TV Intros that Capture the Essence of the Show

A TV intro isn’t just about the theme song. It’s about the combination of images paired with the specific tempo of a piece of music. There are some shows so perfect, so life-changing, you couldn’t possibly imagine that they could ever be improved or encapsulated by any theme song. But the following shows manage to achieve just that.

Television.
Television.

Dexter: Provocative, evocative and utterly disgusting at times, the Dexter intro is among one of the most beautiful. A blood-sucking mosquito, a cut-addled shaving session and rigorous meat-slicing all showcase Dexter’s predilection for the homicidal.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej8-Rqo-VT4]

The Sopranos: Driving through the New Jersey Turnpike to get to his town, no other song could have fit Tony Soprano’s persona as well as Alabama 3’s “Woke Up This Morning.” In fact, it’s so ideal that The Sopranos gets a pass on this list for being one of the three shows named not to have an original theme.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUT07eZoXPw]

Parks and Recreation: As upbeat and plucky as Leslie Knope herself, the only people who don’t approve of this theme are Ron Swanson and April Ludgate.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI7f4CgATiE]

Sex and the City: Very much like cocktail lounge music, the Sex and the City theme song exudes Carrie Bradshaw’s frenetic, energetic, neurotic personality. And New York City’s for that matter. The bus with her face on it splashing up disgusting sewage water in the final scene only serves to further complement the purity of Carrie’s attitude toward the city.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJOQiqRIpRM]

I Love Lucy: The zany, wacky bandleader-esque theme song that is the intro to I Love Lucy, sounds very much akin to what was going on in both Lucy and Ricky’s heads at all times.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-t4ql-r406Q]

I Dream of Jeannie: Like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie favored the animated portrayal of the protagonist with a lyricless intro. Though there were two versions of the theme, everyone who’s anyone prefers the one that’s in color. Classy, to the point and pretty much recreating the exact plotline of how Tony Nelson encounters Jeannie in her house/bottle, this is one of the best intros ever created.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ps3d0qYdeSE]

Bewitched: Animation, whimsical beats and brooms–it all signaled the droll, mischievous nature of Samantha Stevens’ antics (even though Endora was the one responsible for most of the antics). Derived from Peggy Lee’s own “Bewitched,” there is no other intro quite so quintessentially 1960s (except maybe Mad Men‘s, but that hardly counts since it was created in the 00s).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NA-8uk_uDP4]

Married With Children: Ironic, sarcastic and totally tongue in cheek, Married With Children‘s use of Frank Sinatra’s “Love and Marriage” is one of the most eloquently sardonic musical choices in TV history.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0deJRSu1iTU]

90210 (the first one): Filled with bawdy electric guitar riffs, you knew this show was going to be about something epic. Never have so many bathing suits, so much rubbing together, pulling down of sunglasses and high-fiving happened in the span of a minute (maybe on Baywatch).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDOrOMuo-9o]

The Facts of Life: Eerie and somewhat cultish, once you hear the theme song to The Facts of Life, you’re not liable to get it out any time soon. Especially when the intro cuts to George Clooney and his lustrously long locks.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffvB4GosPew]

Sanford and Son: The fact that M.I.A. sampled this theme for Arular‘s “U.R.A.Q.T.” should say it all.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/1WqazleR3FE]

Twin Peaks: Slow-paced Angelo Badalamenti music paired seamlessly with scenes from the Pacific Northwest is about the closest you can get to flawlessness in this world.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7d0Lm_31BE]

Mad Men: What else would you want to fall out of a building to?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcRr-Fb5xQo]