The Best and Worst Credit Sequences of the 2012-2013 TV Season: Monday Shows

Television's way of saying "How do you do?" is the opening credits sequence, an introduction not only to a show's cast and crew, but also to its personality and possibly your phone's new ringtone (calls from my boss cue up American Horror Story). These intros find a way to boil down the essence of a show into a tidy clip with a runtime of anywhere from a few eyeblinks to a trip to the bathroom, but the best ones are just as memorable as the show's most important moments.

I've gathered as many of the new intro sequences from this current television season (and some from last summer) as I could find so that we can critique them together, starting today with Monday and continuing all week until we get through Sunday (though we're skipping you, Saturday, you still don't matter).



Partners

This credit sequence does a great job of telling me who I will be watching on Partners for the next half hour. And that the dress code for the show is business casual. But that's about it. The white background either (A) wants to accentuate the fact that this is a character-driven show by presenting no other distractions or (B) shows that the producing studio, Warner Bros, is incredibly cheap. I'm leaning toward (B) because they couldn't even afford a standard 30 frames per second filming speed! Or are these actors made out of clay and this is actually claymation? And minus 100 points for the theme song, from this generation's Gin Blossoms, the woefully bad Imagine Dragons. Was Train too busy? Grade: D



The Mob Doctor

In case you weren't absolutely sure of The Mob Doctor's premise, these credits want to make it very clear: The show is about a doctor who works for the mob. To illustrate this, a blimp shot of Chicago (mob central) is superimposed with what looks like an artery or some neural pathways (doctor stuff). Well thank you very much, The Mob Doctor's credit sequence! And how about that "T" that's actually the universal symbol for first aid? The creative juices were all over this one. There was a chance to do some great Dexter-style mash-up intro, with closeups of surgical instruments and medical procedures being indistinguishable from mob-ordered violence, but that would be too much work for a show that Fox knew wouldn't last to see the second week of 2013 (and that should've been axed in October). There's zero effort here, but at least it isn't offensive; around these parts, that's good enough for a (just barely passing) passing grade. Grade: C-



Revolution

This intro: "Hey! Wait! Before you change the channel let me sell you this here show Revolution by telling you exactly what it's about because the idea is kind of convoluted and serialized sci-fi shows are really struggling to retain audiences." This kind of pre-show lecture is common with high-concept programs like NBC's power outage drama, and, frankly, has become a plague on television for those of us not suffering from Alzheimer's. The time-lapse visuals that go with it are peculiar. Times Square! The planet! San Francisco! A random gas station? Hmm. But by far the best part is the title card, even with its forced and unnecessary "Evolution" into "Revolution," because it really conveys a sense of how terrible it is when your cable goes out. But does this sequence accurately introduce the Disney-fied tone of the show? Not really. I would have preferred 30 seconds' worth of Charlie slipping on banana peels while Miles facepalms and Aaron runs away from bees. Grade: C



Deception

This shameless opening screams "Hold on to your Häagen-Dazs, because you're about to watch a trashy primetime soap!" A fantastic score drives a kaleidoscopic haze of images: key words from murderous newspaper clippings! Silhouettes getting it on! A shirtless men biting the head off a champagne bottle in a hot tub! Out-of-context photographs! Hot female detectives in men's dress shirts! So many shots laid over so many other shots because this show is essentially a rapid blitzkrieg of things that don't really matter! This intro pretty much nails the show even though there's not much to it that a fan with Adobe After Effects and 45 minutes couldn't replicate. There is one tragic error, however: the inconsistent way the text drops in (an upward wipe fade? a single letter getting into place? Tate Donovan's name just appearing?) is really annoying to people who have nothing better to do but nitpick over stupid things like me. Grade: B



Bunheads

"Amy Sherman-Palladino Presents" is pretty bold and self-congratulatory, but I'll forgive her since she earned it. The sequence itself is a gorgeous ode to underweight teens walking on their toes in tights, and the crossfade from Tchaikovsky's classic "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" into composer Sam Phillips' original theme is a great indicator that this ain't your grandmama's ballet drama. It subtly hits the show's running theme, that the past (Fanny) will clash with the present (Michelle), and it's always a good sign when you don't want a credit sequence to end. Or it might be a bad sign that you're a pervert who gets off on ballet. Either way, this is one great tampon commercial opener that ends perfectly on its star and her glowing charisma. Grade: B+



The Carrie Diaries

Apologies in advance if you have to sit through a commercial to watch this intro. And double apologies in advance to international users who don't have access to Hulu.

