THE SFX FACTOR: Greatest TV Title Sequences Round 5

This round is now closed. Click here for the latest round

The SFX Factor ROUND 5

Time for the latest eliminations, and as we explained yesterday, this time we’re revealing the three shows that received the fewest votes. Two are them are going to get the chop, but the panel here at SFX can save one of them for the next round…

So, the trio in trouble are:

Carnivale

Dead Like Me

Buck Rogers In The 25th Century

Now, this really is a difficult choice, as these three are all fantastic, and the judging panel felt that there were other, weaker candidates that dodged the bullet. Come on guys! Look at the gorgeous animation for Carnivale ! Dead Like Me has Grim Reapers playing basketball! Buck Rogers has a gloriously cheesy theme tune!

They’ve all been on an incredible journey (Buck especially… 500 years into the future) but two of them have to go, and those two are:

Carnivale

Buck Rogers In The 25th Century

So Dead Like Me survives for another day, but if you, like us, are shocked it was in the relegation zone, show it some love in the next round of voting, which commences now! All votes have been set back to zero.

And remember, you can view all the remaining contenders on the following pages.

Doctor Who

Loads of our Facebook followers suggested Doctor Who for this SFX Factor , but the problem is, the show has had so many different versions over the years. Should we put them all up for the vote? Or lump them all in as one? In the end the expert panel decided to choose its own favourite – the second Pertwee opening title sequence – as a representative.

We love this one because the slit-can* time tunnel is so immediately iconic, and the haunting theme tune was arguably blessed with its best arrangement at this point. Tom Baker has a similar title for six series of his seven-series run, but this one just wins out for us because of the Doctor-shaped time tunnel effect.

* The same FX technique Stanley Kubrick used to create the star gate in 2001: A Space Odyssey .

Sapphire And Steel

Great voice-over, weird images and music that sounds like an Orc’s bowels after a dodgy curry. The animation may be a bit primitive, but the overall effect remains utterly compelling.

Space: 1999

A lot of ’60 and ’70s shows incorporated clips from the upcoming episode – it was a less spoilerphobic age. Indeed, when the new Battlestar Galactica resurrected the idea, some fans would sit with their eyes closed during this bit. Space: 1999 was the zenith of the form, with the clips edited exquisitely to the music. These are the first season title with Barry Gray’s magnificent theme (Derek Wadsworth’s funky alternative for season two is okay in itself, but pales in comparison). The images of the Moon being blasted out of its orbit are gorgeous too, even if they are scientific bobbins.

The 10th Kingdom

Simply beautiful, and the version of “Wishing On A Star” chosen for the theme is spot on.

Star Trek: Voyager

The best of the Trek opening titles. Well, Voyager had to have something going for it (besides getting rid of Kes). Enterprise had some great images, but the godawful, power ballad theme song “Faith Of The Heart” was such a crime against your ears, it could not be included. Voyager was blessed instead with a stately theme from the legendary Jerry Goldsmith ( Aliens , Star Trek: The Motion Picture , Gremlins , The Omen ).

Blake’s 7

The show’s original title sequence (by far the best) kicks off with what looks like a cut-price Death Star (pretty apt for a show that was bargain basement Star Wars ) before bombarding us with images of a Big Brother-style future and finally taking us into space opera territory. Sadly, what looks like a cameo by K9 turns out to be a security camera. The music is by Dudley Simpson (he’ll be back in this list) who was clearly told to come up with something like the Star Wars fanfare, but we suspect he may have actually have been more influence by the John Miles track “Music” (click and fast forward to just after three minutes in).

Chuck

Chuck ’s snazzy opening titles are a jaunty mix of ’60s spy series imagery and techno-geekery. And we love the fact they barely changed over the entire run of the show, so that Chuck still had his fluffy hair long after Sarah had smartened him up in the actual show.

The Prisoner

This one has everything: memorable, and very quotable, voiceover; a cracking theme tune – bordering on a condensed four-movement symphony – from Ron Grainer ( Doctor Who , Steptoe And Son ) that’s every bit as brash and quirky as the show itself; a mini-storyline setting up the premise with visual panache and staccato editing; and a huge white balloon chasing a man across a beach. If this isn’t in the Top Five of SFX Factor, there’s something wrong with the universe (not that we want to influence your voting, of course…)

Thunderbirds

Another Anderson show; another work of genius. The countdown, Barry Gary’s jubilant military march, the silhouettes of the main characters, the sheer awesomeness of the Thunderbirds themselves and even the block font used for the “Supermarionation” credit all add up to a title sequence you can watch again, and again, and again…

True Blood

One of the longest title sequences on offer in this list. Good thing too, because you wouldn't want to cut off the theme song – “Bad Thing" by Jace Everett – too soon. The images are basically everything the Louisiana tourist board wouldn’t put in a video.

Red Dwarf

Specifically you’re voting for the opening title to the first two series here, before it stated using the more traditional clips approach. The version here is actually from the Remastered DVDs, but we didn’t think you’d mind it looking its best.

Fringe

Short but sweet, and worthy of inclusion here for (cleverly) being the ultimate adaptable title sequence, changing colour (and occasionally even imagery) to suite the tone of the show. To be fair to the other shows, we couldn’t really post all seven different versions so far in separate viewers, but we did find this handy compare and contrast vid of the first six above, while the latest addition to the roster can be seen here .

Dead Like Me

If you’d forgotten how brilliantly bat’s-arse the titles to this show were, it’s our pleasure to remind you. Basketball playing grim reapers – how can this not have a stab at the overall SFX Factor title?

Game Of Thrones

Simply wonderful, and a refreshing divergence from the kind of clichéd sword’n’sorcery imagery we usually get with fantasy shows (see the Camelot titles, which are very classy looking, but exactly what you’d expect from this genre). They also brilliantly emphasise the sheer scope of the show, and new locations are added as they’re introduced into the show.

The Avengers

Class.

The Tomorrow People

Considering the brief for the titles to this ’70s ITV children’s show was clearly “Do something like Doctor Who ” (actually, that could have been the brief for the whole show) the results are startlingly good. The random images swooping out of the screen at you pulse in time to Dudley Simpson’s haunting, howling music (Simpson had long been composer of Doctor Who ’s incidental music at the time).

Babylon 5

Like Fringe, Babylon 5 ’s title sequence was built to be adaptable. The voiceover was altered slightly each year and given to a different narrator; in the final season, various characters had a line each.

You’ve seen the competitors! Now it’s time to vote!