While not the most important part of a show, The opening credits can have an effect on how the audience views a show or whether or not they give a show the respect it deserves. A good opening might be the saving grace for a decent show. It might draw in viewers who otherwise wouldn't watch. It's also often what viewers will remember most about their favorite shows in the nostalgia days.
So what makes a good opening?
Well, there are several parts to that. Most obviously, the theme song and visuals that accompany said theme should be memorable and attractive to watch. There are many ways to go about that. The titles also need to match the mood of the show. If you have a slapstick comedy with serious titles, it usually doesn't work. It also needs to make people want to watch. Does the theme pull viewers in or turn them off. It can still be attractive without pulling in viewers. Finally, the titles need to give viewers enough information that they know what the show is about. What information is important varies from show to show, but it needs to be there while not giving away things about to come.
With that in mind, my catergories for judging will be such:
Visuals: Is there artistry in the visuals? Is it attractive? Does it keep you interested? This category covers the visuals from a purely aesthetic perspective. It doesn't take into account what the show is about or how it connects. This category is 15 points.
Theme Tune: A good theme tune is not necessarily the same as a good song, though being a good song does give extra points. A good theme tune is memorable and can be connected to the show, so that if you are in the other room and hear the theme playing, then you know the show is going to start. Worth 15 points.
Mood setting: Do the credits match the show? For some of these I will have not watched the show and do my best guessing based off what I know. Dramas should have a certain mood, as should comedies, thrillers, mysteries and so forth. Worth 5 points.
Information: Can I tell everything I need to know from the credits? Everything I need to know is enough that I can watch the show having some idea of the premise behind it. If it's character based, it would be best to introduce the characters as well as give some idea of their personality. If it's plot based, it would be best to show aspects of the plot. If it's world based, explain the world. If it's meant to be a mindfuck, indicate so in the credits. There are ways of doing so without pissing off the audience. I'm going to be judging this category as if I haven't seen the show, even if I have. If there's wrong information here, it's because that's what I saw in the credits. Sometimes it might be on purpose. Worth 10 points.
Do I want to watch the show: Just answering the basic question? Do the credits put the show in a good enough light that it makes be want to watch? Worth 5 points. (Honestly, I'm probably just using this score as a tilt)
That gives a total of 50 points.
Since this is likely to be ridiculously long, I"m splitting it up into parts. They are below. Each page will be in alphabetical order.
Yes, I do take into account that credits for shows will often change, but will only do so when there's a significant design change or new song. New cast shots don't cut it.
American Live Action:
Ah! My Goddess (2nd season)
Ai Yori Aoshi (1st season)
Clarissa Explains it All
The Muppet Show
The Facts of Life
Degrassi Junior High
All in the Family. I know people will disagree with me about this.
Brothers and Sisters
Days of Our Lives
Joan of Arcadia
La Femme Nikita
A list of all the openings arranged aphabetically
Interesting openings that didn't score high:
Aeon Flux: This opening got average shows all around, but it really does a good job of setting the mood for the series.
Carnivale: A great opening which basically took a huge hit because it didn't reveal anything about the show, but the credits are so well designed I have to put them here.
Dexter: It's a unique way of introducing a character.
Get Smart: I love this opening. Lost most of its points because it didn't reveal much about the show.