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Opening Credit Sequences: From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

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From more recent shows:

Treme - great great song and graphics.  I've watched the whole thing on DVD/On-Demand (vs live broadcast) and have never FF'd through the credits.  They're slightly updated every season but always include the huge wave entering the house and then turning.

 

Masters of Sex - every image in the credit sequence is a play on euphemisms for having sex.

 

Mad Men - so great a credit sequence that people are speculating on when it'll turn into live action.  There's an ominous realization that the show will probably end with Don Draper falling/jumping out of a window, just like in the credits.

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True Detective. The music is not only haunting, but the images are eery and kind of beautiful.

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I've always liked The A Different World opening credits.  Not only does it show each character in their personal venue:  Dwayne Wayne studying math, Whitely primping in the mirror etc. it tells the whole story of college from studying, romance, sports, greek life, graduation etc. all in just the course of the credit sequence.  Also the saturated colors and the faux single-take tracking camera as it goes from vignette to vignette is nice.  And Aretha Franklin singing the song is also pretty cool.

 

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Yes, A Different World had one of the alltime great credit sequences, for all the reasons just stated. I would only occasionally watch the show itself, but I would always stay tuned after Cosby just to watch the credits. They made (and make) me feel good.

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^^^Definitely @ParadoxLost. So, goofy and cheesy, but then that was the show! A battle indeed.

Edited by DittyDotDot
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The Sleepy Hollow opening credit sequence is appropriately spooky, but the "time passes" bits are great too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVeif94l2fk It's got the evocative music, who the important characters are, and enough snippets that give you a hint about the plot of the show. Just a great sequence.

 

Also in the " what it says on the tin" subsection of openings, I present The New Original Wonder Woman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DDdxmoxduQ

 

For anime: the one that I love next to Cowboy Bebop's open is Gunsmith Cats:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXE4wO-Qt48 It's fast, and shows you, again, what to generally expect from the show. ( A show about PIs who also have a gunsmith business to have a steadier flow of cash. Plus? A  vintage Shelby Cobra!)

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Grr....can't get the videos to embed directly into the post.

 

One of my favorite opening sequences ever is from Dilbert.   I'm serious.  Great song, great animation, and I love that it's basically one long continuous shot following the paper airplane through the office.

 

 

Current favorite opening is Gravity Falls.  Again, good song, and a title sequence that gives you a good idea of who the characters are and what kind of show you're about to watch.  And the animation is beautiful.  Specifically the backgrounds.  I think GF has the best backgrounds on television, and I love that they put such care and attention to detail on a kid's show.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tctX771EQeA

Edited by The Crazed Spruce · Reason: fixed youtube tags
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@Actionmage, the season 1 opening credits of Wonder Woman were always a favorite of mine.  They very nicely embrace the comic book origins of the series and the H.G. Peter style art of the golden age comic books in particular

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I clicked on this thinking it was the animated series.  It wasn't...

 

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

 

Smell the stinky cheese.  I don't understand the gorilla in a beanie driving the car from the Beverly Hillbillies.

 

But this leads me to something I do remember despite not being born....Tra la la

 

 

And I already mentioned the Hillbillies.

 

 

I appear to be on some kind of nostalgia trip for the shows that played on syndication when I came home from school.

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Thank you, @bmasters9 ! I liked the title sequence of Trapper John in any season, and remembered that although the basic format remained the same, they juggled the details from time to time. I in fact didn't recall this particular version -- the little musical riff at the very end is unique to this season, where other years they'd feature the brass or do a drum break. Damn, now I want to see the whole series again.

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Thank you, @bmasters9 ! I liked the title sequence of Trapper John in any season, and remembered that although the basic format remained the same, they juggled the details from time to time. I in fact didn't recall this particular version -- the little musical riff at the very end is unique to this season, where other years they'd feature the brass or do a drum break. Damn, now I want to see the whole series again.

Not a problem! I've seen it in passing in syndication and from YouTube, but I would really love for it to be on DVD.

