What Is The Greatest TV Title Sequence Of All Time?

October 4th, 2007 | brainjuice

I submit to you that this remains The Greatest TV Title Sequence Of All Time:

(Also, note how long the title sequence is. These days, American network TV shows are 44 minutes long at best and the titles don’t run more than 30 seconds.)

Comments are open for anyone who wants to convince me otherwise. Some of you will say SAPPHIRE AND STEEL. You will be wrong. The children will say it’s the new DR WHO title sequence, and they will be wrong. But, you know, have at it. We shall come to a consensus that will be recorded on these here internets for ever, and future generations will be struck blind by our Wisdom.

(Comments will take a single link. Sometimes there’s a short delay due to site caching.)

157 Responses to “What Is The Greatest TV Title Sequence Of All Time?”

  1. The Title sequence to THE SANDBAGGERS.

  2. I loved DARKPLACE.

  3. I quite liked the opening from The Prisoner. It was a tad long also, as I recall.

  4. Forgot the link. D’oh!


  5. I’ll see your Hawaii 5-O and raise you the coolest secret agent ever, so cool, he doesn’t even have a name…

  6. That would be “Jonny Quest.” It’s that crazy multi-trombone part and the constantly changing key in the theme song that do it.

  7. I both worship and respect you, Mr. Ellis, but you are wrong…behold the glory of Get Smart.

  8. Also, 2 minutes 57? For a credits sequence? To every episode?

    Proper link:

  9. Opening credits to Carnivale: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-Onb-FqR74&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Etvscoop%2Etv%2F2007%2F08%2Fi%5Fcould%5Fbe%5Faccu%2Ehtml

  10. Clocking in at 2:57, I submit to you The Prisoner:


  11. i challenge you with China Beach

  12. Dammit you beat me to it!

  13. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5pYtG_jo3o

  14. The Prisoner (It was a little first episode every week).

  15. I gotta go with knightrider

  16. Jonny Quest would be one choice. The late Jay Ward was a genius in this. His Tom Slick for one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDfKKQ4WSqA

    I do have tremendous fondness for Danger Man AKA Secret Agent Man though as well the color version of The Avengers …

  17. I can’t argue with the Five-0, but how about the Miami Vice opener? Surely inspired somewhat by the Five 0 opener.

  18. Miami Vice opener for reference;


  19. i think Aeon Flux was pretty cool

  20. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

  21. Rome, the new series:


  22. HBO’s “HBO in Space” special features intro from the 80’s. Still my favorite.

  23. I always liked Wild Wild West.


    Second season, he knocks out the girl. And it’s in color. The title frames were used throughout the episode for the individual chapters.

  24. Warren Ellis for the win.
    Unforgettable theme. Bulletproof Jack Lord hair. Best show opening ever.

    and now, for the “why does this website exist?” file:
    H5O episode titles translated into German- http://home.comcast.net/~waxtadpole/german.htm

  25. Tom Baker’s Dr Who sequence – that cut of the music is just so creepy! The horror they got away with of a Saturday teatime is impressive.


  26. Afraid I’m going to have to disagree with you.

    The A-Team title credits totally wins.

  27. the streets of san francisco.

    …because the credits are read aloud, as they should be.

  28. I always quite liked the opening to Von Trier’s Riget. Had some nice lines as well. The original one, not the english one. Really need to get it together and buy that DVD box set.


  29. What, no Tomorrow People?


    Sure, the show was awful, but that was a really catchy theme song, and really neat, minimalist graphics.

  30. Although the one of which I have the fondest childhood memories is Kidd Video.


  31. I too must cast my vote for the original Jonny Quest titles. Chock full of Explodo. And the opening theme is the greatest opening theme in the history of television.

  32. Forgot; Dexter’s opening is great as well. “Normal” life’s little acts of violence and aggression.


  33. while i don’t think it’s the best of all time, i’m currently obsessed with the opening of Damages.
    it’s so striking and well thought-out compared to most contemporary openers.

  34. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CUgXlvexkQ

  35. Miami Vice looks like it was trying to copy Hawaii five-o’s style.

    I have to agree that Carnivalle’s intro was pretty good as was the Prisoner

    Re: Tom Slick – if we are going to go with animation why not Cowboy Bebop?

