The History of the Sitcom: Part 2 – The Sitcom GOAT Metrics

Photo credit to Susan Gell-Horton
Photo credit to Susan Gell-Horton

Please email Stephen all of your movie, TV, and random entertainment questions: stephenthescoop@hotmail.com.


Welcome back, kids, to part two of The Scoop’s t Two Part Very Special Episode.  When we last saw our heroes, we covered the decade-by-decade history of the sitcom, and ended on a dramatic cliffhanger of the metrics we were going to use to determine the best ever out of a sea of contenders.  Now let’s pick back up where we left off with the thrilling conclusion…The Sitcom GOAT Metrics.

My goal while combing through years and years and even more years of sitcoms was always to determine if there was a way to remove as much subjectivity as possible surrounding how we judge the best one ever.  After careful consideration, I landed on a list of 5 things we can use as our metrics to determine the top spot.  Disclaimer: Filling out these 5 things requires some forms of subjective thought, but this gets us closer to making the strongest case possible.

Just to revisit what the five categories in the GOAT Metrics, they are as follows.

A show gets points for filling the most out of the following categories –

  1. Best lead character
  2. Best supporting cast
  3. Best theme song
  4. How many seasons it aired
  5. Was there such a high demand when it ended that there was a spinoff?

All of these things are very solid in principle, but after more research, I would like to amend number 5 to say Were the characters so loveable that they inspired a spinoff? because that is a more accurate measure of where the show was.  Sure, some shows took characters at the end of their run and started the spinoff once the show ended, but that discounts others that were so popular that they coexisted at the same time as the original.  We are going to call this the Laverne and Shirley effect.

Of course, there were other spinoffs prior to Laverne and Shirley, but theirs was the first show to spin off and become much more popular than the original. Laverne and Shirley debuted on its own in 1975, and by its second season was the most watched American television show, far surpassing Happy Days in the ratings.  That means more in the big picture than a show being spawned after a show ends its original run.

I would also like to add here, before we get started, that there are 5 total shows that we are covering below, but one show is being purposely left off, being replaced by another.  By all of the metrics we have established, The Cosby Show should rank on this list, but you will not find it here.  I have written and rewritten and eventually deleted my thoughts on Bill Cosby because this is supposed to be fun, but nothing is less fun than reading 500 words of anger expressed solely at one person.  The short version is that I feel terribly for these women, and I hope that Cosby gets each and every thing he deserves for what he allegedly did to them.  His show isn’t on this list because I cannot and will not separate what he allegedly did to those poor women from what he did on television.  In my opinion, he is a disgusting human being who will not be mentioned here going forward.

So now that we have established the rules that we are following, let us celebrate the situation comedies that rank among the best ever, and name The Sitcom GOAT.

Friends (NBC, 1994 – 2004)

NBC
NBC

Best Lead Character – The best thing about Friends is that the ensemble was always bigger than individual success, and as such it never truly had one lead character.  All six main characters carried major individual storylines; the cast negotiated their contracts together so no one person made more money, and all ended on a bright note.

Best Supporting Cast – Again, this is about the group, so the supporting cast acted as the main character.  That is also what took away from the show in the later years.  Joey was a strong character the first few seasons, one of the best on the show even, but without someone to pair him with, the writers eventually just played a terrible game with America about how dumb they could make him before Italians started setting cars on fire.  As for the rest, the show went in the natural direction of pairing them off, but quickly ran out of steam and fresh storylines towards the end of the run.  That is bound to happen after 10 years, but no other show on this list went from excellent the first few years to limping to the finish line.

Best Theme Song – You may very well be tired of I’ll Be There for You,” but that is only because you heard the song so much outside of the show.  This is the only song on our list that actually reached #1 on the Billboard Top 40 and stayed there for multiple weeks.  It took the nation by storm, when nobody told us it was going to be this way (clap, clap, clap, clap).  I’d like to immediately apologize for that last joke; it may be the dumbest thing you read all week.

How Many Seasons It Aired Friends was on the air for 10 years, but it is very easy to forget how excellent this show was the first few seasons.  Haircuts were being copied, “How you doin’?” could be heard everywhere, and the show was a cultural phenomenon.  You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing something about the show, and even though I have no proof, I think Starbucks owes part of its success to Friends because everyone wanted to have their own version of Central Perk with their friends.  You can’t prove me wrong.  In the end, Friends was nominated for 62 Emmy Awards, but only won 6 during its entire 10 year run.  Part of the lack of wins is the way the cast submitted themselves, but part of that is that it was always more of a show for the people than the critics.  Friends holds up very, very well which is further proven by its recent boom on Netflix.  Watch the first season again sometime soon and remember just how good and funny that show is.

