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August 09 2006

Firefly rated "Best Sci-Fi opening" while a FF alum comes second on the worst list...

Sadly many people commenting actually DISLIKE the Ballad Of Serenity!

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2006-08-09 18:38 ]

Kudos to Firefly for being #1! While it was just one persons opinion, it's always nice to see FF love.

(I was bummed to not see Farscape on the "Best" list. The opening for one of their seasons...I think it was #3...actually made me get emotional every time I watched it. Husband and I usually skip over opening credits on DVD, but we always watched that one.

But then, I actually disagreed with putting Babylon 5 on their "worst" list, so they probably woulda trashed Farscape if they remembered it.)
The current Battlestar Galactica theme is indeed a bit weak. The vocals are interesting, but I miss the intense taiko drumming sequence from the previous theme.
Well, it's obvious that the author prefers Star Trek to Babylon 5. It seems the criteria are inconsistent... The Greatest American Hero and old BSG make the best list, but both the NEW BSG and B5 make the worst list? Frankly, B5 was one of the better-scored space shows, period.

Nice to see Firefly take #1--wish it was from an author with whom I could more completely agree.
I still don't like the Ballad. Something about its cheesiness is endearing, but I don't actually *like* it.
Galvatron, I agree. Kinda' miss those drumming notes from the original opening title of BSG. But I'm okay with it.

Welcome back, zz9. We've missed you very much:)
The writer doesn't hate the new BSG theme and I totally agree with what he says about BSG not needing that 30 second clip at the start of an episode. There is no point to it and if anything is a throwback to the 80s when the likes of The Equalizer did the same thing.
I hate that about the new BSG, too. My husband closes his eyes and makes me fast forward through that part so he doesn't see the spoilers.

[ edited by totally0random on 2006-08-09 19:51 ]
Ha. I close my eyes too and I get my wife to tell me it's over. Can you imagine if Buffy/Angel/Firefly did the same thing?
They dropped that pre-episode montage for the first ep of S2 and I was like woo-hoo! And then it came back, and so did the eye-closing :(
I do the eye closing on Battlestar, too.
I don't do the eye closing and I like the doesn't bother me, actually. I like the new BSG theme and I'm wondering also why Farscape didn't make the list. Well, if we're looking at "best" themes, I suppose we can't fit everything in.
Same here. I'm always peeking thru the fingers at the opening. Perhaps we should toss a tomato or a peach.....just a thought.
Maybe a tomato. I think peaches are yummy, so I'd rather eat the peach instead of throwing...

Off topic, but I read Jane Espenson's blog, and while I love it, I don't think any writer in the history of blogging has blogged more frequently than Neil Gaiman.

[ edited by Browncoat on 2006-08-09 20:20 ]
Just one thing.

Where is the X-Files?
There's a big discussion on the OB about how shocked we are at this supposed sci-fi fan's dislike for Babylon 5. Nice to see Firefly get recognition, though!

Foxeye - I agree, I *loved* the season 3 Farscape opening. I never skipped it. That's really the sign of whether I like an opening. (Similar for Firefly, it's integral to watch the Ballad of Serenity every episode. However, Buffy and Angel you can usually skip the intro except first and last episodes of a season, or when there's a change or special intro for the episode).

[ edited by AnotherFireflyfan on 2006-08-09 20:35 ]
I sort of liked the clips because it was something to look forward too, like "oohh, kara and lee and gonna kiss!" but I can understand why people don't want to see it. Ad far as the song, I didn't like it in the first season, but I loved it in the second season and hope they don't change it.
I love the Battlestar opening.
The way the drums start pounding when they show the clips after the beautiful music that accompanies the "searching for a home called Earth" part.
They never give anything big away in the shots and it totally gets me pumped for the episode.
Plus that little bit of exposition at the beginning of it makes it a lot easier for people who've never seen the show to get the gist of it right away.

Now onto Firefly:
When I first saw the Train Job when it first aired, I was really confused for a lot of reasons (mostly to do with it not being the pilot and River not being in a box and I was advertised the girl was going to be in a box) and I just wasn't sure how I felt, and then the opening started. I think the first time I heard the Ballad, it terrififed and fascinated me, simultaneously. Now I sing to myself each time I watch an episode.

