100 Greatest TV Themes Volume 3 review

How many telly tunes does a geek need? Andrew delves into the 100 Greatest TV Themes Volume 3, and likes what he finds...

What possible use could there be for a compilation of TV theme music? Unless you run a pub quiz, it seems to be something niche, or an exercise in nostalgia that makes you expect Marcus Brigstocke, Gina Yashere and Stewart Marconie to offer ribald commentary as segues between tracks.

Alternatively, you could purchase this album and listen to it on the move, grasping the handrail emanating from the bus’ roof as you journey onward, basking in the glory of the title music from Game Of Thrones like a boss (assuming your boss is a Machiavellian psychopath totally motivated by power. Mine prefers golf and pilates, so isn’t such a good example).

You can achieve self-satisfaction with this album in a variety of ways. For example: you can listen to the evolution of the synthesiser, the tones and the tropes of composition over the years. Variously ersatz, the instrumentation moves from cloying parps to glacial chimes to flatulent bass parps as time goes by (sadly, the Geoffrey Palmer/Judi Dench sitcom is not included, even though Keeping Up Appearances is).

Other things that could be achieved by purchasing this disc: make your short room-to-room journeys more exciting by playing the theme music to The Crystal Maze. Prepare yourself for the red-hot insights from the brilliantly sharp mind of Alan Shearer by playing the Match Of The Day music. Embrace your inner Penfold with Dangermouse.

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Alternatively, shorn of their heraldic status, you can take each tune on its merits. The aforementioned Game Of Thrones feels like the soundtrack to the defenestrations of Prague. Grandstand’s opening salvo feels like a Roald Dahl-written granddad in musical form. The A-Team is enough to make anyone feel incredibly proud of something. Anything, really.

If you listened to these without context, many pieces are incredibly evocative. The best sitcom titles seem to be at best a tad melancholy, but often elegiac. Howard Goodall’s pieces for Mr Bean and The Vicar Of Dibley are good examples of this; Dibley is a beautiful take on Psalm 23, and Mr Bean sees an a capella choir singing Medieval Latin silliness. Strangely restful pieces both. Some of those hymns are tunes.

You have 100 pieces here, and there are some prime geek cuts: Doctor Who, Dogtanian And The Muskehounds, Around The World With Willy Fog, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Spider-Man, and everyone’s favourite: Enterprise.

Best surprise on the album: the theme music from M.A.S.K. I was hugely excited when that came on.

If you’re looking for a leftfield gift, you could do worse than this. There are pleasures here to be had both in and out of context, and hours of entertainment (possibly at other people’s expense) using sound clips for your phone, computer or alarm clock.

100 Greatest TV Themes Volume 3 is out now.

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4 out of 5