So here's a thought: looking at great opening title sequences for TV shows.

Let's start with an obvious one: last year's Emmy winner, Game of Thrones.

(This video is from the official GoT YouTube account, so it's probably region-locked, but it's also probably not going to get pulled for copyright infringement.)

So okay. What's great about it?

Well, first of all, it serves a purpose. A Song of Ice and Fire is one of those incredibly complex and convoluted fantasy series where it's hard to keep track of just what the hell is going on at any given time; reading the books, I find myself perpetually flipping to the map.

So how do you deal with that in a TV show? You show the map, at the beginning of every single episode. And actually change what parts of the map you show, to match the locations where this week's episode takes place.

It also stresses another of the central themes of the series: the idea of distance, of the vast expanses between all the characters you're seeing, the isolation of Daenerys out in Qarth or Jon Snow north of the Wall. The series itself initially focuses on a comparatively small area of the world, and the characters and their narratives drift farther and farther apart as it goes.

Technically, it's beautiful; the CG and clockpunk styles combine to make for a sort of pleasing set of anachronisms, so that you know what your'e seeing doesn't literally fit the setting of the show. You've got the symbolic rising of kingdoms, towns, and castles, with the heralds of the major families. And the theme song -- I don't think I've stopped humming it since April, 2011.

Simpsons did a fantastic parody of it recently, too; I can't find a good copy of that that's embeddable, but they have it over at io9. (Does not appear to be playable in Firefox on Ubuntu. Booooo.)

If you want to read more, Art of the Title has a great interview with Angus Wall, creative director of Elastic, the company that made the sequence (and also the animated Deathly Hallows sequence in the second-to-last Harry Potter movie).

And we've got a couple discussion threads over at the forums: Game of Thrones: The TV Show, where, as the name implies, we discuss the TV show (expect untagged spoilers for all of season 1 and much of season 2 at this point, and tagged spoilers for both seasons and the books), and Song of Ice and Fire: The Books: Massive Spoilers & Rampant Speculation, which, as the name implies, is nothing but huge spoilers and speculation and which I advise you not to read unless you've read all five books and don't mind people talking about as-yet-unrevealed things like who Jon Snow's mother is.