Exquisite Montage & Poetic Narration: Ten Best TV Title Sequences by J.C. Hartley and Tony Lee The Prisoner The Avengers The Persuaders Dad’s Army The Invaders

I don’t watch
television like I
used to. I can’t
commit to drama
series and serials
that run into late
evening, early
starts for work
mean after 10pm I
start to get a bit
jumpy. If I do find
something I want
to watch I’ll stick
with it, but very
little grabs my
imagination like it
used to, although
I am often
intrigued by the
rave reviews
accompanying
some new
dramas. Box-sets
are probably the
answer but again
that involves a
certain amount of
single-minded
commitment, and
that ‘singleminded’
brings its
own clauses, in
that in my family
we often can’t
agree on a film we
all want to watch.

We all have varied commitments in life. Few have lot of financial commitments, while few have non-financial ones! For the Financial commitment holders, here is some good news! You can make your money grow with the help of just 250$! Yes, you can!! Learn more here about how and start quick! 

I still watch
Doctor Who after
50 years, and a
certain amount of
BBC 4 factual
stuff, but my great
days of televisionwatching
are in
the past, hence
the nostalgic
make-up of this
http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html Go MAR APR MAY
13
2012 2013 2014
14 captures
👤 ⍰❎
f 🐦
13 Apr 2013 – 28 Jun 2017 ▾ About this capture
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 2/30
list.
Opening credits
that bear the kind
of repeat viewing
necessitated by a
long-running
series or serial
have to have their
own dramatic
tension, or
humour, or a
striking visual
style coupled with
a catchy theme. I
would argue that
a catchy tune on
its own is enough;
look at the 1964
Franco-German
production of
Robinson Crusoe,
with its image of
the tide on a
beach, and the
haunting theme
by Robert Mellin
and Gian-Piero
Reverberi, that is
so stuck in the
consciousness of
those of us who
remember it.
Arguably, the
heavy symbolism
of that lonely
beach spoke
volumes for the
narrative tone
anyway. I can see
the importance of
striking montage
effects or some
sort of exposition
so I won’t allow
myself to be
seduced by music
alone. I revisited
my favourite TV
shows of the
1960s and 1970s
which were
principally SF and
spy-fi but took in
some other genres
such as comedy as
well.
Having refreshed
my memory with
the help of
Wikipedia and
YouTube, I
considered some
of the shows I
watched regularly
in no particular
order, Callan,
Department S,
Jason King, The
Avengers, Danger
Man, The
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 3/30
Prisoner, The
Baron, The Saint,
Gangsters, The
Man From
UNCLE, The Girl
From UNCLE,
The Champions,
Mission:
Impossible, and
The Persuaders.
Callan had a
rather stark
opening, a
swinging naked
light-bulb against
an interior brick
wall, the twanging
guitar that so
often
accompanied spy
dramas of this
era, a shot of star
Edward
Woodward
looking stressed,
and then the bulb
exploding,
presumably from
a gunshot.
Dramatic and
effective as this
opening is, it tells
us little about the
show; Callan is
captured,
interned in the
KGB’s Lubyanka,
and tortured with
sleep-deprivation
and interrogation
at one point in the
series, so this
credit presumably
refers to that.
Some shows
incorporated the
pre-credits
sequence, The
Saint, starring
Roger Moore, the
man who would
be James Bond,
did this, but more
to introduce the
character than to
establish the
storyline. The
sequence was very
famous, someone
recognises Simon
Templar as the
titular Saint,
Moore glances
above his own
head and a halo
appears, then the
sequence morphs
into the theme
illustrated by
saintly stickfigures.
The
musical cue for
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 4/30
The Saint was by
the great Edwin
Astley, of whom
more later.
The pre-credit
sequence was
perhaps best
utilised by
Department S. A
baffling mystery
was posited, such
as a man waking
up on an airport
runway dressed in
his pyjamas, or a
barred facsimile
of a house interior
containing a
demented
individual being
discovered inside
a warehouse.
