A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
The opening sequence to a series can be the make or break factor to an audience.
Some are extensive, enthralling and powerful, whilst others can achieve the exact same effect from only being seconds long; some shows don’t even posses an opening sequence. For intense, modern television dramas, the opening titles are highly important as they can add so much to the story itself.
The opening title sequence is a chance to show off some creativity and uniqueness that makes the show itself that much more engrossing.
There are several memorable opening credit sequences out there, but only 10 could make the list. Some of these shows I haven’t even seen in their entirety, yet their opening sequences were so impressive to me that they made the list anyway.
Before the list kicks off, there are some honourable mentions that didn’t quite make the cut:
10 – Pokemon
Nostalgia plays a big part in kicking off the list. As a child, “Pokemon” dominated my morning routine before school.
The show itself was brilliant, especially to me at such a young age. The title sequence was a standout for me; I used to be enthralled by the opening titles as there was so much to take in.
With visuals that were timed perfectly to the inspiring but incredibly cheesy theme song, clues, glimpses and snapshots of mysterious characters, locations and pokemons were provided to entice and engross us.
The titles worked so well in establishing the show itself and it is one that I will never forget; that is why “Pokemon” is at the number 10 spot.
9 – True Blood
Continuing the theme of family friendly childhood classics, “True Blood”…
A polar-opposite to the fun and colourful “Pokemon” intro, “True Blood’s” opening credits are extensive, scattered and rough. With imagery that is striking and at times, quite graphic, the themes of the show and the obvious unrelenting nature of it all are expressed.
From time lapses of decapitating carcasses to blood-soaked bodies, the essence of “True Blood” is shown in great detail.
8 – Six Feet Under
Clever, bold and symbolic, the opening credits to “Six Feet Under” exhibit a lot of death related imagery with some being blatantly obvious and others being a little bit more subtle.
Expressing the shows theme of observing death from a darkly comical point of view, the opening credits work exceptionally well in creating mixed emotions regarding the subject.
The musical accompaniment is strange as it can appear serious and joyful all at the same time.
7 – Game of Thrones
These are great, but only for the first few times around. I have only seen the first season of “Game of Thrones”, but from what I have heard, the credits only get longer as more characters are introduced.
By far the longest opening sequence of any show on this list, the stereotype of HBO having extended title sequences is taken to a whole new level.
The music is brilliant and the animated assemblage of various cities and lands really helps set up the show and it’s convoluted structure.
With so much going on within the show itself, the opening credits can really assist the audience in understanding what and where everything is taking place.
If you still have trouble understanding who is who and where is where, don’t worry, about 80% of viewers have the same issue, even after 4 seasons…
6 – Homeland
For a series that ultimately proved disappointing given the potential of the premise, the opening credits for “Homeland” are sensational.
Blending real life news footage and sound recordings relating to America’s war on terror whilst creating a stylistic montage of Claire Danes’ character Carrie growing up, the opening works incredibly well in addressing the political elements as well as the threatening, mysterious nature of the series.
5 – Mad Men
Cool. That is all you really need to know before watching these credits.
Incorporating heavily stylistic animation techniques with slick and sophisticated strings makes “Mad Men’s” opening credits one of the best.
As soon as the drums kick in and the blackened figure of Don Draper begins to plummet beside skyscrapers only to fall ever so eloquently into a couch, the audience know they are in for a treat. Subject to many parodies, it is obvious that “Mad Men” has been recognised to have some killer opening titles.
4 – The Simpsons
Iconic, universal and nostalgic, this intro had to be on the list.
The legendary opening to arguably the greatest animated series of all time has been one of the best opening sequences for the best part of 25 years.
The parting clouds that commence the opening exploration of Springfield and it’s diverse, unique and whacky inhabitants establishes the show in perfectly entertaining fashion. The music is also timeless; it would undoubtedly be one of, if not the most recognisable theme music in television history.
Recently re-imagined, the new opening credits don’t have the same effect as the original, however at least they haven’t completely broken away from the near-perfect formula.
Here is a video comparing the two:
3 – American Horror Story
The opening for this impressive anthology series is simply creepy.
Changing with each new series to relate to the theme, the opening credits for “American Horror Story” consist of shocking and unsettling imagery blended with the reoccurring theme music composed by former Nine Inch Nails member Charlie Clouser.
With the 3 previous series focusing around a haunted house, a mental asylum and a witch coven, it’s fair to say that the forthcoming “Freakshow” series will deliver yet another haunting and spooky opening sequence to get the audience working up a cold sweat.
2 – Dexter
The sinister but sympathetic protagonist of this striking crime/drama simply goes though his daily morning routine, but the way the framing, use of extreme close up shots and sound represents a body being mercilessly torn apart at certain points is extremely off-putting.
As uncomfortable and invasive an opening as it is, the cleverness of it all makes it my second favourite opening on television.
The sequence is award-winning and incredibly clever. After viewing it in full, and after understanding the multiple overtones of drama, seriousness, brutality and even black comedy, “Dexter’s” opening theme is simply brilliant!
1 – True Detective
One of HBO’s finest miniseries starring Mathew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson impressed me from the moment the HBO static stopped.
The opening sequence to this dark, broody mystery/crime/thriller series is my favourite title sequence on television.
The beautiful but eery imagery that is intensified by the mesmerising double exposure effect adds so much to the story, characters and themes of the series.
Showing various visuals of fire, roads, symbolic religious references and possessing an overall mysteriously gothic feel, the “True Detective” opening is one that deserves to be watched with each episode and not skipped over.
The song choice is the icing on the cake. “Far From Any Road” by The Handsome Family is a brooding, dark and ominous track that sets the tone for the plot and numerous elements within the show.
This is a perfect opening; effective, harrowing and enticing. And that’s before the show even begins!