Many great television show "introductions" have been produced over the years. I might sound like an
old curmudgeon, like your parents pining for the "good ol' days," but I think the quality of TV show
introductions have really gone downhill in recent decades. That's mostly because TV executives have tried to squeeze in more and more advertisements, thus shrinking the time available for the
Here's the theme song from the first season of the TV series, The Waltons. The song was written by Jerry Goldsmith.
Back in the golden days of television, in the 1960s and 1970s, the introduction to a television show might've lasted 90 seconds or more and would often tell an interesting story
(remember The Brady Bunch and Get Smart?) Today, however, most intros have been shortened to only 15 seconds
or so – and some to just a few seconds – mostly for the sake of the almighty dollar and a few more ads. TV show intros, frankly, just aren't what they used to be.
What makes a good TV show introduction? Mainly a catchy tune and an interesting set-up for the show, something that makes
you want to stick around and watch it. Along with The Brady Bunch, some of my favorite TV show intros include:
Gilligan's Island with its humorous tale of the "three-hour cruise."
Hawaii Five-0 with its riveting montage and the classic rolling surf scene.
Friends with its quick cuts and memorable tune. This
was one of the last, good TV show introductions, in my humble opinion. Well, "Downton Abbey" was pretty good, too.
Above: The prolific composer, Jerry Goldsmith, who wrote the memorable theme song for The Waltons.
One of the best TV show intros ever made, however, was for the 1970s CBS series, The Waltons, which featured a memorable 97-second
introduction (97 seconds! Most television programs today have a 9-second introduction, if that). During the intro, John Walton drives
up to the house in his Ford Model T truck, takes a new-fangled radio off the front seat, and carries it up to the porch.
It's a wonderful little family vignette and served as a great way to introduce the extensive cast for this show.
Much of the credit for the stellar intro belonged to songwriter Jerry Goldsmith, who penned the popular and catchy Waltons theme song. Goldsmith
(1929 - 2004) was a prolific and talented songwriter who scored the music for numerous films, including Patton,
Star Trek I, and Alien, along with several television shows, such as The Man From U.N.C.L.E, Room 222,
Barnaby Jones, and the Star Trek Voyager and Next Generation series. Come to think of it, The Waltons theme song sounds a bit like the theme song to
Room 222. Boy, how many of you even remember the TV show Room 222, let alone its
theme song? I might be the only one. The cute-and-perky actress, Karen Valentine, who starred in that show made quite an impression on me back in those formative years.
But enough about the cute-and-perky Karen Valentine. Getting back to my point, I think of all of Jerry Goldsmith's songs, The Waltons theme was one of his very best.
The Waltons Introductions
Above: The "radio" introduction used during the show's first two seasons.
It's been 30 years since I've seen the series on broadcast TV, but as I recall from
watching The Waltons back in the 1970s, two main introductions were used during
the show's nine seasons:
John bringing home a new radio, and
A "sepia montage" introduction with a series of still photos.
There were variations of each introduction. During the first season, The Waltons had a long introduction with
John bringing home the radio, which was shortened in the second season. Then the sepia montage was used starting in the third season.
The sepia montage introduction was used until the ninth and final season, in 1980. To be honest though,
after six seasons, with Will Geer now gone, John-Boy in New York, and Ellen Corby shuffling around the
house after her stroke (and pulling at my heartstrings), I didn't watch the show much anymore. That's partly because I was going
to college by then and my Thursday nights were filled with more "mature" pursuits other than watching The Waltons – like eating
pizza and drinking beer.
Above: The "sepia" introduction used starting in season three.
Nevertheless, I do remember the first several seasons vividly and, as I recall from 30 years ago,
there were three Waltons introductions used:
During the first season, a long introduction (1 minute, 37 seconds)
was used showing John bringing home a new radio.
During the second season, a shorter version (57 seconds) of John
bringing home the radio was used.
During the third season and all subsequent years, the sepia montage (60 seconds), or a variation of it, was used.
Frankly, I never liked the "sepia montage" introductions and was disappointed in 1974, in the third season, when they started using it. Since it was 1974, the
exact phrase I probably used was, "Man, what a bummer!" Why didn't they keep using the original "radio" introduction that I enjoyed so much? Probably because the Walton kids were growing up and it would've looked weird to have a three-foot tall Jim-Bob in the Introduction,
and then see a six-foot tall Jim-Bob in the series.
This is probably more minutiae than anyone ever wanted to know about TheWaltons introductions. But if you've waded all the way
through this lengthy discussion, you'll be delighted to know that I put together three pages depicting the Waltons introductions, including
photos and audio clips. You can check them out by clicking below. And sorry, I didn't include any pictures of Karen Valentine.