I’m a big fan of TV show title sequences. The music, imagery, the setup for what’s to come in the show – there’s a lot of effort and thought put into these often very fleeting moments. Here’s the indisputable (alright my own opinion) top 10:
10. American Horror Story (Season 1)
A friend recommended I watch this show and I dived into the first episode having read nothing about it and having no idea what to expect. No thematic analysis here – this is just batshit crazy. And it’s perfect for the show. Although season 2 was a highlight year for me, nothing ever topped the pure unknown insanity of that very first season.
A long-form sequence lasting a whopping 1:42, yet I often found myself not skipping it. Yes it’s a good chance to refill on snacks during a binge watching session, but it’s also clever and charming. And it has enough symbolism and double entendre to keep a high school film studies class busy for years…
8. Boardwalk Empire
A slow build, much like the show itself, but well worth the wait. Maybe I’m just too much of a Steve Buscemi fan.
7. Halt and Catch Fire
Not a sperm apparently. The 80’s synth and pixelated graphics are suitably retro but without the ‘cheese’ element, a more dark and mature opening than what they could have gone with. Another example of something starting off small and building up.
6. Six Feet Under
A bit of cliche in such lists, but Alan Ball shows do have some nice title sequences (see number 4 in this list). The rapidity of the slow motion shots and the various imagery give this a real eerie quality.
What I loved about Fringe title sequences was the show constantly changing them up to suit the episode or arc of episodes. Not many shows do this, admittedly because it would cost a fair bit. But when a show does this it demonstrates that the episode that follows is not like the others – something audiences are showing huge demand for with anthology series and shorter miniseries type content.
4. True Blood
Captures the feel of the show perfectly. Another long one but you notice something different each and every time. Made me wish that the show lived up to this more after season 3 (just pretend the show ended there).
3. Mad Men
Given the subject matter somewhat understated, exciting colours and the dramatic fall away of the scenery (ooo metaphor!) make this a favourite. Played it right in terms of length, I would have skipped this a lot if it were any longer.
2. True Detective (Season 1)
A real slow burner, I hated this song at first. It sounded out of place, different and unnerving. But then something clicked, and suddenly I loved it. Perhaps the McConaissance just influences me too much.
Season 2 looks just as striking, but the music just doesn’t work. So I made my own version quickly by sticking the Season 2 teaser trailer over the visuals – see what you think!
1. Game of Thrones
I’m sure entire essays of analysis have been written on this subject, and many of the others above. Someone once described this to me in a way that I can’t beat:
“When you see and hear this, you know the next hour is going to be….glorious”
“But wait” I hear you splutter! What about…. The Wire, The Sopranos, Lost, Battlestar Galactica… and so on? Great shows, but did their titles really stand out? Agree? Disagree? Tell us in the comments below!