The SFX Factor ROUND 2
Ace Of Wands
View the remaining contenders on the next page…
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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…)
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 Outer Limits(opens in new tab)
One of the greatest opening monologues ever.
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.
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.
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
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 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).
Like Fringe, Babylon 5 â€™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. Youâ€™ve seen the competitors! Now itâ€™s time to vote!