TV’s Opening & Closing Credits: What Makes A Legend?

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I have stated many times here on this blog that my television viewing habits rarely include major network programming.     Yes, I got sucked in by American Idol this year and I’ll catch the occaisional So You Think You Can Dance episode, but other than that, I don’t watch that all often.

I am blissfully ignorant of most current network shows.   This includes complete ignorance regarding the cast, the show premise and it’s title theme and closing credits.   Don’t even ask me about corporate sponsorship.

But somehow, in the midst of chaos and vulgarity surrounding coverage of the self-adorned Deity of Pop’s circusy funeral, the brain trust at E! Online somehow managed to find the time to compose a compendium of what it deems to be the best closing credits in TV.    From what I understand, in BIG TV’s desire to make more by selling more ad time, credits (both opening and closing) aren’t what they used to be.    Now, opening credits are merely brief chyron generated names and titles that run on the bottom of the screen throughout the first minute or so of the show’s first act.    Closing credits run as a rapid fire, non-recognizable  sidebar-like  aside, usually during a network promo.   This way,  Best Boys and Continuity Directors will never get the praise and recognition they deserve.

Here’s E!’s list which is italicized;  my added input is enboldened in red: 

BEST CREDITS

24: When Jack Bauer intones, “The following takes place between…” we all get excited.   I wouldn’t know.   I’ve never seen 24.

Lost: We heart the Lost title, but if you want something a little more complex, check out Lost Video Island for a ton of fabulous Lost credits mashups. (The Cold Case one is surprisingly excellent!)   Lost?  Uh, sorry.  Never watched it.

Supernatural: At first glance this is just a simple, albeit creepy Supernatural title, but the show has changed up the accompanying visual each season. Season two was flames, season three was smoke, season four was a flock of evil crows. Good stuff.   The actor who plays the older brother is cute and worthy of future Mr. Kendrick status.   But our first date cannot include conversatioans about his performance on “Supernatural”.   I’ve never seen a full show in it’s entirety.

Weeds: Ever since Agrestic burned to the ground, each Weeds title has been a tiny moving diorama that depicts a key theme or scene from the following episode, and it’s always a thrill to see what they do and hunt for the cannabis-leaf Easter egg hidden therein.   Smoked a mess of it in high school and college, but watch it?  Nah.  I don’t get Showtime on my cavalcade of satellite programming.

BEST  BROADCAST CREDITS

NBC gets ragged on a lot in the TV media for miscellaneous fumbles and failings, but they are doing one thing damn well: TV credits sequences. ABC seems to have given up on having credits, all of CBS’ dramas seem to have the same credits (driving beat over a montage of faces), and nothing on the CW or Fox strikes us as characteristic or memorable as the credits produced by the Peacock. Among our faves:

Chuck:The Chuck credits are fun as heck, not least because the visuals are the perfect Chuck-style combo of geekery and adventure.   Never even heard of this show.

Medium: OK, Medium is on CBS now, but we’ll give NBC the points just the same since that’s where this sequence launched. Eerie and mystical, just like Allison DuBois’ gift, this song and these visuals never get old.  All I know is that it stars a bunch of blond chicks.

Southland: The combination of sepia-tone police archive photos and that snake charmer song are the perfect setup for Southland’s vérité approach to the modern police drama.   I only know “Southland” as being the name of the parent company who owns 7-11 stores.

The Office: The credits for The Office may be one of the best antianxiety medications known to man.   I cannot watch NBC’s “Must See Thursdy TV” or whatever colloquial nickname it has.  And I’ve tried.  God knows I’ve tried.  

BEST CABLE CREDITS

Cable, especially premium cable, is the place to go if you’re dying for an endlessly watchable credits sequence. Because they are less dependent on ad revenue, they can amuse themselves with quaint things like “art.”  E! Online’s best of the best are:

Dexter: The blood orange is a master stroke, but every element of Dexter’s morning routine conveys the purpose and style of the series.  Again, a series of these….?????…..appear over my head

Mad Men: Is it a visual collage? Is it a dream? Does it have something to do with 9/11’s Falling Man? Is that a retarded question? No matter the meaning, Mad Men‘s credits are magical.   More of the same

True Blood: Sometimes we wish True Blood the show looked as good as True Blood the credits.   I don’t know from “True Blood” either.

The E! Online article merely states that the above list of credits is what it considered to be the best of the current trend of “blink and you miss the credits”.   The article is by no means a list of some of the best of all time.

If that were the case,  E! would have to consider the closing credits to the hilarious but short lived ABC series, “Police Squad”.     The series, which only lasted one season back in the early 80’s, was the forerunner of all the Zucker brothers produced and directed “Police Squad” movies which also tarred Leslie Neilson.  

The series was funny but was doomed to fail because it required viewers to pay attention.  The bits were quick and rapid fire.   Subsqueqntly it died a painful raitings death.

But it lives on on someone’s old VHS tape and of course, in parcelled sequences on You Tube.   As I mentioned, the closing credits were as funny as the rest of the show.  It always included the actors standing still in a fake freeze frame (which was trite and typical of 60’s era sitcoms and dramas), while the rest of the unwitting world continued to move around them.  

Here’s a prime example:

 

 

One comment

  1. Wow. I think I recognized the first three show titles. I sorta-know two or three more.

    Mme Metro and I get the basic-est of basic cable and so we don’t get a few of ’em. But more relevantly, we just don’t watch a lot of TV (spelt “a-n-y”). Don’t tell those Neilsen guys. They’ll be over to break my kneecaps or something.

    We live on the ‘net, a lot. We watch a lot of movies. But we don’t have any kind of TV-watching habits except by accident. Part of it, I guess, is trying to find the good nuggets among the horseapples that a self-congratulatory, self-vetting medium is capable of producing.

    Case in point: A “Best Credits” award.

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