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Kromm

Opening Credit Sequences: From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

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Talk about (and maybe link to or embed) all the "standouts", both good, bad, and ridiculous (which can often be in the middle but which are memorable sometimes for other reasons).

 

Let's distinguish this from the TV theme music thread in that this is NOT really inherently about the Theme music (although it may be in part), but more about the WHOLE package--the graphics, any "acting" we see in the credits, any themes used, AND of course the music in how it relates to and ties it all together.


For example, here's one for the ridiculous file.  Mind you, it might be objected to because the credits aren't really any more ridiculous than the show itself (which is just as cheesy), but I do think the opening credits EMBODY how cheesy and ridiculous the show is, but in a tiny 60 second package (and why are those credits so long ANYWAY?)

 

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Okay, back to this from the Themes thread (again this one should focus less on the music and more on the whole package).

 

One that always evokes major mixed feelings in me are the Hell's Kitchen credits.  Based off a great song, but then with nightmarishly stupid graphics put over that. They're totally different each season, and yet ALL awful.

 

Let's see... as bad as this season's are, the Season 11 ones are the ones I recall sticking in my mind (and craw) as the worst.

 

 

I remember after silently hating them for years, this was the one that made me spontaneously blurt out and yell (even worse, to an empty room) "Are you fucking kidding me?  Isn't this supposed to be a show about COOKING?" and feeling like I wanted to smash my own TV.

Edited by Kromm
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One that I still remember with a smile is a short-lived sitcom from 1981, Open All Night. As "here's the premise" credit sequences go, this one gets the job done in a catchy succinct way.

 

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One that I still remember with a smile is a short-lived sitcom from 1981, Open All Night. As "here's the premise" credit sequences go, this one gets the job done in a catchy succinct way.

 

I have no idea if the show itself was, having never seen it, but those credits are surprisingly entertaining.  And yeah, after hearing them you certainly have your basic questions answered.

Those "credit sequences as expository devices" aren't done as often anymore.  But there have been some great ones.  If you think about it, Gilligan's Island, love or hate the song, did that expository thing very well.  You need never have seen even a single previous episode, but you knew what it was about.  The Brady Bunch credits did it too, I guess.  The Beverley Hillbillies.  Really NONE of them were all that great as songs.  But they did the job they needed to.  I hated, for example, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, both as a show and as a song/credit sequence.  But even hating it, I know the credits do exactly what they're supposed to.  Told you who the hell this guy was and what he was doing there.

 

Even the original Law & Order credits worked this way.  The whole divide in the credits explained very simply who was who and did what job, without actually having to SAY it.

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One title sequence from 1980 that seemed excessively long to me even at the time was Bosom Buddies. We get the long spoken explanation from Hanks and Scolari as to how they happen to find themselves dressing as women and living in a female-only residence (even though they rarely appeared in drag during season 2), and then what seems like a full minute of montage of the two guys around the city: shopping, playing, catching some rays, scored to "My Life." I like the song, but I never understood why that second half was there -- unless it was to reassure us by all that regular-guy activity that they're really straight (in which case, there are probably better choices than having them stretch out side by side in bathing suits).

 

@Kromm, YouTube has at least one whole episode of Open All Night if you're curious. I was fond of it because it was so different from other half-hour shows, but I wouldn't call it wildly entertaining (particularly because I thought Susan Tyrrell was miscast, with no lightness of touch). It showed us a regular guy whose life hadn't quite taken off as he might have hoped, dealing with his family and living behind (or was it above?) his store, and just day-to-day life, not great but not awful. It was a precursor of Roseanne in that way perhaps. The stepson played by Sam Whipple was the first example I remember seeing on TV of whatever you call the male equivalent of a Valley Girl, with the spacey surfer-ish speech patterns.

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My all-time favorite opening sequence for a show is for Mystery!  I love Edward Gorey's drawings anyway, and the graphics, the use of color, and of course the music all work together really well to reflect the tone of the show.

 

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re: Data Dump intros.

 

Remember this?

 

The music is kinda bland, but the data dump and storytelling qualities of it are superb (as well as a lot of the visual images):  It's a LONG intro, but IMO you need to see it laid out this way to enter viewing the show with the right mindset (and I for one am never bored by even a second of it).

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5zn-mF2-_8

Edited by Kromm
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Since "Chico And The Man" was mentioned on the TV Themes thread, I'll give a shout-out to the opening credits.  I'd forgotten there were so many(three in the first season alone!).  My favorite is from Season 2, with the wedding, the baby girl playing with the keys, and the little boy chasing the pigeons at the end.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8A39x3LFeQE

Edited by smittykins
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Wow. Yeah I hadn't really remembered that they changed up those credits so often.

