Remember when you were a kid and you'd be hanging out in your bedroom or your living room then you'd hear the first few seconds of a theme song and you immediately knew which show that was and it got you rushing to the TV with excitement? Are those days over?
To this day, people who watched the show can sing the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme as if it were the National Anthem of television but today, many television shows don't have memorable themes that stick in your head. Since the dawn of television, there have been themes which people will hum or sing at work, home, and in public. People adored the I Love Lucy theme and later the Gilligan's Island theme is referenced and sung all the time even to this day. Growing up, there were plenty of shows which had themes that I would listen to over and over again until I memorized them. Big examples are shows like Pokemon, Spectacular Spider-Man, Ben 10, Married with Children, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), Batman the Animated Series, TransFormers Cybertron, and much much more. Even as an adult, some shows that I watch had decent themes: Doctor Who, Law & Order, NCIS, the Walking Dead, House M.D., and Star Wars the Clone Wars.
In the past three to four years, I've noticed a lot of shows just outright ditching intros and just showing the title card with a quick two-four second soundbite. How is that interesting? Now the best examples I can give are some of the superhero shows we have today. First let's talk about Spider-Man from the 90s, it had an awesome rock theme with little lyrics that would get stuck in your head, Spectacular Spider-Man has one of the greatest themes for Spidey ever made, but what does the current Ultimate Spider-Man show have? The logo appears then a web pulls it away. Laaaaaame.
Or how about Avengers Assemble? Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes had one of the most surprisingly awesome themes ever and you'd think Avengers Assemble would try to outdo their predecessor right? Nope, they just show the title card.
To go a bit more modern, the Walking Dead has a cool and creepy theme that people enjoy but the new spin-off show Fear the Walking Dead features the title card with a loud scary noise. Okay it works for Insidious movies but not a TV show
Now it's true that not all shows today are suffering from this: Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Arrow, the Flash, and Daredevil all have intros that can hook you in (though I find Arrow's theme very bland) but it seems to me like showrunners forgot how important intros are. They aren't just there to show who stars in the show and who worked on it, no the intro is there to hype the audience for what's to come with great visuals, a great theme, and if possible an awesome narration. Example, there is a show that I really did not like as a kid: Digimon. To me it was a wasted idea done to just rip off Pokemon (hate me if you want for saying that but that's just in my opinion) but I won't deny that I jammed to the awesome theme song that it has. People who never even watched Power Rangers can recite the theme and that's the sign of a good intro, it hooks you in to watch things you both like and dislike. But like I said, a good theme is only one part of the equation; you also need the intro to be visually stunning.
Let's go back to Doctor Who, it features a Police Box spinning through a vortex while bold letters come out at you ALONG with the great theme the show has. Thundercats while an awesome show nobody can deny that the animation of the opening was far superior than the actual episodes' animation and that's not a bad thing. The opening of Thundercats has some of the most beautiful visuals ever with epic fights and chases that got you pumped up to see Lion-O and the gang take on Mumm-Ra. There is another aspect in this opening that works to pump up the viewers which it shares with a current show today: the Flash. The monologue. Who doesn't want to shout out, "Thunder, thunder, thunder, Thundercats! HOOOO!" when it comes on.?Barry Allen's monologue in the Flash gets me more hooked with more heroic lines rather than Arrow such as the final line: "I am the Flash!" And you see the Flash zoom up to the camera. Once again, visuals, monologue, and a good theme. Way to go Flash, you did it right.
Now let's take a great show like say Star Trek Voyager, say you've loved Star Trek the Next Generation with its amazing opening and then you decide to check out Voyager for the first time. Imagine if there was no majestic music and grand visuals for the intro and all they did was show the words: Star Trek Voyager for about five seconds then it cuts to the episodes. Viewers would be like...
So why is that with shows like Fear the Walking Dead, Gotham, Ultimate Spider-Man, Agents of SHIELD, and Agent Carter feel like intros are a waste of time? Is it to provide more screen time for the show? Well you could at least make the opening thirty seconds long like many shows do. Is it because they think audiences don't watch the intros? If so they are very wrong. Is it too much to ask for a little more effort in the openings because while I love Gotham and Agent Carter, I don't feel as excited as I am when I see the opening of Doctor Who or Star Trek Voyager.
Tell me, do you agree that TV Intros have lacked in quality in recent years or do you think that title cards are all that we need? If you do agree, which shows do you wish had better intros. Let me know in the comments below!