As a follow up to my earlier post, here are a few more TV title sequences that I always enjoy;
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2019)
This has to be one of my fave TV shows in recent years, and is one of the rare TV spinoffs that is just as good (or better?) than the movie it is based on. Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi‘s hilarious concept, of a sadsack brood of vampires sharing a house, works well in an episodic format, the show has a brilliant cast, funny writing, and appropriately for this post, a great title sequence and theme tune by Norma Tanega:
THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1959)
I didn’t grow up with this show and didn’t know about it until after the movies and remakes had come out, but it felt familiar as soon as I finally saw it. Probably because so much of what came after, that I did grow up with, had been influenced by this classic series. Rod Serling‘s magnificent achievement is that he managed to smuggle weighty themes onto mainstream TV, thinly disguised as creepy sci-fi.. There have been many versions of the title sequence over the decades, and you can watch them all here:
ADVENTURE TIME (2010)
‘A boy & his dog in a post apocalyptic world’ doesn’t sound half as much fun as this show manages to be, nor as genuinely sweet and magical. The title sequence is full of what seemed to be random kooky imagery in the first season, but all of it wound up as plot elements in the sheries itself eventually, which charmed me. Title sequence as backstory/series outline.
THE ROCKFORD FILES (1974)
Title sequences that simply used photographs were common in the 1970s (another example from the same era is THE SWEENEY) but my fave would have to be this one. Combined with its catchy theme tune, and the unique voicemail messages at the start of each title (that sketched out the fly-by-night existence of Jim Rockford) and you have a classic title sequence from a great 1970s show.
THE PRISONER (1967)
This is another classic show that I’d heard about my whole life, but only recently watched all the way through. It is every bit as good as people say it is. This series can be thought of as a possible sequel to Patrick McGoohan‘s genre defining spy show that ran from 1960-68 DANGER MAN (AKA “Secret Agent”) but works equally well as a standalone mini series. The title sequence sets up the backstory, when a mystery man quits his job at an intelligence agency..
THE SOPRANOS (1999)
David Chase had worked in TV for 20 years – writing on “Kolchak: The Night Stalker, “The Rockford Files” and other classic series – before creating the show that he is best known for. I resisted watching it at first, thinking that I’d already seen more than enough gangster stories to last a lifetime. But I was hooked after the first few minutes of the very first episode, proving that a new viewpoint is often all that’s needed to freshen up a tired genre. A vaguely menacing tune accompanies an average shlub, driving (from a mob meeting? or a therapy appointment?) to his suburban home, and finally revealing the protagonist.. A perfect intro to one of the best TV series of its time.
Star Trek (1966)
“Space: the final frontier...” An iconic VoiceOver by William Shatner accompanied by an equally iconic theme tune begin an iconic title sequence that somehow distills a certain 1960s can-do optimism.
This is one of my favorite shows over the past few years. A dark, dramatic (& surprisingly funny) retelling of the clash of cultures that resulted when the Roman Empire’s second invasion of Celtic Britain was ultimately successful in 43AD. The 3 seasons so far have unique title sequences, each using a different Donovan 1960s tune as the theme music. Druid death-magic meets the imperial violence of Roman legions, a trippy cocktail that’s somehow perfectly evoked in these psychedelic title sequences.
Don’t forget to check THE ART OF THE TITLE to search for your own faves.
6 thoughts on “More Fave TV Titles”
There are so many great sequences you–and others–cite here! Even for shows I wasn’t familiar with (Callan, Britannia) or haven’t seen but have wanted to (What We Do in the Shadows, Adventure Time) Here are some others, possibly, should there be a Son of More Faves.
But before that, yes/must: Get Smart!, and F-Troop.