Slightly OT but the best opening title sequence of all time is Carnivale and not only is it super bitching cool but it perfectly sums up nearly every aspect of the show.
OK, love that Firefly was #1, but where is Buffy? It was that theme that drew me in, back at the very beginning, and those wonderful montages paced so beautifully to match the music - how could they not be in there somewhere?
Heh, whatever.
We've had a fair amount of discussion on this BLOG lately about the "Ballad of Serenity" so I'll skip my usual ad nauseum remarks about just how much I love it (and the hi-larious cattle dispersing). I do agree that Firefly's opening merits much appreciation.

I wonder, though -- I frequently hear the ballad referred to as "country music" (usually by folks that don't care for the song) -- is it just me that's a little bothered by this and thinks that it's essentially a folk song, with a blues influence? And does it matter?

"Definitely important was 'For the Turnstiles' by Neil Young, off 'Decade' -- because it has this very sort of dampened banjo in it. And I played this for him particularly when we were going over it, just to say, 'Look at how he's taking all the reverb off of this, and making just as sort of personal as possible.' And I referred to this -- in a phrase that sort of came back to me over and over again in my discussions of scores -- as follows: What Neil Young was saying in that song was, 'Fuck all y'all -- I'm on my back porch.' You know, in the '70s, when a lot of stuff was getting really symphonic … he was going, 'Fuck all y'all -- I'm on my back porch.' " -- Joss (talking about the score for "Serenity"), interview with Mike Russell, Sept. 2005.

(Completely OT & an obvious cry for sympathy -- I'll be keeping a low profile on whedonesque today, as my dental bone graft has done gone and blowed all up swollen real nice, so that one eye is almost closed, I look like a lopsided chipmunk and this white-on-black page is swimming before me. Jiminy, how I suffer for the beauty and health...)
Kinda surprised that neither Buffy nor Angel made the list, although it certainly seems that most of those on both lists are more sci-fi than fantasy or horror so maybe that's simply more of a reflection of the writer's tastes.

I think Firefly's is great because it totally suits the tone and style of the show whilst describing it thematically. Even though it's quite simple, there's something quite beautiful about it and some of the lyrics are extremely poetic- "Burn the land, and boil the sea, you can't take the sky from me."

Buffy's was more exciting and energetic, clips of the characters and monsters set to Nerf Herder's iconic theme song. I actually think Buffy's titles were always very well edited, keeping in time with the music and managing to fit in a lot of images, particularly towards the end.

One thing I've wondered about is how the first episode of a season can have shots from later episodes in the titles. I'm not even sure if this applies to any season of Buffy apart from the first. I know that they had already finished the first short season by the time it was broadcast, so obviously they had already completed all the season one episodes when it came to editing the title sequence so you might find shots from "Prophecy Girl" in there.

And I suppose for each season they probably have a few episodes finished by the time the titles have to be made, and with Buffy and Angel they usually used shots primarily from the previous season. But I do wonder about it sometimes, and whenever I start re-watching a season on DVD I look at the titles and try to identify shots from later in the season.

As for Angel's title, it's so different from Buffy's, but great nonetheless. I love the dark, mournful beginning of Darling Violetta's introduction, setting up the show as a kind of supernatural noir with an adult lead character. But then it kind of becomes a little more rocking whilst keeping the same feeling as the start, perhaps suggesting that this won't be at all predictable or safe, but has an edge to it.

I also like Veronica Mars' credits. We Used To Be Friends by The Dandy Warhols is a great song, and it kind of reminds me of Buffy's in that it just presents the show as being fun and energetic, without revealing much else about the content.

And I've always wondered why they didn't bother with a proper title sequence for Lost, apart from the name appearing on screen. I got the impression Abrahms wasn't big on titles from Alias' sparse opening titles, but those at least fit the spy theme of the show and had a great theme tune. And in seasons four and five they actually added shots of the castmembers (well, just Jennifer Garner for season four) to make it a little more interesting and developed. So I find it a little odd that Lost didn't get a nice title sequence.

