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).
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-
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
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
"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
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?