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My Ten Favorite TV Sitcom Theme Songs
I was commenting to my wife the other day that TV shows nowadays don't have great (or any) theme songs. Most shows just begin with a small sketch, have a short ten second intro and then the show begins again. The shows I grew up with had overly dramatic theme songs that were almost as long in length as the show itself. They usually included freeze frames and clips from the shows. The list that follows are ten of my favorite TV theme songs from my childhood. They may not have been my favorite shows, but the theme songs always take me back to my childhood in Portland, Oregon.
So, go and get your favorite leg warmers, slap bracelets, hyper color shirts and baggy pants and join me for a trip to nostalgia.
Growing Pains aired on ABC from 1985-1992. It stared Joanna Kerns, Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold, Alan Thicke, Jeremy Miller and, later Leonardo DiCaprio. It is based on the Seaver family from Long Island, New York. Dr. Jason Seaver (Thicke) works from home home because his wife, Maggie (Joanna Kerns), has gone back to work as a reporter. Jason has to take care of the kids: troublemaker Mike (Kirk Cameron), honors student Carol (Tracey Gold), and rambunctious Ben (Jeremy Miller).
The show's theme song is "As Long as We've Got Each Other," which was written and composed by both John bettis (Lyrics) and Steve Dorff (Music). It was performed solo by B.J. Thomas in season 1, B.J. Thomas and Jennifer Warnes in season 2,3,4,5, and 7 and B.J. Thomas and Dusty Springfield in season 4.
Who's the Boss
Aired on ABC from 1984-1992 and starred Tony Danza, Alyssa Milano (my first and most enduring crush), Katherine Helmond, Judith Light and Danny Pintauro. It starred Tony Danza as a retired widower and former major league baseball player (he played second base for the St. louis Cardinals) who relocates with his daughter Samantha (Alyssa Milano) to Fairfield, Connecticut to work as a live-in housekeeper for a divorced advertising executive, Angela (played by Judith Light), her son Jonathan (Pintauro) and her mother (Katherine Helmond).
The theme song, "Brand New Life", was written by series creators and executive producers Martin Cohan and Blake Hunter. The music was composed by Larry Carlton and Robert Kraft. There were three versions used throughout the series' run. The most recognizable version of the theme song was performed by country singer Steve Wariner.
Aired on NBC from 1982 to 1993. it starred Ted Danson, Kirstie Alley, John Ratzenberger, George Wendt, Woody Harrelson, Shelley Long, Rhea Perlman and Kelsey Grammer. The show is set in the Cheers bar in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meet to drink, relax, chat and have fun. I visited the actual bar where the pilot was filmed with my family. I didn't watch this show when it originally aired but I do remember listening to the show, and it's famous theme song, through my bedroom walls while my parents watched it. The theme song, perhaps the most famous on this list, was written and performed by Gary Portnoy, and co-written with Judy Hart Angelo, lent its famous refrain, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name", as the show's tagline.
Aired on NBC from 1977-1984 and starred John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, Susanne Somers, Richard Kline, Norman Fell, Audra Lindley and Don Knotts. The show revolves around three single roommates:Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt), Chrissy Snow (Susanne Somers) and Jack Tripper (John Ritter) who share Apartment 201 in Santa Monica, California. The apartment building is originally owned by Mr and Mrs. Roper (Fell and Lindley). Later, the Roper's leave and the building is owned by Mr. Furley (Don Knotts). Efven though the roommates share a plataonic relationship, in order to appease Mr. Roper's objections to the coed living arrangement, Tripper lies and tells Mr. Roper that he is gay. After Susanne Somers left following the fifth season, the show really isn't worth watching. The theme song is by Don Nicholl and Joe Raposo. It's performed by Ray Charles and Julia Rinker.
Aired on NBC from 1982 to 1989 and starred Michael Gross, Michael J. Fox, Meredith Baxter-Birney, Justine Bateman and Tina Yothers. Set during the early years of the Reagan administration, Elyse and Steven Keaton ( Baxter-Birney and Gross) are liberal baby boomers and former hippies. They have three children: Alex (Fox), Mallory (Bateman) and Jennifer (Yothers) and later Andrew (Brian Bonsall) in suburban Columbus, Ohio.The shows humor revolves around the cultural divide between the liberal parents and the more conservative children (especially uber capitalist/Reagan apologist Alex). The Theme Song, "Without Us", was composed by Jeff Barry and Tom Scott and was performed by Deniece Williams and Johnny Mathis.
Aired on NBC from 1978-1985 and on ABC from 1985 to 1986. The shows starred Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges, Conrad Bain and Dana Plato. The series revolves around Arnold and Willis Jackson Coleman and Bridges) as two African American boys from Harlem who are taken in by a rich white businessman named Phillip Drummond (Bain) and his daughter Kimberley (Plato), for whom their deceased mother worked. The catch phrase, "What chu' talkin' about Willis", said by Arnold is one of the most famous and enduring ever.The show's theme song was written and sung by Al Burton, Alan Thicke, and Gloria Loring.
Aired on ABC from 1989 to 1997 and on CBS from 1997 to 1998. it starred Jaleel White, Reginald VelJohnson, Darius McCrary, JoMarie Payton, Rosetta LeNoire, Kellie Shanygnye Williams, Jamie Foxworth and Michelle Thomas. It's an American sitcom about a middle-class African-American family from Chicago, Illinois. Midway through the first season, the show introduced the Winslows' nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel (White), who quickly became the breakout and most recognizable character. The theme song, "As Days Go By", written by Jesse Frederick, Bennett Salvay, and Scott Roeme, and performed by Frederick, was the theme for the majority of the series until 1995 and was actually the second theme song of the show, the first being "What a Wonderful World" By Louis Armstrong.
Aired on ABC from 1986 til my thirteenth birthday on August 6th, 1993 and starred the dual mullets of Mark Linn Baker and Bronson Pinchot. The show chronicles the rocky coexistence of Larry Appleton (Baker) and his distant cousin Balki Bartokomous (Pinchot) . Appleton has just mkoved to his first apartment in Chicago, Illinois, and is experiencing his first joys of newfound privacy when Balki, a hitherto unknown cousin from a Greek-like island in the Mediterranean called Mypos, drops by unexpectedly to live with him. Balki, a shepherd, interprets what little he knows about the U.S, by relying on his own recollections of American pop-culture, which are often out-of-context. The theme song "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now", was written by Jesse Frederick and Bennett Salvay.
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Aired on NBC from 1990 to 1996 and stars Will Smith as a fictionalized version of himself The premise of the show is about Will Smith, a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia, who is sent to move in with his aunt and uncle in their wealthy Bel Air mansion, where his lifestyle often clashes with that of his relatives. Aunt Vivian was somehow replaced mid series with no explanation. The theme song was written and performed by Will Smith is called "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air."
Saved by the Bell
Saved by the Bell aired on NBC from 1989 to 1993 and stars Mark Paul Gosselaar, Lark Voorhies, Tiffany-Amber Thiessen, Mario Lopez, Dustin Diamond, Dennis Haskins and Elizabeth Berkley. The shows revolves around teenagers at southern California high school, Bayside, and the shenanigans and goings ons therein. The main character is Zach Morris (Mark Paul Gosselaar) who is the son of a yuppie, a bad student, prankster and general and a thorn in the side of principal Mr. Belding (Haskins). It's really hard to find a good version of the theme song online, let along any information about it.
I don't know if I'll do any more versions of these TV theme songs, but, who knows. I hope you enjoyed this installment!