Were The Characters So Loveable That They Inspired a
Spinoff?
– One spinoff, immediately after the final season.  That show was Joey and that show was bad.  No need to waste time talking about it.


Seinfeld (NBC, 1989 – 1998)

NBC
NBC

Best Lead Character Jerry Seinfeld was terrific on Seinfeld and the main reason is that it is so uniquely written in his voice.  Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David have two of the strangest comedy minds of all time, and Seinfeld’s delivery was honed over years and years of being a hall of fame stand-up comedian.  The only way that the show ends up on our Mount Rushmore here is because Jerry was always such a strong driving force on the show.  With that supporting cast, anyone who wasn’t comfortable in their own skin would have been absolutely steam-rolled.

Best Supporting Cast – This is where Seinfeld separates itself from the competition from the 90s, and frankly, Friends can’t compare at all.  Elaine, Kramer, and George alone would be enough, but with so many other supporting characters like George’s parents (which include the always hilarious Jerry Stiller), Newman, and even Soup Nazi, who are all perfect in their roles, but it helps that the writing for them always put them in the best position to succeed.  That makes all the difference because you would never have a storyline of one of them having an identical twin and using the lazy filming style where it’s clear they aren’t really talking to each other.

Best Theme Song – It may not be a theme song in the sense that you know every word and sing along, but shouldn’t the purpose of a TV them song to be instantly recognizable, much like a sort of branding?  Few other themes are more strongly tied to one show the way Seinfeld’s is to it.  That counts for something in my opinion.

How Many Seasons It Aired – 9 full seasons and all of them are very, very strong, but it is also unique in the way that its popularity and critical acclaim grew towards the end of its run.  68 Emmy nominations and 10 Emmy wins, but during the 90s it came down to Seinfeld and Friends, and Seinfeld dominates heads up.  Seinfeld had everything from the ratings to the awards to the street cred.

Were The Characters So Loveable That They Inspired a Spinoff? – The closest the show came to a spinoff was the brief rumors that slick-talking Jackie Chiles had a show in the works with Jerry and Larry, but that was quickly debunked and outside of a reunion type show on Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Nothing else has ever happened, which is not surprising since those characters started and ended together.  Separately none of them would have had the same impact.


Happy Days (ABC, 1974 – 1984)

ABC
ABC

Best Lead Character Arthur Herbert “Fonzie” Fonzarelli is the most recognizable sitcom character of all time.  Yes, of all effing time.  He drove this show and made a generation of young adult men dream of snapping their fingers to get a woman.  The Fonz popularity juggernaut went from a small character during season one, to being listed as the sole lead by the end of the series, and his leather jacket currently sits in the Smithsonian.  If you think another character is more well-known than him, then you can sit on it.

Best Supporting Cast – The cast from top to bottom is very, very solid, but what puts them in the top three is that they have sitcom legend Ron Howard populating their program.  Ronny Howard was on two legendary television sitcoms for a total of 14 years, and through the early 80s you could not name a more recognizable sitcom face, not to mention how he helped shape the medium into what it turned into.  He is in the television hall of fame (that’s not hyperbole, he is in the real TV HOF), and just to run up the score he was in Harrison Ford’s first major movie (American Graffiti) and John Wayne’s last movie prior to his death (The Shootist).  What did you ever do?

Best Theme Song – Just click play below and let the overwhelming need to grease back your hair and go to a sock hop wash over you.

How Many Seasons It Aired – 11 full seasons on the air, but the last few were pretty rough.  That won’t deduct from the total points though because even after Happy Daysjumped the shark,” it still got credit because it invented the phrase “jumping the shark.”  I’m sure there are kids who say that phrase and don’t even know where it came from or what it means.  I didn’t believe it could be that bad, and went back to watch the episode for myself, but little did I know that Fonzie wore shorts and a leather jacket while attempting this feat and looked ridiculous the whole way.  I’m here to tell you,”jumping the shark” is legit.

Were The Characters So Loveable That They Inspired a Spinoff? – Only the top spot can claim more well-known spinoffs than Happy DaysLaverne and Shirley and Mork and Mindy alone are more than enough to rival most any other competitor, but there was also Joanie Loves Chachie, Biansky’s Beauties, and Out of the Blue, which brings the total to a staggering five, and that doesn’t include the early 80s animated The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang.  Sure, not all of them were hits, but the top two alone top every other spinoff from our top 5, with the exception of the top spot.


Cheers (NBC, 1982 – 1993)

NBC
NBC

Best Lead Character Sam “Mayday” Malone was one of the best written and acted characters in the history of the situation comedy.  It was perfect timing to cast Ted Danson before he went on to making movies and before he was a household name, because I’m not sure anyone else could have made that character as loveable.  He had such a presence, but some very underrated comedic timing that he has never gotten enough credit for.