The Carrie Diaries is still in its infancy, so I'm not even sure this is the actual credit sequence but we're running with it anyway. If it is, oh boy we have a problem. Revolution needs this kind of weekly exposition, but The Carrie Diaries? It's about a girl trying to get laid in the '80s! It's the simplest concept of the year! Why not take advantage of the setting and trick this thing out like the opening of Fast Times: The Series did? Grade: D



The Following

Warning: Clicking play is probably a waste of your time. So... Fox's BIGGEST show of the year plays it simple with "The Following" in white letters over a black background. Does the series need to keep it short so it can immediately get back to Ryan Hardy saying some shit like "the eyes are the window to the soul" or "Poe saw beauty in death!" or other mumbo jumbo? The Following is all about atmosphere, and a solid credit sequence would be a good way to establish that. I'm sure they meant this as a "the show speaks for itself," but I'm sorry, this show stinks! Grade: F



Which new(ish) Monday-night credit sequence do you like best?



Comments (144)
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The people from The Following should take a look at the intro for The Killing, it's a great intro and it sets the mood for the series.
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Is "Lost Girl" too old for this column? "Continuum" too new? (Not trying to be a SyFy nerd, just wondering what fits here. And by the way, they both suck.)
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Lost Girls opening is awesome!!!!
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I like the Bunheads,Carrie Diaries credit sequences
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Funny, I really don´t like the Bunheads one. Love the show bit not the opening.
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My favorite thing about the "Bunheads" opening is the fact that it's entirely B&W until they pan to Michelle...in living color, and it's done flawlessly.
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darn I forgot. you have to let me nominate Bones for worst since they changed the music to theirs and it's really annoying now. the other might have annoyed other people but I found it tolerable. their new intro music I do not find tolerable.
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oh, and the following doesn't stink. it just isn't great. though it has kinda been slipping from it's precarious seating in mediocrity since the pilot. even with annie parrise. and I feel bad for that chick who got cast aside after the pilot too. I hate when that happens between pilot and real run.
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Had Bunheads Stuck with nutcracker suite music It would have gotten my vote but whatever they broke into sucked by comparison IMO. I voted for Deception. While it's a show I certainly won't watch, the intro was like a mini show or something.

carie diaries gets my vote for worst. annoying and info shoved down my throat and I love ASR but she doesn't quite have a narrator voice/ presence.
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Hey Tim, when are we going to see "The Best and Worst Whiny Bitching Commenters of the 2012-13 TV Season"?
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I like the Partners intro the best (that song is good!) and Sophia Bush's face alone should have qualified it for a C. The Deception intro is great too but to nitpick your nitpick, Tate Donovan's name doesn't just appear. The A (in Donovan) drops in and it does the wipe. Maybe because Laz Alonso's name is also there it's distracting?
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Hey! Dont go insulting the Dragons, they are good, the song just does not necessarily fit the whole vibe of the video.

I liked Deceptions intro. Never seen the show but coz I am a woman and drama and intrigue appeal to me by default, I even thought I might have to give the show a go.

