A beautifully-lit, plush bedroom in an expensive hi-rise ~ informed by designer white leather chairs, white shag rug, hardwood floors, silk curtains and city view. Man’s pants, a woman’s dress scatter the floor.
On pristine white sheets, a Caucasian woman, naked but for bitchy high heels, and a naked Black man, upside down, sprawled over her, are both asleep. He wakes up. His expression indicates he doesn’t remember what happened. He does a double-take on her ass. Oh, yes, he recognizes it. He scrambles to get dressed, to wake her up. She is dead to the world; even cold water thrown on her face has no effect. He struggles to dress her dead-weight body, wriggling her dress on from the bottom up. He falls, his face smacks between her ass cheeks.
Cut to him dumping her on a chair, dress barely on, boobs exposed. He props her up, plops a laptop in her lap, yanks up her dress. A young teen walks in the door. Dressed in lavender tights and skirt, buzz cut hair, we don’t know if this is a boy or a girl, but, judging by the voice, probably a boy. The kid calls, “Hey, Dad.” Dad leaps around, startled. The kid announces that Grandpa is making French toast. He then inquires, “What’s Mom doing here?” “Working,” says Dad. “Should I tell Grandpa to make her French toast?” Dad replies, “Absolutely not.” The kid does a twirl as he exits. Mom startles awake, her disheveled hair frozen in slow motion. Dad addresses the camera. “Don’t… ever…. fuck…. your… ex-wife.”
That is the first two minutes of Showtime’s House of Lies, billed as a black comedy about a big-moneymaking management consultant and his high-rolling, low-ethics team. How much better can the opening to a new T.V. show get?
How about… to the tune of a church choir singing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”: A Porche heads up a cemetery driveway past lawns being watered by sprinklers (as filmmakers, we prefer our tarmac wet, right?) towards a church of Notre Dam proportions. The driver, handsome, scruffy, smoking a cigarette, gets out the car, pulls of his dark shades. The cigarette is thrown into a font of holy water. The man walks up the aisle, past white pews, towards a crucifixion, “Hey, Big Guy, you and me. I’ve never done this before but desperate times call for desperate measures. My name is Hank.”
A young nun appears, “Hello Hank.” She offers to help him. He doesn’t want to bother a real person, but explains that he’s “having a crisis of faith.” He can’t write. This sucks because he’s supposed to be a writer, a professional one at that. He is erudite and profane. He apologizes. She responds, “Normally, I would suggest a couple of ‘Our Fathers’ or ‘Hail Mary’s’, but I don’t think that’s going to get it done. What about a blow job?” She pulls off her wimple, shakes out her long blonde hair, gets on her knees before him. Hank holds out his hand to block Jesus’s view, saying, “Sweet Baby Jesus, Hank is going to hell.” Hank startles awake.
In less than three minutes, we know our protagonist, Hank Moody, and his chief problem in life. Thus begins another Showtime creation, Californication, which just finished its sixth season.
For more detail on the intro to Californication, read a review here.
For more detail on the intro to House of Lies, read a review here.
What other brilliant openings to TV shows can you recommend?