A spinoff of Perfect Strangers, Family Matters began as the at-home adventures of elevator operator Harriette Winslow and her multigenerational family. But midway through the first season, Jaleel White made a one-shot appearance as neighborhood nerd Urkel. With oversized glasses, undersized body, screechy voice and indomitable self-confidence, Urkel proved irresistibly funny, turning White into an overnight sensation and a new star of the show.
Runtime: 30 minutes
Family Matters - Family Matters - Netflix
Family Matters is an American sitcom series which originated on ABC from September 22, 1989 to May 10, 1998, before moving to CBS from September 19, 1997 to July 17, 1998. A spin-off of Perfect Strangers, the series revolves around the Winslow family, a middle-class African American family living in Chicago, Illinois. Midway through the first season, the show introduced the Winslows' nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel (Jaleel White), who quickly became its breakout character and eventually the show's main character. Having run for nine seasons, Family Matters became the second longest-running non-animated U.S. sitcom with a predominantly African American cast, behind only The Jeffersons (11). Having aired 215 episodes, Family Matters is ranked third, behind only Tyler Perry's House of Payne (254), and The Jeffersons (253).
Family Matters - Theme song and opening credits - Netflix
The opening sequence begins with a shot of the Chicago Lakefront (the John Hancock Center can be seen in the center), then a shot of the Winslow home. In the opening titles, the main characters were shown around the Winslow home (though in some shots featured some characters in other places as well, such as Rachel at the Rachel's Place restaurant during the seasons 2–4 version or Waldo at the Vanderbilt High School gym during the seasons 4–6 version). The opening credits during the first three seasons feature a scene showing the Winslow family riding their bicycles across the Irv Kupcinet Bridge over the Chicago River; an allusion to parent series Perfect Strangers, which featured a scene of Balki and Larry (played by Bronson Pinchot and Mark Linn-Baker), riding a tour boat underneath the same bridge, shot from the same angle, in its own opening credits from seasons 3–8 of that series. Clips of episodes were shown after the bike scene and before the house shot in the season one through three versions. The house shown at the beginning and the end of the opening credits (as well as in establishing shots for scenes set at the Winslow house) is located at 1516 West Wrightwood Avenue in Chicago (41.92891°N 87.666779°W / 41.92891; -87.666779). The closing shot at the end of the credits with the Winslow family at the piano (which also was shown during the closing credits when there was no tag scene), in which the shot pans outside the house and the camera zooms out showing neighborhoods and the northside Chicago skyline (Wrigleyville) in the background, was originally used in the pilot episode “The Mama Who Came to Dinner” (though the scene featuring the Winslows before the pan was redone twice in seasons two and five). The role of Richie as a baby was credited as being played by “Joseph [and] Julius Wright” in season 1, with Julius' name made to appear as Joseph's middle name in the titles—the duo was credited this way because the show's producers did not want audiences to know that Richie was then played by twins—the role of Richie as a baby was played by two children because California state law regulates the number of work hours for a young child, therefore it is common for the role of one baby in a television or film production to be played by twins (another Miller-Boyett series, Full House, credited Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen in the same manner in its opening sequences until that show's seventh season, in which the Olsen twins were credited separately). In season five, after Hopkins left the show, White was given special billing in response to the popularity he earned as Steve Urkel. Appearing last in the credits, he was credited as “and Jaleel White as Steve Urkel,” starting in the sixth season (Hopkins was credited similarly as “and Telma Hopkins as Rachel” prior to season five). In season seven, the opening theme song and credit sequence were dropped entirely—though it was brought back for one episode: “Fa La La La Laagghh,” the eleventh episode of that same season—for all other episodes during seasons 7–9, the names of the show's main cast members, as well as co-executive producers and executive producers were shown during each episode's teaser scene.
The show's original theme was Louis Armstrong's “What a Wonderful World”; it was scrapped after the fifth episode of season one (“Straight A's”), though it was heard only in the pilot episode in syndicated reruns. The second theme, “As Days Go By,” written by Jesse Frederick, Bennett Salvay and Scott Roeme and performed by Frederick, was the theme for the majority of the series until 1995; it was last used in the season seven episode “Fa La La La Laagghh,” the only episode during the final three seasons to feature it (this was heard in season one episodes in ABC Family and syndicated airings). A longer version of “As Days Go By” was used during the first three seasons, though in syndicated reruns the short version is heard (in ABC Family airings, the long theme was used for all of the episodes during the first three seasons).
Family Matters - References - Netflix