Watching the James Woods legal drama, I never fail to be surprised by the choice of theme tune. The theme tune can be an essential part of a programme’s success or failure. You hate the music, chances are you might reach for that remote. Enjoy the theme song, maybe even hum along, and you’re pulled in for the duration. The Shark theme song fails because it is completely at odds with the content of the show itself.
Like many US shows, we have a few expository scenes prior to the opening credits and in Shark these are the start of the legal case. They often involve a gruesome crime scene, a bloodied body and the ruin of many lives. We’ve seen a cop murder, a teenage rape and a serial killer – note, the brutally realistic and not very cheery tone of these subject matters. Only no-one seems to have told whoever is responsible for the intro, as when the music kicks in it is one of bouncy optimism. The images depict a sunny L.A. with glamourous high-rise buildings, lawyers looking very dynamic mid courtroom speeches and central character Sebastian Stark playing poker with his chums.
This is not what the show is about. This is a downright lie and I’m here to expose it. Stark is a workaholic with barely time to eat, let alone organise a night of chips and dips with the boys playing cards. We barely glimpse L.A., with most of the action based indoors in offices or courtrooms. When the budget allows for location work, we visit an L.A. haunted by unspeakable crimes, areas of deprivation or at night, when places are gloomy and indefinable. Most of the time, fresh air means the courtroom steps – oh goodie!
The opening credits and music especially, of Shark are entirely misleading and inappropriate. It feels wrong cutting from a mother’s howls of pain on discovering her dead daughter to shots of a devil-may-care Woods in his swanky suits set to a breezy melody. The song is nauseating and cheesy in that awful American way. Interestingly, in the US the show is minus the full opening credits and like other shows such as Lost or 24 throws the viewer straight into the thick of the action. Why can’t we have this in the UK?
I feel much better now having shared this gripe with you, and thank you for listening. But over to you. What do you consider is the worst theme music to a TV programme ever? Is it bad music that you can’t get out of your head however hard you try, or like Shark, does it sell a product that it cannot deliver? Share your grievances – only bum notes allowed.