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I have been rewatching Natsume Yuujincho (Natsume's Book of Friends) lately, and have been reminded of how much I love the second series' opening credits. I couldn't find it with English subtitles on Youtube, but the lyrics aren't the important bit. The important bit is knowing that the show is about a boy who can see supernatural creatures that most people can't.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW8IT9ryZIU

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This might have been mentioned before, but I really like the theme for Haven. It's evocative and also reminds me of the theme from The 4400, which I also liked.

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Hart to Hart season 4 (1982-83) is also one of my favorites because of how Max (Lionel Stander) spoke about the Harts (Jonathan and Jennifer) at the top, and then said how it was his job to take care of them, "which ain't easy, 'cause when they met, it was murder!" I also liked how the Hart title appeared from a red heart that zoomed in from the middle of the two cars as they passed (the setup of this opening [minus red heart of course] was taken from the 1979 pilot). 

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Which (to me) demands that we also pay tribute to the shot-for-shot re-creation of those titles (one of four that Adam Scott & Co. did). This is the whole "greatest event in television history" mini-special as shown on Adult Swim. If you just want the titles themselves, jump to 13:20 for the Probst countdown:

 

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The first 28 seconds of this clip are of the CBS Sunday Morning opening that I grew up with, from 1986, shortly after the Challenger disaster (Charles Kuralt had at that time been in for 7 or 8 years). The current opening with Osgood is good, but it pales, in my opinion, in comparison to the original opening (which, for the first few years, had only 6 days of the week on the list of days that had the blind-like animation). 

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I absolutely hated the change in opening credits for Big Love. They went from the wonderful ice skating, ice cracking, dinner on their Mormon heaven planet, God Only Knows Where I'd Be Without You credits to the really stupid falling through space boring song ones. Bleh. It pretty much marked the end of the show being good.

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I have to say that Boardwalk Empire's opening might be my favorite ever--perfect visuals, perfect vibe, perfect music. I also loved The Tudors--that cello music and that iron cross toppling over against the blue sky. Love The Borgias too. And True Blood's grimy, creepy vibe and song.

Edited by TattleTeeny
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The Wire changed its credits (and singer) each season (though always with Bodie taking out that camera). Here's season 1:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1ABR4UpDSU

 

Though I like Mike just fine, I prefer the Joel-era credits on MST3K:

 

I always liked the Angel credits, particularly when he busts down that door.

 

In Life Goes On, Arnold never got fed (until the finale):

 

Twin Peaks has damn fine credits:

 

And on Mystery, I hate how the credits now are so short, because I loved all the Gorey.

Edited by dcalley
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Remember this? This was from a short-lived 1979 NBC game called All-Star Secrets w/Bob Eubanks; he not only hosted it, but was one of the EPs. GSN showed one last Sunday, too.

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Guest Accused Dingo

I always loved the opening credits for American Horror Story.  The first 3 season can be found here 

 

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I wasn't necessarily a big fan of Life Goes On, but hearing "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" over the opening credits never failed to lift my spirits.

 

Other credit sequences that automatically brought a smile to my face:

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Ooh, The Rockford Files, now that takes me back. The answering machine was such a perfect kick off--some of those things heard on the answering machine were revelations to my 10-year-old ears. Makes me miss Jim Gardner even more.

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I always liked the Angel credits, particularly when he busts down that door.

 

Oh, that song is so good too.

 

Random, but I really loved the opening to Hunter. I also loved that show so much.

Edited by TattleTeeny

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The opening sequence to The Prisoner. Long, but effective as hell. (I put in the one to the second episode, as the one for "Arrival" is obviously different.) Little touches like the mostly-rotating Number Two add to this, but it's great and holds up well after fiftyish (!) years:

 

 

Also, in a whole different sense, I love the credits for due South. There's nothing specifically brilliant about them, but the soft rock and the scenery just add up to the perfect aesthetic somehow to connote the feel of the show (and I always giggle when Fraser holds Ray back by the elevator). Hopefully a new link will autoplay!

 

http s://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AJyb4lMXkg -- seasons 3 and 4

http s://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zgZulxezEw -- with closing credits

Edited by Kate the Great
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I always loved the opening to LA Law (the first few seasons were great - terrific writing, storylines, etc).

