The television opening credit sequence is truly an art form. Frankly, it is hard to believe that it has never been considered as a category for any of the major award shows. It should be. An excellent sequence can make a mediocre series good, a good series great, and a great series…well, you get the idea.
Okay, so maybe the above statement is a little bit of a stretch. Still, opening sequences can be pretty entertaining. They may be a dying art form these days, but that is all the more reason to celebrate the very pinnacle of achievement in the field. There have been many great sequences in TV history, and it is hard to choose the greatest. Nevertheless, below is my list of the very best.
Thursday nights in the mid-80s were more than just "Must See TV" for NBC; they were a treasure trove of fantastic opening sequences. From "Cheers" and "Family Ties" to "Hill Street Blues," the first few minutes of each program promised excellence (the shows weren't so bad, either). The king, of course, was Cosby. "The Cosby Show" was known for its creative opening sequences that consisted of the entire cast dancing on screen to musical variations of the theme song. Everyone knows the "Cosby Dance." Everyone loves it (at least everyone with a soul). While all of the openings were entertaining, Cosby's best moves (and sweater) were on display in season three.
A fantastic theme song can truly elevate an otherwise solid opening sequence. Such was the case with "Magnum, P.I." The opening montage is fast paced and exciting, but while not derivative, it is still somewhat typical of similar programs in the era. What really makes this opening sequence stand far above the rest (aside from Tom Selleck's still awesome 'stache) is the phenomenally catchy theme, which never fails to get the heart racing and blood pumping. Magnum to the rescue!
Honestly, who hasn't wanted to find their very own hangout "where everybody knows your name" after watching the "Cheers" opening? Possibly the best opening theme lyrics of all time are set to a picture montage of early 20th century bar patrons (dressed in their formal best - my how times have changed). It produces an instant sensation of nostalgia and gives one the sense of camaraderie that can be developed around alcohol (guess that's not always a good thing). The smirking guy holding up a glass in the last frame of the sequence has every right to gloat - he will forever be a part of TV history.