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The Art of TV Opening Titles

Is it me or have TV opening sequences become an art form in themselves?

Sure enough TV theme tunes are recognised as hugely influential and I bet we can all sing along to many with just a couple of notes introduction, but the visuals were seldom as important.

It seems to me that the first of this new wave of amazing programme openings was the little seen but remarkably brilliant ‘Carnival’.


These titles are excellent for giving the viewer the sense of the period (the Great Depression) and what is happening in the world and closer to home. It also features the Tarot cards which give a sense of the supernatural that featured in the show. A beautiful example of the effort HBO put into this show. Damn them for cancelling it….I need to know what Sofie was gonna do next!

Mad Men

Another great one for capturing period and for giving a hint to the idea that the series will be capturing (in exquisite and excruciating detail) one man’s descent both literally and existentially.

The Borgias

Art, religion, seduction and lots of blood…it’s all here ….what more could you ask for?

Six Feet Under

Another earl(ish) example of this new artform. Many have imitated its style.


Blackly witty which perfectly serves this darkly witty show. A serial killer of serial killers who is also a blood spatter expert, what’s not to like? And the theme tune is playfully undercutting the imagery which clues us in to the tone of the programme brilliantly.

True Blood

A favourite in this bloggers’ house as you could probably tell from the number of times I have posted about this show. Can’t help but singalong …’I wanna do bad things to you’. The titles encapsulate the hot, sticky, sweaty locale. Decay and death is everywhere. Religious fervour is highlighted and I always smile at the roadside signage ‘God Hates Fangs!’

Nurse Jackie

Another one with great photography and tells us all about our main character as well as the tone of the show. Nice one!

Bored To Death

Not mad about this show, but really wanted to like it because of the title sequence. Maybe I should give it another shot!

Game of Thrones

So far in my quest I think this is the standout opening sequence yet. The makers have obviously understood that a saga of this magnitude is gonna lead to a lot of head scratching if they didn’t give us the equivalent of the maps and family trees you find in the books of this type. Therefore every week we get a reminder of the geography of the many locations in the story as well as the comparable size of the various kingdoms and their relative distances from each other. That, and some beautiful animation. Super cool!

About frasier1

An arty farty, gay geek musing on movies, art & culture!

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