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The Titles Race

March 19th, 2010

Bart SimpsonProbably the most famous opening title sequence on television is that of The Simpsons. The colourful cartoon whizzes through Springfield introducing each of the pivotal characters as you pay close attention with each episode to what Bart is writing on the school blackboard, and what happens as the Simpson family all reach home together and sit, fall, float (insert couch gag) in front of their TV. After two decades The Simpsons is running as strong as ever and must now be in its twenty-something series?

The Americans seem to be winning in the titles race with impressive opening sequences in Dexter, True Blood, Hung, The Sopranos and Mad Men. Do you remember the fun they had in The Muppet Show? “It’s time to play the music; it’s time to light the lights!” It’s all dance and razzle-dazzle, fun and frolics. Back in blighty, and our TV’s most popular shows, we have a winding view of East London and the Thames and a whining “do do do, do, do do do” trundle through a Manchester pebble street in the Eastenders and Coronation Street opening credits. Do you remember the old The Bill beginning credits, following two pairs of feet walking and, well just walking, that was it! Who even knows if they got to where they were going? That would be a case solved in itself.Eastenders

Composition theme tunes also play a pivotal role and can often – and rather annoyingly – linger with us years later. Think Eastenders and the closing DON DON, DON DON DON, DON DON DON, grating both over in one’s head, and to type. The Sweeney is usually favoured in this country with its theme tune and opening sequence in which John Thaw, Dennis Waterman, and seemingly everyone else in the cast, skid around in a Ford Granada, jump out and look menacingly at the camera before running down the street chasing criminals and then finish by causally strolling through a night time London smoking a cigarette. There really is no bettering the 70’s cop show. In America, ER proved to carry such popular original opening credits that they brought them back for the last ever episode in April 2009.

The X Factor theme tune O Fortuna, heard by millions on a weekly basis during the X Factor season, has been so popular that it was named the UK’s most widely-heard piece of classical music since records began. Carl Orff’s 1937 Carmina Burana oratorio topped the most-played recordings of the past 75 years, after receiving exposure from scary movie The Omen, aftershave ads for Old Spice and laterally as the tension builder intro to ITV’s realty talent show.

What are your thoughts? Do you have a favourite theme tune or opening/closing credits sequence, or have you worked on a prologue or opening  for a film or television show? Let us know.

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