Probably the best thing about lazily browsing YouTube is when you stumble across a heretofore-unheard of genre of…let's call it filmmaking. This morning, reacting to the vile snubbing of ER's opening titles from this A.V. Club list, I got sucked into an endless spiral of opening credit supercuts. Or mashups. Or "ultimate editions." I'm talking about fan-created versions of title sequences that cram every credited actor in a show's history into one accelerated version. There aren't enough of them (I need someone to get to work on Ally McBeal, post-haste), and the quality can really vary, but I rounded together the best I could find and ranked them, starting at the bottom, in terms of total actor clout.
One Tree Hill
This sad pathetic thing re-uses a bunch of credits to pad the running time a little. I was briefly hopeful that it would just be Chad Michael Murray over and over again, the ideal version of this show for some demented fan. By far the best credit is "Barry Corbin as Whitey." I never watched this show. From these titles, it seems to be about turning to look at someone seriously, and (if you're Chad Michael Murray) squinting. I guess this is where Moira Kelly fled to after The West Wing kicked her out.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I know, I know. Seth Green sure had a career! Alyson Hannigan has never not been on a hit TV show! Neither David Boreanaz! But while the Buffy theme is a lovely kickback to a more innocent time, most of the people on Buffy were famous for being on Buffy, not anything else. Bonus points for that one episode where they credited Amber Benson before cruelly snatching her away from us.
Angel kinda has the same deal as Buffy, except for one huge difference: Vincent Kartheiser's one season as Angel's son. Love that Kartheiser. I do not acknowledge the pathetic attempt to add credits for Eliza Dushku and Christian Kane and co at the end of this otherwise solid supercut. For shame.
The longer these things are, the more glaring it is that TV used to just be white people. I know diversity remains an issue for TV, but there are 23 people in this thing and exactly ONE of them (Vanessa A. Williams) is not white. And she was only on the show for one season. Anyhoo, some enduring (if B-listy) names include Marcia Cross, Courtney Thorne-Smith Kristin Davis, Doug Savant, Alyssa Milano, and Grant Show (rip Swingtown). And, of course, the Locklear.
This is kinda choppily done, but eventually the thudding drumbeats become hypnotically polyrhythmic. Then that humming choir starts dominating the track and you just give yourself over to it. Sherry Stringfield had that one season! And David Caruso, of course. And this was the beginning of Steven Bochco's somewhat inexplicable casting love affair with Mark-Paul Gosselar, which sparked the second act of his career. Ricky Schroder still deserves to be burned at the stake for his piss-poor effort to replace Jimmy Smits in our hearts.
Another Bochco special. L.A. Law has a star-studded cast to show you, but there's no rush. First, enjoy eighty minutes of the L.A. skyline set to stock music! Wait for it…wait for it…yes, that’s right, Blair Underwood was in L.A. Law! And his aged appearance here vs. his youthful ruggedness on last year's Ironside confirms he is afflicted with Benjamin Button disease. Whoa, there's John Spencer! Conchata Ferrell, now earning the big bucks on Two and a Half Men. The punches come much quicker at the end. Alan Rosenberg from Cybill! Debi Mazar! Some guy called A Martinez? Someone should tell him these credits aren't in alphabetical order by first name.
The West Wing
I really admire that this obeys the show's weird contractual convention of putting Rob Lowe and Moira Kelly first, because they were the nominal "stars," and then listing everybody else alphabetically. This cast runs deep, even when you exclude the people famous because of The West Wing. There's Stockard Channing, Smits again, Alan Alda, and yeah, Martin Sheen. P.S.: a credit sequence this stirringly patriotic and marching band-y would be laughed out of town for excessive lameness these days.
Yeah, the man on the street would probably struggle to name one cast member on Dynasty. Maybe Joan Collins. But Dynasty would parachute in famous folks all the time and crowbar them into the main credit sequence. Charlton Heston! Diahann Carroll! Billy Dee Williams! Rock Hudson! Barbara Stanwyck! Sure, a lot of them were fossils, but they were famous fossils.
This intro has everyone who appeared in the first 12 seasons of ER (before it abandoned its perfect opening titles, a crime against humanity that will never be undone) except for Maria Bello, who was in season 4. What did Maria Bello ever do to anyone to deserve such exclusion? Anyway, George Clooney is a major factor for star-power, but let's not forget all the already-kinda-famous people the show scooped up in later years, like Linda Cardellini, Mekhi Phifer, Parminder Nagra and Maura Tierney.
Law & Order
This outrageous beast takes every actor who has ever been credited on any Law & Order show ever and crams them all together. It's patently illegal and shouldn't make the list based on my own arbitrary rules, but whatever. This thing is too beautiful to ignore. Michael Imperioli. Jeff Goldblum. Jeremy Sisto. Anthony Anderson. Benjamin Bratt. Dianne Wiest. TREMBLE.
There must be so many more of these in the world, but they are hard to find. I need Ally McBeal (including James Marsden, Josh Hopkins, Robert Downey Jr. and Taye Diggs) post-haste. Or how about One Day at a Time for maximum Tony Award-winning curiosity (Boyd Gaines! Mary Louise Wilson!). A forty-minute epic union of ever Saturday Night Live cast ever would trump even Law & Order. And how has no one ever put the whole O.C. cast together? Internet, scour the land for more of these things and bring them together. This is a sacred calling.