'True Blood' and the Lost Art of Opening Credits

Even as American TV has evolved, one of its most charming aspects—the title sequence—has become scarce. To save precious seconds, many shows have jettisoned opening credits in favor of a brief flash of a logo, à la "Lost." It's a shame. A great title sequence is a gilded invitation to join the show's universe.

The credits for the new HBO series "True Blood" (from Alan Ball of "Six Feet Under" ) are the perfect amuse-bouche. The show is about vampires assimilating into rural Louisiana, and the credits are a flip book of Deep South postcards: images of hungry gators and modest homes, neon crosses and dirt roads. In the final shot, a woman is dunked for a river baptism and appears to emerge in hysterics. Either she's in rapture, or just a hairbreadth from drowning. This is the world of "True Blood," where quaint, romantic notions of the South are recast with dread.

The package was made by Digital Kitchen, the agency behind "Six Feet Under's" Emmy-winning sequence. By hiring it again, Ball proves he understands that the slower the curtain is raised, the more intrigued his audience becomes.