Opening credits do more than tell you who the actors are in a TV show, they tell you what to expect from it too. Some great shows have had lousy credits and some great credits have gone before lousy shows, but here’s our Top 10, with video clips where YouTube will allow…
10 – The A-Team
The helicopter in ‘Nam, the machine gun writing, the theme tune, the vehicles flying through the air, the disguises, this had it all.
9 – The X-Files
Even more creepy, of course, is this classic from The X-Files. The theme tune is evocative enough, but all the weird stuff happening and torches being shone into murky rooms makes sure you know what you’re going to get.
8 – The Simpsons
Even more classic, The Simpsons’ theme and credits are legendary, and somehow managed to even survive a dreaded ‘revamp’ in the last few years to make them more shiny. Which is perhaps more than can be said for the show itself.
7 – The Sopranos
Quite how an obscure group from London managed to do the theme tune to one of the greatest American TV shows of all time is still something of a mystery, but could you imagine Tony’s drive from New York to New Jersey without Alabama 3? Nope.
6 – Homicide: Life On The Street
So many American TV series just lump for the ‘actor smiling at the camera’ formula for their credits, but Homicide shows you just flashes of them looking moody while a jazzy theme plays over shots of ‘The Streets’. Classy.
5 – The Wire
I said that opening credits should tell you what to expect, and The Wire’s credits sum up the show perfectly. Each series has a different recording of the same theme tune, and new visual clips (mostly snippets from the show) are thrown into the mix with each new series, just like the plot-lines and characters that come into to each new series.
4 – Dexter
Here’s one that plays with your expectations for the show, as well as summing it up nicely. We know that Dexter is a serial killer, so when we see him doing all kinds of grisly-looking things with razors and sharp knives, we think we know what he’s doing. He’s actually having a shave and making breakfast.
3 – True Blood
Jace Everett‘s great Bad Things makes a perfect theme for this scuzzy, sleazy series and the credits follow suit with the themes of sex and death mingling together in scenes of bumpin’ ‘n’ grindin’ and rottin’.
2 – Mad Men
This Saul Bass homage was parodied/homaged well in The Simpsons, but is classy enough to survive that. A businessman falling with skyscrapers all around him might still be considered a little risky less than 10 years after 9/11, but nevertheless, it’s all done with so much style. Just like the show, of course.
1 – Six Feet Under
A beautiful theme from Thomas Newman mingled with visuals that echo the haunting themes of the show makes this my favourite of all the opening credits. That the visuals have been put together in perfect harmony with the music’s changes of pace (the gurney wheels, the hands pulling apart) shows how much thought and effort went into the credits and it really pays off.
- ‘Mad Men’ theme tune performed a cappella – watch video (digitalspy.co.uk)
- TV Theme Tunes (sunshinetomorrow.wordpress.com)