The missus and I were commenting on how great the teaser is in the structure of most Doctor Who episodes, and what really makes it work is the awesome eeeeeoooorrrooowww sting that caps the scene and starts the theme song:

So that got us talking about the dearth of really good opening titles music on TV nowadays; our beloved Lost only got a whoosh sound and a four-second flash of a title card. Which of course led to the Top Ten best opening titles of all time. Here’s my list, plus a few more:

Hawaii Five-O:

Beautiful scenery, hot island girls, jets! Sunsets, hula dancers, crime! What’s not to like?

Mission Impossible:

Getting the audience excited for the upcoming episode is easy when you put clips of the upcoming show directly in the credits.

The Incredible Hulk

I probably say “An accidental overdose of gamma radiation…” at least once a month in regular conversation.


I don’t know how the Cartwrights ever knew where they were, burning up a map of their ranch every week, but it’s still a good tune.

The Wild Wild West

Is Jim West gonna have to punch a bitch? Looks like it.

Rockford Files:

Apparently, because of the unused pilot shot for this season, NBC had all the Rockford stuff ganked from YouTube. Nice work, NBC. Anyway, since I can’t show you the theme, Rockford‘s place will be held by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter’s other awesome theme song, for S.W.A.T.


Easily the best scifi intro ever.

Odd Couple:

Neil Hefti wrote the Batman theme, too. Coincidence? I think not.

The Prisoner:

I love how they take four minutes every episode to show you that Drake quits as a spy, resigns, wakes up in the Village, and meets the new Number Two. And that they tell you the end of the show every time: “Who is Number One?” “You are, Number Six.”

The Love Boat:

If you don’t enjoy hearing “…like an open smile, on a friendly shore…” you probably didn’t grow up in the 70s.

The Six Million Dollar Man

Embedding disabled by request, so all I can do is give you the link:


I sort of can’t get over how this intro actually gets the audience excited to watch the episode. I also can’t get over how much the titles look like they were designed by Dave McKean.

The Facts of Life:

No, I’m not kidding.

Barney Miller

I love that fuzzy bass in the beginning so much.

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Mark Herr 03 January 2011

Actually SWAT is one of my all time favorites and if I had to have a theme song, that would be it/

And I’d choose Giligan’s Island over the Facts of Life any day of the week.

Fun list

Larry Young 03 January 2011

Yeah, I know FACTS OF LIFE is my own idiosyncratic snuggle-pillow.

Paul Pogue 06 January 2011

I sometimes weep that proper opening titles are a completely lost art these days. “Doctor Who” is one of the notable exceptions, and even then it’s a decades-old concept. (I particularly liked how the opening titles were actually part of the season-long arc this time around.)

Animated shows tend to have pretty good opening sequences — think any of the DC shows — but I’m hard pressed to think of a live action show in years and years that had a good opening sequence. (Okay, one — “Dexter”). I always think of openings like the overture to musical theatre — they set the stage and the mood. Even openings that aren’t necessarily classic but are reasonably well done, such as Buffy and Angel, create an atmosphere that sets one up for the experience.

I will also second the mad love for opening sequences with talky narration that explains the show. What nerd of the late 1980s can’t finish the sentence, “Theorizing that time travel was possible within his own lifetime …”?

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