While the
twanging guitars
play out the
theme, a file is
shown passing
from one criminal
investigation
bureau to
another, until it
ends up with the
eponymous
Department ‘S’
and its three
operatives, the
foppish novelist
and adventurer
Jason King (Peter
Wyngarde), so
long my styleguru
that I still
never fasten my
shirt-cuffs, the
American Stuart
Sullivan (Joel
Fabiani) –
included to
guarantee
transatlantic
sales, the eyecandy
computer
expert Annabelle
Hurst (Rosemary
Nichols), and the
refreshingly black
department head,
Sir Curtis Seretse
(Dennis Alaba
Peters). Black
actors were
beginning to be
shown in integral
roles and as highranking
officials, a
form of positive
discrimination
probably at odds
with social
realities but
commendably
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 5/30
liberal for all that.
A Department S
spin-off took the
ludicrously
foppish Jason
King character
and developed
him in his own
series. King had
adventures in
international
espionage and
then plundered
the details for his
lucrative career as
a best-selling
novelist. Jason
King the series
had a more
playful approach
than its
progenitor often
satirising its own
genre, in one
episode a plot
device from one of
King’s books is to
be used to spirit
an agent from
behind the Iron
Curtain but
ultimately, as
King complains, a
rival novelist’s
plot is used, this
as footage of a
funeral cortege is
seen clearly a
reference to Len
Deighton’s
Funeral In Berlin.
The opening
credits were
basically a
variation of those
for Department S,
but where the
Department S file
and personnel
had been
rendered as
graphic
illustrations,
images of King
and his typewriter
were here intercut
with footage of
the private
investigator at
work and play.
Wyngarde’s Jason
King later
provided
inspiration for
both the name
and the look of
writer Chris
Claremont’s
mutant villain
Jason Wyngarde,
alias Mastermind,
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 6/30
in his scripts for
Marvel’s X-Men.
Gangsters, a late
1970s drama,
originated as a
one-off Play For
Today, then ran
for two seasons as
serials. Set in
Birmingham, the
show confronted
multi-cultural
involvement in
organised crime,
firstly among the
Asian community
and in the second
series the
Chinese. The
shows starred
Maurice
Colbourne and
Saeed Jaffrey
whose career I
have followed
ever since. The
first series, like
the original play,
was a gritty
drama, but by the
second series
writer Philip
Martin began
playing with
genre tropes in an
increasingly
surreal way. The
opening credits
for series one had
scenes of
Birmingham
street-life overlaid
with a stand-up
comedian’s patter,
then footage of
Colbourne
running through
the city’s
circulatory system
intercut with
Bollywood clips;
series two had
stylised Chinese
graphics. The play
and series had a
brilliant
instrumental
theme by the
progressive rock
band Greenslade,
although its
enjoyment was
somewhat
diminished by the
later addition of a
vocal line by Chris
Farlowe.
Danger Man had
my favourite
theme of all time,
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 7/30
Edwin Astley’s
‘High Wire’,
which I originally
wanted for my
funeral as the
coffin slides
between the
curtains of the
crematorium,
although now I’m
leaning towards a
woodland burial.
The
accompanying
images of Patrick
McGoohan in
negative, and then
glimpsed behind
geometric shapes
again, is dramatic
but offers little
indication of the
series content.
When Danger
Man started as a
half-hour show,
McGoohan’s
character John
Drake was shown
getting out of cars
in international
locations, while
his voiceover
explained he was
an agent of NATO
and contained the
emphatic but
redundant ‘Oh
yes..’ always an
indicator of the
verbally facile.
Danger Man
achieved little in a
half-hour, the
step up to 60
minutes provided
more scope for
characterisation
and plotdevelopment
and
McGoohan’s own
increasing control
of the show.
Eventually, as
Britain’s highest
paid TV actor,
McGoohan
developed his
personal
circumstances
and philosophical
attitudes into the
flawed
masterpiece
which was The
Prisoner.
The Prisoner
provides the great
balance of drama
and exposition.
