Title sequences serve an important role beyond simply introducing the cast and crew of a TV show. Rather, they have the unique ability to pique a viewer’s interest in watching the show, and in some cases, even foreshadow the events of a given episode. The most successful TV intros are the ones that manage to capture the show’s essence in just a matter of seconds, keeping audiences not just interested in the show, but curious to see what direction it takes.
There are many TV intros that I have come to love and can immediately recognize by their sounds or visuals. Among these are the opening sequences of popular sitcoms like “Friends,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Seinfeld,” which are known for their iconic theme songs, as well as “Community” and Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie,” which have memorable animated intros. Although these comedies have some of the catchiest and most visually entertaining intros on television, my favorite opening credits belong to dramas. These are my picks for the best dramatic opening credits on television.
- “Game of Thrones”
My inspiration for this column, the “Game of Thrones” theme is a masterpiece: The song, dramatic and dark, somehow manages to capture the essence of the show in just under two minutes. Iranian-German composer Ramin Djawadi composed the piece specifically for the show, and the result of his work is perfection. The theme is developed around a simple yet powerful cello arrangement, and has been replicated countless times in popular culture. The visual component of the intro is also well-thought-out; it is essentially an animated journey through the show’s mythical world, Westeros, and focuses on the locations relevant to certain episodes.
Also composed by Djawadi, the beautiful, eerie, string-laden theme of HBO’s “Westworld” plays over a detailed animated sequence that shows viewers the meticulous process of making the humanoid robots that inhabit the show’s setting, a high-tech futuristic theme park. It is incredibly satisfying to be able to see how the show’s main characters come to life on screen. One of the sequence’s best moments is a chilling shot of an android’s hands playing the theme song on the piano. Although rather minimalistic in terms of its sound and visual effects, the “Westworld” intro is remarkably evocative; as viewers watch, they may find themselves contemplating deep ethical and existential questions of whether or not the video’s subjects, the androids, are real, sentient beings, as well as what it means to truly be alive. The show’s opening credits perfectly set viewers up to embark on a thrilling sci-fi adventure.
- “True Blood”
The “True Blood” title sequence is incredibly captivating and well-made — in fact, it was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design in 2009. The intro was developed by Digital Kitchen, an independent film agency, and features “Bad Things” by Jace Everett, a classic country track that highlights Everett’s deep, smooth voice and Southern twang. The intro’s audio pairs perfectly with its imagery; the video intersperses shots of decaying animals, the bayou and the Deep South, which is where the show takes place, with raunchy and gory glimpses that may make you do a double take. The title sequence for “True Blood” is just as edgy and dark as the show itself, and will intrigue, excite and perhaps even frighten its viewers all at once.
Although these title sequences are critically acclaimed for their visual effects and music, they deserve recognition for something far more important: keeping viewers invested in and passionate about what they are watching. So as you tune into the next episode of your favorite TV show, take note of its title sequence; whether it is just a quick, minimalistic intro or an audiovisual masterpiece, it is sure to grab your attention — and keep it.
Claire Nenninger is a senior in the College.