TV Theme Songs: St. Elsewhere

"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 St. Elsewhere. The show debuted in October of 1982 and ran six seasons with 137 episodes. The critically acclaimed series was nominated for 62 Emmy awards winning 13 of them for its writing, acting, and directing. The medical drama took place in a Boston hospital and featured a strong ensemble cast which was led by Ed Flanders, Norman Lloyd and William Daniels but also included a young Denzel Washington, Howie Mandel, David Morse, Ed Begley Jr. and Mark Harmon among others.


The opening theme for St. Elsewhere was composed by jazz pianist, film composer and twelve-time Grammy winner Dave Grusin. Grusin won an academy award for his original score for The Milagro Beanfield War (1988), but also scored The Graduate (1967) and some memorable '80s films like On Golden Pond, Tootsie, The Goonies, Lucas and The Fabulous Baker Boys among many others since. He also worked on several television shows in the late-60s through the '70s including co-writing theme songs for shows like Good Times and Baretta before taking on St. Elsewhere.

Synthesizers became very prevalent in the early '80s, so it is not surprising that Grusin performed this theme song on a digital keyboard/synthesizer. Despite the show only having a small yet loyal following (the series never ranked higher than 47th place in the yearly Nielsen ratings), the theme song seems to be well-remembered from the decade. The theme song for Doogie Howser, M.D. which came along in 1989 really reminds me of St. Elsewhere and it would not surprise me if Mike Post used Grusin's theme as inspiration. Here are the opening credits for St. Elsewhere featuring the theme song performed by Dave Grusin...


Simple yet satisfying. 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. St. Elsewhere's is certainly one of those that really reflected the decade and still holds up today.

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

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