 

In retrospect the images of the ghetto life are the only ones I retained in my brain.  Looking on YouTube you can kind of interpret what must have happened (remember, there's often a hidden story and I think we can guess this one).

 

Season 1 Version 1 are images of L.A., Hispanic culture and families.  You know... actual brown people.

Season 1 Version 2 is the key hint--we now see images of the STARS of the show.

Season 1 Version 3 again, of the stars (which appears to just be a minor edit of Version 2)

Season 2 is back to images of L.A., Hispanic culture and families.

 

In other words... network interference, which they then backed off of.  It's also worth noting (and the person who posted those videos did) that the final ones resemble Welcome Back Kotter's credits.  That may have been the lever to get them changed back to the "slice of ghetto life" mode.

Edited by Kromm
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From a not-bad-sometimes-good-show The 4400 (my first attempt at embedding, let's see how this goes -- my guess will be dismally, but what the hell, got to try!) Yes, initial failure, as expected.  Once more with Feeling! Well...fuckadoodleoo.  Here, try this link while I read up on how to do this. 

 

 

It was a show that was actually a bit like the recent The Returned, but essentially over the course of sixty years, at different points, people just vanished.  That's what the scenes represent, the book on the bench, left behind in the rain, still there after the wood has dried and aged.  The bathtub overflowing.  The car lights burning out.  Whatever people were doing (eating and smoking) when they just vanished and then were returned all at once (that end scene).  

 

The show was fun and sometimes faltered.  It could be a bit too mutant-of-the-week and featured the worst idea from the scifi genre: the rapidly aging magical child, but the credits?  Those credits rule.  

 

ETA:  Well, that only took me forever.  I bet my car lights would have died in a field by the time I'd figured that out.  

Edited by stillshimpy
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Adventure Time is one of my favourites. It's short, but gives you a quick overview of the characters and locales. Also, I like saying "wenk wenk" with Gunter ( the penguin).

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Remember this?

Holy cow, do I ever!?! Now I know why my 12-year-old self found The Six Million Dollar Man so riveting. Exciting stuff! I Ithink it holds up remarkably well.
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I suddenly had a recovered memory of 1982, and a really-dopey, kinda-endearing series with a credit sequence to match. I give you Whiz Kids:

 

 

So much I love about this: the Mozartean paraphrase, the leisurely character introductions (girls are for ballet -- hey, at least the drummer's not the black kid...), the head slowly rising into view, the video arcade (Tempest!), the inability to fake cello playing for even 1.5 seconds, the happy glance back at one's roomful of computers (which would now probably all fit on a microchip)... I'm grinning as I type.

Edited by Rinaldo
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Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the intro of Dick Clark's Bloopers & Practical Jokes.  Which has a distinct and memorable theme song, but which actually typically minimized that theme, because they included an assortment of actual bloopers IN the intro, as well as some neat Sergio Aragones animation (when you pay for Aragones, there's a distinct look people can identify).

 

Edited by Kromm
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I gave up on the show mid-way through Season 2, but I'll always fondly remember the credit sequence - Desperate Housewives:

 

 

The subversion of several classical - and 'modern' classic - pictures is really quite clever.

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Including another animated opening, there's Cowboy Bebop's: (Ah, the old Adult Swim days.)

 

 

If there's an impression from this of '60s noir-styled sci-fi, that's exactly what the show is.

 

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I'll throw in two.  First, the opening of the series that kicked off the DC Animated Universe (no captions required):

 

Second, the original titles to Justice League (NOT the "Unlimited" titles in the second half of the clip, which are pretty lame):

 

Particularly in the JL titles, the orchestral music and the varying cool animation effects used to introduce the leads scream that, if nothing else, TPTB were striving for "epic".

Edited by MarkHB
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The really nifty touch about the BTAS opening is that aside from the lightning crash, all of the event sound effects are via musical instruments.  (Or that you'd expect to hear a sound effect, but it's all integrated into the music.)

Edited by WhoAmIWorkingFor
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So this is interesting.  Disney just released the Girl Meets World credits, and although they slapped on a pretty generic "female star sings like Demi Lovato" theme song, the actual credits themselves took some care to incorporate elements (the paper airplane and the globe Ben Savage has) from the original Boy Meets World credits (not great credits, but of the various--all kind of shitty--credits the show had the most memorable probably):

 

Girl Meets World:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZUdUD3z0tg

 

 

Boy Meets World (S1 credits): 

 

Edited by Kromm

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I can't see any of the embedded videos, so I'll have no idea if this shows up, but here's Samurai Jack with Mako's excellent monologue as Aku:

 

I'm Tivoing the reruns and I never skip the intro.