  36. I thought this had been decided already – BY BUCK ROGERS!

  37. I have to ask your criteria for determining the “best” title sequence. Is it how the sequence communicates tone of the show? Backstory? Some sequences do one or the other very well, few do both.

    Here’s one done on the cheap, but nonetheless effective:


  38. It’s hard to argue with Hawaii Five-O, I will even concede that it is the best of all time, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite opening: The A-Team


    That Cylon/Starbuck gag gets me every time!

  39. I think the use of the fisheye lens trumps any other teevee opening sequence – you just don’t see enough fisheye lens work on the little screen….

  40. Space 1999 all the way!


  41. It’s gotta be Miami Vice, hands down.

  42. I’m going to fight against what’s en-vogue in these comments and eschew hipster camp-art for some honest craft and feeling; the title sequence from “John From Cincinnati”


    Wonderful song, brilliant editing, evocative stock footage to give you a perfect sense of place, culture and tone. I still have this saved on my Tivo, so fierce is my love.

  43. I always loved the first 5 seconds of LA Law, and Knight Rider/The A-Team were fantastic. But lets not forget this one for “entire premise in 90 seconds” goodness. Renegade!


    Loved Cowboy bebop too, but that was for the music more than anything.

  44. You guys have posted some fantastic openings and I don’t think I can match them but…

    ergo proxy? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oT2W3gaUBc

  45. The Five-0 open is cool like they don’t make anymore. However, I submit this is even better. It still makes my neck hair tingle.


    “…. we can rebuild him….we have the technology”

  46. “Twin Peaks” opening titles were good:

    So were those for The Tomorrow People…

  47. Seconding the prisoner.

  48. I think a large part of what makes Five-Oh kick ass is the music. Take that away and it’s not so clear-cut.

    I remain a believer in the Six Million Dollar Man. With its actual NASA footage, multiple-overlay images, and HUD-rich technology, it still looks – more than 30 years later – like something I’d want to See More Of. (Shame the show didn’t actually retain that feeling.)

  49. “Miami Vice” followed much the same format as the 5-0 sequence, but wasn’t as cool even though it had jouncing breasts in place of hip-shaking.

  50. I am with everyone else who has said “The Prisoner”.
    Just the fact that they would even bother to change the damn thing to have whoever was the new Number Two in the opening makes it the best.

    (though my inner child still has fond memories of the dinosaur puppets and ugly children on Land of the Lost’s intro)

  51. It’s clearly the Perfect Strangers opening. Everything you need to know (Chicago, Meepos, Wacky misadventures.)


    That is all.

  52. I thought the Roseanne credits were good. For a sitcom.

  53. That pull in shot to Jack Lord makes the whole intro for me, that bad ass.

    How come no one suggested Homicide: Life On The Streets


    Knight Rider…. I can see why you turn off comments

  54. I don’t think it beats Baretta. Baretta has sammy davis jr. for crissake!


  55. It’s Superman, in b&W, naturally

  56. I would submit to you that you are wrong. Only slightly though. One needs to look to another season of Hawaii 5-0 which ends with the greatest credit in all of television history: and Zulu as Kono.

  57. Nothing beats The Dukes of Hazard, maybe The Fall Guy.

    For animation, its a tie between Johnny Quest and Batman:The Animated Series.

  58. Six Feet Under.

  59. And Now For Something Completely Different:


  60. How is it that I’m the first to submit the only other reasonable choice (and I’m not saying it wins, just that it is in contention): Mission Impossible!

    The entire episode in the opening, but revealing absolutely nothing. Incredible music. The “how the hell are they going to do that” from the montage. The only real competition… and I say that as I am completely unable to get the Lord hair-flip (rather than lip) out of my mind.

  61. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMPMdD5YACs

    I wins

  62. I could name a few that are equally great:
    Ducktales opening theme (followed by ducktales the genie movie opening sequence which is one of the greatest imho) Fun and funny.
    Hart 2 Hart. Cuts to the chase, introduces characters (like a previously on in the comics). Only the cheesy music (for those that are next generations) makes it cheesy.
    – For a strange reason, Falcon Crest. Lol.

  63. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj26N10Ymlg

    I wins again

  64. Toriko: Yes! Yoko Kanno’s theme music is superb, I love that opening!

  65. Behold, the power of Ulysses 31! Ulysses, Yooouu-lee-seees!


  66. No mention of Hill Street Blues? Ok. Maybe not the best intro, but the music has got to rank right up there with the Hawaii 5-0 theme.


