You’ve got time… So come along with me to a cliff under a tree…where some people stand in the darkness…but we’ll find our place in time, our place in time beyond the sun…because I don’t know what you’ve done to me but I know this much is true…I am human and I need to be loved.
There’s no denying I watch a LOT of television and if you view even a smidgen as much as me, you’ll no doubt recognise some lyrics in the first paragraph from theme tunes.
As an artist, getting your music into a show is an easy way to filter into the ears of a new audience: I’d never heard of Snow Patrol until I saw a trailer for the season two finale of Grey’s Anatomy, featuring ‘Chasing Cars’, but it prompted me to watch the show from the start, buy the SP album, fall in love with Denny and cry enough tears to warrant a second Ark!
Denny, Denny, whatever became of that beautiful soul?
Combine great musical choices with clever, artistic graphics and often I find I look forward to the opening credits just as much as the storyline. So this is my list of fabulous show starters – stick around to find out what my top 5 are and who is in pole position. And no… it’s not Game of Thrones!
The ‘Short and to the Point’ ones
Shows don’t always opt for long cinematic sequences – sometimes simplest is best, especially if commercials cut into your air time.
Although I didn’t watch it (one day), Breaking Bad’s beginning with the use of the periodic table is clever and apt for the theme of the show. But two series that don’t give much away in the credits are Lost and 24.
The beeping of the 24 clock has become iconic among fans (along with the CTU ring tone), with everyone dreading the ‘silent’ edition. And as for Lost…well how do you convey in one minute of visuals what on earth the show is about? Best just stick some mysterious instrumental behind the word and let you make up your own mind…
The ‘Can’t Help But Sing’ ones
These shows all have theme tunes that nearly everyone has heard, watchers or not. In the last couple of years, pop culture birthed a sing-along in the form of Kimmy Schmidt – ‘…they’re aliiiiive dammit!‘ and I just know you all clap involuntarily when the Friends theme plays!
The Big Bang Theory might have lyrics that need singing at breakneck speed but its upbeat tune makes you want to join in, even if you only manage ‘…we built the pyramids’ and ‘Bang!’ However, my old-school, guilty pleasure opening sequence has to be ‘Michael’ Baywatch… (I think it’s the font. Chuck in a few explosions and it would seem very Bad Boys to me!)
It’s a right good 90’s power ballad and I know every word. As for the visuals…well… the HOFF!! And Pammy… and Yasmin Bleeth… and… okay I was young and impressionable.
The ‘Instantly Recognisable’ ones
Those first few notes and you know without looking what is on the gogglebox. There are quite a few that could be included here, from Mission Impossible, Hawaii 5-0 and Happy Days to the Twilight Zone and Doctor Who. But my favourite (yes I’m a big fan) has to be X-Files.
It may have looked dated but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy with the renewed series keeping the original titles – all the nostalgia feels…plus a reminder that Mulder and Scully have done a switcheroo in the hotness stakes!
The ‘Prefer When It’s Over’ ones
That doesn’t mean I hate the shows, far from it. But sometimes the closing credits have better songs than the intro and these two animated gems fall into this box.
Archer – whilst I love the retro, spy classic look of the title sequence, the tune for the closing info makes me want to dance. With no socks on. It’s sultry and sophisticated and reeks of glamorous 60s parties at mansions full of socialites.
Adventure Time may be cleverly veiled as a kids’ show but it’s a wondrous piece of escapism. And so is the end credit tune – a whimsical wander with butterflies and bees to magical places within your imagination. Love it.
The ‘Visually Appealing’ ones
All of these opening titles work so well together with the music and visuals that they’re a delight to watch in their own right.
Watching lovable serial killer, Dexter Morgan, make breakfast may sound banal but timed with the music, the choice of colours and the analogies it draws to what he may get up to in his spare time, it’s brilliant.
Similarly, Daredevil’s moody opening is Matt Murdock all over. This instrumental that sees a city bleed / built from blood and a hero created from absorbing the pain is dark and beautiful. Just like the actor (Charlie Cox) who plays the visually impaired saviour always has been…
Okay, I know that had nothing to do with opening credits but LOOK AT HIM! And it IS the visually appealing section…
Continuing with interesting graphics, The Leftovers had a makeover between seasons one and two. The first was depressing and foreboding, using an instrumental piece and imagery reminiscent of Renaissance frescoes, that I thought complemented the feel of the show.
The second season saw a complete change with a bitter sweet song (again, reflecting the tone of the episodes) and an Insta-filter look with mysterious cutouts to depict the missing. I wonder what S3 will bring!
But the top of the leader board in this section and a show that seems to have influenced the look of other opening credits since its airing, is True Detective (S1…hated S2!)
It looks gorgeous, it’s creepy and dark and intelligent – everything the show was. Bravo!
The ‘Because I Like Them’ ones
None of these fell fully into any other category other than I like them, simple as that.
The eerie moaning of Vikings again works so well with the visuals and stirs up images in the mind of an ancient race surrounded by folklore and superstition.
Again, not a show I watched but dipped in and out of as Sam viewed it, the first few beats of Justified I love and it always has us both singing along!
4400 was one of those shows that I always wished would have been just a tad better. But the theme song is a beautiful, somewhat melancholy piece that I still like to listen to independently.
However, my favourite has to be Weeds and its ‘little boxes’. The song, from the 60s, is so cute and quirky yet is political satire for the growth of suburbia. In future seasons, each episode was sung by a different artist in a different style – which made me love it more!
The ‘We reached the Top 5’ ones
We’re into the final stretch with my all-time greatest intros!
Number 5: Game of Thrones.
I said it wasn’t at number one but it wouldn’t be right to put it outside the top five! I love the cellos, I love the ever-changing map. Did I mention I love Game of Thrones?
Number 4: Buffy
This instrumental is so 90s, so high-octane… it would definitely have you pumped to finish off some biters from the Hellmouth!
Number 3: Orange is the New Black
I think the visuals for the intro are simple yet powerful, using (if you didn’t know) faces of real, previous female inmates. Along with the song, that has been cleverly edited from the original to have lyrics that are more apt, it’s up there as one of my faves.
Number 2: Charmed
‘How soon is Now‘, by The Smiths is angsty and powerful…just like the Halliwell Sisters! I loved singing along to this when I tuned in and again made me consider music by an artist I’d previously disregarded. And did you know, Charmed wasn’t the first supernatural entertainment to use the song? A cover also appeared in the film The Craft.
Number 1: True Blood
My all-time favourite intro belongs to True Blood. The song, ‘Bad Things’ by Jace Everett is diiiirrrty. Filthy dirty (in sound, not lyrics) – you can virtually feel the sweat forming as the air gets hot and humid and start exposing flesh ready for all those delicious vampires to get their teeth into.
Oh True Blood – you were once so great and yet became so, so bad. but I’ll always find room for forgiveness, because…well… Skarsgard. Loincloths have never looked so inviting…
So what’s your favourite TV intro? Let me know in the comments, hope you’ve enjoyed the read!
Image Credits: YouTube, tvonline.com, fanpop.com and pinterest.com