Open Channel: What’s Your Favorite TV Intro?

Home Technology Open Channel: What’s Your Favorite TV Intro?
Open Channel: What’s Your Favorite TV Intro?
A still from the intro sequence to Game of Thrones showing the capital of Winterfell.
Image: HBO

Earlier this week, HBO Max’s Peacemaker finally hit the streaming service. And while we’d certainly like to hear what you thought about both John Cena’s DC spinoff (or the new Scream, if you’ve seen it!), we have to zero in on a specific part of the show: its ridiculously good opening titles.

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Within the last decade or two, the approach to intro sequences have changed. Rather than being 5-15 seconds long or a simple title card, they’ve become more elaborate and grandiose, an event unto themselves. If they do their job right, they get you in the mood and make you interested enough to not hit the “skip intro” button, maybe even find the song to add on your Spotify playlist. At their worst, they’re a well-visualized distraction and something you can have on in the background while you get food or use the bathroom.

There are intro sequences that will forever be iconic thanks to their direction: Game of Thrones intro will be remembered for changing its location with each episode, as will Mad Men with its striking art style. (Of the prestige TV bunch, Westworld may have some of the best intro sequences to date.) Sometimes, an intro’s greatness is primarily because of its music more than its visuals, as is the case with Succession and Law & Order: SVU. Those two shows’ respective intros wouldn’t be what they are without respectively Nicholas Britell’s piano work and Mike Post’s killer clarinet.

Animated shows generally have better intro sequences, if only because they’re allowed to get a little more loose with what they can. They can be colorful and absurd, sweeping mood pieces, cyberpunk-lite jams you’ll remember years later. And that’s just in western animation: if you watch anime, you’re just used to openings getting you hype with incredible visuals and a song that you can’t wait to hear the full version of.