Much of my childhood, at least on Friday nights, revolved around ABC’s TGIF lineup in the early 1990s. Everyone had a favorite sitcom during the two-hour weekly programming block, whether it was “Full House,” “Family Matters” or “Step by Step.”
But my favorite, then and now, is “Perfect Strangers,” a perfect sitcom for its odd couple pairing of Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker) and his previously unknown distant cousin Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot), who hailed from the Mediterranean island of Mypos.
The show revolves around Balki’s failures and successes as he tries to adapt to the American way of life while living in his cousin’s Chicago apartment. When things went right, Balki would bust out his signature “Dance of Joy”; when things went wrong, it usually turned out Balki was more right than his stressed-out, neurotic cousin Larry when it come down to being a good guy and doing the right thing.
“Perfect Strangers” came from the production dream team Miller-Boyett, who also were behind pretty much every other good sitcom at the time, including “Full House,” “Perfect Strangers” spinoff “Family Matters” and “Step by Step.” And these guys really knew the value of having an awesome theme song, which explains why they relied on songwriting duo Jesse Frederick and Bennett Salvay to write the themdes for all the shows I just mentioned (and that explains why they all have somewhat similar themes).
But for whatever reason, I think it all came together perfectly in the minute or so of awesomeness in “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now,” an optimistic song about not giving up that’s a great intro to each episode of “Perfect Strangers.” The song, performed by David Pomeranz, went through several small edits and cuts through the show’s eight-season run from 1986 to 1993 but always kept the focus on the original theme’s inspiring lyrics:
Standing tall, on the wings of my dream.
Rise and fall, on the wings of my dream.
The rain and thunder
The wind and haze
I’m bound for better days.
It’s my life and my dream,
Nothing’s gonna stop me now.
Don’t get me wrong, “Full House” and “Family Matters” have classic theme songs, and I have always loved the catchy little ditty that kicked off each episode of “Step by Step.” But “Perfect Strangers” was the most solid sitcom ever developed by Miller-Boyett, and the show’s theme also stands above the rest of a pretty amazing pack of shows and songs that stemmed from these television geniuses.
But you don’t have to take my word for it:
And here’s the infamous “Dance of Joy”:
Theme Song Thursday is a weekly look back at memorable, not-so-influential, nostalgia-inducing theme songs by the Heralds Melinda Lavine and Ryan Johnson. Click here to read previous entries, and feel free to share!