  67. You can’t forget Magnum P.I. : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CquMO3vJvo

  68. Someone mentioned Get Smart before, which is the one I had in mind.

    Also, Twilight Zone.

  69. Warren, you’ve experienced the H5-0 ripoff music of the new “The Batman” cartoon? I mean, it’s a good ripoff, and even manages to get in a few licks from the Adam West show theme, too.

    I might also nominate the super-creepy opening from “The Equalizer.” But for God’s sake, don’t actually watch any episodes of the show, because you’ll be required to suspend your disbelief that old, old Edward Woodward can kick guys’ asses.

    Lotta good cartoons to consider, though none hold a candle to “5-0,” “Prisoner,” etc. “Thundarr the Barbarian.” “Thundercats.” “Space Ghost.”

  70. my memory of hawaii 5-o credit sequence is of the guys in the boat race and the guy with the hawaiian shirt on, must be another season?
    all suggestions good, now handbags at ten paces.

  71. The start sequence to Dexter is one of the most brilliantly disturbing things I’ve seen in ages:


  72. I’m very partial to the titles for Dexter.

  73. Dexter’s titles are incredible. Otherwise, I don’t think that titles are considered an art any longer. If you look at what shows did this season to titles that were shockingly clever last season, you can see evidence of that afterthought treatment.

  74. The TV title sequence of Have Gun Will Travel was different every time. Hell, you didn’t even have to watch the entire episode. The first 30 or so seconds told you how and why Paladin was going to rearrange your world so he could mosey on through it , all while pointing his gun at you.

  75. The beginning of Tour of Duty.

    Vietnam scenes with Paint it Black layered over.

  76. I see your Hawaii Five-O and raise you The Equalizer, even though he’s not doing much, er…equalizing in the opening.


  77. 67 posts ahead of me, and no one has mentioned Firefly?


    OK, yes, I’m a card carrying member of the Cult Of Joss, but surely Buffy or early Angel also deserves at least a mention (can’t find any YouTube links, seems someone in the copyright ownership chain has scoured YouTube lately.)

    Also, Babylon 5:http://youtube.com/watch?v=DVwp41MXpAw
    Season 3 is amazing, but falls down a bit during the head shots; season 45 is probably the best overall; season 5 gives a fan the shivers every time, but probably doesn’t have much effect on new viewers.

  78. I also have to go with The Prisoner, gave the audience a synopsis of what to expect in the show without giving much ‘information’, just the essentials, and a very good theme song.

    But I also have fond memories of Space: 1999 with the opening’s recap of the premise, its quick cuts of footage of the current episode, and groovy theme song.

  79. Lots of good stuff up here, but David Simon’s The Wire deserves a mention, too.

    Season one’s intro (the opening images and song are remixed for each season): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0B-QE_g3JPU

  80. I didn’t even know there was a new Batman cartoon.

    One day I will explain to the world exactly why THE EQUALISER was awesome even in its later seasons.

  81. I have to second Hill Street Blues as one of those that really hooked me in. However, growing up in the mid 70’s, Emergency! was a big hit. Unfortunately, the web is mocking my search attempts.

  82. Somebody else mentioned Six Feet Under and I have to admit the first time I saw it I was just floored by how it captured the tone and character of the series so well. Also, the quirkiness of the theme with the haunting melody (is that a clarinet?) really stand out. It blows away the Hawaii Five-O opening which isn’t even in the same league (and I grew up with that opening H5O and remember it fondly).


    There are a couple of others that haven’t been mentioned and also should be under consideration.

    The Six Million Dollar Man:


    Dead Like Me:


    Band of Brothers (runs up to 2:28):


    The Sopranos:


    Lost In Space:


    The Outer Limits:


    even the new Battlestar Galactica deserves a mention:


  83. The Space:1999 titles always gives me shivers when the nuke goes off and blasts the Moon out of orbit. (Couldn’t tell you why). But, it is lengthy, and has both thumping disco/funk and pretentious orchestration in the same theme!


  84. I completely second (or third) The Equalizer!

  85. Also have to mention the opening to Millennium:


  86. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyUE2mpw7bI

    Hahahahaha….Tales from the Crypt. That mansion…I wanted it then, and I still want it now.

