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As title sequences go, ‘Bad Sisters’ is in good company

From left: Sarah Greene, Claes Bang, Anne-Marie Duff, and Eva Birthistle in “Bad Sisters.”Apple TV+

Over the years, I’ve written about some of the excellent title sequences of the past decade or two. “Lost,” with its cloudy lettering emerging from dark emptiness in the manner of “The Twilight Zone,” was as simple as the show was complex. The mannequin who becomes human in “Nip/Tuck,” the deathly elegance of the black crow and the hearse in “Six Feet Under,” and the sinister but ordinary images in “Dexter” were all expert and enticing.

The trip down the Roy family’s memory lane in “Succession,” set to the tune of some kind of demented merry-go-round, is perfection. So is “Severance,” which starts with a dark dream fantasia of office cubicle life and self-division, a fitting entrance to the story. And “True Blood,” a tour of gothic Louisiana, is a spectacular visual tone poem about sex, death, and rebirth.


Now I have a new favorite to join my list. It’s the opening of the fantastic new Apple TV+ series “Bad Sisters,” which is a darkly comic mystery set in Ireland about sisters who may or may not have murdered their brother-in-law. First of all, the title sequence is set to a strong cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Who by Fire” by PJ Harvey. Like Aimee Mann’s cover of Cohen’s “Avalanche” in the opening of the docu-series “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” it’s a potent interpretation of a rich and haunting song.

And then the visuals, from Peter Anderson Studio, are stunning and ingenious. Essentially, we watch an activated Rube Goldberg-like machine, where one motion leads to another in a clever chain reaction. The eye of a stuffed animal rolling along starts a giant game of Mousetrap, which contains family photos of the show’s characters, miniatures of items from the story, and dangerous objects including an ax, lighter fuel, and matches. I’ve seen all 10 episodes of the show, and not once did I think about skipping it.


PJ Harvey covers Leonard Cohen’s “Who by Fire” in the title sequence of "Bad SIsters."FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images/file

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him @MatthewGilbert.