TV Theme Songs: Dallas
"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale" of a time when television shows began with awesome TV Theme Songs. "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name" and sometimes you want to go back to when TV Theme songs were special. "Here's a story... of a lovely" time when TV Theme Songs served to identify, distinguish and set the stage for the television program that followed. "You take the good, take the bad, take them both and there you have" what unfortunately has become a lost artform. "Believe it or not", sadly it seems no effort or pride is taken in the TV Theme Song ever since Seinfeld proved a short synth-bass riff could be used instead. “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” This regular feature may not "make all our dreams come true", but it will remember some of the best TV Theme Songs from years past (with a focus on the '80s decade). "Come aboard, we're expecting you."
This time we will cover the theme song for Dallas. Dallas debuted in April of 1978 and the original run was for 14 seasons and 357 episodes crossing the entire '80s decade and ending in 1991. The show was a constant on Friday nights on CBS for nearly that entire run. It became very well known for maximizing the cliffhanger and especially for the "Who Shot J.R.?" plot in 1980. Even if you didn't watch the show regularly or ever, I am willing to bet that pretty much anyone watching television during the '80s has to be at least familiar with the Dallas opening theme song.
The Dallas theme song was composed by Jerrold Immel, an L.A.-based composer who originally broke into television scoring on Gunsmoke in the mid-70s. In addition to creating the show's iconic theme song, he also scored many episodes over its entire run. He later created the theme song for spin-off Knots Landing which started in 1979 and itself ran for 14 seasons and 344 episodes of its own.
It is reported that when they were selecting a composer for Dallas, David Jacobs, the writer and creator of the series, had seen a movie-of-the-week entitled Nowhere to Run. It turns out Immel had done the score for it and Jacobs loved it. So he had gone into the meeting convinced that Immel should be the composer for Dallas. One of the producers, Leonard Katzman, had also been a producer on Gunsmoke when Immel worked on that show was able to support Jacobs' choice. They obviously made the right choice because Immel created the perfect theme song for Dallas.
The theme song experienced minor adjustments and variations over the years, but always remained very majestic. Actually, the theme song was changed slightly with each new season with some changes more noticeable than others. It started with a very strong Disco vibe to it which isn't surprising since it was created in 1978. As it moved into the '80s, the song took on some '80s pop and new wave characteristics. The guitar riffs, the horns, the synthesizer; the song was the same but at the same time slightly different each year. Here are one of the opening credits for Dallas featuring the theme song composed by Larry Immel...
Being an instrumental, the theme song for Dallas did not need to be changed for airing in other countries/languages. But for some reason, in France they decided the Dallas theme song needed lyrics. Jean Renard was commissioned to not only write lyrics, but set them to totally different music as well. This seems wrong and unnecessary, but it became very popular there and was even a big hit on the French pop chart. I would still stick with the original.
As mentioned here before, I generally prefer television theme songs with lyrics/vocals, but there are definitely a handful of them that are just instrumentals which I also consider truly special. Dallas is certainly one of those and considered one of the most iconic theme songs of the decade.
Hope you enjoyed tuning in for another "episode" of TV Theme Songs!