Something TiVo's not gonna fix

I didn't indulge in TV much this past season, but I noticed a common aspect to all of the new shows that I did start watching: none of them had credit sequences longer than a couple of seconds.

Short opening credits have become a staple of sitcoms whose running length minus commercials is clocking in around 20 minutes these days; however, hour-long shows have been adopting them as well. Eli Stone, Pushing Daisies, Life... All of their title sequences basically consist of a title card and a few beats of score.

I fear that this trend is indicative of the death of opening credits. Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I like credits. They're informative. They establish the tone of the series. And really good credits get me excited to watch the episode.

Some of my favorite credit sequences:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Natch. The rockin' original theme song by Nerf Herder starts off all typical horror/gothic film with gloominess but then Buffy comes along to rock this joint. I always loved seeing which shot they would choose for the group shot and the final power shot of Buffy looking all bad-ass.


Again, a rockin', haunting theme song appropriate for a show about the supernatural. Some people moaned about it being a Smiths' cover, but even though I think the Smiths' version is better, Love Spit Love's version is a better fit for this purpose. Both Charmed and Buffy used their credits to establish relationships between characters and the characters' supernatural abilities. They allow the viewer to have a better context of the show's 'verse if they are just tuning in.

Freaks and Geeks

Um, do I even need to say anything? What don't you know about the show and those characters after watching that?


I always thought that Medium had some of the most distinctive, unique credit sequences on TV. The music is lovely and haunting and the artwork is beautiful. It always reminds me of older opening credits from films made in the 1950s and '60s.

Six Feet Under

The images used for these are less functional and more just pretty but add a score by Thomas Newman and you can't go wrong.


Weeds started out with a good opening sequence with Malvina Reynolds' "Little Boxes" playing over the repeated images of suburbia, but the show upped the interesting factor when they started using covers of "Little Boxes" by various artists in season two. Here's one of my favorites by Elvis Costello.

Granted, opening credits aren't always fabulous. In fact, most credit sequences are pretty average. They get the song right but not the visuals or the visuals right and not the song.


I always liked Angel's theme song. I thought it fit Angel as a character — it has kind of an Old World feel to the beginning that then blends into some more modern rock. However, I never felt like the music fit with the clips of the stunt work. The fighting needs to be included in the credits because that's a huge part of the show, but the lovely, mellow cello stylings of Darling Violetta aren't the appropriate soundtrack for it.

Veronica Mars

I like the choice of The Dandy Warhols' "We Used to Be Friends" but the notebook paper and the sketches? Yuck. Not very appropriate for a noir-ish detective show. The credits got a revamping for season three, which were an improvement but still not topping the awesome scale.

Dead Like Me

I like the visuals of these a lot — especially the reapers doing a chest bump on the basketball court — but I can't stand the music. It's a little too goofy for the show, which was an admittedly pretty light take on death, but that song is a little too carnival-esque. I'm thinking maybe some nice post-modern big band music, e.g. Squirrel Nut Zippers' "Hell", might have been a good alternative.


I like Massive Attack's "Teardrop", but I don't like the combination of the live action clips and the anatomical drawings. Stick with the drawings. That first shot of House's face superimposed over the skull creeps me the fuck out.


Oh good god. I'd forgotten how godawful Firefly's theme song was. I mean, ew. Ew. Ew. Which reminds me of another craptastic theme...

The L Word

And now I feel like I need to shower.

Athens Boys Choir

Athens Boys Choir is actually "one little fairy" named Katz, a trans, genderqueer spoken word/hip-hop artist. I saw him perform in Madison recently and he was hilarious, entertaining and thought-provoking. His little video for "Fagette," a track off of his new album called Bar Mitzvah Superhits of the 80s, 90s, and Today, has been blowing up on YouTube. I love me some gender-deviant goodness.

What about the ladies?

The National Post recently published an article touting "TV's most inventive minds," which they name as Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse), Bryan Fuller (Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, Heroes, Pushing Daisies), JJ Abrams (Felicity, Alias, Lost, Fringe), Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad!, The Cleveland Show), and Josh Schwartz (The O.C., Gossip Girl, Chuck).

Of course, I noticed the distinct lack of women/women-identified folk and I'd like to pretend that I'm all shocked and stuff, but I'm not. There are not a lot of women executive producers in Hollywood. Of the shows that I watch regularly, I can only think of three off the top of my head that were created by women: Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls), Barbara Hall (Judging Amy, Joan of Arcadia), and that Kauffman woman from Friends.

Oh, and these are all American men. Because our TV is the most important.

Anyway, as far as who is actually mentioned on the list, I can get behind three of the five. If we're talking about inventive, Joss Whedon and Bryan Fuller definitely fit into that category. Both men have a unique ability to use the supernatural to explore aspects of humanity and to create memorable, relatable characters (with perhaps the exception of Angel on that last point). I haven't seen much of JJ Abrams' work, with the exception of season one of Felicity, but I know enough people who enjoy Lost and Alias that I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

However, Seth MacFarlane? Josh Schwartz? Schwartz seems to only be included on that list because he knows how to create shows that market well to the younger crowd. And while I liked Family Guy before it came back to TV, I would hardly call MacFarlane inventive. American Dad! follows the same formula of Family Guy and The Cleveland Show is a Family Guy spin-off.

I think Greg Berlanti (Everwood, Brothers and Sisters, Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone) deserves a spot on this list. He somehow manages to involve me and make me care about all of his shows' characters.

As for the fifth spot, I'm not sure. If we're narrowing the list to only men, maybe David Chase (Northern Exposure, The Sopranos) or Glenn Gordon Caron (Medium, Now and Again, Moonlighting). If this list were to become a co-ed affair, I'd have to do some research.