animal siblings, talking animals, animals of different colors, and 24-16