What makes a television series great? Script, performances, directing, production values, of course. But don’t forget music. No series is great unless it’s also got great music.
From Tony Soprano crossing from Jersey to Manhattan with the Alabama 3, through the Grange Hill fork spearing a banger, to the Wooo WOOOOOO! Woo Woo Woo Woo Woooooo… (I paraphrase) of Star Trek, the theme song and opening credits can make or break a series.
But it’s not all just about the opening credits. The shows need great music throughout.
Here is the TVClaw Top 5 of television soundtracks. And I’m talking original scores, not soundtracks artfully (and expensively) cobbled together from the producers’ and writers’ favourite albums. It’s an entirely subjective list, and there may be some glaring omissions, so add your picks in Comments.
The TVClaw Top 5 Best Original Television Soundtracks
1) Battlestar Galactica (2003): Bear McCreary. BSG remains one of the best television dramas ever, and much of the credit lies with McCreary’s fantastic score (a.k.a. “the sound of poundy drums”) . The original Battlestar Galactica also had its own memorable score, which was nominated for a Grammy in 1979. It lost out to John Williams and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and hey, there’s no shame in that.
2) Star Trek (1966): It’s all about that theme song by Alexander Courage plus incidental music from Courage, George Duning, Gerald Fried, Sol Kaplan and Fred Steiner. Instantly memorable.
3) Doctor Who (1963, 2005): Ron Grainer, Delia Derbyshire and Dick Mills at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop provided the original theme song, which still survives in the opening credits despite several recent attempts to mess with it. Now that the BBC Radiophonic Workshop is but a distant memory, composers Murray Gold and Ben Foster continue to create music for time travelling.
4) The Returned/Les Revenants (2012): Mogwai. It’s new and recent and it’s just great. Who knew xylophones could be the stuff of nightmares? Mogwai’s understated score makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
5) Band of Brothers (2001): Michael Kamen. This landmark HBO miniseries was Kamen’s untimely swansong and he scored a vast amount of classical movements for it. A stunning body of work.