After a crack of
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 8/30
thunder and a
lightning strike,
McGoohan’s
unnamed
character (is it
Danger Man’s
John Drake?), is
seen driving in a
little Lotus 7 to
his Secret Service
HQ, where he
hands in his
resignation to his
boss, actually
script editor
George
Markstein.
Returning to his
flat, McGoohan is
gassed and
kidnapped,
waking up in the
mysterious Village
where he is a
prisoner until he
provides
information about
why he resigned.
The sequence
provides all the
set-up, and tone,
required to enter
this baffling and
much-analysed
series. Such is the
obsession with
The Prisoner that
minor variations
in the opening
and closing
sequences
themselves have
been
deconstructed
and pored over by
fans. For me, it
has to be the
ultimate in
opening credits; I
never tire of
seeing
McGoohan’s
angry eyebrows
crashing through
the doors of his
HQ.
My next favourite
opening sequence
is all about style;
it tells you very
little about the
actual content of
the show, but
there is enough
there to point you
in the right
direction. For
series five of The
Avengers, the
first in colour,
lush visuals are
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 9/30
married to the
fantastic theme
tune by Laurie
Johnson. Dapper
British agent John
Steed, exquisitely
suited as ever, is
seen unwrapping
the foil from a
bottle of
champagne,
whereupon the
cork is shot out by
a bullet from
Emma Peel’s little
automatic. Diana
Rigg and Patrick
Macnee display
an easy affection
in these credits,
an on-screen
chemistry which
was born out of
their actual
friendship; Steed
uses his swordstick
to pluck a
rose from a vase
for Mrs Peel, she
affectionately
places it in his
button-hole.
Steed shows his
fencing moves,
Mrs Peel her judo
kicks. I watched
series five in its
entirety for review
and never tired of
this classy and
stylish opening.
In 1971, a couple
of years before he
took over as
James Bond,
Roger Moore
starred in and
produced an
action and
adventure series
for Lew Grade’s
ITC called The
Persuaders, in
which Moore was
paired with Tony
Curtis. Both
men’s characters
were multimillionaires,
Curtis was Danny
Wilde a rough
tough Bronx-born
Wall Street
speculator, and
Moore was Lord
Brett Sinclair,
born to high
estate but an
adventurous racehorse
owner and
Grand Prix driver.
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 10/30
After an
acrimonious start
to their
relationship,
which results in a
fist-fight and
some property
damage, the pair
come to the
attention of Judge
Fulton who offers
them the
opportunity of
crime-fighting as
a form of
community
service, this setup
provides the
basis for future
episodes in which
the pair combine
to right wrongs.
The credits
sequence featured
a powerful score
by the late great
John Barry and a
split-screen
following the
careers of the two
stars from youth,
through
schooling,
military service,
affluent maturity
and then in an
indulgent
montage of
international jetsetting
locations
and heavilybreasted
women
in bikinis. I was
13 years old in
1971 and I
thought this was
great. It is still an
effective and
innovative
sequence,
designed as much
to avoid giving
either actor topbilling
as to tell
the characters’
back-story.
The science
fiction series most
prominent in my
memory, and
again in no
particular order,
are Doctor Who,
Lost In Space,
anything from
Gerry and Sylvia
Anderson, Star
Trek, The
Tomorrow
People, The
Guardians, The
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 11/30
Time Tunnel, The
Invaders, Voyage
To The Bottom Of
The Sea, and
UFO. I was never
a huge fan of
Blake’s 7, or The
Survivors, I
remember various
adaptations of
Day Of The
Triffids, and the
first series of
John
Christopher’s
Tripods saga, but
none of these
opening credits
made a lasting
impression. I
watched Doctor
Who when it
started in 1963,
and that music
and those weird
visuals, almost
anticipating H.R.
Giger’s
biomechanical
creations, will
always give me an
especial thrill.
Gerry and Sylvia
Anderson’s
Supermarionation
was a particular
delight, the sheer
audacity of
presenting the
seemingly
unpromising
prospect of TV
puppetry with all
the verve of bigbudget
cinema
productions, and
their skill in
creating a joinedup
21st century
universe to carry
their narratives
cannot be
underestimated.
