Top 11 TV Show Intros
June 30, 2015
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. What is it about a good TV show intro that just gets you hyped up?
(Clips from various intros play as he speaks)
NC (vo): It's almost a dying art. A lot of shows will just show a title card, hell if even that, and be done with it. But with those that know the importance of it, a lot of work is put in. The intro to a show is like a trailer for your product, and years of advertising have made it clear that that's pretty damn essential. From the music to the visuals to the explanation of what you're about to see, it has to be the best representation you can put out there.
NC: And we're going to look at the best of them here today. Now, there are a few limitations here. First off, I'm only doing American shows.
(Cut to more footage of show intros)
NC (vo): The reason? Well, if we include Japan in there, (scoffs) they'd all win! I'm also not just going for the catchiest theme, and it has to be more than just some clips thrown together. A lot of it has to be created for the opening. The song, the visuals, and just how much it gets you hyped up to see the show.
NC: With that said, let's take a look and see which 11 incorporated these qualities the most. Why 11? Because I like to go one step beyond. So sit back and enjoy the Top 11 Best TV Show Intros!
(The opening sequence features fireworks exploding with the "Can-Can" playing in the background.)
NC (vo): Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures. A clever little send-up to the '60s cartoon, this '90s reboot did a good job at keeping the retro feel while also updating it with some modern touches, True, it does seem rather simplistic, just flying through a CG backdrop of green lines while images from the show play, but again, it's how uniquely they display them. If it was only clips edited together, it wouldn't be as interesting, but here, flying past them in a seemingly interactive landscape, it suddenly brings everything to life.
(Clip from the intro plays)
NC (vo): The music also does great at building up the adrenaline. Just listen to those opening notes!
(Start of the intro plays)
NC (vo): Hell yeah, it's like a mix between Terminator and Batman, it's just the right combination of '90s cheese and... really, kind of '80s cheese. If '80s shows had this kind of technology and music at the time, it'd probably look very similar. The only thing that bothers me is unlike Batman, where it reveals what it is you've been flying through during the credits, this one tries to do so, too, but... what the hell is it? Was it a virtual reality petri dish? Is it a canyon if Wile E. Coyote was in the Matrix? It just looks like lasered scrambled eggs behind your logo, what does that have to do with anything? Ah, well, it's still a pretty cool intro to get you prepared for some really cool adventures.
(End of the intro, with the virtual reality world zooming out to reveal it's behind the show logo)
NC (vo): Jack of All Trades.
NC: How did I never hear of this show?
NC (vo): This is totally off-the-wall. In the vein of the enjoyably corny escapades of Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess, this was an adventure series set in the 19th century starring Bruce Campbell as a kind of Zorro / Scarlet Pimpernel action hero. It's as silly as it sounds, and it doesn't hide it in the least. While this intro does show some clips from the show, its effort and staging of a fully choreographed musical number more than makes up for it.
(Start of intro plays)
Singers: ♪ In eighteen-hundred-one, the Revolution had been won, which brought Jack to a lady, both beautiful and smart ♪
NC (vo): It's like something out of a Disney production. Hell, even Disney wouldn't quite go this silly! But that's part of what makes it so unique and bizarre.
(cut back to intro)
Singers: ♪ From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, sailin' round the bloody world to defend democracy ♪
NC (vo): Look at everybody, they are totally owning how ridiculous this all is, but it looks like they're having such a great time we kinda get sucked in right along with them. I don't know who thought this up, but you don't see many live-action intros quite like this... although maybe for good reason, seeing how it only lasted two seasons, but it's still amazingly fun.
(cut back to intro)
Singers: ♪ He'll halt the bold advance of Napoleon's attack ♪
NC (vo): It's clearly playing by its own rules and cheerfully asking us to join in.
(cut to end of intro)
Singers: ♪ Just ask the bloke right next ta ya... ♪
Parrot: Damn right!
Singers: ♪ ...It's... Jack! ♪
NC (vo): Pee-wee's Playhouse. This intro has a little bit of everything - live action, puppets, stop-motion, and of course, our terrifying grandmaster of batshit insanity.
(cut to intro)
Singer: ♪ Mr. Kite's soarin', Conky's still a snorin', there's the flashing Magic Screen... ♪
Pee-wee: Ha ha!
NC (vo): What's so funny about this intro is not only how long it is, ranking in at two-and-a-half minutes where most show intros are only about thirty seconds, but how the first half is surprisingly laid back. It's almost like a soothing vacation in a fantasy land.
