80's sitcom intros that now look like self-parodies - VIDEO

by Eliot Glazer, posted Mar 15th 2009 2:02PM
small wonderIt goes without saying that television from the 80's - as a decade - tends to stand on its own as having provided some of the oddest junk we may ever see: the glorification of cat-fights (see: Dynasty), the existence of Twin Peaks, and an alien as the star of his own sitcom (see: Tony Danza Alf).

Of course, classically cheesy schmaltz like Dancing With The Stars and American Idol continues to thrive, keeping viewers fastened to their couches amid every note sung or dance move executed by someone in a fedora or boa, respectively.

But these days, we revel in a time often coined "the postmodern age," where irony seeps through every pore of mass media. Just one look at The Office, viral campaigns, or virtually any commercial for a product that isn't The Snuggie will remind you that with kids becoming increasingly adept at understanding (and less likely to be fooled by) the world around them, there is no longer room for sincere cheese on television.

... Which is why YouTube is such a godsend. The intros to 80's sitcoms may have been the pinnacle of irony-free awfulness, when being bad would later translate to being oh so good. The toothy smiles, the frozen stances, and that beloved breakdown of the fourth wall when a character looks directly into the camera are all the moments that made intros like the following five so supremely ridiculous, they might as well be modern parodies (see: Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job).

Out Of This World

Gimme a Break!


It's A Living

Small Wonder

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Twin Peaks is 90's.

March 16 2009 at 4:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to yaddo's comment

Yep. And I don't think the argument holds that 1990 was "sorta" like the late '80s.

Twin Peaks premiered in the spring of 1990 and truly pioneered a new age in television drama that would be seen in later shows, including Northern Exposure, Picket Fences, The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and so on. TP was NOT at all 1980s, and I am old enough to have lived through (survived?) 1980's TV.

March 16 2009 at 4:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I had to look up "It's a living" because it sounded familar, but I couldn't place it. I'm sure I used to watch it. Suprisingly-to me, anyway-was that they actyally shot 120 episodes, though about 80 were for syndication, not network. That's quite a few more than I wold have guessed.

March 16 2009 at 12:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You should have mentioned Mr. Belvedere. I had to look it up on Youtube after hearing Stewie sing it on Family Guy. It has everything you mention about 80's sitcom themes. I never heard of Out of This World, but it looks like it uses shots from Buck Rodgers.

March 15 2009 at 6:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Less room for Cheese? Um, I give you America's #1 Sitcom: Two and a Half Men. That show is straight 1980s cheese. It's as if the 1980s came home to roost. Want more? Big Bang, rules of Engagement are typical 80s sitcoms too. I think the attempt to pole fun at 80s sitcoms just reflects how little attention you're paying to the brainless dreck on right now.

Desperate Housewives is Knots Landing all over (even with Nicollette Sheridan again). CSI, Mentalist, Lie To Me, etc are just cop procedurals - Quincy with better soundtracks and camera work.

March 15 2009 at 5:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"It's a Living" was a babe-tastic show!

March 15 2009 at 4:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's a Living song sounds like Sondheim.

March 15 2009 at 3:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"That beloved breakdown of the fourth wall when a character looks directly into the camera." I always thought that was deliberate and meant to be ironic.

However, I feel I have to exclude 3rd Rock from the Sun from your list as that was a 90s sitcom, and I felt it parodied the structure of the 80s sitcom. Also, I loved Small Wonder as a kid but I always suspected the producers were pulling my leg.

On a side note, I feel the shows you selected go against the idea of the annoying 80s/early 90s sitcom like 'Family Matters,' 'Charles in Charge,' and Full House. Yes, their openings were cheesey, but the shows had atypical story matter (for today) i.e. a couple adopting a black child (excluding that 'other' show), a full-bodied black maid who's a part of the white family emotionally and romantically, and then a show about girls making a 'living.' Despite the cheesey openings, I wish today's sitcoms allowed a bit of reality/complexity to seep in as opposed to the one-note of 'According to Jim' and 'My Wife and Kids.'

Either way, thanks for the walk down memory lane -

March 15 2009 at 3:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Anita's comment

Oops, sorry, for some odd reason I got 'Out of this world' confused with '3rd Rock'

March 15 2009 at 3:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Deej

Lest we forget the cookie cutter intro of the Miller / Boyet show intros. The whole family out having fun somewhere. That almost deserves it's own entry.

March 15 2009 at 3:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to The Deej's comment

My favorite was a Miller/Boyett show -- "Perfect Strangers."

The opening credits for the earliest seasons showed Balki leaving his home in Mypos and Larry leaving his home in Madison, Wisconsin. But the later seasons' credits that would begin with them on the boat going under the bridge on the Chicago River, and end with them coming out of the subway in blacktie heading to the theatre -- it was just fun to watch. And David Pomeranz's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now" was such a great feel good song.

Its spinoff, "Family Matters," wasn't bad, either, although for me it didn't have that same "this is our history and look how far we've come" feel to it that "Perfect Strangers" had. "FM" seemed to mostly run through the ensemble cast in its credits and leave it at that.

March 15 2009 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As a child of the 90s, I must ask: Did everyone in 80s sitcoms stare into/slightly away from the camera for an uncomfortable amount of seconds when their name appeared on-screen?

March 15 2009 at 2:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to snowy2004's comment

That seemed to happen every damn time that I remember and I was born in '82...so I guess I'm more of a 90's kid but still.

Producers (or whoever) may have felt it was more awkward at the time to use clips of actual episodes to introduce the actors and respective characters w/o hearing them talk as opposed to what they did in much of those clips above. If you look at late 80's/early 90's (and even now) stuff most wanted that awkward crap out of there and just simply set the mood (and perhaps story if truly needed) before the actual show begins.

March 16 2009 at 3:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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