Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Doctor Sam Beckett led an elite group of scientists into the desert to develop a top-secret project, known as QUANTUM LEAP. Pressured to prove his theories or lose funding, Doctor Beckett, prematurely stepped into the Project Accelerator and vanished. He awoke to find himself in the past, suffering from partial amnesia and facing a mirror image that was not his own. Fortunately, contact with his own time was made through brainwave transmissions, with Al, the Project Observer, who appeared in the form of a hologram that only Doctor Beckett could see and hear. Trapped in the past, Doctor Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, putting things right, that once went wrong and hoping each time, that his next leap will be the leap home.
There it is! One of the greatest openings for any tv show ever! Follow this with an excellent theme tune that not only manages to get you excited for the upcoming episode but also acted as a great recap and rundown of what the show was about, giving you glimpses of the many different people and time periods that Sam Beckett had become and encountered!
It isn’t saying anything too negative about Quantum Leap that this was one of my favourite parts of the whole show! I loved the opening, watching his initial “leap” and then the great titles which followed whichever immediate dilemma he found himself in.
To coin a well used phrase – “they don’t make them like this anymore” and it is a real shame. We are running out of good, old-fashioned openings with amazing theme tunes or memorable quotes/songs. Ask anyone of a certain age and they can recount the words to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air without skipping a beat or know exactly when to clap during the Friends theme.
It wasn’t just sitcoms. Star Trek: The Next Generation has one of the greatest opening themes. The song makes up for the fact that the titles are just the ship shooting across the sky repeatedly with the cast and crew’s names appearing in space.
It isn’t just older, science-fiction shows that had great openings. CSI and its many spin-offs was great for the opening titles; using one of The Who’s many great rock songs, it managed to add some imperative and style after what could often be a very cool, intriguing opening.
This is what we are missing. The teaser in every TV show, the moment before the credits (and before the first ad break in US TV) is designed to set the whole show up and keep you watching. It is often very effective but I think it loses some of its edge without a great, cool theme tune to follow it up. Imagine The X-Files opening, a creepy, monstrous being attacks a screaming girl and then… nothing! Just The X-Files flashing up on-screen. That cool, haunting tune, with the dark, strange imagery set the mood and feel of the whole show.
We are missing this in some great TV shows. I can understand the need to cut down on what is deemed “unnecessary” with every available space needed to cover the story but sometimes a show noticeably misses the set-up. Examples that spring to mind are Agents of Shield, Gotham and Supernatural. All these shows could do with a great opening, really bringing home what they are trying to achieve.
You can judge the success based on shows that do have these great titles. As well as the aforementioned, recent shows like House of Cards, Daredevil and the grand-daddy of them all, Game of Thrones, use the titles to truly set the tone and bring anyone into that world. Think of Sopranos without Tony riding along to the excellent theme or True Blood without the gruesome, nasty but enticing imagery that accompanied the cool, country theme. These shows prove that this can make a difference and even makes a show much more memorable.
Overall, since Lost used the stark, cold opening credits to great effect, too many shows have taken the lazy way out. TV shows, from drama, Sci-Fi to sitcom, need opening titles to bring to life the series and set the tone for the episode. It helps build the excitement or at least gives you a cool song to sing along too.