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The opening credit sequences for Babylon 5 are probably a little unique in that they started out as massive expository devices and then got...extremely...dramatic (and enigmatic/confusing as hell if you didn't watch the show).

 

Usually, they go the other way--sometimes doing eighty.  Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, for instance, had an equally enigmatic and expository opening for its first season...and then torpedoed it with "Mr. Caffeine" in the second season.

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Opening title sequences are pretty much sadly extinct on TV these days except one place: Spanish language telenovelas.  (Is it any wonder that the Spanish language networks seem to be only ones to be gaining viewership these days? heh)  Anyway, I adore the opening from this Telemundo novela of a few years ago, Perro Amor.  Song is catchy, and whoever decided to make it a full company dance number was truly inspired.  Just pure fun and joy for a minute and a half.

 

 

another favorite for differing reasons, the classy scene-setting opening titles for Televisa/Univision's Pasion:

 

Edited by twotrey

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Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the intro of Dick Clark's Bloopers & Practical Jokes.

 

 

Oh, man. I wish there was still a blooper show on TV. Good times.

 

Game of Thrones is IMO the absolute best, but Deadwood was another outstanding HBO show with killer credits:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLkeyTWciQk

 

My favorite cartoon opening credits:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZAhqEiq4cA

 

And I would be remiss if I didn't include the double fist pump going on here:

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BSG had very effective credits. From the music to the survivor count.

 

In retrospect, I wonder if TPTB wish they hadn't promised that the cyclons had a plan every episode since they didn't, beyond blowing up Caprica.

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The really nifty touch about the BTAS opening is that aside from the lightning crash, all of the event sound effects are via musical instruments.  (Or that you'd expect to hear a sound effect, but it's all integrated into the music.)

There's an even niftier touch to the intro.  It's a title sequence without the title.

 

Watch the clip again.  No where in the intro does it explicitly say what the show is.  After the Warner Bros. logo fades, only two words appear in the entire intro, "Police" and "Bank".  The only thing that signifies that it's Batman is the appearance of Batman himself.

Edited by SVNBob
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I like the Elementary and Doctor Who credit sequences. While I was never a big fan of House, I like their use of Massive Attack too.

 

I only watched one season of The Borgias but I remember how much I adore their title sequence:

 

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I like the ... Doctor Who credit sequence....

 

Which one?  There have been at least a couple :) .

 

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Hill Street Blues will always make me all misty. I read an article about the show once that said the opening theme music would make you want to watch whatever followed, even if it was the Dukes of Hazzard. Nothing overly original with the visuals, but it sets the kind-of-gritty, kind-of-sweet tone, and if you're familiar with the show, it's like looking at yearbook pictures--gentle reminders of people you love.

 

 

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Which one?  There have been at least a couple :) .

 

I think I more or less like all of them. it gets you in a TARDIS-y mood.

 

More on the nostalgia/dated end of things, The Littlest Hobo:

 

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Found myself watching the opening credits to Blossom earlier today. I didn't get into the show very much but always loved  the opening credits. It had a Cosby Show feel to it, but didn't feel like a rip-off. I busted out laughing when Joey Lawrence came up because he's the definition of "Hey! I was hot in the 90's!" ...and he absolutely was.

 

 

 

On the flip-side, we have Tales From The Darkside...who's opening credits were WAY scarier than any of the stories it ever told *shudder*

 

Edited by spaceytraci1208
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The opening credit sequences for Babylon 5 are probably a little unique in that they started out as massive expository devices and then got...extremely...dramatic (and enigmatic/confusing as hell if you didn't watch the show).

 

The one that still gets me is Susan Ivanova's "The Babylon project was our last best hope for peace. It failed. But in the year of the shadow war, it became something greater, our last best hope for victory."

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On the flip-side, we have Tales From The Darkside...who's opening credits were WAY scarier than any of the stories it ever told *shudder*

 

This and Poltergeist.  The reasons trees sometimes freak me out.

 

 

The opening credit sequences for Babylon 5 are probably a little unique in that they started out as massive expository devices and then got...extremely...dramatic (and enigmatic/confusing as hell if you didn't watch the show).

