From the 1970s to the 1990s, composer Mike Post produced a long string of hit TV theme songs, many of which even made the music charts. Celebrated examples include the themes to The Rockford Files, The Hill Street Blues, The A-Team, Magnum, P.I., L.A. Law, and Law & Order.
Is there any TV composer in the last two decades with a remotely similar claim to fame? Full-length theme songs seem to have fallen by the wayside, with many shows opting instead for just a title card with a brief sound effect or musical cue (e.g., Frasier, Lost, Squid Game). Sure, there are exceptions, and even some particularly memorable themes, like Game of Thrones. But I can’t think of any composers who have produced several memorable theme tunes for today’s shows. Can you? Who’s the go-to guy (or gal) for TV theme songs these days? Who’s the Mike Post of 21st-century television?
And for that matter, who was television’s Mike Post before television had Mike Post?
Henry Mancini wrote a large number of TV themes. Peter Gunn, Mr. Lucky, NBC Mystery Movie, Newhart, Remington Steele, Hotel, Once Is Not Enough, and Ripley’s Believe it or Not are among his themes. He also wrote the theme to the “Viewer Mail” segment of Late Night With David Letterman.
In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, a guy named Frank DeVol wrote the themes and incidental music for a lot of TV shows, notably “My Three Sons,” “Family Affair,” “The Brady Bunch” and other sitcoms, along with “McCloud” and “The Love Boat.” He was quite prolific. and was an actor too.
I see Elfman more as a contemporary of Mike Post than as successor—most of his best-known TV theme songs are from the 1980s and 1990s. But maybe I’m wrong; has he written a lot of TV themes in the last 20 years or so that people would instantly recognize? (The article you linked to said he did Desperate Housewives in 2004, and while I did see that show at the time, I had to visit YouTube just now to be reminded of what the music sounded like.)