  87. One more vote for Six Feet Under.


  88. What, no love for Thunderbirds? Sure, the intro gets kind of slow in the middle, but hey! Explotions!

    This one is insane, its from “So Long, Mr. Despair,” an anime about a suicidal highschool teacher.

    “The year 1994: From out of space comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the Moon, UNLEASHING COSMIC DESTRUCTION!”

    Heat Vision and Jack only GOT one episode made; still, great faux-80’s intro. “I know EVERYTHING!”

    This one’s probably not as good as the others, but I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t post it. Also, that song is tattooed in my subconscious.

  89. Definitely The Prisoner. You were on the right track with brass and bongos though.

  90. Have to agree with everybody who said “The Prisoner”. Kick ass intro to a show.

  91. Kolchak: The Night Stalker.


  92. Friday Night Lights has one of the absolute best title sequences of any show ever. I practically tear up every single time I watch it because it’s just such a powerful, and tonally perfect representation of the show. It’s everything I want out of a title sequence.


  93. You all suck, I’m sorry but the greatest opening sequence was “Barnaby Jones”.


  94. mr PJ: Did you know the opening music to the new Battlestar Galactica is actually an ancient Hindu chant? Also characters have used the same chant in the show. I wonder if the writers chose that chant on purpose to make a connection with Earth or if they just wanted something “spiritual sounding” and thats what the sound and music department came up with.

  95. Sorry, but The Prisoner beats all other openings hands down.

    They even changed the opening depending on who was #2 …. it rocked.

  96. The 60’s and 70’s detective intros were awesome and Hawaii 5-0’s was the best. But POLICE SQUAD undeniably ran all their conventions and tropes through a wood chipper and then shat on the remains:


  97. Seeing the 5-0 intro, I was instantly reminded of my default answer for this question, the Mod Squad:


    Similar song, but faster and with running. It borders on having a story, which is also interesting.

  98. All due props to “Equalizer,” “Space: 1999,” and “Prisoner,” but I have to agree that the ’80s “Buck Rogers” has the best opening credits. You may have Jack Lord…but I raise you split-screen:


    And yes, there is the “South Park” version for those so inclined:


  99. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkeGOH5vy7I

  100. It’s clearly Starsky & Hutch. The music, the acrobatics, the smiles and mostly the cardigan.

  101. Without a doubt, this is the finest opening sequence I’ve ever seen (was introduced to this by my girlfriend. I dare you not to dance. I DARE YOU!


    But serioulsy, what’s with the shot of the alien eyeball BEFORE it starts. Weird… we’ve never sorted THAT bit out.

    -Geoff (n’ Connie)

  102. I second the submissions of anyone who said Space:1999.

    Otherwise, The Prisoner or Captain Scarlet.

  103. Warren, I can’t believe you didn’t consider the opening for Cowboy Bebop.

  104. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p81_kAFdyr8

    It’s the music. Gets me every time.

  105. To be fair, I’ve never seen the television show this goes to, (apparently called John From Cincinnati), only the credits, but they trump your little weeny clip shot quick edit thing there, pretty certain:


  106. Before YouTube even pulled up in the feed, I was thinking “I’d go with the Prisoner”. But Hawaii 5-0 is famous today pretty much only for its theme music, which definitely says something about the power of their opening.

  107. Oh hell, I can’t believe I’m coming back for seconds, but it occurred to me to mention WEEDS, the addictive and clever HBO series about the housewife pot-dealer.


    After the first season, the theme is sung by someone else every episode. It’s a little intense how unexpected it always is. Once is was Regina Spektor.

    Actually – here’s a list:

    Season 2:
    1 Elvis Costello
    2 Death Cab for Cutie
    3 Engelbert Humperdinck
    4 Kate and Anna McGarrigle (McGarrigle Sisters)
    5 Maestro Charles Barnett
    6 Aidan Hawken
    7 Ozomatli
    8 The Submarines
    9 Tim DeLaughter of Polyphonic Spree
    10 Regina Spektor
    11 Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice
    12 Malvina Reynolds
    Season 3: (currently airing)
    1 Randy Newman
    2 Angelique Kidjo
    3 Kinky
    4 Donovan
    5 Billy Bob Thornton
    6 The Shins
    7 The Individuals
    8 Man Man

    And slightly off-topic, though still relevant to television – if you haven’t seen the new mini-series Jekyll yet, you should really get on that. I spent two night not sleeping so I could watch all of them, and I don’t /like/ TV.

