There’s nothing better than settling down to watch your favourite TV show. Going hand in hand with this experience is the memory of THAT distinctive moment: the opening credits theme. Some become synonymous with the show for the catchy theme tune, and others for the impressive graphics used to illustrate them. Here, in no particular order, we list our 10 favourite title sequences…
The Twilight Zone
Much imitated and never forgotten, that iconic theme tune Bernard Herrmann fulfils the show’s remit all by itself, that of taking you into a whole new zone: one of terror. Coupled with the iconic monologue from creator Rod Serling and the vertigo inducing spinning titles, and you have an instantly iconic opening sequence.
It has been much changed over the years, evolving with the times, the evolution of special effects and the increase in budget, but its essence has remained the same ever since it was first written by Ron Grainer. Created using a mixture of analogue recording techniques and the utilisation of white noise, it is much a technological marvel as it is an iconic part of popular culture.
Fitting in perfectly with the camp, melodramatic and overblown of the style of the show itself, the opening credits refused to take itself too seriously. No matter how many po-faced takes on Batman there are, people will always hum this theme tune when they think of him. Plus, there can’t be too many more themes that have been parodied in both Only Fools And Horses AND The Simpsons.
Star Trek: The Original Series
“Space: the final frontier.” As much a statement of intent as it is an introduction, William Shatner’s much-quoted narration will forever remain synonymous with the show in whatever form it takes. In one way or another, most sci-fi shows have followed its lead since then.
Batman: The Animated Series
Almost as much a short film as it is an opener, the Dark Knight’s wordless pursuit of a couple of crims comes across almost as something Fritz Lang would have come up with if he was a 90s cartoon animator. Silent, sleek and enduring, we can never get bored of watching this.
X-Men: The Animated Series
Nothing says ‘Saturday morning’ quite like this brilliant opening credits sequence from the equally amazing X-Men animated series. Embracing its comic-book source material with wide open arms, this is how all animated series should be introduced.
People who look at the Homeland opening credits as something novel and new should definitely check this out – it owes a debt to it. Ben Browder’s opening narrative is part introduction part mayday call, and throws you into the Farscape universe in the most effective manner possible.
Game Of Thrones
You have more restraint than us if you’re not humming Ramin Djawadi’s theme tune just thinking about it. Containing painstakingly made reconstructions from the show’s locations (changing depending on the episode), it says something that this author has never fast-forwarded through it – and he always fast-forwards through things.
American Horror Story
The most chilling opening credits scene since The Twilight Zone? Undoubtedly, and then some. Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s all-embracing horror series broke the mould in more ways than one, and these credits – again, changing depending on the season – do their job well. It turns out that plucked strings and chainsaws make great musical companions…
The Leftovers: Season 1
A Renaissance art-deco styling of the Rapture in action, the opening credits to Season 1 perfectly sum up the sense of resigned helplessness that characterises The Leftovers. It’s like the five stages of grief minus acceptance, and one of the most genuinely beautiful opening sequences in recent memory. Shame it got changed for Season 2.
Do you agree with our choices? Let us know if we’ve made any glaring omissions…