Top Ten Television Opening Credit Sequences
James Poniewozik recently asked his readers what their favorite TV Credit sequences are. I’ve got ten. Check them out.
1. Six Feet Under
Including HBO/Showtime series might be cheating a bit since they have longer episode run times and can therefore afford to have longer credits. Even so, there is just no contest here. Nothing is even close. It’s wonderful having never seen an episode, and if you’re familiar with the tense, dark strokes the series paints you must agree that these visuals capture the feeling like a crazy dream that might just be a nightmare.
First off, I loved the song ‘Teardrop’ (Massive Attack) long before I ever saw this show.
We see Hugh Laurie for only a moment, then the illustration of a human head, brain revealed, as his name appears establishing him as the sharp minded protagonist of the show. Branching nerve tendrils represents Lisa Edelstein’s character, Dr. Cuddy, who serves as the emotional counterpart to Dr. House’s cold logic. Next there is a skeletal chest xray, representing the Foreman character played by Omar Epps, a proud, strong man with a solid foundation. Third is a brain, representative of Dr. Wilson played by Robert Sean Leonard. In contrast to Hugh Laurie’s image of half a brain, suggesting the single-minded nature of the character, here we see both halves, establishing Wilson as the moral counterpart for Dr. House. Breaking away from the medical illustrations, two ships in a river represent Jennifer Morrison’s character Dr. Cameron. There’s a loneliness to this image, something distant and unfulfilled. This is the perfect metaphor for her character, always trying to be a safe harbor for those in pain. Last we have Jesse Spencer’s Dr. Chase represented by a spine. This compares him with Dr. Foreman directly, and shows that while similar, he is much more delicate.
This is a really well executed concept. The show, about a serial killer who kills other serial killers, starts off by showing beautifully shot closeups of the protagonist’s daily morning routine. Each is a thousand times sexier, more violent, and more evocative than we’d ever thought the rather mundane act could be. The flossing and boot lacing is something we do each day, but here seem reminiscent of a piano cord around someone’s neck. The meat is bit into with a predatory fervor that makes the viewer a little queasy. After this, you’ll know why it’s called a blood orange.
In the hands of a lesser studio, this might have been laughable. The studio that created this, Digital Kitchen, is also responsible for Six Feet Under, House, Rescue Me, and Nip/Tuck. Good pieces all. Plus they have a rabbit on their home page which makes them A-OK in my book.
4. Da Ali G Show
A nude Sacha Baron Cohen being dressed like he’s in some crazy futuristic spy movie, but instead of a tux it’s the signature yellow track suit. I particularly love the chainsaw noise as he adjusts his crotch.
5. Freaks and Geeks
I’m going to quote another commenter from Tuned In: “The Joan Jett song, the yearbook picture-taking gimmick, the gorgeousness of Linda Cardenelli at that time, the scruffy fake-smile of James Franco, the weird confidence of Samm Levine, and of course seeing Jason Segel at the edge of the screen rubbing his eyes with his palms to give himself more of a ’stoner’ look were all brilliant just like the rest of that amazing short-lived show.”
It’s also really great to see so many currently successful actors at such a young and tender age. We’ve got Linda Cardellini before she scrubbed up, John Francis Daley before he grew up, James Franco before he hunked up, Seth Rogen before he Knocked Up, and Jason Segel before he suited up. What an under appreciated show.
I love the blurriness, how it becomes sharp for only a second then goes back to blur. Great metaphor for the show – just when you think you have a clear picture, you’re Lost again (he he). I love the weird, uneven kerning of the letters, showing that everything herein is just a little off balance. Also, I like how sometimes the main actors names appear on screen alongside them, almost like extending the credit sequence into the episode.
I saw the horse representing Bullock coming into town to shake everything up. The shots of the whiskey pour and the gold dust are just beautiful as well.
It’s a fun, silly intro with a fun, silly theme song that fits perfectly with this fun, silly show.
9. How I Met Your Mother
With an original theme song by the creators, this photo montage captures the show’s soul perfectly, even if the new san-serif font is horrendous compared to the original use of Century.
10. John from Cincinnati
I’m not sure why, but these credits really do it for me. James, you were right.