Best Supporting Cast – When you replace Coach, one of the most likeable characters on the show who passed away prior to season four, with Woody “I put the Hunger in Games” Harrelson, then you know that you are dealing with producers who have a lucky horseshoe crammed right up their ass.  Throw in Carla, Cliff, and NORM!!! and you have yourself some of the most memorable characters you will encounter.

Best Theme Song – Fun fact, I enjoy the occasional adult beverage, and in many a watering hole I’ve heard regulars burst into an unprompted performance of this song.  This has happened several times and none of them are related circumstances.  Cheers has not only one of the best theme songs ever, it is secretly the alcoholic National Anthem.

How many seasons it aired – 11 full seasons, top 10 in ratings 8 out of 11 of those seasons, a record 111 Emmy nominations, and 28 Emmy wins.  This show was an absolute beast when it aired.

Were The Characters So Loveable That They Inspired a Spinoff? – Forget about the short lived show about Carla’s deadbeat Italian ex-husband, have you ever heard of a little show called FraiserCheers aired for 11 full seasons, with the Fraiser character debuting in the 1984 season.  Fraiser aired for 11 full seasons ending in 2003-2004, which by my public school math means that Kelsey Grammer played the same character for a record 20 full years.


All of those televised situation comedies are legendary, stand the test of time, and all pale in comparison to the top spot.  Ladies and Gentleman, without further ado, I present to you The Sitcom GOAT!

All in the Family (CBS, 1971 – 1979)

CBS
CBS

Best Lead Character Archie Bunker changed the game when it comes to what Americans expected from their TV characters.  His voice was so different, and so popular, that there was even a phrase coined called The Archie Bunker vote during a presidential campaign, which referred to the urban, working class vote.  He was controversial and loveable all at the same time, which is all due to Carroll O’Conner giving a weekly nuanced performance that literally nobody else could have pulled off.

Best Supporting Cast – The main cast of Edith, Gloria, and Michael were all outstanding, but throw in George Jefferson who is a beast in his own right, and good luck finding a better top to bottom cast.  They combined to form the struggle between the Greatest Generation vs. Baby Boomer and white America vs. black America, and everyone had an equal opportunity to shine.

Best Theme Song – I have searched high and low through the bowels of the interwebs and I cannot find an earlier example of a sitcom theme song being performed by its main characters.  There is a simplicity and perfection between the two of them singing this song just warms my heart, but it would not have held up if you did not believe the love between Archie and Edith.

How Many Seasons It Aired – Airing for 9 seasons and setting records the entire time, All in the Family set the standard of what to expect from a sitcom.  It was number one in the ratings from 1971 – 1976, which made it the first to be ranked at the top spot for 5 consecutive years, and also was the first show to feature all 4 main characters winning an Emmy.  All together, the show accounted for 22 Emmys and nine full years of greatness that holds up to this day.

Were The Characters So Loveable That They Inspired a Spinoff? All in the Family is directly responsible for The Jeffersons, Good Times, Maude, Archie Bunker’s Place, Gloria, 704 Hauser, and Checking In.  Holy mother of sitcom legends, are you kidding me?!  Not only is this list unbeatable, but if we were expanding this list from 5 to 10, then a couple of those shows make the list.  Game, set, and match…bitches.


Stephen Balding is the Entertainment Badass for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenB_41.

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The History of the Sitcom: The Scoop’s Very Special Two Part Episode – Part 1

Henderson Productions
Henderson Productions

Please email Stephen all of your movie, TV, and random entertainment questions: stephenthescoop@hotmail.com.


Have you ever heard of the DuMont Network?  It’s not currently on Dish or DirecTV or Uverse or Satan’s Asshole Charter, so it would not surprise me if it slipped by you.  There is a great show on that channel about newlyweds Mary Kay and Johnny living in New York and all of the hijinks that surround a newly married couple trying to find their way through life.  I know what you are thinking, “That sounds the same as hundreds of other sitcoms, so what is so special about this one?”

That was a trick question and one that reveals the current state of, not only the sitcom, but television in general.  All of the things in my previous paragraph are real, they just don’t exist anymore.  The DuMont Network was a real network that existed back in 1947 (before CBS and ABC) and Mary Kay and Johnny was a real show from that same year, which was in fact about a young newlywed couple living in New York.  Not only did that show exist, but it was the first sitcom….ever.  If you want to get technical, there was a British show that is considered the first sitcom, but screw them, this is ‘Merica right?!

The reason that I wanted to trick you, outside of personal satisfaction, is to make the point that even though the sitcom has evolved between 1947 and now, the premise of the show does not matter when making one good.  Like anything else, it’s about the writing, the characters, and how the viewer connects to those things.

That is a little too subjective though, so let’s take a look how the sitcom has evolved over the years and if we can determine metrics to determine the best sitcom of all time. 


