... is that it has to fit the feel of the show!
Do you ever wonder what goes through a TV show creator's head when they pick the opening themes? Well, I do, especially when I am watching science fiction shows on TV. Admittedly, some of them have fantastic intros that do justice to the overall concept of the show. And then you have the epic failures. Like Star Trek: Enterprise.
Don't get me wrong, I quite liked Enterprise. Fair enough, it didn't stay true to the previous shows (and hence, gained the wrath of diehard fans) but at least it retained the essence of the Star Trek franchise (unlike the new movie, I might add). But seriously, did they have to pick that intro? Faith of the Heart by Rod Stewart? I mean really! The song by itself is good and the intro also works (if it was an emo Dr Quinn Medicine Woman in Space show). But it certainly doesn't sound right for something as epic as Star Trek.
If they needed a bit of inspiration, the guys behind the show could have checked out these fantastic opening themes for guidance. For instance, they could have gone the typical intro route and opted for a nice summary of the overall story/main character. You can never go wrong with that (with a few minor exceptions like Walker Texas Ranger). Think of the intros for Sanctuary and The X-Files. Both of them reveal a little bit about the show itself, throw in bits about the main characters and just rely on a great piece of scifi style music. You know, with a bit of beat and pace. Nothing about missing that girl/boy in your hometown and all that.
Of course it doesn't always have to be about the show's story. After all, you might be hiding bits of story for in case of spoilers. In such cases, a well put-together sequence will seal the deal. The idea is to linger around in our brains bringing happy thoughts and associations. At no point must we think “Aargh, that horrid Enterprise intro” (no offense meant to Mr Stewart). Like I said earlier X-Files carries this through rather well. Then there is Airwolf, the new Battlestar Galactica and of course, Buffy. Fine, so these shows were iconic and you will cherish them for a long time. Not so sure about Airwolf but I am sure there are devoted fans out there. Point is, some wiseguy found the perfect song/music piece to define the feel of the show. Other shows that succeeded in creating killer intros are Highlander (how can you go wrong with Queen!), Stargate SG-1 (take that alien scum) and Dr Who (eerie music always goes down well).
Failing to do any of that, at least cater to your target audiences in your intro. Keeping Faith of the Heart in mind, I would understand if folks thought it was a rom-com aimed at women who love a bit of mushy drama. Which involved mother-in-laws, career women and tough bosses. So if you were going for something more melodramatic (in terms of how the show is more story-based), why not pick a song with more street cred? Look at Angel and even Roswell. The former was a dark drama about a moody vampire and you can catch that from intro. The latter was the soapie fix for teenagers and you can understand that much from the soppy intro. Can I just add that this SA version of 80s Spiderman cartoon had a much more dignified intro than Enterprise? Wait for it to really kick off after 1:32. It is sung in Zulu for the most part where they have left in some bits in English. The result? Bits like “Rabobi banetsa ispider sense is tingling”.