Those Cleopatra 2525 clips on YouTube make we wince for Gina, really. I had only read about it briefly but had never seen any of it before, and I really didn't think it could be that bad. I was wrong.
You guys should watch the opening credits of "Small Wonder" (link at the end of ten worst list) -- that looks like it could be the worst program in the history of television. The song alone should put it in the top ten.
Count me amongst those who hate the clips at the start of BSG, I always close my eyes too and just wait for the music to finish. Can't stand spoilers and don't see the point in having them at the start of an episode.

I do love the Firefly credits and loved the ballad from the get go.
Re cheesiness and The Ballad of Serenity: isn't it supposed to be on the cheesy side? Isn't there an element of subverting the genre in there somewhere? Aren't we supposed to be terribly post-modern and admire the irony or did I miss something?
Agree on the BSG opening, I don't watch it either being on the pathological side of spoiler averse. It reminded me of the little bit at the start of 'The Rockford Files' where we'd see the crazy hijinks that Jim would get into later on (and OT but that'd be a contender for my favourite opening sequence of all time just because of the answer phone messages and Mike Post's cracking theme tune).

I quite like the opening visuals for Buffy but never really cottoned to the theme all that much though Angel's was really good (theme, not too keen on the visuals). Neither of them can feature here even if the author wanted them too because it's the 10 best/worst sci-fi TV openings (Buffy and Angel are many things but sci-fi ain't one of them) though that said 'Xena' and 'Charmed' seem to get a pass for the worst list so i'd guess the author doesn't feel either should be on there (and personally, any time 'Charmed' makes it onto a worst of anything list my heart warms ;).

Love the Firefly credits with a fiery passion though, especially the ballad. Just sums Mal and the show up in about 50 succinct seconds. Maybe it's meant to be ironic (though I wonder if we're not sometimes a little bit too post-modern for our own good) and it certainly has a whiff of cheese but then most country does (i'd say the 'Ballad of Serenity' might be folk music - if the folk were in the country at the time ;) - after all it is the music of pain ;).

(incidentally for those that don't know, JJ Abrams composed the 'Alias' theme himself the multi-talented bastard fellow)

[ edited by Saje on 2006-08-09 22:04 ]
*gasp* I would never call the Ballad cheesy. It's a folk song. And a pretty damn good one.
Farscape shoulda made the list. The "Or should I stay (protect my home). Not show them (you exist). But then you'll never know the wonders I've seen." bit gives me shivers every time.
Count me among the people who love the "Ballad of Firefly". One of the reasons I sat through the credits of Serenity every time - other than I'm a geek and like to sit through credits ;-) - was to listen to the version of the Ballad at the end.

I agree with the openings of DS9 and Voyager being on the 'best' list. To this day, if I happen to see the opening of Voyager, I will stop and watch it - the haunting melody and the beautiful images I enjoyed long after I stopped watching the show.

Becoming a B5 fan was just preparation for my indepth involvement in the Browncoat community, so I definitely do not agree with B5 being on a worst of anything list. I enjoyed the different openings each year.

And I love both Nerf Herder's theme for BtVS and Darling Violetta's AtS theme. I play them often (along with the long version of Robert Duncan's "Chosen").
Razor - There's an easter egg in the Season 1 Lost DVDs that has a rejected title sequence. It's not bad, but I think I actually prefer the simple logo thing.
a little bit too post-modern for our own good

We're in the post-post-modern period now. It's too soon yet for the retro-post-modern era to kick in. Personally, I'm waiting for the neo-post-modern movement, when being real can co-exist with all that irony.

Anyway, another vote for folk/blues, and another thumbs-up for the Firefly theme, even though I'm not usually a fan of folk or blues or country or western.
Cheese! I knew I was forgeting something. Make really to fire. Aim towards the midship....Fire!
I liked the opening credits for Lost but then everyone started copying it (imagine that!). I mean when Stargate SG1 went down the same route, I just groaned as I loved the original opening credits.