The 1950s – A time of transition

tumblr
I Love Lucy

A transitional time is always a difficult one, as we are seeing now with Netflix and Amazon trying to change the way we absorb television, but the transition from radio to TV was one that wasn’t met with open arms.  The same people that don’t have the Gary Busey endorsed Amazon Fire stick today were the people in the 1950s who did not want or could not afford a television.  People were holding on to the radio format, so changing over was difficult for the stars of radio, but when someone came along with the timing and charisma, it turned out to be legendary.

For all that you might think about Lucille Ball now, she was an absolute powerhouse and a comedic force of nature.  With I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners being what you immediately go to with the 50s, I’d be willing to bet that your initial reaction (if you are not a Lucy loyalist) lies with The Honeymooners as a long-standing staple for the American sitcom.  You would be 100% wrong though.

Quick, name your favorite episode of The Honeymooners:

CBS
CBS

I’ll wait… Ok, how many years was it on the air?  My point exactly, The Honeymooners characters existed in other forms, like The Jackie Gleason Show, but in all actuality it only aired for one year, from 1955 to 1956.  I’m not saying that it doesn’t hold up, or that Jackie Gleason is overrated, nothing could be further from the truth; what I am saying is that for a woman in 1951 to have a show named after her, have her talent carry it comically, and it still be shown to this day, is something that is taken too lightly.  If Jackie Gleason could do what Lucille Ball could do, then he might be on Mount Rushmore.

Lucy holds up as funny to this day and carried that transitional torch from radio to TV like nobody else could.  Without Lucille Ball there is a giant hole in the landscape of the 50s that Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best just don’t fill.  I don’t like throwing around the word pioneer, but if there ever was a reason to use it, Lucy is one for TV, and for damn sure women in TV and comedy.


The 1960s – The birth of ensemble

CBS
CBS

With the transition from radio to TV complete, and three full networks searching to fill roles and scheduling, the 1960s were all about building strong ensemble casts and exploring new territory.  Some of the best shows from the decade featured 4 to 8 people weekly, with no one person standing out as the “lead”.  Programs like Gilligan’s Island, Hogan’s Heroes, and even the run of out of place family comedies like The Munsters or The Addams Family (snap, snap) never had a stand-out lead.  You can make your case for who was your favorite, but nobody was ever a runaway star of the show.

The exceptions were there, of course, with the likes of The Andy Griffith Show telling you the lead right in the title, but at the core of those shows was a strong supporting cast.  The Dick Van Dyke Show had Dick’s name right in the title, but that cast was why you tuned in, and the demand for the cast was so high that Mary Tyler Moore got her own show based on how beloved she was.

The content of all of the 60s programs was, understandably, very family friendly with loveable characters getting into weekly hijinks, but let us never forget how that generation tried to make a likable character out of a Nazi soldier, and now pretend that they “know nothing” about it when asked.

CBS
CBS

Come on, The 60s, get your shit together and stop trying to justify this.  It wasn’t right then, it’s not right now, and stop saying that you just had “an innocence” then.  You can’t play that card and the “free love/Woodstock” card for the same decade without getting called on it.


The 1970s – A shift in society

Columbia Pictures Television
Columbia Pictures Television

This was the decade when sitcoms came of age and actually became a tool for social commentary.  They became entertaining and relevant in ways that their predecessors could not muster, and in doing so, started using that voice as a means for cultural change.  Goofy situations had gone by the wayside in favor of real life and real problems and real struggle.

The brilliance was in the way they were conceived as plausible, so the message was always subtle.  You don’t think of Three’s Company as anything other than a goofy comedy about a guy living with two women as his roommates, but in 1977 that was very taboo and got very negative feedback.  To top that off, Jack had to pretend to be gay so he wouldn’t upset his landlord for being a womanizer, just to make him feel uncomfortable being around him due to his sexuality.  Those are heavy hitting topics, but it was subtle because the show was funny, and humor is the great equalizer.

As for the rest of the sitcom landscape, you had the birth of the nostalgia brand with Happy Days, M*A*S*H combining nostalgia along with social commentary about the Vietnam War, and Mary Tyler Moore showing that a woman could be a single professional woman who wasn’t worried about finding a husband.  Also, and most importantly, Americans began to see a different role beginning to develop.

CBS
CBS

African-American families were telling smart and very funny stories about their lives, both good and bad, which was something that had never been seen in prime time…or anytime really. Programs like Good Times, Sanford and Son, and The Jeffersons were all populated by characters that white Americans had not seen in their living room before, and were all unique in their own way.  The common denominator between them was not that they were black; it was that they were funny. REALLY funny.  Jokes from Sanford and Son holds up to this day, and maybe it took someone as smart and funny as Redd Foxx to pull that off, but without him and the others television is different, and not in a good way.


