When I first discovered YouTube, I didn’t work for 5 days: Top 10 TV opening sequences

Happy Friday, everybody! I don’t know about you all, but I’m ready to call it a day. This is due in part to it being Friday, in part to there being a lull in my work load (but don’t worry, it’ll come around again) and part to my leaving early today for a doctor appointment.

Thus, like Michael Scott, I am managing to spend my day surfing YouTube, looking for my favorite TV themes/opening sequences.

Why you ask? Well, a few weeks ago, I read an article listing the top 10 TV opening credits. Of course, this lead to me reading other critics top themes, which got me thinking, “Well, if they can do it, why can’t I?” After all, there is nothing I love more than a good pop culture list.

So what makes for awesome opening credits? Well, there are three things: 1.) A kick-ass, engaging, catchy and/or heart-wrenching song; 2.) An interesting, or clever, or magical opening sequence; or, if you’re really lucky, 3.) All of the above.

For me, the best ones are those that make me want to watch the show. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but come on, how can you not watch credits for The West Wing or Friday Night Lights and not want to find out what happens next? (And those are basically based on the theme song alone, not the sequence!)

Unfortunately, opening credits have been getting the shaft lately. Pushing Daisies? None. Lost? None. Heroes? None. The Office? There, but often shortened for time. Desperate Housewives? Used to have a kick ass one, but it disappeared somewhere around the second season.

Therefore, in honor of the dying art form, I present to you my top 10 opening credit sequences.

(Note: This has proved a lot harder than I originally thought. I kept on changing things up whilst writing, but I think my final product is right. (For today, anyway.) That being said, I know I am leaving things out, so let me know what I missed, okay? Chances are: I know, I know, but I only had 10 slots. )

10.) Northern Exposure – Not the most exciting opening credits, but I love it because a.) In six years, it never changed (perhaps reflecting the town?) and b.) There is a moose. It wouldn’t really seem right to have the standard “clips from the show”, would it? Doesn’t fit the tone of this sleepy dramedy.

9.) Mad About You – Short and to the point, this is not the most exciting of opening themes, but it is among the sweetest. The whole sequence lasts about 30 seconds, and shows a series of pictures of Paul and Jamie Buchman roaming around the city. Before you even watch the show, it’s obvious from the pictures that these two are MFEO.

8.) The Drew Carey Show – Back in high school, I watched it, but stopped when I got to college, and, I think…Kate left? Probably to go be awesome on Scrubs? And I think Ryan Stiles did, too, though I could be wrong about that. All I know is that I tuned in one time, and hardly any of the original cast was left, and Drew was living with some farm chick. Despite that, no one can deny its awesome opening sequence back in its early days. No, I’m not talking about Cleveland Rocks. In fact, I distinctly remember being disappointed when they changed it to CR. You know what I’m talking about, right?  The one, the only…

I mean, you just can’t beat that. (Also, kudos to a network show for taking a more than 2 minutes for the credits. You wouldn’t get that now.)

7.) Six Feet Under – I debated over putting this in. On the one hand, it’s SO LONG (and doesn’t have fun dancing like Drew Carey). On the other hand…see below. It’s magnificent. I was hooked from the first shot – (Ping!) Peter Krause. (Ping!) Michael C. Hall. This is one of those time where the opening theme makes me want to watch the show.

6.) Angel – Yeah, that’s right. I’m putting Angel and not Buffy on this list. I know, I know, but something had to be bumped, and in the end, Angel’s theme is prettier and more engaging. Plus, Alexis Denisof. Hi, Alexis Denisof! Oddly enough though, this band, Darling Violetta? Sucks, except for this song. Weird, huh? Cause, listen to how pretty:

5.) How I Met Your Mother – Sort of an updated version of Mad About You, huh? Again, short and to the point, with photographs. And the theme is so darn catchy. I love it. Babapapa baba papapapa badadadadadada dada. (Don’t pretend you don’t sing along. You know you do.)

