David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines
hradzka

MEME: kick-ass opening titles

One curse of our modern age is the relative lack of opening title sequences on TV shows. Or at least cool opening title sequences. They just aren't around as much any more. Sometimes this has to do with the lack of running time, especially on cable or smaller networks, but not always. Look at the UK, where lengthy running time and concomitant show-padding abound, and what do you see? DOCTOR WHO has an awesome opening theme, sure -- but TORCHWOOD doesn't. (Unless you count five seconds of people whispering "Torchwood!" as a theme. I don't, and am annoyed by it because it's just long enough to be irritating but not long enough to fast-forward through.)

I love opening titles on TV shows. I grew up with 'em. And there's nothing that catches your attention -- or your memories -- like a great TV theme. When it works with the show, there's nothing better.

So here are some of my favorites. What are yours?



HAWAII FIVE-O isn't just a great theme, it's a great piece of editing. They played around with the music and the titles a bit in later years, but the essence stayed the same, and when I was a kid I watched the reruns just for the opening titles.



Oh, yeah. MAGNUM P.I. That's a theme that *perfectly* suits its show: it's a thrilling little piece of music, and makes you feel a little bit like you're driving that Ferrari, or flying in the helicopter. It's just delightful. Much better than the original theme.

(What? You didn't know there was an original theme? Oh, yes, there was. Mike Post's kick-ass theme didn't come along until about halfway through the first season. The show's original theme was very different. And, um, *horrifyingly* bad.

How bad? Well:



Amazing, isn't it? It starts out sounding like a seventies porno and ends up sounding like somebody noodling around with his new copy of GarageBand. And somewhere, somehow, somebody said, "Good, I like it! Let's go with it!")

Y'know what? That original theme for MAGNUM was *really* bad. I need another shot of Mike Post, stat.



Ohh, yeah. That did the trick.

Moving on: Sylvester LeVay. Sometimes you can watch cable TV and get the impression that he scored, or themed, every single program ever made. The great thing about his TV career was that he would give you a great theme, even if your show *totally sucked.* If you had a great show? Well, he could do that, too. Case in point (skip the "in this episode" promo and hit the titles when there's about a minute left in the clip):



AIRWOLF. Ernest Borgnine in a supercopter. Incidentally, I watched some episodes of AIRWOLF a while back, and I just want to say: THAT SHOW WAS TOTALLY AWESOME. Although there are some discomfiting scenes, the worst being one in which Jan-Michael Vincent has one line -- and it's terrifyingly slurred. You get a cold chill watching it, because you realize *that was the best take,* and you know what's ahead for him. Vincent's addictions made the show unfilmable, and limping along trying to cover for the star must have been sheer hell for the crew and the rest of the cast.

From the sublime to the awful: here's a terrific Levay theme for a horrible, horrible show.



I *loved* MANIMAL as a kid. I still love the theme. The show... um, yeah, enough about that.

And in the "obscure" category, here's one I just love, because the tune and the images make me smile every single damn time (the opening titles start 28 seconds in, if you want to skip): PROBE. Parker Stevenson stars as Austin James, a brilliant scientist who runs around solving high-tech mysteries with the aid of his assistant Micki, who is completely nontechnical but, like Dr. Watson, has a knack for asking the right questions and for reminding the brilliant partner to be human every once in a while. Not the best show, but I still have a soft spot for it.



Those are some of my favorite opening titles. What are yours?

Oh, and I almost forgot. If somebody were looking to whip up an opening title sequence for SUPERNATURAL, what would I recommend they rip off use as a model?

This.



(If that great theme does not put a smile on your face, you have no soul.)
Tags: meme
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