No matter how good the show, some opening credits are the kind you cue up before leaving the room to grab wine (sorry, Homeland). But others, like the Fiona Apple-scored title sequence for The Affair, which returns to Showtime for its second season on October 4, instantly glue you to the couch. (Unless you happen to be mid-binge-watch, in which case, you’re still not budging.)
Like Fiona’s intro, which sent legions of fans down a frantic internet wormhole looking for the full track (it’s called “Container,” and there isn’t one…yet), some opening themes set the tone for a show better than anything that happens afterward. The Affair is decent, though to my taste, somewhat convoluted. It grabs our attention with its haunting credits, sustaining that hold mostly by the grace of the sexy leads. Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch couldn’t do the same for the second round of True Detective, but Leonard Cohen lent more atmosphere to the show, than, well, anyone. And, of course, before there was Leonard, there was Dido — and a little supernatural teen drama called Roswell.
Other magnetic TV intros may repeat the setup you already know, but you’d never dream of hitting fast-forward (unless it’s to learn the Fresh Prince rap at break-neck speed, which, let’s be honest, you perfected years ago). From The Rembrandts to Regina Spektor, these TV theme songs are just as good — and sometimes, better than — the shows they kick off.