The 1980s – Sitcom Explosion

Alien Productions
Alien Productions

After the success of the 1970s model of sitcoms, the 80s brought a boom of networks willing to try anything and everything in search of a hit show.  From Alf and Small Wonder to Webster and Punky Brewster to Head of the Class and Coach to Bosom Buddies and Perfect Strangers to Growing Pains and Family Ties, there was something for everyone, and all of them were quality entertainment.  Networks threw it out there for the population because everyone had a TV and wanted to be a part of the party.

All of these shows aired for multiple years, which lead to valiant, and sometimes over the top attempts, to stand apart from the competition.  These attempts spawned perhaps the greatest creation in the history of situational comedies…The Two Part Very Special Episode!

Do you remember where you were when Alex P. Keaton tried to score speed from Mallory’s friend?  How about when Punky and Cherrie played hide and seek, but Cherrie choose a “very special” hiding spot in that old fridge that almost killed her?

American Broadcasting Company
American Broadcasting Company

You may not remember those, but I’m willing to bet that you remember when Mr. Horton, the creepy old bicycle shop owner, befriended Arnold and Dudley with pizza, and ice cream and (gasp!!) wine, then proceeded with an attempt to diddle a shirtless Dudley and Arnold in the back of his shop.  Thank goodness Mr. Drummond was on the scene to stop it and call the cops.  Whatchoo talkin’ bout indeed!


The 1990s – Expanding the model

Fox
Fox

With the Fox Network debuting in 1986-87, there was a sudden change in the landscape of television, which led to some of my favorite television shows of all-time.  I will always have a soft spot in my heart for early 90s Fox programming because it sounded and looked different than the others.  Married with Children, The Simpsons, Martin, and In Living Color were staples for me, and it forced the other 3 networks to take notice of that style of programming.

This also was the secret best era for the sitcom theme song with the top spot of the decade going to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  That theme song flipped my life upside-down when I first heard it, and you cannot tell me that you don’t know each and every word to it.  That first bass note still gets me excited to this day, it is just the best.

As for the rest of the decade there are some shows with a real chance of making our top spot, but we will talk about those later.


The 2000s – The Cable Boom

FX
FX

The expansion of cable programming has deluded the need for a strong network sitcom, and the wave of reality TV during the 2000s made for a cheap model that networks can hold onto.  In addition to that, must see TV is a thing of the past and is something that is just never coming back.  Even with the birth of social media, the only thing that people get excited for as appointment television is a live event, so people settle in to their DVR which includes sitcoms from network, basic, and premium cable.

Sure, 30 Rock and The Office were terrific shows, but how do you quantify Curb Your Enthusiasm and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia who don’t have to play by those rules, and are equally as funny, but in different ways.  The landscape of television, both in comedy and drama, has skewed to a niche audience, which is why It’s Always Sunny has been on the air for 9 years, but wouldn’t have made it past the pilot phase by old rules.

As far as the 2010s are concerned, that niche audience is getting more and narrower.  How to you categorize Louie?  How do you expect networks to compete with outlets like Netflix that can produce original content that is available to a niche audience, but one that is in England as well as the USA?  It’s too hard to say, but I will tell you that the format has changed, and is never going to be the same, so now is a good time to celebrate the sitcoms for what they were and finally decide which one is the best of all time is.


Next week we will use metrics to decide which sitcom ranks as the top one of all time, so for now I want to give you the metrics and ask for you to make your case by either commenting below, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

So without further ado I present to you The Sitcom GOAT Metrics:

A show gets points for filling the most out of the following categories –

  1. Best lead character
  2. Best supporting cast
  3. Best theme song
  4. How many seasons it aired
  5. Was there such a high demand when it ended that there was a spinoff?

Stephen Balding is the Entertainment Badass for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenB_41.

Let’s Bond… James Bond: Top 7 Bond Theme Songs

James Bond
James Bond

Confession: I love the James Bond film series. I’ve grown up with this series, as I’m sure countless others have, and it never gets old. When one thinks of this particular series, they may think of the theme songs, the actors portraying our favorite MI6 agent, his cool cars and gadgets, or the babes he manages to score. Regardless of the reasons, the fans have kept the Bond film missions going for 53 years now.

I personally love the theme songs, because they set the mood for what you’re about to watch on the screen. 23 of them exist, but they were not all created equally. To me, only a handful stand out as good to great themes and can even manage to stand alone as an individual song.

So, in the spirit of 007 himself, let’s discuss my top seven Bond themes.


First, let’s get acquainted, or reacquainted, with his personal theme song:

“The James Bond Theme” by John Berry – from the film Dr. No

Now, on with the show.


