Flashback the ‘90s

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IF the Gen-Y folks sat to chat about what we did religiously on weekends, it would probably result in a discussion over television and cartoon series that we grew up with. We’d reminisce about the Saturday mornings in front of the television and the hourly countdown before our favourite shows were aired. In a trip down memory lane, here are some of our favourites (Source: http://underscoopfire.com/the-top-10-90s-tv-themes/ and http://brainz.org/20-best-cartoons-90s), based on the theme songs, from the 1990s:

The Nanny (1993-1999)
Who can forget the fast-talking, tight skirt, nasal sound and over 30-sexy nanny named Fran? The theme song illustrates how the ex-cosmetic saleswoman becomes the nanny to the children of Sheffield family — Maggie, Brighton and Grace — and their widowed Broadway producer father, Maxwell. The series has Fran bringing her no-nonsense honesty and elaborate sense of humour with the simple intention of helping them become a happy, healthy family. The spotlight is shared with the family butler Niles, who is Fran’s ally and partner in crime and known for his epic punch lines and one-liners in the show.

The Animaniacs (1993-1998)
The storyline follows The Warner cartoon characters — Yakko, Wakko, and Dot — three animated stars from the 1930s that were locked away in the Warner Bros water tower until the 1990s. Upon their escape, they interact with some of the human characters working at the studio. The Animaniacs was a variety show, with short educational skits featuring a large cast of famous characters. The most memorable part of the theme song was: “We’re Animanie, totally insaney, here’s the show’s namey. Animaniacs! Those are the facts.”

Friends (1994-2004)
No introduction is necessary for this series which is still a hit 20 years after its debut. It has maintained its popularity and its stars are still best remembered for their roles in this series compared to anything else they have starred in. The Rembrandts soared to the top of the charts the world over, with their single “I’ll Be There For You” — the theme song for the series which was co-written by the show’s producers. The song, now solely associated with the series still has fans tapping their feet and mouthing the lyrics whenever it plays.

Pinky and the Brain (1995-1999)
Originally, this show was a frequent three to four minute segment on the hit show Animaniacs. But, Pinky and The Brain finally landed their own show in 1995. The duo are genetically enhanced laboratory mice who reside in a cage in a research facility. Each episode involves one of Brain’s plans for world domination with Pinky’s assistance, and the ultimate failure of that plan. The first two lines of the theme song sets the tone for the show, “They’re Pinky and the Brain. Yes, Pinky and the Brain. One is a genius the other’s insane.” A whole of insanity, as presumed, then unfurls.  

X-Files (1993-2002)
The X-Files was probably one of the biggest fad series in the 1990s. Its theme, recorded by film and television composer Mark Snow, was a dark ambient instrumental piece that received a lot of commercial success outside America, even reaching No 2 on the UK Singles chart. Many even had it as their ringtones.

The Simpsons (1987-still running)
The longest running American animated sitcom that made its debut on Dec 17, 1989 has aired over 500 episodes. It was announced in October 2014 that Season 27 has started production. The catchy instrumental theme song was composed by Danny Elfman 27 years ago still has the power to instil anticipation in the fans for the upcoming episode that is sure to portray the latest trend in popular culture.

Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000)
The premise of the series revolved around the lives of the Walsh twins — Brandon and Brenda — as they relocate to Beverly Hills from Minnesota, in the typical “fish out of water” storyline. But the series evolved over time and explored issues like AIDS, domestic abuse and even gay rights during its run. The theme song was composed by John E Davis and for a decade, the 1.16 minute introduction was treated as extra time for teenagers to finish their task so they would be able to glue themselves to the television set for the 40-minute high school drama.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-1996)
This may have been one of the best action figure cartoons of the 1990s. Its theme song is unforgettable because of how it presents the characters, “Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines.  Raphael is cool but rude, Michelangelo is a party dude.” Interestingly enough, the theme was composed by Chuck Lorre; who played the role of producer for hit comedy series like Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory.

Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1990-1996)
This is the show that propelled Will Smith further into the limelight. Known for his rapping skills at the time, Smith was approached to star in the television series. He agreed and wrote the theme song himself. The tune explains how he got himself to Bel Air and is very typical of his early work as a musical artiste.

Thundercats (1985-1989)
The cartoon series follows the adventures of a group of catlike humanoid aliens from the planet Thundera and how they end up in the Third Earth. The story line tells the classic tale of foreign beings working hand-in-hand with the residents to fight evil and maintain peace. The theme song, in a way, arouses a sense of heroism because it calls for unity among the characters which inevitably ignites the same fire within the audience and maybe, gives them the courage to endure a tough situation in life.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 8, 2014.