The Vanishing Credit Sequence

Have you noticed that little button at the bottom of your Netflix-streamed program? The one that says “skip intro?” I sure have. I wonder if Netflix has kept track of me fast-forwarding through the credit sequences of “House of Card” or “Walking Dead.”

Once upon a time, a credit sequence was a cherished part of every television show. The familiar theme song told everyone in the house that “Brady Bunch” or “Partridge Family” was starting. Who hasn’t memorized the lyrics to “Gilligans’ Island?” Great composers like John Williams got their start crafting theme music for shows in the 1960s. Of course, this was back in the day when shows aired on just handful of networks at a set time and there was no chance to zip past the credit sequence. It set the tone for the show and you only saw it once a week.

Today we binge-watch and who has to time to sit through 20 or 30 seconds of repetitious credits. Seen them once, you’ve seen them enough. This goes double for the endless sequences like that of “Game of Thrones.” That sequence takes forever to get through even in fast motion. It doesn’t help that a typical series today is much shorter than series of that past. Networks want to fit in more commercials. With less time to tell a story, producers have reduced the credit sequence to a title card and brief music sting, and then present above the line credits over the first scenes of the show.

Streaming series don’t face this issue and can still indulge in a credit sequence. Some of the best graphic design is evidenced here. I’m a fan of the work on Netflix’s new show “Mindhunter.” But still, I appreciate the “Skip Intro” button. Over the course of binging a season, it may save five or six precious minutes of time.

About Deke

Writer and filmmaker Dale Kutzera is a recipient of the Carl Sautter Screenwriting Award, the Environmental Media Award, and participated in the Warner Brother Writers Workshop. His credits include the TV shows “Strange Frequency” and “Without a Trace” and the independent film “Military Intelligence And You!” He is the author of five novels and the popular “Plot Machine” story-structure guides. He writes about writing and filmmaking at www.DaleKutzera.com.

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