The Guardians
was a dystopic
political thriller
broadcast in 1971
by LWT, about a
right-wing coup in
Great Britain,
where civil order
was kept by a
fascistic
paramilitary. The
opening credits
featured footage
of the corps
marching under
their ‘G’ banner
accompanied by a
powerful score by
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 12/30
classical
composer Wilfred
Josephs who also
wrote themes for
BBC’s I Claudius,
film music, and
incidental music
for The Prisoner.
The Time Tunnel
had a great
opening, an
animated hour
glass and the
spangley portal of
the tunnel itself.
The credits for
UFO were very
much in the
mould of Gerry
Anderson’s
puppet work, a
frenetic montage
of images
captioned with
teleprinter
exposition, and
great images of
curvy women. The
bubble-gum effect
of the opening
credits, ending
with the moneyshot
of an
exploding UFO,
took away from
what were often
effective and
thoughtful storylines.
The pilot
show was quite
chilling with its
mutilation of
murdered
humans and
organ-harvesting,
and the overarching
air of
conspiracy. The
end-credits for
the show were
very effective with
ominous music as
the camera slowly
homed in on an
alien planet. My
favourite credits
though come from
ABC’s Quinn
Martin
Production of The
Invaders, wherein
exhausted
architect David
Vincent played by
genre favourite
Roy Thinnes,
takes a wrong
turning to a
deserted diner
and witnesses an
alien landing. The
Americana of the
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 13/30
aspirational
profession of
architect, and the
evocative
landscape of
deserted roads
and abandoned
diners, spoke to
me as a northern
English boy
growing up in the
rural provinces. I
was also pretty
obsessed with
UFOs at the time.
Finally, a look at
comedy.
Porridge, possibly
because it has
never been off our
screens, has one
of the best-known
opening
sequences of any
TV comedy.
Fortunately,
familiarity hasn’t
bred contempt. A
sonorous voice is
heard sentencing
Norman Stanley
Fletcher to penal
servitude, against
a sequence of
images of prison
gates and cells,
followed by
footage of the
aforesaid felon in
the confines of
Slade prison.
Ronnie Barker
said it was a
mistake that he
also recorded the
voice of the
sentencing Judge,
as it was so
obviously him,
but I think this is
just an example of
the actor’s
perfectionism as
it in no way
detracts from the
establishment of
the Fletcher
character. The
Likely Lads was a
sitcom in the
1960s about two
likely lads, Bob
and Terry,
growing up on
Tyneside. The
series was
updated in the
1970s to chart the
developments in
the lives of the
characters. Bob
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 14/30
had become
stolidly middleclass
with a
social-climbing
wife and a good
job, Terry after a
stint in the army
in Germany and a
failed marriage to
a German wife,
was shiftless,
unemployable,
and a drag on
Bob’s new
lifestyle. The
show’s opening
credits echoed the
split-screen timeline
of The
Persuaders to
good effect and it
also had a very
catchy theme
tune.
In 1968, with my
Gran, I watched
the first episode
of a show that I
still watch with
enjoyment to this
day, Dad’s Army.
In schools, when I
was a kid, there
used to be maps
of the world
showing the scope
of the British
empire. I defy any
Briton who ever
saw one of these
maps to deny a
sense of awed
pride. Yes, I know
the British empire
was established
through military
might, coercion,
extortion,
genocide, and
blackmail, but the
effect on a child of
seeing massive
continents
painted pink,
compared to the
tiny islands where
the pink flowed
out from, has
never left me. The
animated opening
credits of Dad’s
Army made clever
play of this. Union
Jack flags arrow
out from the
shores of England
and surge across
Europe, only to
met by animated
swastikas that coil
snake-like in their
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 15/30
progress of
invasion.