The Firefly credits on the DVD are not the same without Mal or Book's voiceover at the start.
Can't really agree with the guys views on Sci-Fi shows (anyone who thinks B5 and DS9 were crap, isn't fit to review sci-fi, imo), but judging purely by the opening credits, I pretty much agree with his list, although I would have added Stargate: Atlantis opening somewhere very near the top, probably knocking even Firefly opening from the #1 spot. Nothing really mind blowing in the visuals, but the orchestral piece is hauntingly beautiful.

From what I understood, the original intention of the "mini" opening of Lost was to give couple extra minutes to actual story telling, but ended up increasing the ad times instead.

They used the same kind of short openings on Stargate: SG-1 and Atlantis during first half of last season (as well as on myriad of other shows). Thankfully they changed them back to normal after the hiatus.
Simon a little copyright infringing bird tells me that the Stargates credits are back to full length this season.

MissKittysMom, that's kind of what I mean (the neo-post-modern era). Just seems like some fiction spends too much time winking and being full of awareness of its own nature to actually say anything real. An awareness of irony is great (the stuff's like mother's milk over here ;) but not to the extent that everything is seen to be tongue-in-cheek and nothing can be just taken at face value.
Or was that "ready"? Reload!
The first three seasons of DS9 did NOT suck, even if the show did pick up around season 4 or 5. :-) I did love the opening though (has anyone else heard the rumor that if you freeze frame through it you can see Spock's face in the comet's tail? I've always meant to try that).

I love Firefly's opening more than anything, although it took a couple of episodes to really click with me.

And BSG's opening clips? Eh, I'm not quick/smart enough to manage to figure out spoilers from them anyway, but I do enjoy the drumming.
Rogue Slayer, did EdDantes change his byname?
I think somehow the "western" part of the "country & western" genre got lost along the way. I'd say the Firefly theme is more country & western than folk, but then again I like folk and hate twang. *shrug*

I hate the Buffy theme, though part of that could be because it's always so much louder than the sound in the actual show. It just always grates on me and I just put it on mute. I liked the Angel theme, but not the weird flashing thing they did around commerical break.

I like minimal credits as in Lost or The Closer. Gimme more show, less credits.

[ edited by totally0random on 2006-08-10 00:04 ]
Yes, where IS the X-Files? And why are neither Buffy nor Angel on the list? Angel's theme is still one of the coolest uses of an orchestra I've heard.
Where? Why? Cause it's someone's blog and it's their opinion. It's not as if 1000 scifi fans were polled or anything like that.
Oooh, forgot to say, enjoyed Erik's props (#8) to the MST3K opening. Aside from just being thrilled at its mention at this late date, I've really always enjoyed the delightful insouciant attitude of the SOL "Love Theme."

BTW, Browncoats who are also MSTies will absolutely enjoy reading this crossover Serenity/MST3K script by Eric Johanson -- it borders on brilliance. (The link been posted here before, but if you missed it, and you love Serenity and MST3K, it's a must-must-must-read.) I'd pay folding money to see it produced, and that's no lie.


"If you're wondering how he eats and breathes
and other science facts (la la la),
Then repeat to yourself, "It's just a show,
I should really just relax
For Mystery Science Theater 3000!"

I'd have been tempted to put The Six Million Dollar Man first, actually. Maybe just because it was one of my fave childhood shows . . . but that was the greatest voice-over ever - so many memorable lines: "I'm breaking up", "We can rebuild him", "Better. Stronger. Faster." And with terrific and evocative computer graphics to accompany them. Genius.
In the 70's I won a lot of dance contests to country and blue grass music. I loved that music. But not once have I ever considered the Ballad of Serenity country or even folk. It is something all it's own. It has it's own soul.
"How many lives will Shannen Doherty ruin?"

Now that's just funny.
Weren't we just discussing the horrible awfulness of the Enterprise theme the other day? Glad to see this list agreeing with that, and with praising Ballad of Serenity. ;-)

And, yep, I live in a country music-ariffic town (kill me, please!), and I have to agree with madmolly, Ballad of Serenity is not country, not really. It has some folk in it, but it really is unique. :-)
I absolutely detest country music - the stuff is just grating. Ballad of Serenity is not country. More folksy, as others have said.