(cut to the intro as we zoom out of the house)
Announcer: Pee-wee's Playhouse.
NC (vo): This, of course, offsets the rest of the segment, which is loud, fast-paced, and totally crazy.
Singer: ♪ Pee-wee's so excited... ♪
Pee-wee: Ha ha!
Singer: ♪ 'Cause all his friends have been invited... ♪
Pee-wee: That's you!
NC (vo): Adding to the random madness is the fact that (a shot of the following appears in the corner...) Cyndi Lauper is the singer of the song. Yeah, I'm not even kidding, they got Cyndi Lauper to do that voice! It makes no fucking sense!
Singer: ♪ 'Cause you've landed in a place where anything can happen... ♪
NC (vo): But that's also part of what's so fun about it. It's surreal, energized, and will make you question what the hell you drank today. It's crazy fun as only Pee-wee Herman can supply.
Singer: ♪ Golly, it's cuckoo at Pee-wee's Playhouse! ♪
Pee-wee: Ha ha ha ha ha!
NC (vo): Bucky O'Hare. This is another show I didn't really see much of growing up, but... by God, I wish I did! What the hell is all this? I mean, I get the basics: some sort of space bunny stopping evil toads from taking over the universe. Justifiably silly enough, but... Jesus Christ, look at all this!
Singers: ♪ Bucky! Captain Bucky O'Hare! He goes where no ordinary rabbit would dare! ♪
NC (vo): It's like Mad Max: Furry Road, it's just a rush of violence and fucking crazy imagery!
Singers: ♪ Bucky! Captain Bucky O'Hare! Mutants and aliens and toads, beware! ♪
NC (vo): Look at how fast it goes; there's no way to keep track of all of it. Hence, you'd have to come back to the show just to see what you missed getting blowed [sic] up in the opening! You practically have to pause it, it goes so fast.
Singers: ♪ He's a funky fresh rabbit who can take care of it! ♪
NC (vo): And I swear to God, that's Chris Rock's voice doing the singing.
Singer (who sounds like Chris Rock): ♪ If you're looking for adventure, well, this is it, with Jenny, Deadeye, and Willy Dewitt! ♪
NC: (imitating Chris Rock) I wanna sing about a (?) who's got bigger teeth than me!
NC (vo): It's not even really that long, but when you're done, you feel like you've gone through a war! You feel like you've survived one of those (images of the following pop up:) Tank Girl, Earthworm Jim, Resident Evil apocalypses. With a bunny!
NC: Which... yeah, would still fit into any of those.
NC (vo): Definitely an intro to get whatever color your alien blood is, pumping.
Singers: ♪ Bucky! Captain Bucky O'Hare! I said Bucky! Bucky O'Hare! Let's croak us some toads! ♪
NC (vo): X-Men. Aside from the awesome guitar work, there's just something to how grand and huge the imagery is. It really looks like something out of those classic '80s Marvel comics: flying through space, laser beams everywhere, a... strange obsession with the color yellow, it still feels huge. Even the letter X, it's such a cool-looking letter. That's why they throw it in the middle of the ocean and have it explode! 'Cause it's the letter X, and X is cool! Seeing their names fly by each character as they display their powers and fight off evildoers, how can you not get excited for this?
(Cut to footage of the Japanese intro for the show)
NC (vo): I should also include the Japanese intro for the show, which is even more amazing. And yeah, I know what you're thinking: (mockingly) wait, I thought you said no Japanese titles! Well, it turns out it was so good that they actually put it at the end of the American end credits. So it counts!
(NC is seen flicking his thumb from his teeth)
NC (vo): God, how can you not get the chills every time you hear that bell? (the bell tolling in the opening is heard) It's the bell that says, "Your homework is done, even if it's not. There is only X-Men now. We have a cool letter exploding in the ocean. Your ass is ours!" Ending with an army of enemies rushing toward an army of heroes with civilians panicking in the middle, how can this not get you jacked up? (singing to the end of the X-Men theme) ♪ X-Men is a kickass show! Now you know! ♪
NC (vo): Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
NC (vo): The Twilight Zone / The Outer Limits.
NC (vo): Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
NC (vo): Thundercats.
NC (vo): Tales From the Crypt.
NC (vo): And the number-one TV show intro is...
Note: Transcript isn't finished yet.