Discover more from Rerun Rewind
Top 10 Sitcoms with the Most Sitcomy Intros
A sitcomy intro should feature certain elements: characters looking surprised by the camera before pausing to smile, silly clips from the show, warm family moments, and of course a fun theme song. Here are 10 sitcoms that nailed their sitcomy intros.
Too Close for Comfort
Aside from being the most sitcomy sitcom of all time, Too Close for Comfort also boasts the most sitcomy intro. While it went through a few iterations over six seasons, each one was just as sitcomy as the last. The camera pauses on each character, most of whom appear to be surprised by it. Then Ted Knight as Henry Rush trips over the couch, the rest of the family rush to help him up, and it freeze frames on his bewildered expression.
This classic intro shows the characters leaving their homes for the day, including Raj (Ernest Thomas) greeting the morning with a breath of fresh air, Dwayne (Haywood Nelson) falling off his skateboard and cracking himself up, and Rerun (Fred Berry) — what else? — eating. It ends with Raj and Dwayne hitching a ride on the back of a pickup truck while Rerun hurries after them, scrambling to catch up.
Double Trouble (original)
Aside from having a kickass theme song, Double Trouble’s original intro was a sitcomy masterpiece. It included shots of the twins waking up, playing air guitar in their pajamas, and doing a dance routine in 80s workout wear interspersed with kooky clips from the show.
Fun Fact: Stars Jean and Liz Sagal sang the theme song themselves.
Small Wonder (season 2 on)
This super sitcomy sitcom featured three slightly different intros, each one more sitcomy than the last. From season two on, the characters are going about their everyday lives when they suddenly pause to look at the camera and smile.
It wraps up with Richard Christie as Ted Lawson typing on his computer while Vicki (Tiffany Brissette) appears on the monitor, points a remote control at him, and the screen goes black. I can’t explain exactly what’s happening here. Is Ted programming Vicki and watching her through some kind of closed circuit camera system? And if so, if her remote control turns off the camera, why does the viewer’s screen go black and not Ted’s? Maybe it’s best not to over-analyze it. It is Small Wonder, after all.
The Dick Van Dyke Show (season 2 on)
Who can forget the intro to The Dick Van Dyke show? It was short and sweet, with an announcer reading the names of the actors and Dick Van Dyke as Rob Petrie coming home from work to greet his wife and son, then stepping across the living room to welcome his co-workers, who apparently came to visit.
The interesting thing about this intro is that there were three versions. In one version, Rob trips over an Ottoman and falls on his ass. In another version, he anticipates the Ottoman and swerves to avoid it, but still bangs his leg on the edge. In the third version, he artfully avoids the Ottoman altogether.
This epitome of the family sitcom intro combined shots of each character smiling for the camera as they engaged in some everyday activity alternating with shots of the family doing fun stuff together, like riding bikes, playing basketball, dancing, and baking. While it changed slightly over the show’s nine-season run, each different version ends with the family sitting in the living room together, looking blissfully happy.
In the final version, a new clip was added where Steve Urkel (Jaleel White) tries to push his way into the house while the Winslows push the door closed from the other side. It’s the only shot where they all don’t have big smiles on their faces, and I think it’s telling. By that point, the viewers were getting tired of Steve too.
Not surprisingly, the Full House intro is strikingly similar to the Family Matters intro. It includes shots of each character smiling for the camera bookended by shots of the family doing fun stuff together, like playing soccer, fishing, and having a barbecue. Each of the girls is shown doing some activity that’s indicative of her character. For example, in one version, DJ (Candace Cameron Bure) talks on her cool lips phone, Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) heads off to school with her little pink backpack and lunchbox, and Michelle (either Mary-Kate or Ashley Olsen) does a twirl in a tutu.
Other goofy clips came and went throughout the show’s eight-season run. In the original intro, Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) rides a motorcycle, and he and Joey (Dave Coulier) abandon Danny (Bob Saget) in the park to follow some attractive women.
Step by Step
Another Miller-Boyett production, another sitcomy intro. This one remained mostly the same almost shot-for-shot throughout the show’s seven seasons. It used footage of the family having fun at an amusement park to introduce the characters. Each character is engaged in some amusement park activity when the camera pauses on them.
Even as the show went on and the kids got older, the intro remained largely the same with only minor differences. For example, after season one, the shot with Ivy (Peggy Rae) and Mark (Christopher Castile) waving at the rest of the family on the rollercoaster was replaced by almost exactly the same shot with Cody (Sasha Mitchell) in place of Ivy.
Fun Fact: In the season one intro, some scenes show Jarrett Lennon, who was originally cast as Mark but replaced before the show ever aired.
Barney Miller (season 2 on)
This intro may have been the first one where the characters pose for the camera as it freeze frames on them. It changed every season, but the theme was always the same. Most of the actors look like they’re laughing at a funny joke that only they can hear. Occasionally they look confused or annoyed. My favorite is when Sgt. Harris (Ron Glass) is poised over his typewriter and looks like he just came up with a really great idea.
Diff’rent Strokes (original)
The original Diff’rent Strokes intro was exactly what you’d expect for this show. It follows Mr. Drummond (Conrad Bain) as he picks up Arnold (Gary Coleman) and Willis (Todd Bridges) in a limousine and takes them from a rundown basketball court to a big, fancy building. The images provide just enough of an explanation of the premise that a viewer just tuning in would get what’s going on.