Who is responsible for those brilliant lyrics about “heroes in a half shell – turtle power”?
In episode 2 of the second season of the Netflix comedy “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Ellie Kemper‘s title character makes an off-hand reference to the theme song of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and notes, “Whoever wrote that song deserves to be a billionaire.”
She then walks by a sign that reads in big letters, “Chuck Lorre wrote that song.”
And it turns out that the 63-year-old TV producer who created such hits as “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory” really did write the “Ninja Turtles” theme.
In a 2012 interview for the Archive of American TV, Lorre recalled that back in the 1980s he actively pursued opportunities in both writing scripts and music. “I wanted to do the theme song for the ‘Turtles’ the minute I heard about it,” he said. “But the original Turtles were given the job, if I recall correctly.”
But the “Happy Together” pop band bailed on the assignment and the show’s producer returned to Lorre with the last-minute job: “You have 48 hours, go.”
So Lorre boned up on the original “Ninja Turtles” comic book for inspiration. “It a was a black-and-white, garage-made comic, it was pretty primitive stuff but it was remarkable,” he recalled. “It was in-your-face outlandish.”
Since they only had about $2,000 to record a demo of the song, Lorre said, “We got a recording studio in Los Angeles … from midnight to 8 a.m., which is the cheapest hours you can buy.” But the session proved successful, yielding a tune that has survived multiple incarnations of the reptile heroes on the big and little screen.
Watch video of Lorre talking about the experience below.
Kimmy Schmidt and 11 Other Relentlessly Sunny TV Characters (Photos)
Kimmy Schmidt, "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"
Ellie Kemper's Kimmy has a remarkable sense of optimism, especially for a young woman who spent the better part of her life kidnapped and trapped underground in a crazy guy's bunker.
Sue Heck, "The Middle"
Played by Eden Sher, "The Middle's" socially awkward Sue Heck often fails at the things she sets out to accomplish, but she still manages to maintain a cheerful sense of determination -- and a smile -- throughout it all.
Chris Traeger, "Parks and Recreation"
Even among a cast of fiercely sunny characters, Rob Lowe's Chris Traeger is the obvious standout. Throughout his four-season run on the NBC sitcom, his relentless positivity was both a frequent source of inspiration and of great annoyance to his co-workers.
Kenneth Parcell, "30 Rock"
No one has ever loved being a glorified intern as much as "30 Rock's" NBC page Kenneth, played by Jack McBrayer.
Linda Belcher, "Bob's Burgers"
Just about every character from Fox's most underrated comedy — with the possible exception of Bob himself — could be described as "sunny," but none more so than Linda, whose catchphrase is actually "all right."
Shirley Bennett, "Community"
Though the show frequently hinted at a darker side to Shirley, Yvette Nicole Brown's character will be remembered as the happy, polite, good Christian mother of the Greendale study group.
Phil Dunphy, "Modern Family"
Ty Burrell brings a childlike cheerfulness to his "Modern Family" character that provides a stark contrast to Julie Bowen's high-strung Claire.
Rose Nylund, "The Golden Girls"
Betty White received seven Emmy nominations and one win for her role as the airhead Rose on the classic NBC comedy "The Golden Girls."
Phoebe Buffay, "Friends"
Despite Phoebe's past hardships — her father abandoned her and her mother committed suicide when she was 13 — Lisa Kudrow's "Friends" character still managed to be the least cynical of the group.
SpongeBob SquarePants, "SpongeBob SquarePants"
The star of Nickelodeon's longest-running series, SpongeBob has been flipping burgers for a living since 1999, and has somehow never shown an ounce of dissatisfaction.