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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Plunging To The Bottom.

Here we go!
The first five of the bottom ten.

10) Love, American Style.

This marked the beginning of the era of composer Charles Fox's minor
domination of TV sitcom theme songs, although it was usually with lyricist
Norman Gimbel, who was rather undistinguished, except in my eyes for the fact
that he wrote "Ricochet Romance" for Teresa Brewer, and "Whale of a Tale" for
Kirk Douglas to sing in "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea".
Fox and Gimbel became involved in the themes of shows I was intrinsically
involved in, and will show up here shortly.
I am less than a fan of Charles Fox's work.
I am even less of a fan of Arnold Margolin's work.
Arnold Margolin is the lyricist for "Love, American Style".
He was also the producer of "Love, American Style", which was essentially
"The Love Boat" without the water.
He also once took a pilot that I'd written, and produced it, and made a complete botch of it.

I'm letting the cliched quasi-patriotic lyrics speak for themselves regarding
Arnold Margolin's legacy:

Love, Love, Love {CLAP}
Love, Love, Love

Love, American Style,
Truer than the Red, White and Blue.
Love, American Style,
That's me and you.

And on a star spangled night my love.
(you can rest) You can rest your head on my shoulder (shoulder).
Out by the dawn's early light, my love
(I will defend) I will defend your right to try.

(I'll defend your right to) Love, American Style,
Free'r than the land of the free.
Love, American Style,
That's you and me.

We pledge our love 'neath the same old moon,
(but it shines) But it shines red and white and blue now.
Upon this land of hopes and dreams, my love,
(all that I hope) Where all I hope for tis of thee

(all I hope for tis of) Love, American Style,
Truer than the Red, White and Blue.
Love, American Style,
That's me and you.

And in this land of hopes and dreams, my love,
All that I hope for tis of thee

(Love, Love, Love) {CLAP}
(Love, Love, Love)

Love, American Style,
Free'r than the land of the free.
Love, American Style,
Truer than the Red, White and Blue.
Love, American Style,
Free'r than the land of the free.

Love, American Style,
Truer than the Red, White and Blue.

9) Laverne and Shirley.

I know that this may seem like biting the hand that has fed me quite well,
but the first time I heard the Laverne and Shirley theme song, matched up with the titles, with Fox and Gimbel in the screening room, I was nauseated.
I wanted to crawl into a hole and die.
The opening trumpets fanfare was precisely the same as the one used in
"Love, American Style".
So, of course, you can't say that it was derivative.
And the melody is strikingly similar to "Waltzing Matilda".
So, of course, you can't say that it was derivative.
It emphasized the unhip part of the show, which didn't really need to be emphasized.
Or maybe it helped to broaden it's appeal.
Who knows?
All I know is I hated it.
As did other hipper members of the cast, who were heard to regularly make fun of it.
But I've gotten to the point that whenever I hear it, I also hear the sound of the cash register ringing.
That helps considerably.

8) Happy Days after they stopped using Bill Haley's "Rock Around The Clock"
More of Fox and Gimbel's handiwork, or clumsywork, pick your own description.
It was just so much worse than what preceded it.
They began using it when Happy Days was turned into a live audience show, which is when the show became a hit.
Coincidentally, it's when I began working on the show.
I say coincidentally, because I know that my work had nothing to do with the turnaround.
It was Garry Marshall's idea to make the switch, because he knew that when Fonzie
would make any entrance to a scene, the live audience, made up of primarily
teenage girls, would start screaming.
That's what turned it into a major hit.
I'd be willing to bet that somewhere out there, Fox and Gimbel are patting
themselves on the back for turning Happy Days into a major hit because of their
wonderful new song.

7) The Odd Couple.

I'm really working out of my own backyard here, aren't I.
They simply lifted the theme song directly from the movie version.
Even the incidental cues were the same.
It was really done on the cheap.
And the original tune, by Neal Hefti, was no great shakes either.
It didn't even really suit the movie, and was downbeat in nature, which the show almost never was.
This forced us to use downbeat cues on upbeat moments too many times than I'd
like to think about.

6) The New Odd Couple.

Essentially the black version, they once again used the same theme song, presenting
the same problems, only somebody decided to "funk" it up a little.
Make it sound more "black"
Funk it up.
Maybe I'm just one letter off here.
Maybe that somebody who funked it up was Charles Fox.
Who knows?

So okay, next time we're headin' for the bottom of the barrel.


My book,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or
Happy Days.
You might want to check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperback, "Mark Rothman's Essays" is still available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one, contact me at



  1. Nobody could accuse you of being a homer when it comes to these picks. Every time I hear the Odd Couple theme, I picture the part of the tune where Jack and Tony are dancing in the park. That always makes me smile.
    Do you think hearing them so often had an influence on your dislike of these themes?
    One last thing: Letting the lyrics to Love, American Style speak for themselves is absolute genius.

  2. I don't think hearing them that often made any difference.
    In all honesty, unless it was an episode where
    I had a writing credit, I very rarely watched the shows when they were on the air.
    My major experiences with them was when I was at the filmings.
    Yes, they did play the themes at the filmings when they introduced the actors to the audience,
    but I usually had far too many things on my mind to notice.
    Later, when I got my own series, and wrote my own theme music, oddly enough, I never got tired of them.

  3. Did you like the opening with Schlemiel, Schlemazel, Hasenfeffer Incorporated? Seem to match the theme music more than the show. Always cringed a little at that even though I liked the show.

  4. "Schlemiel..." came first. It was something out of Penny's life. Not out of Fox and Gimbel's.
    I didn't think it matched. Maybe Macy should have told Gimbel.

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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."