  108. I would have said Quantum Leap, but that’s bowing to personal favourites.
    As would be Alias, although, I do think that’s bloody good.

    Someone else said the new BSG, yes, but only from the Season one, they kind of fucked with it a little after that.

    But I would say (I think someone else said it) that definitely the best … would be the Python intro … yeah … The Pythons have it.


  109. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRsDcPfyVvo

  110. You’re all wrong. The 60s Avengers if it hasn’t been mentioned earlier…


  111. Harking back to the Prisoner. They re-shot the opening credits for the episode “Living in Harmony” and set it in the old West, with McGoohan trading his Caterham 7 for a horse.

  112. I’m awfully sorry, mr. Ellis, but it is a well-known fact that nobody ever did a better title sequence than the Space:1999 guys – the FIRST series, of course…

  113. Behold! The greatest intro to the greatest show: NAM boys!


  114. I like this one too but the Six Million Dollar Man, “The Bionic Man”, Started slow built up and was pretty exciting. Not to mention a real solid theme. I would also like an honorable mention for Airwolf, another get me excited opening.

  115. Patrick fucking McGoohan:


  116. For my money, it’s all about the ‘Quantum Leap’ titles! That said, Hawaii 5-0 deserves a mention for having perhaps the most rousing theme tune ever. I think it’d make an excellent song to have played at a feuneral, or any other traditionally ‘downbeat’ affair.

  117. How right you are sir. The greatest ever.

  118. Again, mostly music perhaps, but you try catching a ball behind your back like that! And big queens!

    Puking always does the trick.

    And watch the Joes rain missiles all over that dam “Cobra and Destro” are trying to blow up.

  119. Warren E, I agree with you on a lot of things. But this, Sir, I can not allow.

    Hands down, best intro of all time is The Dukes of Hazzard. (and not that fucking bullshit Coy and Vance abortion in season 5)


  120. while i think i agree that H5O is probably the best, and seeing that The Prisoner is already well-represented in these comments, i would place john barry’s score for The Persuaders in the running, and seriously recommend that you consider this incredible, lengthy opening (the title music – a jazz suite – runs *minutes* into the actual show) for The Name of the Game:


  121. Ellis will shut down Comments again, now that he sees I’m here.

    Those of you pimping Space:1999, Gerry Anderson himself believed that the ultimate theme and visuals was what Ellis cited: Hawaii Five-O. Go look at the 2nd season opening. His attempt at that.




    Reza Badiyi, along with Jeannot Szwarc —


    — were two of the best American TV directors of the 1970s. Whenever I saw their credit come up, I knew it was an episode to watch.

    I notice no one here brought up Coronet Blue. So I will:


    Five-O is still the ultimate.

    There ought to be a law against opening titles of the Powerpoint-like type Journeyman is using…

    Let’s give props to Mission Impossible:


    I love the Internet!!

  122. After 5-0 everything is second best, but the way Barbara Bain rotates like a vertical pig on a spit in the 1999 titles always makes me laugh (and the Barry Gray Orchestra totally rocks it in the music), I love the new Galactica intro which generally makes me feel an awesome downer follwed by twenty espressos, and is there no love for the shadowy flight into the world of a man who des not exist?


    I just started my 5yo on the DVD’s, he loves the opening music



    I can’t believe no one’s mentioned this one yet.


  125. Here are three Lost In Space themes.

    I still have a thing for Penny Robinson.


  126. Medium, if we’re talking modern, for sheer abstract creepyness…
    …oh, who am i kidding. Jack Lord’s head always wins.

  127. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVcjP8gaMCc

    Cars being smashed, robots, machine guns, Mr. T… there’s more action in the A-Team’s intro than in full “24” episodes.

  128. I do like the titles for LOST. Its short, eerie and gets to the point. You are watching a show called LOST and you won’t have a fucking clue what is going on.

    Yeah, I had to look up the word “eerie” on wikipedia to figure out how to spell it.

  129. >>>the Barry Gray Orchestra totally rocks it in the music

    Barry Gray only did the orchestral part of the Year One theme. That horrible guitar wa-wa was foisted upon him by Sylvia Anderson. Vic Elms did it. He was her son-in-law. You do the math.

