There are two forms of music I seem to be able to recall with almost perfect clarity: radio ad jingles and dodgy sitcom themes.
The reason for the first is no doubt Stockholm Syndrome - over seven years working in commercial radio will see jingles for tile manufacturers and retirement villages stick in your brain like a straw in firm jelly.
The second comes from years of plonking myself down in front of the teev and absorbing everything lame the late 80s and early 90s could throw at me.
It's no surprise that I was hardly a trendy TV viewer. I never watched Australian cult classics like The Big Gig or The Late Show live; I was over in the Fast Forward camp trying to copy Jane Turner's Russian accent, or laughing at zany secretary Betty on Hey Dad! (She used to put white-out on the computer monitor! Ahh, those were some crazy antics.) Possibly my only redeeming feature was that I never watched any soap operas or Hey Hey It's Saturday.
American sitcoms were my real joy - and there's something peculiar about those late 80s/early 90s ones. It was before the Seinfeld/Friends revolution: a time when sitcoms where encouraged - nay, required - to have cheesy dialogue; family-friendly topics and sentimental "I've learned my lesson" moments in every episode.
The key recognition factor though was their theme songs. These days your average TV comedy simply rolls credits over the opening sequence, or perhaps has a brief title slide. There's a perverse kind of art to TV theme songs and credits - with dollops of cheese a given.
My favourite: Perfect Strangers. Who doesn't remember knockabout cousins Larry and Balki, whose Dance of Joy would find its way into every episode, to the delight of pre-krump-era kids? The opening credit sequence is so wonderfully naff, it's almost inspiring. "Standing taaaaaaaaaall, on the wings of our dreams/Rise and faaaaaallll, on the wings of our dreams!" It almost makes me want to move to Chicago to have wacky adventures with a distant, non-region-specific-accented cousin.
The producers behind Perfect Strangers were a couple of blokes called Miller & Boyett, and they were responsible for a bunch of the sitcoms that peppered my pre-teen TV watching. It's no surprise, then, that they got the same songwriters in to pen the themes, including the dinky tune for Perfect Strangers spin-off Family Matters. Remember Steve Urkel? You'd forgotten, hadn't you? All that hard work and now I've just gone and put Urkel in your head for the entire day. But I tell you, for a while there in the early-90s the peak of comic genius - at least in the schoolyard - was hitching your pants up to under your shoulders and nerdily asking "Did I doooo thaaat?"
Step By Step was one - a heavily-Thighmastered Suzanne Somers and post-Dallas-career-slump Patrick Duffy doing a modern take on The Brady Bunch. Step By Step tried introducing a character they hoped would capture the public imagination like Urkel did: sadly, stoner cousin Cody's catchphrase "Dude!" failed to set the nation alight.
Miller & Boyett also created the king of these dodgy, saccharine sitcoms - Full House. I remember feeling so excited when that title sequence would start, with the jaunty drums and the shot of the whole family in a convertible driving across the Golden Gate Bridge. It was so absolutely pristine plastic perfect - from John Stamos' hair, to the smiles on the Olsen twins (years before they found fashion and drugs and combined the two to adopt what Tony Martin aptly described as their "scagged-out badger" look).
There's so many others in this ouevre:
Who's the Boss? I know, geddit? Who IS the boss? Because Judith Light runs the household and employs Tony Danza, but remember - he IS the man.
Growing Pains Show me that smile Kirk Cameron, you ka-waaa-zy ka-wistian!
Family Ties Possibly the ickiest theme song ever. I feel dirty just listening to it.
The Golden Girls Possibly the best theme ever. Sing this song aloud sometime - I guarantee you people will join in. I think we all remember The Golden Girls fondly. They had them some sass. And pluck. A bit of gumption thrown in as well.
What sitcoms and theme songs do you remember - lovingly or otherwise?