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TV Show Openings

TV Show Openings — A look at credit sequences on ‘Friends,’ ‘Millennium,’ and other shows

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Everybody knows the ”Where Everybody Knows Your Name” opening to Cheers, yet Ted Danson’s new sitcom, Ink, opted for an abbreviated title sequence, instead flashing most of the show’s credits over the episode’s first scene — a device that is supposed to curtail channel surfing. Even so, some shows still take the time for a theme song and a visual montage. We examined a few new series’ openings as well as revised versions of some old favorites:

MILLENNIUM (Fox)
Great moody music by Mark Snow and a barrage of eerie images open the new spook show from X-Files creator Chris Carter. Yet as a catchphrase, ”Wait … Worry … Who Cares?” is a bit less catchy than ”The Truth Is Out There.” B+

SUDDENLY SUSAN (NBC)
A guitar-rock version of Beethoven’s ”Ode to Joy,” boring cast shots, and too-cute credits (”Starring Brooke Shields … Not to mention Judd Nelson”) make for a perfect intro to this incredibly banal sitcom. D

EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND (CBS)
Ray Romano sets up his sitcom while putting together — and getting trapped inside — a playhouse for his kids. A nice gag, but one that gets old by the third time you see it. Plus, the premise (a guy lives across the street from his parents) doesn’t really need explanation. B-

GRACE UNDER FIRE (ABC)
Aretha Franklin’s ”Lady Madonna” was a bit too Murphy Brown-ish a theme for Brett Butler’s sitcom. It’s preferable to the generic alt-rock song that replaced it, however. And for what it’s worth, we’d rather see Grace at home than driving around in an old car. C+

ROSEANNE (ABC)
The morphing of cast members’ faces through the years was amusing for a while. Now it just serves to remind us how long this show has overstayed its welcome (and why was Lecy Goranson’s face dropped from the Becky morph?). The theme’s awkward new lyrics (”What doesn’t kill us is makin’ us stronger/We’re gonna last longer/ Than that Greatest Wall in China … ”) by Blues Traveler’s John Popper don’t help. D+

FRIENDS (NBC)
The high-priced sextet apparently wouldn’t shoot a new opening sequence, so the producers incorporated old but unused footage of them clowning in a fountain. One problem: They look different now — they have new haircuts, and in at least one case (Matthew Perry), a new nose. And don’t they know that everyone is sick of that damn Rembrandts song? C