Retreating across
the channel the
British flags make
little sneering jabs
at the crooked
crosses. The
soundtrack is by
wartime favourite
Bud Flanagan but
the song ‘Who Do
You Think You
Are Kidding, Mr
Hitler?’ Was
written especially
for the show by
series co-creator
Jimmy Perry. The
credits, and
indeed the series
as a whole,
blended national
pride with selfmockery
to great
effect. The closing
credits showed
the platoon
marching along
under the caption
‘You have been
watching’ with an
introduction to
the cast, the final
scene is taken
from one of the
episodes and
shows the platoon
under fire while
on manoeuvres,
this is a reference
to the great
British film The
Way Ahead where
the platoon
advance at the
end into an
uncertain
outcome, in the
sitcom the Home
Guard approach
the camera
through smoke
bombs and
dummy
ammunition.
– JCH
The Equalizer
The Twilight
Zone
The X-Files
Star Trek
Voyager
Carnivàle
An endlessly
fascinating
montage, or a
concisely
narrated
introduction (one
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 16/30
of my favourites
is Sapphire And
Steel), being the
key to this listing,
it’s no easy task
to pick my own
favourites from
over 40 years
worth of
memories. But
what exactly is it
that makes an
introductory
sequence
memorable on
television?
Although the
standard format
of many ‘TV
titles’ is simply a
collection of clips
and/ or still
images from each
new season’s
episodes (with
credits
superimposed
over those
pictures), several
creators of title
sequences for
shows aim
higher, and often
with a maximum
artistic, TVcultural,
impact
and some
zeitgeist defining
combinations of
visuals and music
are possible,
despite an
obvious need for
brevity.
There is a
tendency for
minimalism
today (as we saw
on James Duff’s
The Closer, and
Tim Kring’s
Heroes) but, in
past decades, and
even very
recently, there
have been a great
many scenesetter
intros for
excellent TV
shows that are
worthy of our
attention in their
own right. There
are title
sequences that
we never tire of
watching,
repeatedly, and
it’s not simply
because of their
theme music.
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 17/30
Theme songs are,
typically, a thing
of the past but
still, occasionally,
a TV series comes
along with song
lyrics that can fit
a programme’s
content quite
perfectly: such as
the excellent
legal drama,
Damages (2007-
12), which
benefits from a
title song (by the
VLA) that oozes
menace: “When I
get through with
you, there won’t
be anything left”;
or the anthemic
song ‘Save Me’ by
Remy Zero, from
the superhero
adventure
Smallville (2001-
11). Generally,
nowadays, I
much prefer TV
titles with
complementary
music, instead of
theme songs.
It seems to me
that the greatest
challenge for
programme
makers is to find
the ambitious
designers, video
artists, and
creative visual
editors, who are
capable of
summarising a
TV show’s
content
accurately, while
also appealing to
its most likely
demographic, but
without
compromising
artistic integrity.
The result needs
to be a TV-title
sequence that
works, even
better than pop/
rock promo
videos do, at
capturing the
increasingly
fickle viewers’
attention. There
is such an
immense variety
of TV available
for viewers today
that we are
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 18/30
always spoilt for
choice. Any new
series needs a
‘hook’ that will
grab channelsurfers
attention.
That hook is a
title sequence
that is different
from the look of
animated
wallpaper (the
title sequence for
spy-fi comedy
Chuck is
especially dismal
in that regard)
which a majority
of TV shows have
for their intros.
My preference is
for genre series,
because they are
what I tend to
watch more of,
and my listing
here is in
chronological
order.
Coming from the
same era as The
A-Team, a
updated revival
of Mission:
Impossible, and
various techno
shows (like
Airwolf, Knight
Rider, Street
Hawk), The
Equalizer (1985-
9), starred
stalwart Edward
Woodward as the
WYSIWYG
vigilante hero
named Robert
McCall. I liked
Woodward’s
character in
earlier British TV
drama Callan,
but I think he
really came into
his own as this
ex-pat agent
living in New
York. McCall was
not dependent
upon the use of
paramilitary
force, and
specialist or
unique gadgets,
or frequent use of
disguises to
maintain his
anonymity – to
either his usually
endangered
clients or his
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 19/30
threatening
opponents. Just
as Patrick
McGoohan
followed his TV
show Danger
Man with the
superior
creativity of
science fictional
TV classic, The
Prisoner, so
Woodward’s
heroic
protagonist in
The Equalizer
can be viewed as
a thematic genre
continuation of
the grimly
realistic spy
drama in Callan.