And obviously Bunheads.. Every time I see the intro it just reminds me that these girls are amazing dancers on top of being really good actors. I mean it is really difficult nowadays to portray a teenage girl in a tv show without the character turning out to be really annoying,
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The simple title-only opening only worked for one show - Lost. Because anything else would be telling.
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idk i like revolution credits. the show sux o/c but the credits're quite good, like u actually believe at first that u're going to see smth decent? so yeah, a+ for the credits, d- for the rest disappointment.
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Wow, I'm offended, Imagine Dragons made two of my favorite songs of 2012, including Partners theme song. "Woefully bad" it is not imho.
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You beat me to it, I was just about to say the same thing. Imagine Dragons is great, besides at least it's much better than those trashy/bad songs from Katy Perry or some other talentless singer.
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Ha ha, sorry! Don't mean to offend, just not a big fan of radio-friendly music, surprise surprise.
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How about unlistenably awful?
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Monday was a hard night, but then I was watching Bunheads and was like, well, clearly. Since these are new, I wonder if I am going to have to make a hard choice between Person of Interest and Elementary (two shows I watch and love the theme songs of, but totally love POI more).
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omg, im sorry, but i completely disagree with you... not about the critic made here about some shows, but the about the opening concept; if they are suppose to be the "an introduction" to the show, i missed that memo. To me they are the thing that I have to wait for to be over, so I can watch the thing that i tune in for. Reason why i LOVE intros like vampire diaries, and hate others like true blood, arrow, ... sooooo long.
The intro and the hello from a show... thats why the pilot (and probably the second episode in some shows) were invented for.
so guess depends on taste.. but the shorter the better...
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Yeah this is true, while I like long, catchy and cinematically well executed intros (Game of Thrones, True Blood) to get me into the mood once a week, I seem to skip over them if I am watching more than one episode in a row.

*Ohoh! I just remembered Buffy! That was an amazing intro, never skipped that one for sure, also Smallville. It seems my theory is crumbling fast... -_- But tbf I really liked the songs in these intros so it wasnt much to do with the intro itself it was more to do with me liking the songs.*

Usually if I have seen it once, them meh. I do skip most of them, the exceptions being the previously mentioned shows. Then I really appreciate shows like Supernatural which do so much with so little. I mean, I wouldnt mind seeing Dean and Sam pouting and brooding in slow motion but it is not really the shows style, I think it adds a layer of mystery to the show. Plus who can honestly tell me that every time a new season begins you are not excited about the new style of the intro?
Okay I am finished now.
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I love the GoT intro! Besides the awesome graphics and tune that runs in my head for 4 days after watching an episode, there are Easter eggs. Sometimes the locations that are picked out point to what is ahead in that episode. You can't count on the intro to be the same every time, and that makes it unskippable.
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totally agree. If i watch any dvds or stream tv shows i always skip over the intro cuz once youve seen it once who cares. the only time that i will watch a long intro is only if it has a fun theme song but there are so few of those
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I totally don't agree with you. I love the Partners credit because it's simple yet fun and i love the song. And i think the Deception one sucks. I don't like the song or the way the images are layed down, you're right it says "you're gonna watch a twisted soap" and it doesn't serve the show!
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Um, The Vampire Diaries is neither a NEW show, nor does it air on Mondays. Both criteria for being on this list.
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I don't know,what you are smoking Tim,but from shows opening credits you chose to grade, I wouldn't give any of those grade over D. Who am I kidding...they all suck ! F !!!
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I guess I'm grading on a curve?
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Also, come on, you know what I'm smoking.
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Why no SyFy shows? Its the one night they program the whole 8:-11:pm block with original programs (well - one remake and two good Canadian shows). "Lost Girl" still better than any on this list.
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Sorry, only new credit sequences on this list. And Continuum technically came out last year.
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Thanks to you, I now have a Gin Blossoms song stuck in my head. And I like it.
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I've never heard of the Imagine Dragons, but I don't know why you're dissing the Gin Blossoms! Not cool, man. :)
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Tomorrow Mindy Project's gonna get it hard. That intro sequence....I don't know what Mindy was thinking. "Wak wak wak wak wak wak wak wak wak wak wak wak wak wak wak wak...."
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It's this year's Homeland, for sure. Absolutely intolerable.
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Tim, where's the any day credit sequence question? Because the absolute best is Boss. It's a work of art and the only one I let play all the way through each time. Ok, Breaking Bad is pretty brilliant, too.
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I didn't realize the monologue on Revolution was actually party of the opening sequence, I though it was just a 'previously' bit and the title was the entrance.
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I kinda like Imagine Dragons... you made me feel like a stupid 12 year old xD
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Sorry! I listen to polka, so what do I know?
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Well that is a rather secluded area of music.. broaden your horizon and I shall do the same!
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I love the carrie diaries and partners openings. Revolution would be good if there was no talking just music. Reminds me of walking dead.
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The talking would be okay for like the first episode but anybody that's seen an episode knows the story already so it's kind of unnecessary. However it's common for shows to have the voice over in the opening credits for people that are watching for the very first time, ATLA (and LoK as well) did the same thing.
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Esme Buffay? As in Pheobe Buffay? Lol awesome. But I agree. I think it's unnessasary
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Lol that was the idea, you're teh first person who's gotten it.
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That's insane. There's no way I'm the first! Lol
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I just saw the opening for The Carrie Diaries on youtube, and I would give it a grade of B.
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"I am devilishly handsome, aren't I?"

