Ah, YouTube, how I love you. Lonelygirl15. Storm Large. Stephen Colbert. That dude who does all the movie re-enactments. (Woohoo! He did The Big LebowskiNSFW.) And, what do you know, a whole collection of intros from my favorite science fiction shows. It’s like a sort of geek-gasm.

For Dave and my brother Jeff (with whom I used to watch this show), “a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist”.

Man, I love that theme music. I also like the theme music to Buck Rogers:

Whatever happened to Gil Gerard anyhow?

Yes, my brothers and I loved science fiction shows. We didn’t have a TV when we were young, so we had to catch peeks of The Six-Million Dollar Man when we were visiting friends on Sunday night.

We didn’t get to watch The Bionic Woman when it originally aired, either, but eventually KPTV in Portland would re-run it in the late mornings during a period when we did have a television. Staying home sick became a treat!

Jamie Sommers wasn’t the only superwoman we liked. There was also Wonder Woman.

The Wonder Woman intro changed later in the show’s run:

Does anyone else remember this Indiana Jones knockoff? I think it aired on Friday nights.

Saturday morning cartoons were always a treat for us, but I was especially drawn to the live-action shows, shows like Space Academy:

and Ark II:

Who can forget the mighty Isis? (Isis, Isis, Isis)

Which, as I recall, aired in tandem with SHAZAM! (in something like “the power hour”).

I think The Greatest American Hero borrowed its flying effects from SHAZAM!. I watched every episode of this, but it never lived up to my hopes.

We worshipped Battlestar Galactica:

It helped that Mormon themes were prominent in the show’s mythology. We could relate. Now I love the new incarnation of Battlestar. I think that the first season’s opening sequence is the best-ever for a sci-fi show. (I really wish they hadn’t done away with the 20 seconds of preview clips for the season two intro.)

Another childhood favorite has been remade recently. I started watching Doctor Who during the Tom Baker years.

I love the new series. It gave me chills the first time I heard the theme redone.

There have been some other good recent sci-fi shows. What would the mid-nineties have been without The X-Files?

Farscape was fascinating, but I could never really get into it.

Firefly was vastly overrated. I know you all love it. I don’t. (And Serenity wasn’t very good, either.)

Babylon 5 is simultaneously over-rated (by fans) and under-rated (by everyone else). It’s not nearly as good as the zealots proclaim, but it’s worth watching. Especially the second season. Each season had its own title sequence. I’m not going to post them all, but here’s the title sequence for season one:

And the title sequence for season two:

(You can get a feel for some the awful writing with “the name of the place is Babylon 5” at the end of the voiceover.)

Here’s a show that my wife and I loved, but which didn’t last:

In high school, I loved Max Headroom, but now it seems oh-so-very-mid-eighties.

There are a lot of sci-fi shows I haven’t seen, such as:

I used to watch these two when KECH 22 debuted in Portland:

Here’s a show that’s not nearly as good as I remember it being:

And, of course, here’s the classic, the one that started it all for me. My childhood was devoted to Star Trek, the original series. KPTV showed reruns every Sunday at 4pm throughout the 1970s and 1980s. It would also frequently run the show on weekeday evenings before prime-time. I loved it.

During the early nineties I became obsessed with the first spinoff. I posted to USENET about the show. I kept detailed logs of every episode. I even audiotaped it. (I can’t believe this is the best quality version available on YouTube.)

Deep Space Nine was okay, though it lacked some of the spark of the first two series.

However, Voyager sucked. It had a great intro and gorgeous theme music, but the rest of the show was lousy.

It wasn’t as lousy as Enterprise, though, which had the worst theme song ever for a sci-fi series.

My parents once took me to a movie theater in Portland specifically because the Star Trek blooper reels were playing. They’re not as funny as I remember.

What is funny (and Star Trek-related) is the recent William Shatner celebrity roast. You can find all of the segments on YouTube, but the best is Shatner’s response (which is very NSFW).

And finally, though it wasn’t a television show, here’s a clip from one of my favorite early-eighties sci-fi films. I own this soundtrack on record, tape, and CD. I spent $50 to order the DVD (which is out of print) from eBay. Yes, I know I’m crazy.

Stupid, but I love it.

5 Replies to “40 Classic Sci-Fi Intros”

  1. Boy, where to begin with all this?

    Most of these shows are not as good as they seemed when I was a kid.  In particular, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Buck Rogers and (dear lord) Battlestar Galactica all seem pretty pathetic.  Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk seem like Emmy material by comparison.  (Am I the only one for whom Bill Bixby and Michael Landon seem like basically the same actor?)

    The Wonder Woman theme changed because the series’ setting moved from World War II to the (then) present day.  I presume you know all about how one of Debra Winger’s early roles was as Wonder Girl.  Apparently 15 years later she showed up on a late night talk show and at the end of the interview ripped off her street clothes and was wearing the Wonder Girl outfit underneath and ran off to “fight crime”.  Yow.

