Tag: Great Opening Titles

Great Opening Titles: Gravity Falls

I saw this cartoon getting rave reviews as the latest in the trend of Adventure Time and My Little Pony -- a cartoon for kids with surreal humor that appeals to adults.

It had me at hello.


Seriously, it's great. It's funny, it gives an immediate sense of the characters, the atmosphere, and the wacky world. The theme song conveys a sense of mystery and weirdness.

Also: there's a picture of Bat-Boy.

I knew this show was going to be great before the opening titles were over. And that's exactly what opening titles are for.

BTW I've added a little update to the bottom of Monday's Bissette/Ditko post. Bissette's posted a followup which includes some feedback from Craig Yoe, and there's some great insight in the comments besides.

Great Opening Titles: Get Smart

Going farther back with this one -- to 1965.

Classic. From the blaring horns to the fast car and especially Adams's confident bearing, we're treated to a show where the funniest thing is how serious it's pretending to be. And then the increasingly ridiculous door sequence (later to inspire another great TV sequence, the theater doors on MST3K), and finally -- that phone booth. The first of many far-too-conspicuous hidden spy devices. (A surprising number of which were some sort of phone...)

Simpsons did this one, too, but I can't find it online. Fox seems to be pretty aggressive in taking down couch gag montages. Because I guess that interferes with people buying DVD's or watching syndicated episodes or something, somehow.

Great Opening Titles: Dexter

Once again: recent, obvious, and Emmy-winning. Specifically, the '07 Emmy. Dexter.

A positively wonderful juxtaposition, turning the normal and everyday into something violent and stomach-turning. The camera work, the music, and Hall all sell it.

And yeah, Simpsons did this one too, last Halloween. And once again, Art of the Title has something to say.

I've got more to say about Dexter and his role in the pantheon of guilty-pleasure vigilante justice antiheroes -- because he takes the premise and drives it right the hell off a cliff, pushing the trope to reductio ad absurdum levels.

But that's an essay for another day. And it's got Batman in it.

Great Opening Titles: Mad Men

All right, another one of these. Like the last one, it's recent, it's obvious, it's Emmy-winning, and Simpsons did it.

Mad Men -- the falling, the skyscrapers, the sexy ads. In thirty seconds we've got a picture of the glamor and the horror, the loss of control and even identity -- but, at the same time, the slickness, the class.

The black-and-white figure is presumably Draper, but it could be anybody -- he's literally faceless. Draper may have the most obvious and literal identity problems, but the entire cast grapples with them. The figures in the ads on the walls -- they're otherworldly, they're a little creepy; they're not more real than the falling figure, but they're certainly more defined.

And here it is on Simpsons.

And here it is on Daily Show three weeks ago.

And once again, Art of the Title has more.

Great Opening Titles: Game of Thrones

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.