Once you get a show’s them song stuck in your head it can take a while to get it out. Anyone remember the show Perfect Strangers? It was a sitcom about two distant cousins, one from Wisconsin and one from a small Mediterranean island called Mypos, who unwittingly moved in together and began a series of adventures in Chicago. Bronson Pinchot and Mark Linn-Baker soon became one of the best known duos in the late 80’s all the way to the early 90’s when the show was taken off the air. After that neither man really seemed to show up for much any longer unless it was a short spot in a TV show or in a lesser-known movie such as The Langoliers, where Bronson Pinchot played a weak-minded antagonist that was more misguided than evil. But on Perfect Strangers as Larry and Balki they’re fame was more than obvious as it propelled both of them to the level of superstars for a while. Being that this was the period of transition between the 80’s and 90’s however it’s fair to say that there were a lot of stars trying their hand at something different and either failing or succeeding for a prolonged period of time.
But does anyone recall the theme song? The song, Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now, was initially written by Jesse Frederick and Bennett Salvay. The two had managed to compose theme songs for other shows such as Full House, Step by Step, and the spin-off that came from Perfect Strangers, Family Matters. They composed the score for the first two seasons of Perfect Strangers while for the rest of the seasons the compositions were kind of tossed back and forth between them. They would also include Steven Chesne and Gary Boren occasionally. The composer of the song was David Pomeranz. If these names don’t mean much to you don’t worry too much about it since the composers of sitcoms and the writers don’t often get too much attention sad to say. They do their job more often than not and receive thanks in the form of a paycheck and the appreciation from the studio for their good work. It would be nice if they got a little more than that however, but that’s the business. Anyway, the music for this sitcom was rearranged after season 2 and for season 5. At one point the theme was about 90 seconds long, but it was cut down 72 seconds eventually to preserve a little more air time. You would think that 18 seconds wouldn’t mean much in the long run, but there’s time enough for at least one good gag or a couple of lines of meaningful dialogue if you want to know the truth.
There were also two versions of the song that were shortened and used when the show ran past its allotted time. Some of the stanzas would be cut and the adjustment would mean that whatever stanza was left would go straight to the chorus. Eventually the theme song would be reduced down to 65 seconds, then to 48. That seems like a quick blurb of a song rather than a proper opening, but around a certain time in TV it seems like everyone was trying to get as much of the show in as possible and wasn’t putting a whole lot of stock in the opening theme song. Ever notice how the opening of a show tended to get shorter and shorter until eventually it was just a quick blurb and then on to the show? Thankfully that trend didn’t continue indefinitely as some of the greatest shows that exist now take a good amount of time to lead into the main part of the program, building it up with the opening theme so as to give people time to settle and get ready to be entertained.
Perfect Strangers of course might have benefited from the shortening of their theme song since by the end of the first season everyone kind of knew Larry and Balki’s story and didn’t need to be reminded continuously with every episode. It was fun to think that Balki was from the country and had never known life in the big city, that made his character that more enduring and caused a lot of people to really enjoy the character. Larry was the more down to earth guy since he’d seen more of the US than Balki and knew how to react to it. But that child-like wonder and awe that Balki had was too great since it gave an indication that it was less The Odd Couple than it was a show about a serious culture clash that was somehow still light and fun to watch. Both characters were looking for a life in the big city that would bring them something new and exciting, and as a result the audience got a show that was new, fresh, and something they could easily get behind.