-Wonderful World of Disney/Walt Disney Presents/Wonderful World of Color
-The Wild, Wild West. I’ll be particular about this one, too. I always preferred the first season version, where the femme fatale is left swooning after the kiss rather than punched out. Even as a kid I liked that much better! I loved those graphics. They made me want to learn to draw. https://youtu.be/pYCgq8q9Ofw
-I, Spy. I think your perfect choice to start this series, Cowboy Bebop, takes graphic cues from this as much as it does from Tokyo Drift. (And from my next suggestion…) It’s just paced a little more cooly and casually. The international tennis star morphing into the sneaking spy, then Bang/bang/bang/bang! https://youtu.be/vW8gS1dNS_M
-Jonny Quest (See above!) https://youtu.be/SIhEpjnaNlo
-UFO More Gerry Anderson! Barry Gray! https://youtu.be/1qDy4OMAkgY
-Space: 1999 And more Gerry Anderson! And more Barry Gray! Actually, this one might top my personal list! Was there anything more thrilling and full of promise than the “this episode” montage in an opening? Punchy edits of explosions, horrified/shocked closeups, skidding spaceships? This tells you that THIS episode is going to kick ass like nothing else before! You get the grand portentous post 2001 intro and outro (with awesome planets and galaxies) to boot. Cosmic mystery, drama, action! That’s pretty much what you want in a space show! https://youtu.be/4SpX8bVEmJo
-Mission: Impossible. A lit fuse + bongos. And not even Barry Gray is as cool as Lalo Schifrin! https://youtu.be/wwpXUn2dF5c
Submitted for your approval!
so great to hear from you again and what an EPIC response!
As you can probably tell, it was very hard to choose! Even after two such posts, I had to leave many out. For example, in my second list I had CAPTAIN SCARLET for a long time but figured that I’d already done a Gerry & Sylvia title sequence with THUNDERBIRDS, but honestly ALL their title sequences are faves!
Some of the sequences you mention here were likewise on the early drafts of my lists:
JONNY QUEST, I SPY, and WILD WILD WEST are cited by many people but are yet more of the classics that I haven’t yet familiarized myself with. I somehow missed them growing up.
Now I have some homework to do!
James, I have been remiss! It’s all my fault, too. I miss you and Julia on FB! I have tried IG (set up an account–nothings on it–and dabbled a bit) but haven’t been able to hack it yet. I just don’t understand its appeal, but I know I’m probably missing something. But you have still sent out great articles, thoughts, and art via FALLOUT, and while I read them all, I just haven’t leaped into commenting. Until now, and I vow to be better. I will especially think about you RE James Bond. I recently watched all the Connery, Lazenby, and the 2 good Moore ones (The Spy Who Loved Me…and Moonraker–YES, Moonraker!) and I made some adjustments to my thinking about them, ranking-wise, which startled me. So I’m looking forward to your next dive into Bondom! (But really, I’m just plain looking forward into your next dive into anything!)
Regarding any list: I know it’s tough to limit listings/rankings! I could not name 10 favorite films, for example, and I’m occasionally called upon to try. I could not name 10 favorite directors, even! So any 10 Best inevitably goes to 50 (with bonus adds). Like Othello, I love not wisely but too well. I see you working this with your More Faves post, here. Therefore, I say drop all pretense! Do an “Offspring of More Faves!” You can do worse than to keep this conversation going! ;) It’s a fun one! (And I get to learn about things I’ve missed, too!)
I honestly love IG. I follow artists and photographers and get daily inspiration on there, with a minimum of fuss. Twitter is the one that I don’t ‘get’. I’m on there, but don’t interact much.
Yes, lists are hard, but fun in a way. Maybe I’ll do more.. make a list of top ten lists!
Thanks for yet another great trip down memory lane! I’d almost forgotten about The Rockford Files … will have to try and catch some episodes again.
I think one of my favourites would have to have been “Dallas”. :)
Hope all is well with you mate?
THE ROCKFORD FILES is still a great show. Recently, I’ve also been watching another old 70s classic KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER, which I’ve heard might have influenced later conspiracy/mystery shows (such as X-Files).