Oh, Castle. You win my Monday nights.
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My favourite opening sequence has to be Downton Abbey. But that is on Sundays, at least in North America. I don't really like any of the opening sequences of any shows in Mondays. I watch Hawaii 5-0. The music in its opening sequence ain't too bad ;).
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Just noticed that I gave up on all the new Monday shows of this year. I still have to try Bunhead though... (Too bad the previous years aren't here, I would have loved to give kudos to Castle's short but efficient (and adaptable!) credit)
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This is one of the best quotes about Revolution I've ever heard: "I would have preferred 30 seconds' worth of Charlie slipping on banana peels while Miles facepalms and Aaron runs away from bees." It would be better than the actual show...
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Hey Tim, i asked about whether you'd be doing this or not in the comments of "tottally tubular"(is it coming back? i missed the last one and then Price left...).
Thanks for doing it, it is really fun. Don't forget mtv's "underemployed", though i'm not really sure which day it airs, i don't have mtv where i live (well, i do, but it's a whole different thing with people speaking in spanish and stuff)
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Thanks! The podcast is on hiatus at the moment. I couldn't find the Underemployed title sequence anywhere...
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The ones I watch are The Following and Revolution. I'm guessing I'd like one of the others better. But I haven't seen them, so I don't know.

I think opening credits are important. They set the mood for the show. Only Homeland and Breaking Bad are awesome enough to get away with terrible opening credits. Homeland may have the worst one of all, except maybe Falling Skies.
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When Tim did this last year, he very astutely mentioned that at the ending of the Revenge title sequence, the font of 'created by Mike Kelley' did not match the rest of the intro. Well I suppose they listened because shortly thereafter the Mike Kelley line was changed to correctly fit the colours and theme of the intro. And surprisingly, not once did Tim take credit for it. Changing the world from the shadows, way to stay humble Tim.
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Whoa. I had no idea. Time to brag about how awesome I am I guess.
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Goddamn it Tim! Now you ruined it. I retract all my previous praise.
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Why isn't there a None of the Above choice....
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Best new opening sequence: House of Cards!
Its like Planet Earth on steroids.
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Revolution was a pretty terrible show but the credits were pretty good. The Following is a pretty good show with really crappy (I mean low-key) credits. The rest I really don't have an opinion on.
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This seems like a mindless exercise, fun or not. Shows don't really do opening sequences anymore. Remember all those classic memorable ones of the past - Munsters, I Dream of Jeannie, etc.? Oddly enough, I think The Nanny was probably one of, if not the last, show to do something classic like those earlier programs. Nothing today, that I've seen, is really memorable to me, if they do anything at all.

Closing credits, however, may be another matter. Remember those? When I first watched programs on Hulu, I realized that I almost forgot shows had them. The theme music for Bones, Warehouse 13, and even Grey's Anatomy were pretty good and refreshing, if not nostalgic, to hear. Unfortunately, Warehouse 13 ruined theirs by slowing it down from what it was. By now, the novelty of closing themes has sort of worn off though, but I do hope and wish shows would continue to produce them for when I watch Hulu or DVD, as they can be nice, if you are one to sit through the end anyway.
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"Shows don't really do opening sequences anymore."

Currently: Game of Thrones, Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, True Blood,..

Recently: Smallville, Caprica, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis,...