#7 “GoldenEye” as performed by Tina Turner – from the film GoldenEye 

I will admit to something right here and now. I have a bias towards the theme songs of the new Bonds, and GoldenEye is no exception.

Quick fact: you can thank Bono and The Edge (both of U2) for this Bond song. Instrumentally, it’s not anything I’d ever picture them writing for the band, but for a Bond theme, the instrumentation doesn’t get too edgy or too sweeping and orchestral, and maintains enough “past and present” feel to usher in a Bond for the 90s.

The vital component to getting the most out of a Bond theme is the vocalist, and Ms. Turner delivers a performance that is not necessarily perfect, but it fits in well with the orchestration around her and the lyrical content of the song. She delivers a convincing “Bond is my target and I will not fail to hit him this time” sentiment here and, to me, doesn’t try too hard to be needlessly sultry either. Give this one a listen and I think it’ll grow on you, or at least invoke pleasant memories of when you’d fire up GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64 back in 1996.


#6 “Live & Let Die” as performed by Paul McCartney & Wings – from the film Live & Let Die

Not everything associated with the Roger Moore era sucks as much as we want to believe it does. That being said, just because a Beatle writes something doesn’t mean we can’t critique it. Thus, we arrive to “Live & Let Die” and the theme song that kicked off the aforementioned Moore era.

Musically speaking, it’s got a certain drive and punch to it that makes for a pretty cool opening sequence. I mean, you get this driving rock tune, plus the weird voodoo sequence over it, and you’re prepared for some supernatural Bond fun. Sounds awesome! What could go wrong? Well, what you get after the title sequence is a movie in which the Bond girl is a Caribbean oracle who loses her powers once she… er… bonds with 007. Ok, so definitely an odd start for Moore.

This is the one Bond song that gets radio play to this very day. Some feel that detracts from it, because it ceases to be unique to the film and, in a sense, becomes more mainstream. I can appreciate that line of thinking, to a degree, but am of the thinking that it’s still a Bond song and deserves it’s place in conversations like these.


#5 “The World is Not Enough” as performed by Garbage – from the film The World is Not Enough

What Bono and The Edge attempted to do with “GoldenEye” by incorporating some modern electronic musical elements, Dave Arnold and Don Black achieve here by getting a fuller orchestral sound to merge with electronica influences. As is with most Bond themes, the plot is heavily alluded to throughout in the lyrics, but with a subtle message about how each of us approaches getting what we want in life, not just the evil bad guys plotting world domination or a super heist.

When you see the band is named Garbage, you may not instantly think Bond theme!” I love what Shirley Manson brings to this vocally, though. Her lower register is a touch ethereal and subdued, but when she gets to the chorus, singing of the world being not enough for her, but it still being a good place to start her conquest… just wow. This one is a personal favorite, but I feel it’s place is in the middle of the pack of seven.


#4 “You Only Live Twice” as performed by Nancy Sinatra – from the film You Only Live Twice

You see, kids, before this YOLO phase we’re all apparently stuck in at the moment, there was Sean Connery and his Bond philosophy of YOLT: you only live twice.

We get post “These Boots are Made for Walkin'” Nancy Sinatra vocalizing atop a lush, harmonic score that is simply gorgeous from beginning to end. Sinatra almost serves as Bond‘s siren, calling to him to push on and to pursue the one thing that has evaded him in his entire life – love. I love it because it sets up this call for Bond to keep pursuing love; yet, as we see consistently in the series, he rarely commits to anything significant, lest his lady love get maimed, blown up, strangled, or whatever else could befall them.


Tie #2 “You Know My Name” as performed by Chris Cornell – from the film Casino Royale

I have this tied with the next song, as they almost go hand-in-hand together. Here, we get the beginnings of a new, edgier, more emotional James Bond, courtesy of Daniel Craig. This is the hardest a James Bond theme song has gone since the previously mentioned “Live & Let Die” and it’s honestly a nice change of pace from whatever Sheryl Crow and Madonna had to offer before.

I love that it sticks to the premise of the theme telling the story, but doesn’t give away too much, and still leaves some to the imagination. As Bond uses his spy trickery to assume other identities, those around him are also playing their own games with him and he has to figure out who to really trust at the end of the day, as do we in the audience. It also portends of the “player” in this game having to be prepared to sacrifice anything and everything to win, which as we see is him losing his heart to Vesper Lind. All told, I feel it just does a great job setting us up for what’s to come and I applaud Chris Cornell for pulling off an amazing Bond theme.


Tie #2 “Skyfall” as performed by Adele – from the film Skyfall

One reason I am glad to be along for the Daniel Craig era is because the Bond theme song is still a big deal, and I was just as anxious to hear the details of this one as I was the previous two. Adele delivered a haunting, soulful song about standing firm with those who haven’t left you when you’re at your lowest and darkest point, and that’s exactly what the film needed it’s theme to communicate.

