Title fights

Wednesday, October 1, 2008 by

The TV title sequence, is it a dying art in the age of squished credits and “Coming up next”? Perhaps. but there’s still some fine examples out there. Here’s my current top five.

Dexter (Showtime)

This one’s subtitled “Morning routine”, apparently. It’s fantastically creepy, selling the concept of death as a major element in Dexter’s life through an imaginative visual metaphor…

Mad Men (AMC)

Another US drama. That music is A Beautiful Mine by RJD2. The visuals perfectly mesh the show’s 60s setting with a modern, slightly off-kilter, vibe. And, again, sell the series’ central conceit: Crushing ambition and a loss of identity in a soon-to-be advertising obsessed culture.

Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1)

This is from the fifth series, which finished airing this week, didn’t it? Anyway, what to say about it? It’s very elegant, has a pleasing element of hyper-reality about it, subtly foreshadows the contributors’ own findings… and makes Ainsley Harriott look dignified!

Merlin (BBC1)

The Beeb’s Saturday night sword and not-so-much sorcery saga boasts a rather smart opener. Love the inclusion of Excalibur and the text blazing onto the screen. That tune’s a bit generic though, isn’t it?

Hell’s Kitchen (ITV1)

In lieu of finding the most recent – bonkers – titles to Hell’s Kitchen USA on YouTube (featuring all the contestants as munchkins, propelling fruits and the like around the kitchen – honest) here’s the British series. Fittingly for Marco, it’s ketchup red, but I like this because it’s rather understated. That last-second flash of evil in Chef’s eyes really sells it…

If you feel so moved, please nominate your own favourite (fairly current) title sequences below.

Right, well, in the comments below, Richard’s tipped us off about HBO’s True Blood. So let’s have a look.


11 Responses to “Title fights”

  1. Richard on October 1st, 2008 3:28 pm

    I haven’t seen a second of the actual show yet, but the opening credits to HBO’s new drama “True Blood” are absolutely fantastic, somewhere between “Dexter” and “The Sopranos” with a touch of “Deliverance”.

  2. Graham Kibble-White on October 1st, 2008 4:20 pm

    As you can see, I’ve embedded that clip. And you’re right, it’s rather good.

  3. ljones on October 1st, 2008 6:48 pm

    I can forsee a time when the credits are cut completely at the end, and all you get is a web address to go see the credits at.


  4. Ian Jones on October 1st, 2008 7:58 pm

    That’s not me, by the way. It’s another Ian Jones. Or someone trying to pretend they’re me.

  5. Rob Buckley on October 1st, 2008 9:39 pm

    We had a bit of a chat about some of the best and worst title sequences on my blog a while back, but those were mostly sci-fi. And a blogging pal of mine did his own round up a week or two ago, too.

    If we restrict it down to modern title sequences, I’d say:

    1) Touching Evil (US), because they’re so bleak and spinny
    2) Chuck (they’re so fun)
    3) Penn and Teller’s Bullshit (for sheer creativity – they start about a minute into the clip)

    But Dexter and Mad Men are both great choices and should be on anyone’s list.

    PS One bloke’s already set up a blog completely dedicated to title sequences.

  6. Andy Elms on October 2nd, 2008 9:46 am

    Am I the only one to appreciate the simple elegance of the Torchwood opening? Or do people think it should be filed under the “Will this do?” section.

    And of course, don’t forget the closing credits of “Ashes to Ahes” in their full Amstrad greenscreen-and-flashing-cursor glory. But then I still have nostalgia for my old PCW8256.

  7. ljones on October 2nd, 2008 7:58 pm

    BTW, I’m not Ian jones, my first name is Lee. The first letter of my name I normally use is a lowercase “l” there, btw. It might be hard to read on some screens, so my apologies. Oop!


  8. Ian Jones on October 2nd, 2008 10:06 pm

    No worries – I was just a little spooked by seeing what looked like my own name!

  9. Bumper on October 12th, 2008 2:09 pm

    Six Feet Under gets my vote. Beautiful visuals and fantastic music. Those wilting flowers get me every time.

    I always think of these when I see the Who Do You Think You Are titles — the tree on the hill is almost identical.

    Interesting information here:
    But, oddly, the ‘final version’ video doesn’t include the actual credits, and so the sequence seems wrong to me.

  10. Gervillian Swike on October 18th, 2008 11:37 am

    It was mentioned in the Blackadder retrospective on BBC4 last week, that for Blackadder II they could film a whole series of sequences in an ornate garden with a harlequin apparently singing a variation on the main theme every week, with Rowan Atkinson reacting accordingly. Ah, such days are gone now, replaced by trailers for the next programme – in an age where many people have already set their reminders and so such trailers won’t make a jot of difference! Shame!

  11. Rob Williams on October 18th, 2008 5:11 pm

    Any show that subverts their titles… Example from the last series of Family Guy where Peter falls down the stairs crushing a dancer and Stewie quiping “P-perhaps you should go ahead and switch that off…” to the camera