5 best designed TV title sequences

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By Natalie Mortimer | N/A

November 20, 2015 | 5 min read

One category. Every two weeks. Five of the world’s most charismatic designs.

Welcome to Take 5 where The Drum, along with jones knowles ritchie (JKR) Singapore strategy director Katie Ewer, take a bi-weekly look at some of the design industry’s best imagined design where you, the reader, are in control.

Every other Friday we’ll pick a theme and ask you to submit the design you feel deserves a top spot. You’ll have one week to get your entries in, the votes will be counted and the best of lot will be published the following Friday. (Make sure you scroll down to find out the next topic winging its way).

But back to today's theme: The role of a TV show title sequence is to set the tone for the show that follows. A title sequence is to content what packaging is to products, and what logos are for services. A great title sequences evokes the mood of the show, without putting all the cards on the table. A great title sequence can also be rousing and it can build anticipation. Like an anthem at the big game, we feel part of something bigger (or maybe I should get out more). The mark of a great title sequence is that you enjoy watching the whole thing, again and again, every time you watch your show. Here’s five of the best.

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Marco Polo

This sequence seems to paint itself a story in front of our eyes. It’s beautiful and haunting in the same breath. It’s remarkable not just because it looks so great, but also because of the old school craft and skill that went into its construction. Agency Mill+ used dense paper that allowed water to sit on the surface. They ‘painted’ with water, then added black ink to the water, which morphs into images, creating the effect or images being realised out of the ether. It won a D&AD pencil this year.

Game of Thrones

The Game of Thrones title sequence constantly changes – not just between seasons but also between episodes to reflect the changing plot. That alone makes it a game-changing (excuse the pun) piece of work. With its cogs, nails and other mechanical paraphernalia that build themselves into fantastical cities one by one, it’s like you're watching the construction of some complex toys for a very dark game indeed.

Mad Men

Simple, intelligent and thought provoking, the Mad Men title sequence is pure class. It doesn’t overstate its case, it evokes an era without resorting to literal communication, and it alludes to the shows dark side without heavy-handed drama. The closing frame of the figure in the chair with a cigarette in his hand has entered the visual lexicon of modern design and culture, which is surely a signifier of a sequence that’s become … dare I say it… ‘iconic’.

Dexter

Dexter Intro - Morning Routine HD from Ode on Vimeo.

Each shot in Dexter's "morning routine" sequence is brilliantly ambiguous, conflating the murderous with the mundane. It’s dark but it's funny, just like the show.

The Simpsons

The TV title sequence that started it all! The original Google doodle! The internetz can’t seem to agree how many different ‘couch gags’ have ever been aired, but there’s quite a few of them above.

Some of the more notable collaborations include those with Sylvain Chomet (he of Triplets of Belleville fame) and this profoundly weird sequence from animator Don Hertzfeldt.

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