    I actually hated the live-action Saturday morning shows.  Even having James Doohan on Jason of Star Command couldn’t hold my interest.  I kinda-sorta found The SHAZAM!/Isis Hour tolerable, but that’s about it.

    I’m a little surprise you didn’t include any of the various Super Friends themes, as the music was hands-down the best part of the show.  (I love how the recent Justice League series has drawn from Super Friends for source material on occasion.)

    Speaking of shows that don’t hold up well, I was a huge fan of Space: 1999 back in the day.  Boy, is it awful.  The music is good and the special effects are still pretty good (I think they were done by some folks who worked on 2001), but the stories are pretty painful.  This is another series – like Wonder Woman – which changed some basic characteristics and got a new opening sequence for its second season.

    Apparently they’re considering doing a Greatest American Hero feature film.  Like you, I saw every episode and was generally disappointed.  Although looking at that intro it occurs to me that Ralph Hinckley running around because he couldn’t fly straight seems like a precursor to Clark Kent’s behavior on Smallville.  The best GAH episode was the one where Ralph gets amnesia and doesn’t believe in the suit, and when he does get into it he actually figures out how it all works better than he ever had.

    I hated Firefly too.

    Did you hear that apparently Paramount is going to release a “special edition” of the original Star Trek with re-done special effects, a la the Star Wars special edition?  Although I wouldn’t want to own them, I’d be curious to see some of the better episodes with new SFX.  I hope they don’t replace the music, though, as the music is one of the best elements of the original series.  Of course, maybe this is all some Internet prank rumor.

    I loved the Queen Flash Gordon movie, too, cheesy as it is.  What a cast!  Did you know that every one of Sam Jones’ lines as Flash were looped by a different actor?  If you see him in anything else (such as the TV-movie of Will Eisner’s The Spirit) it’s pretty obvious.

    I bought a few TV theme songs from the iTunes Music Store recently: Greatest American Hero and The Rockford Files.  I also love the Monday Night Football theme song, for some reason.

  2. Dave from down the street says:

    Whoa! I’m going to have to call you out on “Firefly”. First, let me tell you how I got into this show. I didn’t. I initially dismissed the show as “Buffy in Space”, and I mistakenly didn’t think that Joss Whedon didn’t have the chops to make a good sci-fi show. Fortunately I was able to catch the show in re-runs on Sci-Fi network and was finally able to tivo all the episodes and watch them all in order. What a great show! I goes way beyond the initial “cowboys in space” feeling and after a couple of episodes, you already have a feeling that the characters have a well developed background and their story takes place in a universe that allows you to suspend disbelief. Theres no warp drive, crossing large distances in space takes a long time, no weapons on the ship, a lot of basic sci-fi conventions are tossed out the window to make it seem more “believable”. I would suggest recording the Firefly marathon thats coming up soon on Sci-Fi network and watching the episodes in order. I think you’ll change your mind. Also, as far as the firefly movie is concerned, yeah, if you weren’t already a fan with a knowledge of the characters and their history, then yes it was a bit hard to follow. I would also like to suggest that you give farscape more of a chance as well. I’ll lend you my season one dvds if you’d like. Does anybody remember Salvage 1? Andy Griffith in space! What could be better?

  3. Dave says:

    Wait a minute, Bill Bixby isn’t Michael Landon? I just thought they were alter egos of the same person and everyone in Hollywood more or less ignored it as long as thy both managed to show up for their gigs on time. Imagine my disappointment now.

    I have to admit that it’s a secret pleasure of mine, the Rockford Files. I’ve even got the theme on a couple of CD’s that I’ve burned. It’s great fun to get in the car, flip on the stereo and pretend I’m in a gold firebird whilest that lonely harmonica blazes away in the background (with the windows down, sunroof open and the volume way high). In my neighborhood I’m sure that poeple think I’m nuts.

    As for the rest, most of those shows simply can’t stack up to modern special effects and as for the acting, well, it sucks too for the most part. On the other hand, look at what the rest of the country was doing at the time. It’s not like Starsky and Hutch was a paragon of acting virtue. Although I think the Rockford Files stacks up pretty well.

    And I loved “Tales of the Brass Monkey” or whatever the hell it was. Beat the A-Team every time, IMHO.

  4. I think I gave up on Firefly after 5 episodes. It was nearly impossible to overlook the awful faux-western feel (overlaying it with a faux-Asian feel just made it worse). But the essential problem I had was that almost every single character was completely unlikeable, most especially including the captain. The only character I had any respect for was the doctor (although River gets a pass since she was clearly crackers).

    The dialogue was generally poor, too – Whedon has a bad tendency to be oh-so-precious with his dialogue. (And people say J. Michael Straczynski can’t do dialogue… he’s got nothing in Whedon in that way.)

    I would say I just don’t understand it’s popularity, except of course Firefly was never all that popular; like the original Star Trek (in its day) and Babylon 5, it just has a very vocal fan base.

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