Up top here is the title sequence to HBO’s new series “Game of Thrones.” The bird’s-eye view of Westeros, the fictional land where the series takes place, is very cool to look at (and informative, especially for those not familiar with the source material from George R.R. Martin), the music is exciting, and sets the scene for the show very effectively.
Which really shouldn’t be any surprise. Opening titles and theme songs have become something of a relic on network TV, where showrunners are more squeezed for time and would rather have those 30 to 60 seconds to use on story rather than credits. There are some notable exceptions on broadcast TV (“Hawaii Five-0,” with its classic theme song, and “Friday Night Lights” come to mind), but most of the best credit sequences are on cable.
For that, we have HBO to thank. Going back to “Sex and the City” in the late ’90s, its shows have had consistently strong opening credits. When I asked my Zap2it colleagues for their favorites, they suggested everything from “Big Love” to “Bored to Death,” “True Blood” to “Hung” to “John From Cincinnati.” “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Wire” also have very good titles.
It’s hard to argue with any of those, but they don’t quite crack my Top 5. Here, in the order in which they debuted, are my favorite HBO title sequences. Do they match up with yours? Let us know in the comments.
The show that arguably made HBO also has a killer opening, following Tony (James Gandolfini) from the Lincoln Tunnel through his Jersey stomping grounds and up the driveway to his house (the song is “Woke Up This Morning” by A3). When you’ve been parodied by “The Simpsons,” you know you’re doing something right.
A show about death and its effect on those still living should have an appropriately moody theme song, and Thomas Newman‘s theme for “Six Feet Under” fits the bill perfectly. The chilly visuals are an excellent complement.
Great music by David Schwartz, first of all. The shots accompanying the theme don’t have much direct connection to the characters, but they do an excellent job of introducing you to the world you’re entering.
Not crazy about the show, but the titles, featuring Aloe Blacc‘s “I Need a Dollar,” are a knockout.
The contrast between the images of devastation from Hurricane Katrina and the buoyant, infectious sound of “The Treme Song” by John Boutt� get right to the heart of the hard-to-break spirit of the New Orleans-set show’s characters.