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When theme was supreme

While some collectors of TV memorabilia scour the Internet for scripts, show props and items with a certain kitsch factor (there was one person bidding on that vintage “The Fall Guy” lunch kettle and thermos set on EBay), Brian Karimzad, 26, collects television video and audio clips from the late ‘70s and ‘80s.

Over the past eight years, Karimzad, a Wharton MBA student at the University of Pennsylvania, has amassed hundreds of show theme songs, commercials and network promos, which are housed at his online museum www.80stvthemes.com. Scan the show clips to find sing-along faves like the theme from “The Greatest American Hero” or nearly forgotten instrumental compositions like “Night Court’s” jazzy opening. The “Commercials” menu features numbers by Ray Charles, pitching Maxwell House Coffee, and the Gatlin Brothers, hawking American Express.

Even more obscure tidbits can be found in the “Potpourri” and “Promos” sections. One 1982 promo can make folks weep for the NBC Thursday night lineup of yesteryear: It announced that “Fame” would be followed by the series premiere of “Cheers” and season premieres of “Taxi” and “Hill Street Blues.”

Some of the clips come from families, like Karimzad’s own, who “went on a recording spree when VCRs were new during the ‘80s,” he writes in an e-mail. “But the majority of the content is from people who worked in television during the ‘70s and ‘80s. They made a habit of keeping copies of their favorite clips and were eager to contribute. I even get messages from the producers and composers themselves, who are excited to see their work after so many years.”

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He adds that unlike today’s themes and jingles, many from the ‘80s had their own musical identity. “While maybe cheesy, [they] can still grab your attention five, 10, 20 years later. They were signatures with soul.”


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