 

What I find interesting that I never noticed before is that season1 - 4 is characters reminiscing over was going to happen at the station in that coming year.  Season 5 was clips of memorable dialogue that had already happened.  Nothing really about the future.  The story was essentially over.

Edited by ParadoxLost

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On the flip-side, we have Tales From The Darkside...who's opening credits were WAY scarier than any of the stories it ever told *shudder*

 

It used to scare the bejeezus out of me! Also, the Unsolved Mysteries opening. I would be afraid to go into the back hallway of my house after watching either of those.

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I always liked the Soap opening credits.  It always started with the previously explained by an announcer using a theme word.  Then they would jump to live action family portraits and as the cast changed over the years several versions of the house collapsing on them or fist fights breaking out were collected. 

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"Confused?  You won't be, after this episode of... Soap!"  That show was great (and it was one of the shows that helped me push my bedtime to 10 Pm).

 

While the show has been cancelled, The Crazy Ones had a nice, if brief, opening credit sequence that did a good job with both the advertising themes (spot the motifs) and the Chicago iconography:

 

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Watching an old Lost In Space rerun on MeTV reminded me of one of my favorites as a kid - their Season 3 opening. The countdown was perfect for the space theme of the show, and always ramped up my excitement level for the adventure that was about to begin.

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My nomination for best old credits: The Love Boat.  Did it all.  And who can forget Ted Lange's finger gun?  (If you were alive then, that is.)

 

Other memorable ones, for introducing characters: Three's Company and Married with Children.  

 

For animation, I'd have to go with the original Pokemon.  The very first viewing inspired massive curiosity and loyalty from my young children.  And I will never forget it, having heard it approximately one billion times.  (On the tv, in the car, even when the kids were older and feeling sentimental, etc.)  Another is Dora the Explorer.  

 

And I'll second the House credits, which were a piece of art.

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Carnivale had a really great one. It captured the tone of the show perfectly.

 

Oh my yes, kinda creepy, but beautiful and sad and nostalgic all at once. Those taro cards were just beautiful. Which led me to think of these two...yes, it is very confusing inside my head, do you have a problem with that?

 

 

United States of Tara-the pop up book and the music.

 

Pushing Daisies-They would slightly alter the narration from episode to episode, but tells you everything you need to know, plus looks pretty!

Edited by DittyDotDot
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I love the Dead Like Me titles, thanks for reminding me @Jeebus Cripes.

 

And because I like to share when shared with, and because these are two others I was trying to remember the other day but had a serious brain fart...

 

I thought the titles for Rome were rather inspired also. If I remember correctly, they changes up some of the pictorials from episode to episode that would reflect what was to come in the episode.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDDPdLdiH_E

 

And Bored To Death had a certain artistic greatness to it as well.

Edited by DittyDotDot
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My all-time favorite opening sequence for a show is for Mystery!  I love Edward Gorey's drawings anyway, and the graphics, the use of color, and of course the music all work together really well to reflect the tone of the show.

 

Man I love that one.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbBX6aEzEz8

 

The X-Files had a pretty good one.

 

 

 

Quantum Leap's was really good too.

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For ridiculous, I give you the opening credit sequence from K9 & Company. Seriously mired in the early 80s and not in a good way.

 

 

For sublime, I've always liked this version of the opening credits for The Avengers:

 

 

Although the color opening credits are pretty nifty too:

 

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Another thumbs up for Dead Like Me.  One of my favorites!

 

Seeing the Avengers made me think of Get Smart, for some reason or other. I used to think it was so cool that the doors shut in front of the credits

 

 

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Heh.  Those K9 & Company credits are the biggest example of zoom abuse I've ever seen.

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Those color Avengers credits are imprinted on my memory (though my family still had B&W tv while this was airing). They inspired deep lust for Diana Rigg, despite my lifelong orientation in other directions.

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My favorite intros: 

 

It's in Spanish cause quite frankly it's the only that isn't on youtube that isn't recorded by a video camera. Anyways the music was just awesome.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8CbS-8GyVQ

 

If you were a child of the 90's you watched this and sang the song lol

 

I love the Wonder Years intro too

 

One of my favorite cartoons growing up

 

Favorite Show growing up

Edited by The Crazed Spruce · Reason: Fixed YouTube tags
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^^^ That original recipie Power Rangers intro gave me mad nostalgia. The blue ranger was hot.

 

I don't think this is ridiculous per se, but I think it's lame and unoriginal:

It bothers me every time I watch the show.

 

On the other hand, Once Upon a Time's credits are short, yet effective and changes to reflect each episode, which is neat.

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