Top 10 TV Show Intros (Part V)
There’s something pure about how a TV show introduction is constructed, and yes, saying that does make me feel like an arty wanker. But there’s few other places that creative types can work as freely in a mainstream setting. There’s no limit to what they can do with the visuals and sound in making surrealistic montages that evoke drama, excitement and suspense.
Why is this at the end of the list? Because they only put it on the first episode! What the hell, guys? This was a great opening! It’s thematic, it’s evocative of the era and it gives us an intro to some of the characters. It immediately stood out as a great effort and it’s a shame they didn’t keep using it.
9. DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
Ok, full disclosure. I was going to include Dilbert on this list but Scott Adams is such a prick that I booted it. Instead I went with this old favourite. Not many people remember that the D&D gaming franchise produced a cartoon back in the day, let alone it having some amazing villains. What we like about this intro is how well they condense the bonkers plot into a 90 second summary complete with everyone’s character class.
8. MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE 3000
This one tells the whole story not with the visuals but with a catchy theme tune! I admire the commitment of changing and adapting the lyrics to include and explain new and exiting characters, changes to the story and the set-up for the odd situation the show revolves around. La la la.
It’s telling that the series went off the rails at the same time they dropped their awesome introductory sequence. Having a different artist performing the title song of ‘Little Boxes’ was a nice touch. Then there’s a clever idea of overlapping the footage to give us a series of identical suburbanites going about their day, setting us up for some sharp satire.
I’m allowed to have a nostalgic pick every once in a while. I also maintain that 1980s animation was a golden age of opening sequences. The animation always took a step up in quality and the theme songs were always catchy. And now Lee can’t complain that I missed it again.
5. MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS
There are few things on television quite as iconic as Terry Gilliam’s animation. Setting him lose on the introduction to their comedy troupe’s TV show was a smart idea. The absurdist imagery couple with the bombastic big band tune is the perfect summation of the show itself.
4. JESSICA JONES
Daredevil had already impressed us with it’s dark, street level take on the MCU and matched it’s tone with a red, blood soaked intro sequence. Jessica Jones had the added challenge of marking itself as unique from Daredevil while remaining part of the same universe. To that end they created a modern introduction sequence that drew heavily from film noir style and a distinct purple colour scheme. Super cool.
3. COWBOY BEBOP
Whilst not an anime viewer myself, this series did get my attention because it’s damn cool (although One Punch Man also came close to making the list). The combination of dark, noir style visual, fast paced jazz and spaceships sells the show extremely well. Let’s jam.
This short lived series came on the back of Lost, Battlestar Galactica and other high concept, high budget ensemble shows at the beginning of this brilliant era of television, but unfortunately didn’t bring in enough viewers to go the distance. Why people don’t want to see Tom Clancy playing a corrupt priest who gets involved in a supernatural battle with sideshow performers is beyond my understanding. The opening show combines original footage of dust-bowl USA during the great depression amid shifting images of Tarot cards. It highlights the strong contrast between the setting and the themes, one of the unique aspects of the show, rounded out with a haunting tune.
1. AMERICAN GODS
This show is amazing in it’s own right, being packed with awesome performances, visuals and concepts. Based on the book by Neil Gaiman it relocates ancient myths to modern Americana and imagined what new deities could rise out of our culture. The internet is packed full of videos and essays deconstructing it and, unsurprisingly, there’s masses of information focused just on the surreal nightmare of the opening titles. It’s a bizarre mash up of the two core motifs of the show – religion and the modern USA. Astronauts hanging from the crucifix, a statue Buddha tripping out on drugs, a menorah made of network cables, pyramids guarded by robotic toys and the final reveal of everything forming a garish, neon totem. Between the music and the visuals it almost feels like an attack.