    Anderson, Wadsworth’s Year Two theme, and 5-0:


    2. Was your opening title music really influenced by Gerry Anderson saying he wanted something with catchy drum beats like in Hawaii Five-0?

    To a certain extent.

    ‘Hawaii Five-O’ was, and still is in my opinion, one of the great all-time TV themes. Of course, Gerry credited me with the intelligence not to try and recreate a Hollywood adventure theme as we were working on a science fantasy that required depth and mysticism. He was simply using that example to illustrate to me that he would be happy if I were able to inject a similar kind of energy to give the show an exciting kick start.



    Vic Elms (who is trying to hide out these days as Vic Elmes — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vic_Elmes ):

    4) How did you come to be involved with Space: 1999 ? I have to assume, your being married to Sylvia Anderson’s daughter, must have been an advantage as far as you getting the gig was concerned.

    It is right to assume, that by being married to Sylvia Andersons daughter, the offer of the job did come more easily than if I´d had no personal connection.



    God bless Barry Gray! Rest his soul.

  130. I’m a big fan of the Paranoia Agent credits, which I think you’ve posted here before.

    Dexter’s credits are also memorable as hell.

  131. I’d go for the opening titles of Cowboy Bebop, m’self.

  132. To hell with it, I’m going to out-nerd everyone and go with Highlander opening (from 3rd season on). A simple voice-over to establish the concept – and then Queen! Fuck yeah!

  133. I’m going to have to say Johnny Quest, China Beach, and Hawaii 5-0 are all pretty close to being the Best Ever.

    I submit to you, however, that Mr. Belvedere is the only true Win, here. Or Perfect Strangers.

    ALF had a good opening sequence.

    Venture Brothers season 1 intro?

  134. That is a cool sequence, but I have to agree with those who said The Prisoner.

    Still, my personal favorite will always be the Quantum Leap opening sequence from Season 3 on.


  135. How is it that no one has mentioned The Kids In The Hall?
    Probably because the damn thing doesn’t seem to be on YouTube…

  136. For those of you not able to see Journeyman, here’s the title sequence:


    Come on. Powerpoint! Sterile, pretentious, boring.

  137. This is Jim Rockford. At the tone, leave your name and message, I’ll get back to you. BEEP…….

  138. Rescue Me


  139. Johnny Quest. Love the music. Nice action.

    The ABC Movie of the Week opening sequence was pretty good.

    Douglas Trumball’s slitscan animation technique
    from ‘2001, A Space Oddysey’.

    There are at least two different versions.
    This is the later, better one:


  140. You are correct sir, Hawaii Five-0 does have the greatest opening sequence in television. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, and it was vintage before I was born. Both my parents was living in Hawaii when the show was being produced, and Jack Lord had a legendary status there apparently.

    What strikes me the most about it are the incredibly fast cuts and sped up zooms, the helecopter shots, wild cants and pans; what makes it work for me is it’s ability to compress so much information into a single minute.

    But, heh, I don’t want to feel left out. Here’s one of my faves, Boogiepop Phantom (though it’s hard to find a high quality video of the opening online). This one’s okay if you ignore the Spanish announcer providing the name of the series:


  141. The best German intro?

    German soap opera “GZSZ” (I spare you the full 4 words title):


    Wonderful how they try to characterize 14 characters in 40 seconds. It’s first class cheese and acting.

  142. The interesting thing is: before 1985, why are there credit sequences at all?

    (Let me preface the below by saying I’m speaking for TV in the US.)

    If the primary reason to have a credits sequence is to tell the viewer about the show, I don’t see why they exist after the first five episodes. Pre-1985, there were 3 shows to watch on TV: NBC’s show, ABC’s show and CBS’s show. That’s it. At the beginning of the season, I can see why you’d want a sequence to explain things. But otherwise, there’s no *practical* reason to have an opening sequence. Think about a show like Magnum, P.I. EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW IS IN THE TITLE. 4 guys in the credits, plus creator/producer. 15 seconds later, I’m done.

    I suppose if you think your audience is full of dopes (which is the position of most TV shows up to very recently) you might want to re-explain things every week. Why is he the $6 million man? Is he a great baseball player? A corporate tycoon? They’re Perfect Strangers, you say? Why are they strangers? After all, they keep referring to one another as “cousin”. The A-Team? As opposed to the Junior Varsity?

