Another piece of genius from HBO. That lone figure in the bowler hat reminds of Magritte, yet, instead of having an apple for a face, it is revealed to be Steve Buscemi’s Enoch ‘Nucky’ Thompson – the prohibition-era politician who basically built Atlantic City. The Prohibition issue is alive here and is demonstrated through the thousands of alcohol bottles washing up onto the shores of Atlantic City. Meanwhile, the shows violence is hinted at when one of these bottles smashes against the supports of the boardwalk as the crashing waves give that impression of chaos and turmoil surrounding the country at the time. However, the most poignant feature of the scene are the shots of Nucky himself. The camera tells us that Nucky is the lord of the sea, the skies, the beaches and the city. Hell, despite standing in the ocean, Nucky doesn’t get his feet wet – subtly conveying his own portrayal that he is ‘not a gangster.’
Game of Thrones
If you’re in the fantasy genre and want to be worth a damn, you need a map of your imaginary world. What better way than to incorporate this into the shows opening credits? Game of Thrones’ tour of Westeros is a helpful and imaginative reminder to its viewers of the shows character locations in relation to each other. The key factor, however, is the artistry of the entire thing. The clockwork-like machine, intricate objects twisting and rising up, wheels within wheels, sound familiar? It’s the show in a microcosm. Plus, that theme song gets you pumped.
Six Feet Under
There’s something surreal about the opening to this black comedy/drama series. Harsh piano tones backdrop beautiful images of clear blue sky, a lone tree on a hilltop and hands seemingly praying, all before the camera pans to reveal a mortuary table and a toe tag. The instrumentation then transitions into an oddly cheery number contrasted by images of death, including the very visible lifecycle of the lone tree on the hilltop. The sequence not only sets up the issue of mortality dealt with by the show but the surreal and off beat nature of the screenplay.
The inspired use of Malvina Reynolds “Little Boxes” just helps to accentuate the point of this opening sequence. The soul sucking uniformity of American suburban life is splendidly displayed through the fact that everything is frighteningly the same. From the rows of luxury houses, the same car pulling out of every drive, the same jogging outfit on the joggers in the park and the same dronal businessmen coming out of the coffee shop. Nancy Botwin’s attractive, pot-dealing, single mum protagonist is a far cry from the neat images shown whilst there are subtle hints at her secretive life as the houses ‘grow’ organically. Awesome.
Back in 1999, Futurama burst onto the screens as a futuristic animated sci-fi sitcom from Matt Groening. Despite Fox’s complete mistreatment of the show, it still remains the most critically acclaimed animated series of all time. And the theme? People flying through the sky in tubes? Space ships? Floating traffic lights? Amazing. There’s a smattering of Simpsons – esque gags too, including the irreverent billboards and the ever-changing phrase on the title card in addition to the black and white cartoon parody. It manages to introduce the fun and flavour that the show has to offer in a nice compact manner.
Ten genius pieces of television that you might have skipped or sighed through. Next time you’re tuning in to your favourite programme, pay close attention to the opening sequence. You might be happy that you did.