Coming up next …

I’ve written before on this blog about my TV-viewing preferences — generally the genre of action/adventure, including crime dramas.

One of the key aspects of a TV series is its opening. Whether the teaser — the first couple minutes designed to hook in a viewer — comes before the titles or as the beginning of the first act, the teaser has to draw in a potential viewer to put down the remote or TiVo control and watch what’s ahead.

The titles create the setting for the entire series, from the combination of visuals and music. Or at least they used to; titles have been truncated to in some cases no music at all, which proves yet again that change may be inevitable, but positive change is not.

A sense of realism, or at least verisimilitude, is useful. Consider the openings of these early ’60s Warner Bros. detective dramas:

If a TV series last longer than a couple seasons, the titles often end up changing. The cast changes, or producers change, or someone gets an idea to do something different.

Generally, if the words “Theme by Lalo Schifrin” are in the credits, that is a plus. The first season of “Medical Center” was nothing more than medical jargon before Schifrin hit the scene to start season two:

Schifrin also wrote the theme music for two iconic ’60s series:

I watched fewer sitcoms than cop/detective shows, but I thought immediately that I preferred the much-less-familiar version of “I Dream of Jeannie” …

… to the opening everyone who watched the show knows:

In contrast, the NBC “Get Smart” open …

… wasn’t as good as the (last-season) CBS “Get Smart” open:

I like the early version of “Ironside” …

… instead of the more familiar jazzed-up version (which writer Quincy Jones released as a single “Smackwater JAck”):

Everyone has probably seen the famous opening of the original “Hawaii Five-O” …

… but the first-season close racing through downtown Honolulu …

… is more action-oriented than the canoeists:

I prefer the first-season theme, written by the great Lalo Schifrin, of “Starsky and Hutch” …

… to the more familiar second- and fourth-season themes …

… and this third-season dreck that ends up sounding like something out of bad Saturday morning TV:

While the first opening of Kojak isn’t bad …

… the second is better …

… certainly compared to what’s been called “Disco Kojak” in its last season:


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