“I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour / I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before.”

Two sentences. Twenty-one words. These song lyrics evoke a very special time in my life — time spent happily plopped in front of the TV set watching my six favorite friends. Each episode may be a bit different and the characters’ dilemmas may vary, but when I hear that ’90s one-hit wonder band The Rembrandts croon those timeless lyrics, I know I’m back home.

OK, I’ll admit I’m being cheesy and romanticizing the whole thing. But I do associate shows with their theme songs and I happen to believe the creators of “Friends” found the perfect melody for their series.

I want to posit the notion that the great shows, the ones we remember for years, laugh about and even cry about all have something in common: great music. To see if my hypothesis holds true, I think a look back upon some of the finer past themes is in order. (Note: These will be some of my favorites. There are hundreds of other shows with wonderful musical accompaniment that will not be mentioned.)

“Seinfeld.” The juggernaut. The “show about nothing.” It stays with us because of Jerry’s infamous raise of the eyebrows, Kramer’s legendary entrances and, of course, the indelible bassline that opens the show and marks major transitions from scene to scene. It so captures the essence that is “Seinfeld” it almost seems silly to attempt a description here, but hey, we have to set the bar somewhere.

As far as I’m concerned, this is the epitome of what music can achieve through the medium of television: a level of interconnectedness with the series wherein the music becomes another character within the show. Jonathan Wolff’s composition, supported by background percussion tracks, don’t just enhance moments between characters. They respond and play along as though the music itself were the invisible fifth member of television’s “Fab Four.” As “Seinfeld” fans will surely attest, the only way to move from a George rant to one of Elaine’s poignant observations on life are a few good riffs of the bass. It’s simply how it’s done.

Now, I’ve only covered sitcoms. Let’s not forget the serious overtones that go with the finer dramas of our time — remember the brass orchestral tunes and opening drums of the “Hawaii Five-O” theme? I don’t care if you’ve never seen the show — I definitely haven’t, but I sure know the theme song. It’s a musical catchphrase for the 1970s. And if you don’t know it, I’ll bet your parents do. Care for something more timely? How about “Woke Up This Morning” by Alabama 3, the song that bumps every time Tony Soprano makes his way down the New Jersey turnpike to his mansion in the suburbs of North Jersey. Or the pulsing synthesized rhythms of the “Mad Men” opening credits, which lend an aptly sinister quality to watching a silhouetted ad executive fall from a Manhattan skyscraper.

I could — and would love to — go on and on and on. The point is that, unlike film, television provides a sense of grounding and solidarity that cannot be achieved in a two-and-a-half-hour movie. While there are unforgettable film scores, by its nature, television is more personal. We watch it in the comfort of our living rooms, on our laptops, with close friends and family as opposed to strangers in the theater.

Even when a show comes to its inevitable conclusion and specific plot points fade into the recesses of TV history, the music lives on. Just think — it’s been a while since Will Smith played a kid from Philly transplanted to Bel Air. Yet I’ll wager that more than a few of you out there can still hum the tune to that opening song.

A TV theme song, then, isn’t indicative of a few hours. It can define years spent tracking and growing with characters that have graced the small screen. An opening might be long or it may be short. Sometimes there are lyrics, and at times it’s just a few notes that permit us escapement into a world where we feel safe. The music reminds us of the consistency inherent in a series, letting us know we’re back in the same place with the same people we know and care about. To quote from one of the greats — “Cheers” — “Sometimes you want to go / Where everybody knows your name / And they’re always glad you came.”

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