I also appreciate that, lyrically, Skyfall” isn’t what we think it is at all, and it simply leaves the listener with a funereal feeling of loss and finality. Rare is the Bond theme that leaves you with this much of an emotional gut punch. Once you figure out what Skyfall actually is, though, the lyrics then assume their direct meaning as they relate to the plot, along with the deeper emotional meaning inferred by referencing the sky falling.


#1 “Goldfinger” as performed by Shirley Bassey – from the film Goldfinger

Rarely does a Bond theme song mention the bad guy directly, but “Goldfinger” is a brassy, jazzed up warning to beware Auric Goldfinger‘s wiles and refrain from falling into his traps. This one is tops, simply because it’s fun to listen to and the horn line wailing in your ears never gets old.

Shirley Bassey is unique in that she’s recorded the most Bond themes in the history of the franchise, with three. This is easily her best one, and it’s not close. Luckily for us, Harry Saltzman, producer of Goldfinger in 1964, did not get his wish to have a new theme written. Apparently, he was quoted as saying that it was, “the worst damned song I’ve heard in my life.” Well, Harry didn’t live to hear anything by Nickelback, so that statement of his may seem a bit hyperbolic. We’ll take Shirley any day of the week, thank you very much.


So there we have it, seven Bond themes and seven reasons to keep discussing the Bond franchise and its music. Disagree with any of these? Want to reorder what’s here? Did I leave one out? Let’s discuss!


Sarah Powers is a Contributor at The Scoop. Follow her on Twitter at @SPow26.

 

Live from New York: 40 Years of Greatness

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NBC

Please email Stephen all of your movie, TV, and random entertainment questions: stephenthescoop@hotmail.com.


I have been trying for weeks to write something about the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live, but have failed several times.  It’s not that I have been unhappy with the ideas I had, but nothing seemed to fully express my love for the show. So, I kept deleting everything and starting over.  Saturday Night Live has meant everything to me for the better part of the last 25 years, and has even bordered on obsession at times.

I discovered Saturday Night Live when I was 11 years old, with what will always be my favorite cast.  Picking one cast as the best is too hard, but you would be hard to beat the 1990-1991 cast with Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, leading the

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

main cast, and Farley, Rock, Sandler, and Spade as featured players.  That is a murderer’s row of first ballot hall of fame talent that may never be topped again.  Not because they went on to make BILLIONS of dollars, but because 5 of the top 10 cast members of all-time are on that cast list, and Hartman is on the SNL Mount Rushmore along with Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy, and John Belushi.

That 1990-91 season is where I thought I would start when I was making notes for this article, but then something unexpected happened.  Last week, while I was at my desk at work, my friend and co-worker Marion confessed that she had never seen an entire episode of SNL.

What the what?!

That changed my entire view of what I wanted to write about – and changed it drastically.  My goal life mission now is to explain to Marion why this show is so important, and to convince her to watch an episode; I just can’t be friends with someone who has never seen an entire episode of this show, and Marion is worth convincing because she might be the nicest person on the face of the planet.  I’m talking next-level nice to the point that if the President was going to send someone to shower ISIS with kindness in an effort to get them to stop being a-holes, she would have them baking muffins like a bunch of 8-year-old girls in about 10 minutes.

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NBC

So, you see, I have to help her, and help her now, because the 40th anniversary special is this weekend. What better show to watch as your first one, when all of the heavy hitters are going to be there, including Eddie?  In an effort to convince Marion, and anyone else out there who may be on the SNL fence, here are a few of the best things about the show.


The writers. Oh, those glorious writers.

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NBC

So much has been written about the way SNL changed the world, and how when it debuted in 1975, it defined what pop-culture was.  Yes, that is due to the excellent cast members over the years, but the true backbone of the show, in my opinion, has been the writers, and it all started that very first year.

Michael O’Donoghue was the first head writer on SNL, and if that wasn’t enough of a résumé, he was also a founder of National Lampoon magazine.  He set the counter-culture tone, along with the other writers that year such as Alan Zweibel (original SNL writer and co-creator of the Gary Shandling Show), Herb Sargent (created Weekend Update…what have you ever done with your life?), and perhaps the greatest writing duo of all time, Franken and Davis (Franken is a freaking Senator now).

SNL writers aren’t who you might think they are; they’re not the guys who weren’t good enough to act on the show and hidden in the writing department.  Jim Downey was the longest running head writer on SNL and he didn’t get that job because he wasn’t good on camera; he got the job because he has one of the most brilliant minds of this, or any, generation.

In fact, most writers for the show are very well educated people, and the stream of writers that have come from Harvard (yes, that Harvard) to SNL is astounding.

