11. “Hemlock Grove”
Ben’s Thoughts: For a show built around frights, the only thing scary about this credits sequence is…nothing, actually. It’s just boring. Conventional and slow with an unmemorable score, the opening credits sequence for “Hemlock Grove” is the opposite of what you want to watch 10 times in one season, even if you can identify new objects in this not-so-elaborate Rorschach test.
Liz’s Thoughts: Weird etchings. Weird swirling mist. It’s not super-long, but this could run before anything in the horror genre, as long as you changed the names. Most importantly, it inspires no interest in me whatsoever to keep watching.
10. “Marco Polo”
Ben’s Thoughts: What could have worked as an artistic (though familiar) opening for a prestige motion picture wears out its welcome on television. Getting through the lengthy intro once is doable, but the episodic nature of TV make repeated viewings sheer torture for this long-winded opener.
Liz’s Thoughts: The visual look of this isn’t bad, with the bleeding watercolors painting portraits and landscapes, but the music is such a generically Western take on what a medieval Chinese epic should sound like. And like Ben said, it’s loooong.
Ben’s Thoughts: While no one can say these credits inaccurately represent “Bloodline” — a show quite reliant on its setting — the blunt metaphor of a beautiful beach front ravaged by a nasty storm is too obvious to bear more than one viewing (if that). If only the devil were in the details, rather than thrown so forcefully in our faces, this haunting opener might have worked.
Liz’s Thoughts: Hey, is there a storm on the horizon? Could that storm on the horizon be a metaphor for, I dunno, trouble? Also, I hope you like harmonicas!
Ben’s Thoughts: Tonally, I find “Orange is the New Black” to be of a wholly different ilk than its opening credits. The song doesn’t fit. The cinematography doesn’t fit. The general look and feel are all wrong for a show once considered a “comedy.” As much as I can appreciate the intro’s efforts to humanize its prison subjects, the minute-plus stretch makes me want to avoid the show altogether.
Liz’s Thoughts: Here’s the thing: I know this runtime by heart because after watching all three seasons of the series more than once, I no longer enjoy sitting through the montage of real women’s faces — underscored by Regina Spektor — that makes up this sequence. But it’s bold and striking and hints at the diversity of stories that the show aspires to tell. If you’re an “Orange” fan, it’s hard not to love it — at least the first time.
Ben’s Thoughts: Short and to the point, this feels more like half a credits sequence in comparison to the rest of the lot. But brevity can be a huge asset when bingeing, so perhaps these credits are just one more attribute marking how “Lilyhammer” was ahead of its time.
Liz’s Thoughts: You want an opening credits sequence that illustrates a show’s premise? Here you go: New York City big band jazz transitions to a jaunty Norweigian jig and snowy vistas. It’s cute, it’s short and it nails the concept. What else do you want?
6. “House of Cards”
Ben’s Thoughts: Perhaps highlighting Jeff Beal’s score more than the visual content under it, the “House of Cards” intro works because it effectively sets the stage for what’s to come (and, when it starts minutes into an episode, what’s already happened). The cinematography is as pristine and cold as David Fincher’s Washington D.C., and the historically significant architecture serves to both remind viewers of the series’ gravitas as well as how Frank Underwood is ignoring precedent in his quest for power.
Liz’s Thoughts: It’s beautifully filmed. The music is great. But it is over 90 seconds of buildings. Let’s say you binge-watched a season of “House of Cards” in one weekend. That is over 20 minutes of buildings. That is too many buildings for too many minutes. Watch it once, you’re good for life.
Ben’s Thoughts: Similar in construction to “House of Cards,” the “Sense8” credits roll by a little too randomly for a show built around connections (that, admittedly, seem random). But the gorgeous simplicity of the world-spanning two minutes (!) is appealing. Viewers can notice new people, places and things with every viewing in this pretty moving picture.
Liz’s Thoughts: If you judged “Sense8” on its opening sequence alone, you’d guess that it’s a show unafraid of chaos. And boy, would you be right about that. New details and moments pop out at me every time I watch the swirl of faces and locations whirl by. That sort of visual interest proves essential to binge-viewing.
4. “Grace and Frankie”
Ben’s Thoughts: One would think a comedy as surprisingly dark and deep as “Grace and Frankie” would have a tough time finding a credits sequence to match. This is not the case, nor the only pleasant surprise found within this brief intro. Cute, charming but also foreboding, the opening outlines the show so well you’d think we wouldn’t want to watch it over and over again. But whether it’s the animation or the cover of Stealers Wheel classic “Stuck in the Middle With You,” we can’t get enough of this miraculous delight.
Liz’s Thoughts: Oh man, “Stuck in the Middle” got stuck in my head so badly while I was binge-watching this one. But that couldn’t keep me from watching the wedding cake crumble every single time. Simple in execution, but it tells the show’s story with elegance.
Ben’s Thoughts: A beautiful opening as hypnotic as it is menacing, these opening credits work because they elevate the material around them. If you believe the above is artful and engrossing, you’re bound to lend a little more credence to the show itself.
Liz’s Thoughts: Hypnotic is exactly the right word for watching the pieces of Matt Murdock’s life drift into place. And the length is perfect.
2. “BoJack Horseman”
Ben’s Thoughts: An addictive rhythm pairs nicely with “BoJack’s” lavish visuals as this snazzy intro lays out the trials and tribulations of the show’s star with an apt eye for detail. Viewers can appreciate various aspects of this less-than-a-minute-long credits sequence every time through without losing the unique vibe of the series itself.
Liz’s Thoughts: Not only are the animation and music are stellar here, but this does such a nice job of capturing BoJack as a character, in under a minute: Drifting through his life, knowing he’s lost and not sure what he’s looking for.
Ben’s Thoughts: Sometimes all you need is a catchy song, but that’s not all “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” has going for it. While, yes, the upbeat autotuned harmonies of the opening theme (/anthem) would have been more than enough to merit its inclusion, the honed editing and incorporation of kids’ footage elevates this credits sequence beyond anything else on TV. Or, if you will, this intro is strong as hell.
Liz’s Thoughts: Just pure joy, start to finish. The music is catchy, the visuals are bright and cheerful, and between the opening choral notes and lines like “females are strong as hell,” it’s even inspiring. It’s “Kimmy Schmidt,” perfectly distilled.
Note: “Arrested Development,” “The Killing” and other Netflix revivals were not included because they originated on other networks.