Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

My Favorite TV Openings

As I’ve been rediscovering Arrested Development courtesy of Netflix streaming services (yes, I have the DVDs, but with streaming video I don’t have to get up and change the discs!), I started thinking about my favorite tv show opening credits (AD ranks among them). I then decided to look them up on YouTube and enjoy them, one after one (technology is fantastic!). So I tried to compile a list of my favorite opening credit sequences for the blog.

#1. Arrested Development

Why it works: It’s short, simple, and to the point. It introduces each major character (a big help for newcomers to the show) and the actor who plays them. Ron Howard’s narration is top notch (and well-written). It pretty much summarizes the entire premise of the show in less than 20 seconds.

#2. Oz

Why it works: The jazzy theme is fantastic and ominous. By the time the theme reaches a crescendo, the viewer is left with a simultaneous sense of dread and curiosity. The short clips, taken from actual episodes, help introduce the viewer to the grim world of Oswald State Correctional Facility, introducing principal characters in name only — leaving the viewer with the feeling that any one at any time could be killed off.

#3. The Wire

Why it works: The great thing about the opening to The Wire is that it changes significantly each season. The theme is done by a different musical artist for each season. I’ve chosen to include The Blind Boys of Alabama version, as it is my overall favorite (though season 3’s is great too). This opening introduces us to all facets of life in Baltimore just as the show tries to do. The drug trade, the political landscape, and the police are all highlighted to great effect through the use of security cameras and images of wiretaps.

#4. Mad Men

Why it works: The opening credits immediately establish the 1960s period as well as instill an ominous sense of dread, as the cut-out figure of an advertising executive plummets from a building surrounded by still shots of ads. The music is phenomenal, helping to establish the mood immediately. The credits are of medium length, crediting the large cast and staff, but as long as that excellent music continues to play, it’s okay with me.

#5. The Adventures of Pete and Pete

Why it works: The nonsensical lyrics and alt-rock sound instantly take the viewer back to 1993 when the show originally aired. They also help establish the surreality of the show as a whole. Characters are introduced on the simplest of bases (by first name only, or in the case of mom and dad simply as “mom” and “dad”) without actor names. This great opening doesn’t waste any time getting to the point of show and also helps establish the mood fantastically.

What are some of your favorite tv openings?



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