While network television has largely, though not completely, given up on artful and interesting opening titles, cable and streaming shows have doubled down. This year’s new shows brought quite a few interesting sequences, often spooky and moody, sometimes cheeky and oddball, and occasionally far better than the series themselves. Here are the ten best.
1. The Affair
The Fiona Apple original song is eerie and sad, while the footage itself is disorienting and ominous. If only the show were this good.
2. True Detective
The Handsome Family song “Far From Any Road” has a haunting old-fashioned sound, which marries perfectly with the uncanny imagery that’s never just one thing. Just like the show, these titles are all about conflict — between machinery and nature, maturity and childhood, faith and horror.
3. The Leftovers
These slightly warped paintings kinda, sorta tell the story of how everyone disappeared, and they capture the show’s tone perfectly, combining religiouslike imagery without actually being overtly religious, and while still being funny and twisted.
One of the few broadcast shows on the list. For a period drama, you want something that’s appropriate to the show’s time period but also appropriate in modernity, and this animation hits exactly that.
5. Halt and Catch Fire
Same here — there’s a real ‘80s vibe to titles, but it doesn’t seem like the more lugubrious actual intros for ‘80s dramas.
6. Black Sails
Black Sails is a pretty inert cable drama, but these titles are gorgeous, and unexpectedly combine pirate adventure scenes with a classical sculpture look.
They had excellent source material.
8. Penny Dreadful
WARNING: CONTAINS A LOT OF BUGS.
9. Marco Polo
Pretty! Pay no attention to how boring the rest of the show is.
Bonus points for the enchanting arrangement of “Skye Boat Song,” but anti-bonus points for generic imagery.
Honorable mention: BoJack Horseman
While the opening titles for the show are functional but not earth-shattering, the closing credits are genuinely special. What a terrific little song.