 

 

I tried to find a video for the opening credits of Remington Steele  (in which Stephanie Zimbalist's character talks about how she set up the agency but then he came along...) but couldn't find it.  Loved the first season of that show.

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This video is of an opening from 20/20 from 1/30/86 (shortly after the Challenger disaster). This is another opening that I grew up with, and I remember very well how it started:

 

"Good evening...I'm Hugh Downs."

"And I'm Barbara Walters, and this is 20/20."

 

I especially liked how the magnifying glass passed over the ABC News globe, expanded, and stamped the axis on it before going in between the 20s in the title. I even remember how the title split at the end to show either Hugh or Barbara (it also did so shortly after the title was formed to show both Hugh and Barbara as being the anchors). I even recall Bob Cruz (ABC News V/O then) saying, "On the ABC News magazine, 20/20, with Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters..." There was even an old-style NCI captioning icon on the bottom right of the screen for about 2 seconds.

 

The opening starts around the :32 or :33 mark (there is a WABC 11 P.M. EWN promo before it). 

Edited by bmasters9
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My husband has been watching Sons of Anarchy lately, and I cannot stand the credits.  It's so cheesy and stupid.  It would be 9,000 times better if the information were just tattooed on the people's bodies, instead of oozing off like a ghost in a kids' cartoon from the early 90s.

 

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I've been binging Outlander and I find the opening credits impressive.  Its lovely and dreamy, but what I find most interesting is viewing it through the progression of the series.  The opening credits almost give a feeling of time travel, in a weird way, for a show about time travel. 

 

Turns out on reflection that the opening credits highlighted at least one pivotal moment from each episode that highlighted the overall mood or theme. On viewing the credits in subsequent weeks, the scenes from the prior episode tend to jump of the screen moving the emphasis in the credits with every episode. It has the feeling of prognosticating the future and reminiscing over the past at the same time.

 

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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?)

 

OMG, I guess I never saw this thread before wacthing "Too Many Cooks." I sincerely kept waiting for a freaking serial killer to come and take them all out -- except, perhaps, for Vicki, who, as the robot, would at least try to fight back, like Smarf.

 

I remember that show well, but boy the cheesiness of the intro has a different spin on it now!

 

The opening credits of ER takes me back immediately to Thursday nights on NBC.  The original must-see tv series, for me.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5a8Bkl3gks

Oh yeah. That was one of the things that made me most excited about the series finale (after quite some time of not regularly watching)...they put all the old folks back in (okay, except Clooney, lol), including Benton's karate chop! I loved that show in an unnatural way back then. ;)

Edited by mattie0808

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I'm in the early stages of watching The Americans - good show, but I can't stand the opening credits.

 

I have no idea if they are supposed to be good or meaningful.  If they are, they're shot in a way that simply makes me want to look away.

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For me, although there are a lot of good main title credit sequences out there, Game of Thrones' remains the very pinnacle of what a title sequence can be.  Whoever came up with the idea is a genius.  Although they have gotten a bit sloppy about adding/subtracting locations depending on the episode.

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I have to say that Boardwalk Empire's opening might be my favorite ever--perfect visuals, perfect vibe, perfect music. I also loved The Tudors--that cello music and that iron cross toppling over against the blue sky. Love The Borgias too. And True Blood's grimy, creepy vibe and song.

Having just watched a marathon of "The Tudors", allow me to concur.  Seeing all those beautiful people in beautiful costumes (Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Henry Cavill, James Frain - YES, MA'AM), the changing wives, the evolution of Henry's and Brandon's looks and the quick clips at the end of the sequence of those Henry had loved and sacrificed to be where he was (CatherineAnneWolesleyJaneKatherineCrowell) ending in a tight shot on Henry's eyes.  Augh.  Just so good.

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For me, although there are a lot of good main title credit sequences out there, Game of Thrones' remains the very pinnacle of what a title sequence can be. Whoever came up with the idea is a genius. Although they have gotten a bit sloppy about adding/subtracting locations depending on the episode.

The opening credits to Game Of Thrones reminds me of a really intense version of Candyland

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