I love montages of any sort that manage to capture the themes and emotions from an entire movie or show in a couple minutes. Once upon a time, I wanted to work at a trailer production company in LA, churning out two-minute synopsis of movies. During my semester “abroad” (*cough* in LA), I even interned at two such companies, The Ant Farm and Goodspot.
When done well, the opening credits of a TV show can have the same effect. Combine a dramatic montage with epic music, and I’ll be hooked. Here are a few of my favorite opening title sequences, which I never fast-forward.
1. The Tudors
The Tudors follows the history of King Henry VIII from his affair with Mary Boleyn through the end of his reign, and we learn all about his six wives. Spoilers be damned, we all learned the jingle in history class. Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived. The opening credits were magnificently produced, and were updated each season to reflect the current cast — and current wife.
2. Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones. How do you even summarize Game of Thrones? Winter is coming. You know nothing, Jon Snow. A Lannister always pays his debts. The red wedding. The squished head. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. The opener for each season takes you on a tour of Westeros and features the locations of that particular season. Plus, that score. Epic.
Outlander follows the adventures of Claire Randall, a World War II nurse vacationing with her husband in Scotland, who falls back in time to the 18th century Jacobite era when visiting the Stonehenge-like stones of Craig Na Dune. She has to convince the clan who finds her that she’s not a British spy, and is torn between clansman Jamie and her husband who hasn’t been born yet. So good. The song gets all the credit for this rich opening sequence. I liked the abstract shots of Claire, Jamie, Frank, and Jack, but it’s too bad they couldn’t be featured a more than the dancing ladies.
4. Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey is the British soap opera we Americans can’t get enough of, showcasing the dichotomy between the early 20th century British aristocrats and their help downstairs. And we love ’em all. I can’t really pinpoint what I love so much about these opening credits, but I never fast-forward.
5. Sons of Liberty
The Sons of Liberty miniseries by The History Channel was a fun but severely inaccurate retelling of the events preceding the American Revolution. Who knew that Sam Adams and Paul Revere were roof-hopping, swashbuckling, swoon-worthy ninjas when the revolution began? Oh right, they weren’t… but the dramatic opening sequence sure is epic! It features a score by Hans Zimmer and introduces all the key players nicely — except, of course, for the one female cast member who actually has more screen time than George Washington or Benjamin Franklin. Oops. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Which epic TV show openers would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments below, because I’d sure love to see them!
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