MST3K is fantastic, too. Great opening that explains the show's premise while being a fun song. And I agree with Archon Divinus, the Farscape theme does give me shivers. They've got fantastic images, and the speech Crichton gives is perfect. (I thought it was funny how they kept the same speech for season 2 as s1. Well... he *is* being hunted by an insane military commander, sorta, nevermind that it's a different one. LOL)

I usually like a show having opening credits / theme - but on Lost the minimalism works well. It enhances the mood of the show - I honestly think breaking into a theme song with a barrage of character clips would feel very out of place on that show.

Speaking of which - I think I prefer intros that have original footage, as opposed to simply a bunch of clips from episodes. What do you all think?
I think I prefer intros that have original footage, as opposed to simply a bunch of clips from episodes. What do you all think?

Dead Like Me - great theme music, great opening credits.

Regarding Firefly, I've always thought the theme song had a distinct western twang to it and was very apt, even though I'm not a huge fan of the show itself. Mind you, I love good County music, Bluegrass and Western Swing as much as I dislike the bad stuff.
Well, i'm from a country and I reckon the ballad is country music ;-). It's got twangy strings, the lyrics evoke images of rugged individuals, big skies and rural settings. Sounds pretty Country to me. YMMV though.

Think there may be an element of 'I don't like Country therefore the Firefly theme isn't Country because I like it' from a few of us. Like any musical style Country varies in feel, it's not all Tammy Wynette or Kenny Rogers.

(and since C&W comes from a folk/blues tradition it's not surprising if a lot of it sounds kind of folky or bluesy - as I said jokingly above it's basically folk music by and about 'folk' from the country and has in the past been called "the white man's blues")

Also, 'Dead Like Me' had a great theme and pretty cool visuals so second that dashboardprophet. Stewart Copeland is pretty handy with a keyboard I reckon (his Equalizer theme is the only part of that show that still stands up today, IMO).
I go with the Country-Western idea of the ballad- with a strong emphasis on the Western. Country music has changed over the years and certainly the Ballad doesn't sound like that to my ears. But I'm a folkie from way back and it doesn't sound like folk either.
Well, I have to admit, when I first heard the theme song I didn't really like it and it totally grew on me after hearing it a couple of more times and it's one of my favorites now. I just love it!
It isn't shocking to see that Angel and Buffy didn't make the list; they aren't in the correct genre. If this was a list of just best TV themes and I were doing it I'd put Angel's at #1. There's just something so beautifully apt about it.
He starts out by saying, "Here are my picks for 10 Best and 10 Worst Opening Credits for Genre TV Shows.

By “genre,” I mean science fiction, fantasy, and horror."

Wouldn't Buffy and Angel fit into that category?
Rather like having your skirt tucked into your pantyhose, it's always pleasant to be corrected. I read it quickly being at work and thought it was just Sci-Fi. You have my apologies.
Yeah, that's why I asked why they weren't there. Although I do understand that not everyone may rank them that highly. But I think that the writer may have more of a knowledge of sci-fi shows given the number of predominantly sc-fi shows which appear on either list.
No need to apologize, Tonya J, especially given that almost all the shows he mentioned were Sci-Fi shows and that was how he titled his blog entry. So, although his premise was stated as 'genre' shows, he didn't seem to be that inclusive in his final lists.

I'm with you on the skirt tucked into your pantyhose bit - not too much more embarassing than that and something that needs to be pointed out ASAP!

[ edited by samatwitch on 2006-08-11 22:21 ]
Oops, I missed that too. Guess the author just didn't like the Buffy/Angel credits.

(if it encompasses sci-fi, fantasy and horror why call it "The Best and Worst Sci-Fi TV Show Openings" ? Wouldn't "Genre" or even "SF&F" be a better choice ? Still, he did it and the world hasn't ended so maybe it doesn't matter all that much ;)

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