Your favorite TV program opening sequence

I’m looking for opening sequences that bring you immediately into the world of the TV show, giving you a glow of anticipation for what is to come.

My current favorite is for the French series of Maigret mysteries from the 90’s and 2000’s starring Bruno Cremer (which I can see on cable on MHZ network). Here it is: the series is set in the early 50’s, and the music and noir-ish visuals immediately take me into that time and place. And what better intro to Maigret than to show him filling and lighting his pipe. I especially like the way that they only show part of Maigret’s torso and his hands, but never his face - it adds so much to the tone of mystery. The music is evocative of mystery too, although I don’t know why.

So what’s your favorite, and why?

True Blood, because it’s creepy and bizarre and seductive and off-putting and beautiful and brilliant.

This one, hands down:

Miami Vice was pretty effective for the show. Whether it paints an accurate picture of reality in Miami is not the question. It shows the Miami Vice version of Miami very effectively. Fast cars, beautiful women, money being spent left and right…

Star Trek TOS was effective, imho. All it showed was space and an odd looking spaceship. Viewers knew it wasn’t going to be a western, a cop show, or a soap (although we could argue that ST:TOS was indeed all of those things), but rather something to do with space and that funny looking spaceship.

The original long version of Law & Order set a mood (for me, anyways) of the gritty, never pretty world of crime and punishment.

My fave?

Doctor Who, Tom Baker era. Just way too cool. Psychedelic. Weird. Timey-wimey. Awesome music. The teen me just knew I was in for a treat.

To answer the second part of your question: Not just because of the imagery, music, editing, and overall atmosphere of creeping menace, but because it reveals almost everything you need to know about the series all at once … provided you know how to listen.

I prefer opening credits that focus on the shows characters, and can perfectly sum them up in just a few moments. For example: Freaks and Geeks’ school picture day + Bad Reputation = perfect.

But in my mind it doesn’t get better than Roseanne. One circle around the family at the table tells you everything.

The original Hawaii Five-O is my favorite. Cool visuals, great music- perhaps the best TV theme song ever.

Yep, Freaks and Geeks. Also Twin Peaks (for the win, I think,) Space 1999, The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson, The Simpsons, MASH.

The Rockford Files, specifically, the answering machine messages.

The Big Bang Theory

Mission: Impossible, which is interesting because I didn’t like the show, but that theme! And “Your mission, Jim, should you choose to accept it…” I always kind of hoped one day he’d say, “Nah, gonna skip this one.”

By the way, did he ever? Or the previous guy?

Two of the best openings ever for war series, dramatic or documentary. I love the Terminator-type feeling of menace in the first one … a heartless industrial society churning those things out so they can be dropped indiscriminately on civilian populations … man vs the machines:

In the second, unfortunately, they chopped off the opening sequence for each episode in the series when they were released on DVD, but you can hear the original haunting theme music … when the series was first aired in 1964, for the 50th anniversary of WWI, it played against a stark B&W image of a Tommy rising out of a trench in silhouette, almost in slow motion … he brings up his his rifle and aims it at the German trenches … quite probably, he was blown away himself in the next few seconds, maybe without even getting a shot off. I was nine years old at the time, and that image and this music has haunted me ever since.

I like both versions of The Walking Dead. Especially the turning door knob in the first iteration.

For some reason I really love the theme songs to both The Office and Parks and Rec.

The Sopranos was always good but maybe that’s because I am from the same area.

I am sure there are others but that is what is off the top of my head.

Nothing will ever top Carnivale, IMVHO. There are many good ones and I agree with most of the ones already posted, but *Carnivale *is the gold standard.

What I dislike is that a lot of shows begin with a long and fascinating credit sequence, and then compress it to a blip in later seasons. Both *Eureka *and *Warehouse 13 *come to mind - I’d put the original full length *WH13 *sequence very high, while the current one barely qualifies as a sequence (can you have a sequence of one?)

The first season of “Crime Story,” set in both Chicago and Las Vegas, was one of the best cop shows ever. I prefer the Chicago opening, because I spent my summers in the Chicago/Joliet area when I was growing up, and the series immediately took me back to it in the early '60s.

In addition to the sax solo, I love the period Art Deco graphics for “Poirot.” This video (hooray!) gives the full version of the theme:

Get Smart

As much as I love the series, that would be one of the worst for me. I simply cannot watch it without getting sick.

Blackadder (series 2-4) gets my vote.

I’ll mention one that’s sadly under-appreciated, Crime Story (the Las Vegas version)

I’ve been catching M:I in reruns lately and am starting to get more of an appreciation for it. There are some screwy touches that I never would have noticed when I saw it as a kid, and occasionally the show is deeply fucked up.

To answer your question, I’m pretty sure he never turned down a mission, but there were some episodes that didn’t start out with one. I saw one just the other night where Jim and Barney were vacationing together. Barney was arrested for killing the brother of the local, corrupt police chief (he didn’t) and Jim summons Willy and Paris to help break Barney out before he’s killed.

One more from the Golden Age of Action-Adventure; again, it tells you all you need to know before you start watching the series:

Oh, Lord, how I used to ride my bike home every Friday night to watch this on KMSP Channel 9 at 9:00 o’clock…!