McCall is a
former CIA agent
on a new path of
redemption for
his murky past of
dirty tricks and
killings. But
there I digress…
The title
sequence of The
Equalizer
crackles with
acutely urban
paranoia. It
depicts a world of
stalkers and
stakeouts,
gangland
predators and
muggers, rapists
and serial killers,
crooked cops and
metropolitan
injustice – the set
of weighing
scales (like in a
pawnbroker’s
shop) is highly
symbolic – in all
of its modernist
and convoluted
forms. With his
face kept in
shadows (until a
brief and jittery
close-up of a
hard-eyed stare),
and the door of
his Jaguar car
left open, McCall
is rather like the
Batman, but
without a mask
and/ or the
relative safety of
any secret cave as
hideout/ HQ.
Like the heroic
trio of The
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 20/30
Champions,
McCall is a kind
of plain-clothes/
business-suited
superhero that
has carved a
highly successful
niche, in both
action drama and
more generic
tele-fantasy
productions. ‘Got
a problem? Odds
against you?’ was
the tersely
pointed text of
McCall’s
newspaper advert
in the security
section. It does
not appear in the
show’s title
sequence, and it
would have been
unnecessary,
because any such
wordage could
very probably
spoil the startling
impact of the
montage.
Music by Stewart
Copeland
(drummer with
the Police)
cements image
and sound like
few other title
sequences I have
seen. It builds up
considerable
energy for a
stunning and
exciting
appearance of the
hero, so it’s as if
he has been
always there,
hidden in the
background,
watching over the
potential victims
and simply
waiting to offer
help and
protection. A big
screen remake of
The Equalizer –
starring Denzel
Washington, and
directed by
Antoine Fuqua –
is in preproduction,
scheduled for
release in 2014.
Primarily
important
because of its
conceptual
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 21/30
breakthroughs
for genre TV
drama in the
anthology
format, the title
sequence for Rod
Serling’s original
The Twilight
Zone (1959-64)
featured an
unforgettable
voiceover
introduction, and
a tinkly theme
tune, ‘Dramatic
Twilight’ by
Gregor F.
Narholz, that was
suspenseful/
eerie almost
beyond measure.
However, times
changed, the TV
industry adopted
wholly different –
if not always, or
often, higher –
standards, and
so, for me, it was
the first TV
revival of The
Twilight Zone
(1985-9) which
proved to have a
title sequence
that was actually
far more
chillingly
mysterious, and a
clearly
sophisticated
affair, than its
comparatively
crudely-animated
predecessor.
In the wake of
big-screen tribute
anthology
Twilight Zone:
The Movie
(1983), CBS
produced a new
show that
boasted a brand
new theme,
composed by
Jerry Garcia, and
recorded by
iconic rock band
the Grateful
Dead. The
programme
makers were
obviously
mindful of
honouring
Serling’s legacy
and quite
respectful of
upholding the
traditions of the
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 22/30
original series.
The montage of
creepy images
that
accompanied the
new theme music
centred on a
window portal,
paid tribute to
Serling with a
flickering portrait
of the presenter,
and managed to
cram numerous
disquieting (a
large spider, a
black-eyed doll’s
face), and
disturbing (a
bottled foetus, a
nuclear
mushroom
cloud), moving
images into its
short runtime,
partly shot with
fish-eye lens
distortion, as if it
was projected
onto a floating
sphere (that also
included the
turning Earth
and a Solar
eclipse),
hovering, centrestage,
in a
somewhat grimly
decorated boxroom.
This sequence
collected many
social of the and
political anxieties
of the period for
a brief phobiainducing
nightmaresequence,
composed of
pure SF horrors.
The new Twilight
Zone logo, set
against a drifting
star-field, again a
tribute to the
1960s show, was
animated from a
leering skull and
something
resembling a
storm-trooper
helmet. It’s a
magnificent
updating of the
original’s title
sequence that
embellishes,
reinvents, and
contemporises
the appeal of
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 23/30
both the Twilight
Zone as a
franchise, and
anthology TV as a
genre brand.
