Netflix’s Space Force makes the case that TV shows no longer need full theme songs. Here’s why it’s both good and bad.
Netflix Hijinks space force season 2 includes the choice of an anthem for Space Force, and the arguments made by the characters for what a theme song should be are both true and false. space force centers on 4-star General Mark Naird (Steve Carrell) as he is tasked with teaming up with a cynical rocket scientist (John Malkovich) to create the 6th branch of the armed forces: the Space Force. Season 1 ended with the American Space Force team narrowly avoiding starting a war with China, and space force Season 2 deals with these repercussions.
The intro of space force is about 10 seconds long and reveals the title of the show as woosh of a rocket sounded in the background. Unlike most of the series, Season 2 Episode 6, “The Doctor’s Appointment,” begins with a cold open as the characters meet to discuss the Space Force theme song. This scene quickly becomes satirical when Dr. Mallory suggests that they simply play an ethereal sound instead of a song, mocking the show’s minimalist intro. He defends his suggestion by saying, “Now even TV shows don’t have themes. They often just use a short sound.“
Dr. Mallory’s out-of-the-box assessment of TV show themes is both good and bad. Minimalist intros like the one featured in space force have definitely become popular in recent years. For example, new girl season 4 condensed its theme song into a 3-second instrumental melody. Shorter intros meant more commercial time, as well as less time for the audience to disengage. The trend of quirky openings with only titles and impossibly short melodies – or indeed, just a brief sound – has grown in popularity as streaming platforms have made television a widespread pastime, allowing audiences devices to watch content more easily with fewer interruptions. . However, a full theme song is still a valuable way to solidify a TV show in an audience’s memory because it introduces the cast and sets the tone for the show.
Dr. Mallory defends his suggestion well, saying: “brevity can be very evocative.“Many TV shows with minimal theme songs have used them so effectively that the brief sound effects become a symbol of the whole program. SupernaturalThe opening title cards achieve this by starting with a horror-inspired sound effect and changing the visuals slightly each season to match the current plot. In the same way, stranger things and Lost both begin with bizarre noises that fit perfectly with each show’s outlandish sci-fi-inspired plot. Each theme, despite only being around 15 seconds long, has become recognizable due to its close association with these iconic shows.
While simple intros are handy for binging content, having a complex intro can be the defining feature of a show, as well as the introduction of the content. wonderit is daredevil opens with an incredibly dramatic one-minute intro with imagery tied to the show’s themes paired with fierce instrumental melody, creating the perfect setup for the show. Complex series like daredevil benefit from a personalized introduction as the audience has the opportunity to immerse themselves in the mood of the story. Simple, unconventional theme songs miss the chance to present a show’s intentions and perspective. Shows like Friends, Smallvilleand A tree hill having theme songs that exist independently of the show but still reminiscent of the respective shows when played.
Minimalist intros have certainly worked for TV shows, but ultimately it’s about introducing the content. There is a time and a place for original thinking, and space forceThe simple intro matches the tone of the show perfectly. Ultimately, though, nothing beats a TV show with a quality theme song.
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