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TV Theme Songs: Private Benjamin

"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 Private Benjamin. The sitcom based on the 1980 film of the same name debuted in April of 1981 running three seasons and 39 episodes. The title role was played by Goldie Hawn in the film, but was played by Lorna Patterson in the television series. Eileen Brennan and Hal Williams reprised their roles from the film. For me personally, based on my age, I remember watching the sitcom without knowing it was even based on a movie at the time and remember it being entertaining.

The show's theme song, titled "Judy's Theme" was preceded by the title character explaining the premise of the show in a voice over. That part was written by Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn (Pugh) Davis. The two originally met while working for CBS Radio and when on to have a partnership that lasted more than 50 years, together writing approximately 400 television episodes and 500 radio episodes. That work included writing 39 episodes of I Love Lucy. Later, the duo served as executive producers and did some writing for the hit television series Alice. Here is the opening narration:

"Ten Hut! Hi! My name is Judy Benjamin, Uh, Private Benjamin. I was a debutante. I traveled all over the world, but I was bored, felt unwanted. The Army not only wanted me, they promised it would be wonderful. Things aren't perfect in the Army... yet. But I am sure with a little time, I can get them to do things my way."

Credit for the musical portion of the theme song goes to Barry De Vorzon and Dennis McCarthy who both have relatively extensive experience in composing for both television and film. The actual theme, as with most shows connected to the armed services, features the quickly identifiable sound of a military marching band. Here is the opening for Private Benjamin featuring the theme song "Judy's Theme"...

The voice over at the beginning has been used for many other shows, but I feel it helps set Private Benjamin's opening theme apart from other military themed shows.

Hope you enjoyed tuning in for another "episode" of TV Theme Songs!


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