Another revival
series, made in
2002 and
presented by the
actor Forest
Whitaker was,
rather sadly, and
unfortunately for
serious fans of
show, not as
successful.
Without a doubt,
I think, Chris
Carter’s The XFiles
(1993-
2002) was the
show that
redefined genre
TV in the 1990s.
It gave us a
short-lived spinoff,
The Lone
Gunmen (2001),
and a crossover
episode with
Carter’s
Millennium
(1996-9). Its title
sequence of
uncanny images
and creepy music
establishes a
wholly scientific
yet
supernaturally
haunting appeal,
suggesting that
perceptions are,
at best, always
questionable,
while avoiding
the dogmas of
Fortean whimsy.
Smoke and
spotlights form
the programme’s
logo with a
fading flare,
which might
indicate that
‘grey areas’ are
the subject
matter. The
phrase
‘paranormal
activity’ (recently
used as the title
for a series of
movies), and the
couple of abstract
figures (a man,
alien, or ghost?),
that appear onscreen
have, in
fact, even less
genre specificity
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 24/30
than the flying
saucer, Kirlian
photography, and
some mysterious
noir symbolism
that help to
exaggerate the
echoey, and
decidedly spooky,
theme music by
Mark Snow.
The text
‘government
denies
knowledge’
appears to
rubberstamp
conspiracy
theories, while
the clip of our
heroic agents
going through a
dark doorway
together is
distorted footage
from season
one’s third
episode, Squeeze.
That one
particular shot is
a perfect example
of some
frequently used
imagery from
this TV series, as,
with torches, the
investigative duo
shine a light into
the darkness of
the unknown.
The ‘surprised
eye’ opens before
the show’s
mantra – ‘the
truth is out there’
– establishes its
overarching
search for
evidence of a
profound
otherness, or
something quite
like it; even
though it seems
to admit the
unreliability of
any human
observer,
reminding us
that, while
science does not
have all the
answers, we do
not have all the
science, yet. The
X-Files was
clearly and in
more ways than
one, a big
influence upon
the later sci-fi TV
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 25/30
series Fringe,
which also has a
fascinating title
sequence of
symbolic
technofear
images and SF
mystery buzzwords.
Combining the
typical format for
Star Trek ‘bridge
crew’ adventures
with the scenario
of Lost In Space –
three years
before that 1960s
TV series was
remade as a bigbudget
movie,
Star Trek
Voyager (1995-
2001) soon
became, for me,
the ultimate Trek
TV series. Of
course, ‘Voyager’
is a calculated riff
upon various
aspects of Trek
lore, from the
original series’
narration: “these
are the voyages”,
and the
“continuing
voyages…” of
Star Trek: The
Next Generation
(1987-94), and
even Robert
Wise’s SF classic
Star Trek: The
Motion Picture
(1979) – my alltime
favourite
Trek movie –
which featured a
fictional space
probe ‘Voyager 6′
that returns to
Earth as the
alien-AI named
V’ger.
The fully-CGI
title sequence of
Star Trek
Voyager won an
Emmy award and
it’s easy to see
why. The show’s
logo emerges
from a solar flare
as if newly forged
by the stars, and
so it’s powerfully
symbolic of the
phoenix firebird,
just as the
marvellous
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 26/30
theme music by
Jerry Goldsmith
soars into a most
effective intro.
We see the new
starship on its
journey, passing
three different
planets, each one
iconic of
speculative
fiction or
astronomical art,
while they all
vaguely resemble
the familiar
worlds of our
own Solar
system, and
perhaps they
represent the
three previous
Star Trek TV
series. The space
tourism ends
when the
Voyager ship,
another variant
design based on
the Enterprise,
accelerates to
warp and speeds
on its way –
heading
homewards, as
we discover in
the show’s
storyline, but
having travelled
much further
around the
galaxy than any
other federation
vessel. The title
sequence has a
sense of actually
going somewhere
(home to Earth,
as we soon find
out) instead of
exploring or
mission
assignments. In
that, it reflects
upon the ideas of
a space odyssey,
which is a link to
my all-time
favourite movie.
