Bringing a beloved (or at least nostalgia inducing) television show to the big screen is no easy undertaking (especially for shows that have been off the air for a few good years.) The task of adapting existing material (whether it be from a book series, a comic book or a well-known public figure) can be daunting as you hope to live up to expectations while also trying cultivate new fans. When it comes to turning a television show into a film, having a few well placed cameos from the original cast, rooting the film in a story true to that show’s world and (seeing as many of these shows were comedies) not letting the film version take itself too seriously seem to be the keys to these adaptation’s success.
With Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s updated 21 Jump Street taking to the silver screen this weekend, I realized that the one thing all these shows have in common (regardless of when they aired, who starred in them or what they were about) is also the one element that many television shows on air today have done away with – a catchy theme song.
Theme songs used to be synonymous with television shows and these songs became just as iconic as any of the show’s stars or plot lines. Filmmakers would be remiss to give these shows the theatrical treatment and not include (or at least give nod to) the original theme songs and in looking over the various small-to-big screen adaptations, each song seemed to make the cut (albeit sometimes drastically different from the original.)
Updating these (usually) cheesy tunes (which, granted, had been created for shows that aired during the 1960s through the 1980s) find the songs infused with a bit more back beat, updated electronic elements and a current artist putting their own spin on the well-known lyrics to help make the songs feel more modern. Just as the film adaptations vary from ones that give a whole new spin on a show to those that simply pick up where the series left off, these songs also range from ones that stay true to the original material to versions that take these songs into an entirely new direction.
21 Jump Street
The original version is a classic in all its 1980s glory with electronic keyboard intro, synthesized beats and catchy lyrics:
For the version hitting screens this weekend, Rye Rye and Esthero take the song from ’80s pop to current day hip-hop and succeed in bringing this song into the twenty-first century:
Most know the iconic line, “Transformers – more than meets the eye,” which is incorporated here in a track that should take you back to those days of sitting down to watch Saturday morning cartoons with a bowl of Count Chocula:
MuteMath take their off-beat, slightly experimental electronic sound to help the song sound modern, but still stay rooted in the idea of alien machines through their otherwordly sounding beats and tones (and don’t worry, that classic line is kept intact):
Beginning with a serious sounding voice over, The A-Team‘s theme song starts off full of bright horns and explosions that envoke patriotism before transitioning into electronic guitars that give the song some extra, “We are rebel badasses” punch:
Composer Alan Silvestri retains this patriotic instrumentation and feel in his version and stays fairly true to the original tune, but he does make sure to give those guitars a bit more punch (to take full advantage of that theatrical surround sound, I’m sure):
The classic ditty was not only as sweet as Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery), it also worked to incorporate her trademark nose wiggle into the tune:
Steve Lawrence‘s version for the Nicole Kidman/Will Ferrell take on the classic show channels Frank Sinatra and adds lyrics to the otherwise all instrumental theme making the tune sound fresh, but still Samantha sweet:
Much like The A-Team, the voice over intro for Charlie’s Angels sets up the premise of the show before turning up the groovy ’70s instrument swells that have became synonomous with the angels:
English rock band Apollo 440 put an updated spin on this track with more eletronic elements and dance-worthy beats to drive the well-known tune, but the song still incorporates dialogue (much like the original theme did) to set up the premise of the relationship between Charlie and his angels:
The Brady Bunch
This classic theme song is not only one that most people know, the visual of the separate blue boxes coming together to form this “bunch” is just as iconic:
The version used in the 1995 film version stripped away those well-known lyrics, but kept the catchy (and recognizable) instrumentation as their parody visuals worked as a nice end note to the film:
But wait, there’s more on the next page…