Slightly less recently: Firefly, The Sopranos, The Wire, Buffy, Angel, Friends,...
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It's true, the art of the opening sequence is mostly left to cable. Elementary is the only new network show I can think of that went for it this season.
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It looks like this list has got a case of the Moooondays. Ugh, I hate myself. Anyway, I don't particularly like any of these opening sequences. If I had to choose one over the rest, I guess Revolution's may be best.
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Thumbs up for case of the Mondays. Never hate the cheesy joke, I make a living on them.
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Partners gets an A+. Don't play it. Just stare at Sophie.
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Sophia*. Damn Leverage.
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The Revolution time-lapse was a carefully calculated move to evoke feelings that sci-fi viewers have for The 4400. As we all know, a sci-fi show on a big network will attempt to include everything and the kitchen sink to bring in enough diverse demographics to get the numbers to justify the budget. Premise+nostalgia was their way of bringing in the sci-fi audience since they weren't going to do it with anything resembling actual science and they didn't even have any token sci-fi royalty to bring in that audience (except Elizabeth Mitchell who is barely in each episode and arguably isn't quite there yet).
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When you said "Credits" I was thinking financials, not opening titles.

Ouch, Partners sucked even on its titles, great job doofi. Good call there Tim.

The Mob Doctor and Revolution's grades seem half a point high each.

I'm also annoyed by Deception's text weirdness.

Oh man, "one great tampon commercial", awesome.

Seriously, "before there was the city", she's a mummy from 500 years ago? That is one seriously insipid title sequence, The Carrie Diaries. Also, I didn't have to suffer an ad, only an ad-card for Adobe who I'm already stuck using.

The Following, how about showing us some murders or headlines or SOMETHING to tell us what this is? You haven't earned the right to pull a "we're so important all you need to know is our name" crap, and I suspect you never will.

Oh man, the're all dogs, horribly so. I'll give it to Deception as it seemed to set a tone and say something, but basically I'm saying cat shit is better than dog shit here.
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Today I learned cat shit is better than dog shit.
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Trust me, as a former owner of both animals for decades, that is a stone fact and now you have learned a valuable lesson.
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We all know Elementary is going to win this. If only that show was as thrilling and engaging as its opening credits...
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For making a steampunk Mousetrap commercial? Bah. Everyone is giving it too much credit by referring to it as a Rube Goldberg opening. Well, yes, technically, but I think it is one generation more derivative than that.
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Castle:)..... no... wait... that's not one of the new shows....
Intro-creators: You can do better! Maybe next time?
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I look forward to tomorrow's EXTENSIVE coverage of the Cougar Town title sequence.
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Cougar Town is not a new show, just new to TBS.
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The Intro sequence is new(-ish) The first season didn't have, um, let's call it "commentary", embedded in it.
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But seasons 2-3 did, and we're on season 4 now, so I still don't think it's new enough. I also doubt it'd get terribly good marks, the majority of the commentaries are how the title doesn't really make sense anymore so it's already dumping on its opening titles.
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I actually really like intro for Partners...
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**Note: I have not yet seen any of "The Following" and for the following statement it should be considered that I completely missed the show's presence on this list.
"Bunheads" is EASILY both the best show on this list, and has the best opening credits on this list. Generally speaking, I don't mind the title card shot and that's it for opening sequences, but there are good and bad ways to do that. I would honestly be okay with "The Mob Doctor"'s opening credits if it weren't such a bad show. Any sort of recurring narration "Carrie Diaries", "Revolution" (or for a classic example: "Burn Notice") REALLY gets on my nerves. If your intention is that we watch this show more than once every long while (say, what you might do for "NCIS" and only watch it when your favourite of guest-stars come on for an episode), then this type of narration bugs and annoys and you can bet I'll fast-forward through it, and generally speaking, I don't like to do that, I feel like the intros are part of the show. I never fast forward through the intro to "The West Wing" when I'm watching it. For "Deception", I'll give a solid okay to that one just because it inspires solid images in my brain of Swedish countrysides for whatever reason (logic not necessary here), and I like that. The names thing bugs me, too, again, for whatever reason.
In conclusion, Yay "Bunheads" (See also: "Gilmore Girls"'s intro also hit it exactly right on the head, even if the song did irritate after a while), and it's apparently a lot harder to find a good intro than I would have thought.
More+
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Elementary should have made the Best list. The Rube Goldberg creation fits the main character perfectly and is a blast to watch!
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It's a daily list, so today it's Monday shows only, Elementary airs on Thursday.
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