By way of introduction: What TV series' opening credits say about architecture and place

December 26, 2012

I had a fascinating, but all-too-brief, chat earlier last week with a Texas architecture professor who uses the opening credits of television programs to teach her students about architecture and cities.

She's on to something. Architecture, history and place are often captured and contextualized — and quite well, too — in seconds'-long intros. The professor's picks included the famous Mary Tyler Moore Show intro, but also that of Frank's Place, the short-lived, but still sorely-missed 1987 CBS comedy featuring Tim Reid as a Boston college professor who inherits his father's New Orleans restaurant:

A few weeks ago in my assessment of the now-canceled Boss, I mentioned the program's opening credits. But others come to mind now, such as the intro to All in the Family, with its  shots of  working-class Queens. Or the above intro to the 1970s comedy Good Times showing a grimy Chicago as it was then, not to mention the long-gone broadcast antenna atop Marina City and the now-bulldozed Cabrini Green housing projects.

Buildings and place are featured prominently in the BBC Sherlock series:

And dig the Brutalist campus a brooding Gary Collins strolls through in the early 1970s show The Sixth Sense:

Got any examples of architecture-rich TV intros you'd like to share? Email them to me at lbey@wbez.org, along with a few lines explaining your selection. If I get enough responses, I'll do a follow-up here.

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