Not all TV openings have to feature pop songs and the cast smiling at the camera. Here are 10 great unique contemporary TV intros that really set the mood for the show without being cheesy.
The Mad Men opening credits feature a graphic silhouetted animation of man falling while surrounded by skyscrapers and billboards. The simple color palette and typography contrast with the vintage advertisements give it a Hitchcockian feel. The theme is a stunning instrumental by RJD2. You can view it here.
The Dexter opening credits take Dexter’s morning routine, full of normal every day things like flossing and cooking, and makes them creepy and sinister. This perfectly sets up the world of Dexter, which is a contrast of normal life mixed with a sinister private one.
The True Blood theme features juxtaposing images of sex, violence, and religion set to a country song called “Bad Things” by Jace Everett. It showcases the show’s deep south setting, while setting up several of the shows themes, such as the sign that says “God Hates Fangs.”
The Six Feet Under opening sequence features a creative demonstration of what happens when you die, from toe tags to graveyards, which perfectly sets up a show about a family of undertakers. It’s slightly creepy, slightly disturbing, and beautiful, just like the show.
The Sopranos opening portrays Tony Soprano emerging from the Lincoln Tunnel, entering the New Jersey Turnpike. This sets the viewer up to know that this is a Jersey show, not a New York one. It’s dirty and gritty, and it shows that Tony runs the place. The song lyrics talk about getting a gun, letting the viewer know of the violence to come.
The Weeds opener shows a homogenized suburbia, with every car a white Land Rover and every man leaving the same coffee shop wearing the same thing, as the lyrics to the song discuss how all the houses look the same. This sets up the show, letting the viewer know something different is coming. You can view it here.
The Lost opening sequence is beyond simple: a black background with floating white letters spelling the title. The music is very simple as well. It may not seem like much, but with such a complicated, complex show having such a basic, non-opening is genius.
The Dead Like Me title sequence features traditional grim reapers doing traditional things, such as hanging out by the water cooler and at a laundry mat. This is a great juxtaposition with the show, which features normal (albeit dead) people doing abnormal things. The upbeat score playing also contrasts with the dark grim reapers.
The Carnivale opener lets the viewer know the show takes place in the 1930s immediately, by showing iconic moments in Depression history. It then moves through other moments of good and evil throughout time, such as showing the KKK, Babe Ruth, and Mussolini. The battle of Good vs Evil is a major theme in the show, so it lets the viewer know what’s to come. It’s also beautiful and interesting to look at, which draws the viewer in.
Pushing Daisies didn’t have much of an opening sequence on the American version, but when it played in Europe it has an opener that explains the plot of the show while showing the wonderment and visual magic the show possessed. This is unrelated, but I’m still angry at ABC for cancelling this show!