Title Sequence: Elementary
Elementary‘s title sequence presents us with a Rube Goldberg machine, something both straightforward and convoluted. Like the show itself, the sequence is not all chronological with clear cause-and-effect, but it includes pieces we’re familiar with: mouse wheel, rising bell, pulleys; procedural tropes, situational lying, criminal types, a figure trapped in a cage, etc.
The machine includes potential elements of crimes and crime scenes (glass breaking, ropes, evidence markers) and potential weapons (gun, hammer, scissors), and even gears which look somewhat like film reels. It’s mostly close- or medium- shots with a very shallow depth of field which keeps us slightly discombobulated at the speed at which the marble moves and the focus follows it. The whole thing is colored in browns and yellows with hints of red and gunmetal. It cheekily nods to The Great Mouse Detective, and you can also read a really great interview about how it was made here.
The glass marble begins the motion, triggers most of the machine’s pieces, highlights Lee’s name as it rolls over it, and finally ends the sequence. As it rolls past the broken glass and wine/blood soaked boards, it expands towards the camera/viewer until we see New York, suggesting the marbles encapsulates the city of New York, even faintly hinting at the idea of universes in a snowglobe.
On its surface it may appear simple, but appearances are deceiving, and it’s both one of the more complex title sequences and best dramas going on network TV.