    Later, you get some shows that take this idea in interesting directions. Check out the Homicide: Life on the Streets intro. No voice-over, but the visuals tell you the whole story: Baltimore, cops, murder, difficult. This is a natural evolution from Hill Street Blues, which doesn’t say it’s a cop show in the title, but shows you only cops in the credit sequence. See the opening for the Sopranos for more details.

    Now, for something like Hawaii 5-0 or Miami Vice, you’re busy establishing a style for your series. This is the same reason why Bond films still have credit sequences. I guess that’s what shows like Magnum are doing, telling you about the show’s millieu.

    Nowadays, though, you need credits sequences more than ever. Take Chuck, for instance. The name of the show tells you nothing. There aren’t really credits, per se, but there is a recap every week. That’s good. People who stumble on the show will now understand what the hell’s going on. (cf. the current BSG, which has a basic summary in the text of the opener)

  143. Oh, and I forgot: Riptide.


    Take Magnum, add 50% more bikinis and a much bigger helicopter.

  144. Behold the power of Godzilla…and Godzuki!

  145. I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned this one:


    A sequence of stark white, black and red images, accompanied by a
    Quincy Jones’ arrangement: hard to forget something this iconic.

  146. Miami Vice. Hands down the best.


  147. I’m going to second the nomination for QUANTUM LEAP’s opening. It’s a great example of credits as sales tool. It lays out the rules of the show briefly, establishes the geeky-but-emotional tone, and makes a strong case for the show’s primary draws: nostalgia and variety. Here’s the hero getting having adventures of different kinds all over the second half of the 20th century, with a fun theme tune underneath. If you don’t like these credits, you’re not going to like the show, and you can go about your business.

    Obviously, that’s not the only way to go with an opening, but it’s what a lot of shows do, and on those terms QUANTUM LEAP was to be considered exemplary.

  148. Manimal, paws down:


  149. not wanting to compete with any of the masterpieces posted here – and this has to be one of this blog’s greatest threads – but the intro for KNIGHT RIDER season 1 was neat:


    yeah, they always focused more in the “young man with no memory” and the song plays a heavy part in making it classic [in a cheesy 80s way], but hey: KITT speeding in the desert with that theme, that was Teh Future.

  150. Quincey ME. No other title sequence has included cops fainting over corpses, lusty old men groping young ladies and sleazy trombone to such great effect.


  151. Sorry I got to the party so late… But there are two opening sequences everyone has missed. First, the Simpsons openings are all brilliant, ranging from merely “brilliant” to “heartstopping, brilliant beyond words.”

    And going way back, the “All In The Family” opening sequences, with Jean Stapleton and Carrol O’Conner singing the theme song at a minimally tuned piano…


    I’d also nominate the Maxwell Smart intro and the Mash intro.


  152. Another nod for “The Prisoner”.

  153. for adult shows, its prisoner hands down…

    for family shows, any of the irwin allen shows will do, but lost in space is the best, as they did 3 different openings

    for kids shows, all the kroft stuff, and all the anderson stuff (come on warren, thunderbirds kicks hawaii 5-0 in the arse)

    for straight sci fantasy…has to be space 1999…first show to preview scenes in the opening

    for comedy….police squad…no question about it…handheld cam at its best…and long before zucker became a wingnut asshat

  154. oh….forgot one

    best original song for opening title sequence….wonderfalls

    and if you guys havent caught fuller’s newest….pushing daisies…check it out….its sickingly sweet, fairie tale shite…and im hooked

  155. […] Оригинал сообщения от Warren Ellis тут… […]

  156. Hawaii 5-0’s was excellent; so was Magnum P.I.’s. Mannix’s was pretty good but Mike Connors lacked the charisma possessed by Lord and Selleck. The Odd Couple’s was very appealing. Greatest American Hero’s deserves a mention. I’m sure many people appreciate Friends’, Mary Tyler Moore’s, The Rifelman’s, Hazel’s, The Honeymooners’, The Twilight Zone’s and Mr. Ed’s.
    One that I’ll recall with eternal fondess is Sugarfoot’s. With so many nice ones, it’s tough to single out one as best though Warren Ellis may have done it.

  157. others that were great:
    all in the family
    the monkees
    partridge family
    the saint
    hitchcock presents
    i love lucy
    jackie gleason
    johnny quest
    mission: impossible
    secret agent