I don’t know why I didn’t see this when it was originally posted, but as a conoisseur of cheesy Miller-Boyett opening title sequences, I heartily approve of this video, which hits every single trademark of the M-B family, including (obviously) the characters grinning as their actors’ names are flashed on the screen, the bike-riding, football-throwing and other wholesome family sports, the picnics and/or couch gatherings, and the aerial shots that open and close the segment. The singer doesn’t quite sound like Jesse Frederick, but he sounds raspy and fake-Rod-Stewart enough to make it work. Really, I feel like HBO and Showtime, the only networks that still have ultra-long title sequences, are missing an opportunity by not hiring these guys as consultants. Enough with the symbolic openings; more football and kids dancing.
If the embed doesn’t work, it’s also at this un-embeddable YouTube link.
In fairness, one of the reasons we remember these guys’ title sequences is that they really took them seriously. Most shows just throw together some clips, or (particularly in shorter sequences) pick one image or set of images that will stand for the whole show. The M-B method was to make the opening like a silent mini-movie about the glorious wonderfulness of the alternative families featured in the series: in mostly newly-shot footage instead of clips from the show, we would learn that these people loved being together, loved having fun together, and loved the city they were in. (This last one was especially important since we’d never see the city in the show itself.) It was like the Mary Tyler Moore type of sequence — send your main character to the city where the show takes place — only twice as long, three times as sentimental, and infinitely cheesy.
I go back and forth on what’s the definitive M-B intro, but this terrible show is one I often pick; produced for ABC as an attempt to fill a Sunday 7 o’clock slot, starring comedian Jimmy Brogan as a guardian angel sent to help woman raise her adorable orphaned nieces and nephews. Yes, it is pretty much “The Love-Matic Grampa” come to live-action life, and features every M-B cliché including wise-ass kids who can’t modulate their voices, sentimental heartfelt music near the end, and the obligatory “pool hustler” episode. But the main title, which occurs after a painful cold opening, is so huge and overblown that it achieves an epic grandeur. If epic grandeur can involve stock shots of Chicago mixed with the characters cavorting in a place that’s probably not Chicago.
But, as you may remember, there’s a reason these guys did more or less the same main title almost every time: when they tried to do something a little different — like having the main title be the two main characters singing the song at different times — it turned out even worse. After this, we were probably begging for something like “Full House.”
Also, since I can’t use it anywhere else, someone on another board typed out a pretty funny excerpt from a book (by Eileen Heckart’s daughter) about Eileen Heckart’s experience being on a show as bad as Out of the Blue, pointing up the famed M-B willingness to retool anything and everything:
When the writing on the show went from bad to worse, the producers started moving the time slot every few weeks. They even tried it on Saturday mornings, which infuriated Heckart. “I did NOT sign on to do a goddamn kiddie show!” she said. The fact that James Brogan, who carried the show, was a stand-up comic with very little acting experience didn’t help matters any. The producers started firing actors one by one. Ultimately they replaced everyone except Heckart and Brogan. When Dixie Carter was let go, Mama was livid. “Who do you have to *beep* to get fired from this show?” she said to one of the producers.
She was lucky; the show was canceled soon after. Imagine if she’d had to stay on the show for a full season.