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livejournal

Conan O’Brien was a writer on SNL, left there to write for The Simpsons, hosted a late night talk show that was groundbreaking, and did all of that after attending Harvard.  This show gets all of the best talent, but the overlooked aspect is that Lorne Michaels recruits the best writers out of college like Tom Landry crossed with Don Shula, only with a better eye and can write a better dick joke than both of them.

None of that means that people who didn’t go to an Ivy League school can’t write good comedy; it simply means that the misconception that the show is full of low brow humor doesn’t really hold weight.

The Lorne Michaels Machine

NBC
NBC

So the smartest and best writers in show biz history didn’t convince you, huh?  Ok fine. How about the juggernaut that is Lorne Michaels?  Even people who don’t know what SNL is know his name, and rightfully so, because he is an effing ICON.  Saturday Night Live is obviously his flagship show, and it has been nominated for 156 Emmy Awards (winning 36), but awards alone do not make the man.  Whenever there is a lull in household names on the show, people are quick to judge it and think that the show will never be the same.

Please don’t ever forget that Lorne Michaels is single-handedly responsible for finding, casting, and starting the careers of Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Phil Hartman, Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Andy Samberg, and the list keeps going on and on and on and on.  He gave a show and creative freedom to Tina Fey, which turned into 30 Rock, and now he produces the entire late night mammoth for NBC that includes The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers.  This guy knows talent and knows how to get the absolute most out of that talent.

The Stars. The Big, Bright, Shining Stars.

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Universal Pictures

I know what you are saying, and you are absolutely right.  “It’s not about the writers, who cares who they are, and it’s not about Lorne Michaels, he is just a suit. This is about the cast members.”  This weekend is going to have a seemingly never-ending lineup of A-List brilliance, so it’s the perfect place to get a crash course in SNL history.  I mean come on, Marion, what is going to be better than the possibility of seeing Bill Murray and Bill Hader on the same stage?

While we are on the topic, here is what I’m hoping for with the show this weekend.  I’m sure there will be plenty of rehashing old characters, because that is comfortable for the people who haven’t been on the show in a while, but with this many people, I am hoping and praying that there is more new than old.

Here are my top ten wishes for who I want to see on stage at the same time in a sketch:

10. Amy Poehler and Jane Curtin

 9. Norm MacDonald and Jimmy Fallon (I don’t think Norm would play nice.)

 8. Will Forte and Bill Murray

 7. Tina Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus

 6. Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg

 5. Billy Crystal and Dana Carvey

 4 Phil Hartman, John Belushi, and Chris Farley (Come on, holograms, why do we keep you around?)

 3. Mike Myers and Bill Hader (Two of the best character guys of all time.)

 2. Kristen Wiig and Steve Martin

1. Eddie “The GOAT part 1” Murphy and Will “The GOAT part 2” Ferrell

The entire list has combined to make a combined ALL of the money in Hollywood over the last 40 years, but the number 1 spot has to happen, right?  Murphy and Ferrell are widely considered the best two cast members of all time, so getting them on stage at the same time in a new sketch might simultaneously break the Internet and cause me to be the first person to ejaculate watching a prime time special (I’m assuming nobody did that during the Peter Pan musical, but if you did, my apologies).

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NBC

My dream sketch integrates a classic sketch, written for an ensemble, and is also topical.  What accomplishes that, and has the best chance of being a home run? Celebrity JeopardyWill Ferrell playing Alex Trebek, of course, with Eddie as Bill Cosby, Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery, and Bill Hader as any one of the hundreds of impressions that he does.  If there is one thing that SNL knows how to do, it’s to take something as simple as a game show and use it to destroy what we know about celebrity.

Make this happen, Lorne Michaels!  Do you hear me?!  You owe me, dammit!

With all of these major stars under one roof, for one night, what better way to absorb that greatness, to get an up close look at the institution that has shaped comedy for so many years, and see the true love that comedy fans have for its legacy?

I’m begging you, Marion, if there is one thing that television and Hollywood knows how to do, it’s celebrate itself. And in this case, there is a good reason for it.  You’ll get to see classic sketches, SNL‘s best performers, and also a sense for the history of the show.  All in one glorious night, which makes this the perfect place to start, or to decide that it might not be for you.  If that is the case, at least I can say that I tried and we can still be friends, but I’ll just be a little bit cooler than you are.


Stephen Balding is the Entertainment Badass for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenB_41.

Rowdy’s TV Trash: Electra The Elf

Friend to The Scoop Radio, Chris “Rowdy” Moore, has a hilarious web video series called TV Trash over on his site, RowdyC.com. We find them to be so hilariously entertaining, that we’ve asked for his permission to repost his weekly videos here. Seriously, these videos give us life. You WILL laugh.

This week’s edition takes on The Adventures of Electra Elf: