TV shows elevated by their soundtracks

Photo Credit: BBC1
Photo Credit: BBC1
Photo Credit: BBC1

Being Human

This dark comedy about a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost sharing a house in Bristol has a wonderful score that sweeps from the light-hearted to the melodramatic. A listen to the soundtrack informs you of the nature of each scene, with guitars and clarinets hailing the comedic moments, violins in the dramatic ones, and nebulous percussion for the horror aspect of the show. It takes time to pick the good tunes out from the background noise, but the soundtrack as a whole is far superior to anything you would expect from a BBC3 comedy drama.

Listen to: A Wonderful Thing, Nina and George, Lucky

Doctor Who

Though the later series have largely been clouded by overly bombastic music, not allowing for variation in mood, Murray Gold’s score for the early seasons of the revamped Doctor Who were exceptional. The nature of the show allowed Gold to write for period pieces, deep space episodes and the rest. Setting him apart is his willingness to be unconventional on occasion. For instance, in a season two episode, the Doctor and a companion descend a shaft until they find themselves in an ancient, majestic, stone kingdom. Gold scores this with a distorted cello, raw and squeaking, that conjures up the image of a wild, deserted moor, not an alien kingdom. This kind of creativity gave the show a real edge back in the day.

Listen to: The Impossible Planet, This is Gallifrey, Doomsday


By this point, Firefly has probably been recommended in every possible way, so here’s hoping this is the last untapped aspect of its excellence. What makes Firefly distinct is its commitment to being a full on Western and far more than a Star Trek knock off, and this is reflected in its score. Greg Edmonson throws himself into the twanging guitars necessary for the genre, while also writing some heart-breaking pieces for the darker moments of the series. Seriously, watch Firefly.

Listen to: The Ballad of Serenity, The Funeral, River’s Dance

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I don’t know how many people actually watch this show, which is ITV’s answer to House, and is about a brilliant, yet troubled doctor. Honestly, I’ve only seen the first two episodes and the only thing that really stuck with me was the music. Dominik Scherrer’s score is the perkiest thing committed to film; even in the moments of pathos, it finds a lightness often lost in other soundtracks. This is really the definition of a show elevated by a superior soundtrack, always showing a side of optimism is an otherwise dramatic and pessimistic program.

Listen to: Monroe, Bremner and Shepherd, Curing the Patient

Game of Thrones

The Game of Thrones theme has obviously been a big old hit, making composer Ramin Djawadi a success, though perhaps he deserves more attention for his subtle work all the way through the show. Djawadi has created a score that does not seek to take the limelight from the action, content to lurk in the background, merely enhancing it. As a result, listening to the soundtrack on its own takes some work, as many tracks are too intertwined with the scenes they were written for, but with some perseverance, there are a fair few gems in this composer’s repertoire.

Listen to: The King’s Arrival, Valar Morghulis, The Things I Do For Love


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