In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, in honor of our Best Of TV 2013 coverage, our favorite TV theme songs.
Most questions I’m asked about my favorite TV shows can be answered with either The Adventures Of Pete And Pete or Green Acres, which, in a way, are similar. When we decided to highlight TV theme songs this week, I strongly considered Green Acres but decided it was a little overplayed and went instead with the show Green Acres was spun-off from, Petticoat Junction, which aired on CBS from 1963-1970. Petticoat attempted to harness the city-versus-country vibe of another popular show of the time, The Beverly Hillbillies, and for my money did it even better. Centered around the Shady Rest Hotel just outside Hooterville, Petticoat Junction managed to mix down-home values with not-so-sly winks at the rapidly changing sexual norms of the ’60s. Where Hillbillies had just one hot daughter, Petticoat had three, and all are seen bathing (nude!) in the opening of the show. It’s that kind of semi-racy content that contributes to the winking theme song, which notes there are “lotsa curves, you bet, and even more when you get to the Junction.” The chugging train traverses mountains and valleys in the credits, blowing its horn to announce its arrival in Hooterville, where they absolutely knew what “hooters” implied. The show’s theme is seamlessly integrated into its opening, with the train providing the rhythm line for the song, and the girlish titters of the daughters accenting the male-driven lyrics. It’s a little dated, for sure, but it’s a neat little look back at a time when theme songs not only mattered, but also set the stage for the whole production to follow.