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11 TV Shows That Changed Their Opening Theme Songs

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Our connections to popular TV shows run deeper than their storylines and characters—we're also usually fond of our favorite show's theme music. But sometimes, those songs changed. Here are a few shows that switched theme songs.

1. Happy Days

Original Theme

New Theme

During the first season of Happy Days, the TV family comedy opened with a newly recorded version of Bill Haley & The Comets' “Rock Around the Clock.” However, for its third season, “Rock Around the Clock” was replaced with the song “Happy Days” from the songwriting duo Pratt & McClain in 1976.

2. Felicity

Original Theme

New Theme

J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves' show Felicity debuted in September 1998. The first two seasons (Freshman and Sophomore Year) featured singer-songwriter Judith Owen performing “Felicity Theme,” while the last two seasons (Junior and Senior Year) featured the song “New Version of You” from J.J. Abrams and Andrew Jarecki. The series changed the opening theme song to reflect the character of Felicity Porter’s change from the beginning of her college career to the end of it.

3. Baywatch

Original Theme

New Theme

When Baywatch premiered on NBC in 1989, it used the song “Save Me” by Peter Cetera, with Bonnie Raitt on guitar. NBC canceled the show after one season, but in 1991, Baywatch was re-launched in syndication. The producers changed the opening theme song to "I'm Always Here" from the rock band Survivor, while Baywatch star David Hasselhoff performed the TV show’s closing theme song, “Current of Love.”

4. Ed

The mostly forgotten NBC show Ed used the Foo Fighters’ song “Next Year” from the album There Is Nothing Left to Lose as its opening theme song for its first season. In season two, the opening theme song was changed to Clem Snide’s “Moment in the Sun,” before reverting back to the Foo Fighters’ song for the duration of the series run. Ed’s co-creator Rob Burnett cited “complicated business reasons” for returning to the Foo Fighters' song in 2002.

5. Beverly Hills 90210

Original Theme

New Theme

Beverly Hills 90210’s season one opening credits sequence featured a jazzy melody on top of images of a postal worker delivering mail in snowy Minnesota to illustrate the show’s central family, the Walshes, moving to southern California. The sequence was changed for its second season with a new hip rock melody from John E. Davis and footage of the young cast having fun at the beach.

6. In Living Color

Original Theme

New Theme

New Theme

Keenen Ivory Wayans and his brother Damon Wayans created a sketch show called In Living Color for Fox in 1990. It was a launching pad for a large number of young up-and-coming actors in Hollywood at the time, including Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, David Alan Grier, Jennifer Lopez, and, of course, the Wayans family—Kim, Shawn, and Marlon.

For its first two seasons, the opening theme song, “In Living Color,” was from rapper Heavy D and DJ Eddie F. The song was changed for its third and fourth season with “Cause That's the Way You Livin' When You're in Living Color” from Heavy D and The Boyz. For In Living Color’s last season, the show reverted back to the series original theme song, only remixed.

7. Big Love

Original Theme

New Theme

HBO's critically acclaimed series Big Love used The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” from season one through season three, after which the producers changed the opening music to the song “Home” from the Brit pop band Engineers.

8. The Drew Carey Show

Original Theme

New Theme

New Theme

In 1995, The Drew Carey Show’s opening theme song “Moon Over Parma” was written by songwriter Robert "Mad Dog" McGuire and performed by Drew Carey. The ditty was ditched for the sitcom’s second season, which instead featured The Vogues’ "Five O'Clock World" in an elaborate opening titles sequence.

In The Drew Carey Show’s third season, its opening theme song changed again with a cover version of Ian Hunter’s song “Cleveland Rocks,” performed by the rock band The Presidents of the United States of America. For the sitcom’s final season, the show rotated the three different songs, but with different arrangements and styles from the originals.

9. Family Matters

Original Theme

New Theme

While the opening theme from TV’s Family Matters, “As Days Go By” from Jesse Frederick, is memorable and iconic, it wasn’t the family sitcom's original theme song. For the comedy’s first five episodes, Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” was used to introduce the TV show’s viewers to the Winslow family. “As Days Go By” was ultimately dropped for Family Matter’s last three seasons when the sitcom moved from ABC to CBS.

10. Walker, Texas Ranger

Original Theme

New Theme

Chuck Norris is Walker, Texas Ranger. For the first season and the made-for-television movie, Tirk Wilder composed the TV series’ opening theme song. The opener was ditched midway through its second season for a new theme song from Jerrold Immel entitled “Eyes of the Ranger," which Chuck Norris also performed until the series ended.

11. Boy Meets World

Original Theme

New Theme

New Theme

New Theme

The family sitcom Boy Meets World featured two different theme songs during its seven-season run. For its first three seasons, the song was comprised of various instrumental themes from composer Ray Colcord, who also wrote the TV show’s transitional and mood music. In season four, the opening theme was exchanged for something more peppy and upbeat with a surf rock instrumental from Colcord.

In its last three seasons, rocker Phil Rosenthal composed Boy Meets World’s new and final theme song that reflected the TV show’s shift in cast, older demographic, and mature themes.

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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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May 23, 2017
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