Musical Spine

26 Nov

George 2007George Of The Jungle is a cartoon show about a man wearing animal skins swinging around the jungle. The newest iteration, launched in 2007, has pulled in high enough ratings that they’ve been allowed more than one season, but the original, launched in 1967, ran only seventeen episodes.

So what?

Well, I have a theory. George, frankly, isn’t very good. It’s too ridiculous for older children, and is entirely devoid of the educational content that assuages parental guilt about letting a small child watch TV. Both versions of the show strike me as perfect examples of mediocre television, run only to fill time for kids being babysat by the glass teat.

Old George

One of the truly weird aspects of its continued existence is the fact that this generation isn’t even really all that familiar with Tarzan, which the series is a direct spoof of – there hasn’t been a major iteration of the ape man in over a decade, although I suppose they may be familiar with the Phil Collins-filled Disney version.

So why is it still on?

My theory is that it’s the theme song. The theme song is also what got the 1997 movie, starring Brendan Frasier, made.

How could a theme song have reached out from 37 years previous to get a major motion picture put together?

Well, it was this remake, as done by Weird Al in 1985. My belief is that Al, looking for material, reached back into his childhood years and pulled out the one redeeming item that had stuck with him from the original cartoon, the music.

Maybe it was a young go-getter, maybe it was a studio exec with a kid constantly playing Weird Al, but at some point the licensing must have crossed some listener’s desk, and the spark of resurrection was born.

I realize it may sound crazy, but: how many people can honestly say they’ve seen Saturday Night Fever? How many people are familiar with it because of Stayin’ Alive (the song, not the sequel film)?

Staying Alive

The original Shaft is another great example. A lot of folks know who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man, but, when pressed on the details, they’ve got little info. Still, Samuel L. Jackson shafted us all out of admission fees in 2000.

Eye Of The Tiger got three or four more Rocky movies made, and the catchy Pink Panther theme launched an entire franchise separate from the Peter Sellers character.

I’m sure there are many missing examples, please feel free to chastise me with their titles in the comments.

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2 Responses to “Musical Spine”

  1. bmj2k November 26, 2010 at 15:34 #

    Spot on!
    George of the Jungle exists only because of that song. (Same with Gigantor.)Shaft? Great movie, but the song has reached more than the film ever will.
    Saturday Night Fever boasts one of the best selling sondtracks of all time, but I think the film is almost equally sucessful. I may be biased because I live where it was filmed, but I vividly recall lines around the block to see that film. You would be shocked to know how many consecutive YEARS that movie played at the old Marboro Theater on Bay Parkway.

    • JRD Skinner November 26, 2010 at 15:47 #

      You do have a good point about Saturday Night Fever, it’s definitely the most respectable item on the list, and there are plenty of people who’ve seen it – of a certain age. Still, ask any tween (or older) how ‘Staying Alive’ goes, and they’ll at least know the refrain.

      Gigantor is another great example.

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