10 Inspirational HBO Opening Sequences
HBO is the king of original series, a network known throughout Hollywood as the place for super talents to get more freedom and funding than they would on another network or even movie set. Nothing proves this reputation more than the opening titles of HBO’s most well-known original series.
Tales From The Crypt (1989)
A classic HBO series that rocked a classic opening title sequence. Typical scary music plays as the camera sweeps through the graveyard, into the house and up the stairs. The big climax comes about a minute into the opening sequence when the iconic Crypt Keeper pops out of his coffin and shrieks with fiendish delight. It may not look so impressive now, but back in the day? This was a groundbreaking opening sequence for HBO.
The Sopranos (1999)
The Sopranos opening title sequence still stands as one of the most famous of all time. Abstract, random but strangely mesmerizing … the opening sequence mirrors the themes of the show. The song that plays (Woke Up This Morning by A3) as Tony Soprano drives from NYC to New Jersey became infamous, and was even sampled for a Jay-Z rap. The ominous nature of the lyrics (“woke up this morning, got myself a gun”) set the tone for the violent and unpredictable nature of The Sopranos.
Six Feet Under (2001)
Six Feet Under is Alan Ball’s brilliant series about a family of undertakers, life and death in LA. Using color-washed images of toe tags, embalming fluid, graveyards and finally a huge tree… Six Feet Under’s opening sequence creatively demonstrates what happens when you die, from a literal perspective.
From the images and music for the opening sequence of Treme, the audience immediately gets the impression music and New Orleans are inextricably linked. The title credits juxtapose shots of musical instruments and musicians with the horrors of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Ending with the poisonous mold that consumes the lives of so many characters in the show.
The Wire (2002)
For each of the five seasons of The Wire, HBO chose a new opening title to reflect that season’s themes. Whether it was a look at Baltimore’s drug trade from the streets, the point-of-view of the police, or journalists, The Wire’s opening credits always featured a bluesy song accompanied by images of the day-to-day jobs of those being profiled that season.
An HBO show that ended far too soon, Carnivale dealt with religious fervor and national panic in the dark days of the Great Depression. A deck of tarot cards falls into the sand, while lush images of the tarot deck’s characters interact with one another, foretelling the mystery and magic that Carnivale offered up each week. The tarot cards are intercut with images of the Dust Bowl era (KKK, Stalin, Babe Ruth, etc) to set a tone of desperation. The opening sequence for Carnivale won an Emmy for the creative design team of A52.
Entourage is an HBO show about dudes living the good life in Hollywood, what better way to kick that off each week than a rocking song (Jane Addiction’s “Super Hero”) coupled with the guys driving through town in an amazing car (1965 Lincoln Continental). The names of the show’s stars are emblazoned on LA’s most famous signs.
True Blood (2008)
True Blood is another Alan Ball series with creative opening credits. This vampire drama is set in the swamplands of Louisiana, and the opening sequence demonstrates the thin line between sex and violence, pleasure and pain. The singer’s deep voice croons “I wanna do bad thing with you” while raunchy images of dancing girls are juxtaposed with hungry gators and dead fish.
How To Make It In America (2010)
Aloe Blacc’s “I Need A Dollar” may sound like a vintage B-side, but the modern song sets the stage for HBO’s How To Make It In America. The song’s rhythms compliment the stop-and-go style of the time-elapsed New York City imagery that accompany the opening credits.
The Pacific (2010)
This HBO mini-series focused on the Pacific arena during World War II. Hollywood heavy-hitter Hans Zimmer composed the title song called “Honor” which is intercut with extreme close-ups of a charcoal drawing that slowly fades into a real photograph of the brave men who fought in World War II. The remaining credits are black and white depictions of an invasion, ending with an image of a soldier carrying one of his injured brethren.