Visit the official Doctor Who website

Visit the official Doctor Who website
Look to the future

Asylum seekers...

Asylum seekers...
Refuge of the Daleks

Doctor Who picture resource

Doctor Who picture resource
Roam the space lanes!

Explore the Doctor Who classic series website

Explore the Doctor Who classic series website
Step back in time

Infiltrate The Hub of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood

Infiltrate The Hub of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood
Armed and extremely dangerous

Investigate The Sarah Jane Adventures

Investigate The Sarah Jane Adventures
Fearless in the face of adversity

Call on Dani’s House

Call on Dani’s House
Harmer’s a charmer

Intercept the UFO fabsite

Intercept the UFO fabsite
Defending the Earth against alien invaders!

Uncover the secrets of the Dollhouse

Uncover the secrets of the Dollhouse
Programmable agent Echo exposed!

Hell’s belles

Hell’s belles
Naughty but nice

Love Exposure

Love Exposure
Flash photography!

Primeval portal

Primeval portal
Dressed to kill or damsels in distress?

Charmed, to be sure!

Charmed, to be sure!
The witches of San Francisco

Take on t.A.T.u.

Take on t.A.T.u.
All the way from Moscow

Proceed to the Luther website

Proceed to the Luther website
John and Jenny discuss their next move

DCI Banks is on the case

DCI Banks is on the case
You can bet on it!

On The Grid with Spooks

On The Grid with Spooks
Secret agents of Section D

Bridge to Hustle

Bridge to Hustle
Shady characters

Life on Ashes To Ashes

Life on Ashes To Ashes
Coppers with a chequered past

Claire’s no Exile

Claire’s no Exile
Goose steps

Vexed is back on the beat!

Vexed is back on the beat!
Mismatched DI Armstrong and bright fast-tracker Georgina Dixon

Medium, both super and natural

Medium, both super and natural
Open the door to your dreams

Who’s that girl? (350-picture Slideshow)

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Opening Gambits

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Watching television in recent years, I’ve noticed a decline in the importance of the opening title sequence and accompanying theme tune. Take “Torchwood”, for example. Did I hear somebody reply, “I wish you would”?! It has a title sequence, listing the actors, but is very brief. And now “Heroes”. Shorter still, it imparts the show’s title and creator, Tim Kring. These two examples aren’t going to go down in the annals as anyone’s favourites. Maybe they just want to get on with the story. “Heroes” theme tune, in terms of length, is a far cry from other American series of the same genre. Look at all the “Star Trek” series, the opening title sequences of which all seem to go on forever, especially “Deep Space Nine” with its slow dirge-like fanfares. The cynic in me suggests the longer the opening melody the less material has to be produced before reaching the closing credits. Veering slightly off subject, BBC ONE never shows any closing titles for “Spooks”. I have no idea why? They made a big deal of it to begin with, as being a radical departure from the norm, but these credits do exist as they are shown on BBC THREE. That makes the BBC ONE transmissions of “Spooks” incomplete to my way of thinking, not remotely radical, but simply a thorn in the side of the completist!

Of course, you all know I’m going to cite the original version of the “Doctor Who” theme tune as one of the finest examples of the art of opening a show! Written by Ron Grainer and electronically realised by Delia Derbyshire, it knocks spots off the most recent, overblown and bloated, orchestral reinterpretation. The piece of music itself is actually quite thin when you analyse it. This is because, like early Roxy Music, there are no thirds in the accompanying chords. I’ve no doubt, however, that this was the intention as it’s one of the aspects that contribute to the underlying eeriness of the composition. One of the best matched of theme tunes to image is that of Gerry Anderson’s “UFO”. I have a feeling this is because the pictures were edited to Barry Gray’s piece of music rather than the music written to accompany the completed piece of film. Done the traditional way, of adding music to the final cut, would’ve been nigh impossible to synch in this instance. The pace of both music and image is remarkable. It’s commonly believed that television is faster today but just look at this particular sequence. The “UFO” opener holds up well and is, perhaps, only let down by numerous shots of ladies’ bottoms, undoubtedly now regarded as sexist in our politically correct world! I think it’s brilliant and not necessarily for the reasons you may now be thinking!! In the space of just over a minute, it cleverly introduces all the main characters, concepts and machines, telling a potted version of the story so that you know what to expect from each episode. They knew how to make television back in 1969!

4 comments:

Steve said...

I actually like opening and closing credits on a show. I like the build up of anticipation at the beginning, the chance to get comfortable and I always like to see who is involved with the show at the end. There's also the pleasure of enjoying a nice piece of music (as in DW).

Karen and I both enjoy My Name Is Earl but Channel 4 seem to have totally cut the opening credits; it just launches straight in very abruptly. I'm sure it's down to time constraints but what can shaving 30 seconds off a title sequence gain the programming schedule? It's only a small gripe but it annoys me every time!

TimeWarden said...

I like to see closing credits, too, which is why I mentioned the "Spooks" example.

The new trend for whizzing most end-title sequences down into the bottom right hand corner of the screen, so nobody can read them, is incredibly tiresome! Naturally, the first "Doctor Who" episode in which they did this just happened to also be the best episode that season, Steven Moffat's "Blink"!!

Old Cheeser said...

The Dr Who Theme IS the best, true. I think it's a symptom of our impatient "Want it NOW" age that we get much shorter title sequences.

Another of my fave sequences are the titles to Season One of "Space 1999" - great use of strings producing an epic, orchestral feel, before breaking into a funky, exciting beat and a clever montage of quick clips previewing what is going to happen in "This Episode"!

Yep, they don't make 'em like they used to anymore.

TimeWarden said...

Agreed, regarding the opening titles of Season One of "Space: 1999". Just as each episode's teaser reaches its dramatic conclusion, in comes the rumble of a drum roll heralding all the expectation of the up-coming story. Brilliant!

Another of my favourites is "Survivors", coincidentally premiering the same year as "Space: 1999", perfectly marrying music to image and recapping the premise of the series at the outset of each instalment. Terrifyingly effective!!