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The SFX Factor: Vote For The Greatest SF & Fantasy TV Opening Titles Ever

THIS ROUND OF VOTING IS NOW CLOSED, BUT FEEL FREE TO BROWSE!

For Round 2 click here

The SFX Factor Returns! After the mega success we had with the first SFX Factor – in which we got you to vote for your favourite singing sci-fi stars – we thought we’d have another audience-voted musical showdown.

And this time it’s a celebration of vibrant voice-overs, thumping themes, tunnel vision, silhouettes and abstract art. Yes, we want you to vote for your favourite telefantasy opening title sequence.

And, as with the previous SFX Factor , it's an elimination game. You need to come back each day to discover who’s been eliminated. And each day the voting is set back to zero, so you need to keep on voting for your favourites to keep them in the race.

Choosing the contenders

Round one has happened already. If you didn’t notice it, that because you haven’t Friended us on Facebook. We asked our Facebook followers to suggest opening title sequences, and from those suggestions the SFX expert panel has to whittle down the hopefuls to 25 . It was a bit like that bit in the real X-Factor where Cowell and co judge who’s going to make it through from the auditions. That was our input, but from here on in, you are in control.

Now we know these things can be partisan, and people just vote for their favourite shows, but if you can, try to be objective. After all, you’ll see the SFX panel hasn’t put through any Whedon shows (and you know we love Whedon) because while some of their opening credits have been good, none of them really struck as a “best ever”.

Three Votes, Three Losers

And to kick things off… a triple elimination. Yep, tomorrow morning THREE of these shows will be booted out.

And to make things even more interesting, for this opening round (and this opening round only) you can vote for your THREE favourite shows. The three shows with the least votes will then be booted out, and anybody who voted for them will have to vote for something else…

So what are you waiting for? Watch the 25 contenders over the next five pages, then use the voting form on the final page to make your opinion count.

And remember, calls from mobile will be pointless…

View the contenders on the next page…

 

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 .

 

Survivors

Possibly the best thing about Terry Nation’s ’70s show, a nightmarish visual summary of the way the killer virus escaped and killed most of the world’s population.

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 ).

Carnivale

German Expressionist-American newsreels and tarot currency rub shoulders in a bizarre travelogue through a clearly fevered mind. Wonderfully warped. The mock 3D effect was a bit of a trend at the time in animated ads and titles, but it was rarely better used than it is here.

American Horror Story

Thoroughly disturbing and not a little icky. Perfect for the tone of the show.

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).

The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone ’s Dali-esque imagery is iconic. Of course it’s in this list. And after over 50 years, TV and film directors still need only reference a couple of bars of the music to indicate that something spooky’s going to happen.

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…

The Middleman

Another title sequence influenced by ’60s spy shows; the images recall The Avengers while the music has a more twangy American feel. There’s even a tunnel effect, for no apparently relevant reason, other than tunnel effects always look good in title sequences. And Natalie Morales looks great in the cat suit.

The Outer Limits

One of the greatest opening monologues ever.

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?

Buck Rogers In The 25th Century

Championed by none other than SFX editor Dave Bradley, the Buck Rogers TV show boasts yet another tunnel effect, a voice-over and an instantly catchy theme tune, co-written by the show‘s producer Glen A Larson. It originally had lyrics too (“Far beyond the world I’ve known/Far beyond my time/What kind of world am I going to find?”) but they were crap so thank god they went.

 

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.

Ace Of Wands

Another slice of fantasy whimsy from the ’70s. Psychedelic animated imagery key you in to the idea that this is a show about a magician. The lyrics to the theme were written by the series' creator Trevor Preston while the music was by Andrew Brown, who has played keyboards for Status Quo since 1973.

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!

 

 

 

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