Daniel Knauf’s
Carnivàle (2003-
5) reeks of
mystery and
period
atmosphere. It
has a title
sequence that
draws us into a
world of the past
where disease
and corruption
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 27/30
are strong, while
honesty and
grace seem all
but extinct. The
series features a
dwarf actor
(Michael J.
Anderson)
playing a
prominent
character, years
before Game Of
Thrones made a
hero of Peter
Dinklage as
Tyrion… and,
incidentally, I
have been
wondering if the
animated map of
that TV series’
title sequence
matches any
maps printed in
the fantasy books
by novelist
George R.R.
Martin?
The title
sequence for
Carnivàle is
more artistically
valid and it feels
more relevant to
its milieu than all
the
contemporary
vampire sleaze
and hicks-ville
nostalgia of the
TV titles for
genre comedydrama
True
Blood (2008-13).
Knauf’s show
depicts an eternal
conflict between
good and evil,
often
symbolically, as
right and wrong
are explored in
terms of
artistically, and
profoundly
psychological,
religious themes
of a false prophet
(the ‘Usher’)
versus a young
saviour (the
healer). The
carny scene is
like a microcosm
of troubled
society on the
brink of collapse,
sustained only by
its dysfunctional
family business,
often led astray
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 28/30
from redemption,
or shepherded
onto a path of
progress by the
mysterious and
reclusive
‘Management’.
All this is cleverly
suggested by the
Emmy-award
winning title
sequence of a
journey into
history that hints
broadly at
notions of
supernatural
control (benign
or sinister?), as it
begins with a
scattering of
cards from a
tarot deck. The
montage is
launched with a
progressive zoom
into the painting
on ‘The World’
card, as if
swooping down
from busily
populated
heavens. The
viewpoint spies
on events in
archive 1930s
footage of queues
for the cheap
labour market in
an industrialised
America that is
caught up in
environmental
disaster of the
‘Dust Bowl’
drought – a
failure of
intensive farming
that contributed
to the Great
Depression. The
virtual camera
zooms out of a
different card –
the ‘Ace of
Swords’,
switching
windows on this
milieu, as it dives
into a ‘Death’
card, expanding
the political
scope of the
narrative’s
backdrop,
wherein Ku Klux
Klansmen rejoice
in victory over
civil rights, while,
after images of
Mussolini and
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 29/30
Stalin, freedom
from dictatorship
seems like a
dream, hovering
beyond reach.
The tumultuous
images continue,
with an exit from
a ‘King of
Swords’ card, and
move across the
fallen cards to
‘Temperance’,
charting the
culture of leisure
with music and
sport, before a
painting of
dancing angels
dissolves from
‘The Magician’,
and changes
focus for ‘The
Tower’, sweeping
over ancient
battlefield hordes
and the modern
street crowds
towards the
Capitol building
in Washington,
DC. It appears
positioned on the
horizon of
imagination,
where Roosevelt
at a political rally
is portrayed as
‘Judgement’, the
final card,
beneath ‘Sun’
and ‘Moon’
(depicted as God
and Satan), while
the wind of
change clears
away all of the
cards and reveals
the series’ logo,
uncovered from a
layer of dust like
the proverbial
shifting sands of
time. All of this is
set to
wonderfully
atmospheric,
eerie theme
music composed
by Wendy
Melvoin and Lisa
Coleman (once
the pop duo
Wendy & Lisa),
mixing various
ethnic styles
including
haunting Arabian
music.
Carnivàle’s
cleverly designed
5/8/2018 A Top 10 TV Title Sequences – feature article and listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20130413014753/http://www.videovista.net/articles/tv10titles.html 30/30
title sequence
suggests a weird
melodrama that
is distinguished
by brilliant
fantasy twists
depicting a dark
and secret
history, one
where David
Lynch meets
John Steinbeck.
– TL