Sometimes the opening credit sequence of TV shows don’t really get the credit (pun intended) they deserve. Usually, and I am guilty of this, when the opening credits are rolling, I am doing something else. I’m either preparing a snack or tweeting about what I’m about to watch (not really, but let’s go with it). And in the modern age of DVRs, everyone is just fast forwarding this part.
However, there are some shows that have great opening credits to sit through. They usually have a great theme song, give the tone for the show or tell a little back story of what you’re getting into for the next 30 minutes to an hour. Over the past decade, the opening credits have become more creative and complex vignette of images that keep us glued to the TV.
I’ve made my own list of the top 10 best opening credits of shows that I’ve actually seen. I’m sure there are other great ones out there; however, I just haven’t watched them yet.
10 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Long before Will Smith was making blockbuster movies, he was the Fresh Prince in this 90’s sitcom. The opening number here has a catchy song, graffiti inspired credits, which set the tone of the troubled teen moving to Beverly Hills. It was fun and incredibly 90s.
9 The Simpsons
The longest running animated sitcom always kept me watching the opening. Bart was always writing something different on the chalk board; you knew Homer liked donuts (who doesn’t) and worked at a nuclear plant; and concluded with the family coming together at the end to watch television – with different scenario endings.
8 The Sopranos
I was never a big fan of this show but always liked the opening because the song and the images set up what Tony Soprano was all about. The lyrics of the song let you know he is one bad ass mother fucker. Rather than open with mobster-like images, it gives you a glimpse of this man’s life through his ride in New Jersey.
The first three seasons of Weeds opening credits were great to listen to “Little Boxes” as it had different artists singing the song. Also, the images of a dull suburban neighborhood made you think every house was the same but something was cooking in the Agrestic neighborhood.
6 Six Feet Under
The image of the lone tree, the hands letting go of their grasp, the feet with a tag let you know right away that death and letting go is a big theme of the show. As the credits continue, you see a body being taken through a tunnel, the body being prepared, flowers dying, a casket, and a cemetery. But death is just business for this family who owns a funeral service. The theme music also works here because it’s a little light-hearted contrasted against the harsh reality of death.
5 True Blood
The southern bible states have a deep history with religion, violence and freedom of expression and this vampire show mixes all of this in the opening sequence. It intermingles contradictory images of sex, violence and religion which are part of the show’s themes. Church images, the swamp life, salacious dancing, race discrimination are all intertwined to let the viewer know, especially with the “God Hate Fangs” sign, that vampires are hated and discriminated but also points out the real life struggles of race and sexual expression in modern society.
4 The Wonder Years
The images of a young Kevin Arnold and his family being projected against a wall under nostalgia-inducing ‘home movies’ set up nicely the premise of the show. You know you’re going to be watching the story of a kid growing up in the late 1960s. And you can’t go without mentioning Joe Cocker’s rendition of “With A Little Help From My Friends” as the opening theme song without getting a little nostalgic yourself about your own childhood.
3 American Horror Story
All three seasons thus far have the same creepy theme music which reminds me of Nine Inch Nails “Closer”. The images are harsh, fast and twitchy, and tell you bits of the story of what’s to come during the season. If you aren’t crept out and intrigued to watch, then you’re definitely not a horror fan.
The opening is simple, however, the images of the UFO, mathematical equations, paranormal activity set up against the creepy music and whistle still gives me goose pumps every time I hear it. I know the truth is out there. (Unfortunately there was no opening sequence video available that could be embedded but the link is available)
Watching the opening sequence to Dexter is what made me come up with this blog. What’s so brilliant about the opening is how ordinary Dexter’s daily wake up routine is made to look incredibly eerie and violent at the same time. Grinding coffee, cutting an egg, and flossing has never seemed so disturbing as it does here. What gets me more is Michael C. Hall’s soulless eyes as he stares into the camera. Besides the few splatters of blood from Dexter cutting himself, Dexter is shown as a normal guy not the serial killer he is.
Mentions must also go out to The Walking Dead, Lost, Being Human (UK) and United States of Tara. I could have written more but the post is long enough. What are your top choices for best opening credits?