4.) The Wonder Years – I’m going to be honest with you. Spots 4-1? I wanted them all to be number 1, because they’re all amazing. So, you can consider these last 4 a tie. With that out of the way…come on. You’ve got Joe Cocker, you’ve got super 8 film from the ’60s, you’ve got cute little Kevin Arnold waving to the camera. The nostalgia is dripping from your TV screen, at this point. (Also: Why haven’t you come out on DVD yet, show? I know, music rights are expensive, and you don’t want to jeopardize the integrity of the show buy replacing it…I get that…but come ON! Suck it up and pay so I can own one of the best shows in TV history.)

3.) The West Wing – I’ve only seen up to season 3 (no spoilers!), but this, hands down, is one of the most stirring theme songs ever. Like I said up top, with that, plus the flag and the Kennedy-esque pictures, how can you not want to watch the show after the credits roll?  (Note to parents: Can we start watching this again, please?)

2.) Friday Night Lights – Theme song by Explosions in the Sky, one of my favorite musical discoveries of 2006, plus blurred images from the show…it’s golden. I tear up watching these credits. While I didn’t hate season 2 at all, unlike a lot of people, I have to say, I prefer the season 1 credits. They’re more magical, somehow. My personal favorite image are: Smash running in slow motion; Coach walking on to the field; Riggins shaking his legs, and everyone tapping the P as they leave the locker room. (BTW, I’m not going to spoil anyone, but I’ve seen the first two episodes of season 3, and…show’s back on track. DAMN, is the show back on track. Watch it when it comes back to NBC, America!)

1.) Dexter –  So funny yet creepy. So clever yet…creepy. So ingenious yet, well, creepy. And masterfully shot. Again, with FNL and The West Wing, these credits make me want to watch the show. Who is this guy?  Good job, Michael C. Hall – you managed to make it in to the blog twice.

Video of the Day: Classic TV Clip
I know this entire post is all video, but I have to add one more. While looking for credits, I came across this gem — the show was almost on my list. It’s too good not to pass up. I still remember seeing this for the first time, probably not more than 6 or 7, and almost choking on my pizza from laughing so hard. It makes me laugh just as much today.

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9 thoughts on “When I first discovered YouTube, I didn’t work for 5 days: Top 10 TV opening sequences

  1. Re: Drew Carey Show

    Ryan Stiles did not leave the show, but in the final two years, he did not appear in every episode.

  2. I now love you forever for including The Drew Carey Show. I also watched that and Whose Line in high school. I think it might be because I’m from an hour south of Cleveland but I loved the “Cleveland Rocks” opening. All the openings were good though.
    And yay for putting Angel on there instead of Buffy!
    But where is “Friends”?

  3. Thanks, CD Rigg. Like I said, I stopped watching after awhile, and he must not have been in the one I saw filmed in its last years. I did really like the early years, though. It was fun TV.

    Nicki, I LOVED Whose Line (the original). I’d watch it after school every day on Comedy Central. Re: Friends – you know, I thought about it. And it does have a kick ass theme song. But overall, I don’t think it’s as good as the ones I picked. Though, I guess they are pretty iconic, with the fountain and everything.

  4. OMG, I remember that clip! (See, you are me, and I am you. I should stop being so surprised when this happens.) I love how at the beginning you’re all, “Uh, Rudy’s off rhythm,” but then she starts doing her solo and she’s got it SO DOWN. Hee! Man. I never thought I would say this, but now I kind of want to watch The Cosby Show. Like, all of it. I LOVED that show as a kid.

    Also, I totally get you about the FNL theme, and the WW theme totally makes me teary, which is ridiculous. I personally love the Veronica Mars theme and the totally hokey but awesome Firefly theme. Ooh, and the Mad Men theme is really good, too.

  5. The Cosby Show kicked major ass. Even in its last seasons, when it wasn’t quiiiitte as good, it was never BAD. I used to catch the reruns on Nick at Nite, but haven’t seen it in a few years now. I’d totally have a Cosby marathon. Hmmm.

    I like the VMars theme, too, except in season 3, when they fucked it up. Hated Firefly, because I guess I couldn’t get over the hokiness. Or…ever into the show. Sorry.

    Last, you know what’s crazy? The thought of me being you and you being me….in the same city!

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