Adam Scott on the Golden Age of TV Credits

Before we got TiVo, we got show introductions worth watching. The <em>Parks and Recreation</em> star recalls his favorites

In the one-minute, 17-second opening-credit sequence for the fourth season of the television show Hart to Hart, millionaire-detective Jonathan Hart—played by Robert Wagner—escapes from an exploding log cabin, rides a dune buggy, paraglides, falls through a trapdoor, fights off a strangler, plays a trumpet, and climbs atop a moving train. Preposterous, yes—and so entertaining. The 1980s may not have been the golden age of television, but they were the golden age of television credits. To help explain their charm, we sought out actor Adam Scott, who with shot-by-shot precision has re-created (with an assist from famous friends) some of the credit sequences from that decade. His four-part series, The Greatest Event in Television History, aired its final episode in January on the Adult Swim network. It’s an homage to the shows, including Hart to Hart, that Scott grew up with. “There’s a real artistry to the editing and use of music,” he says. “They stand on their own as great pieces of filmmaking.” Scott gives us the back story on the series. “We’re kind of making fun,” he says, “but it’s coming from a sincere place.” Any future episodes? “Probably not,” Scott says. “I mean… maybe.”


Hart to Hart
1979 to 1984
Stars Adam Scott and Amy Poehler as Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers

“We got permission to go onto a runway at Burbank airport and shoot some private jet taking off, we went to a ski resort and got skiers, we went up in a helicopter and shot the parasail and the speedboat. I warned Amy ahead of time: ‘Please don’t do this as a favor, because it’s a pain in the ass.’ She was cool enough to say, ‘No, let’s do this.’ ”


Too Close for Comfort
1980 to 1987
Stars Jon Glaser and Catherine O’Hara as Ted Knight and Nancy Dussault

“In this sequence, in which Scott plays the hapless friend Monroe (originally portrayed by Jim J. Bullock), not a whole lot happens—which was part of the appeal. “We thought it would be funny to do one that’s definitely a nonevent, like six shots of nothing. But we did go up to San Francisco to get the shot of the house.”


Bosom Buddies
1980 to 1982
Stars Paul Rudd and Adam Scott as Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari

“This was the greatest credit sequence ever,” says Scott. “For me it was always them chatting casually while walking through the sprinklers. As a kid, I thought that was just the greatest joke.” Tom Hanks makes a cameo in this spoof, as does Billy Joel, who wrote the show’s theme song. “Paul and I were nervous because we’re big Billy Joel nerds.”


Simon & Simon
1981 to 1989
Stars Jon Hamm and Adam Scott as Gerald McRaney and Jameson Parker

“It was a real action comedy,” Scott says. “And the theme song is weirdly good. We tried to match Jon’s mustache to Gerald McRaney’s as best as possible. McRaney’s is pretty close to Ron Swanson’s—he’s a great mustache wearer.” Hamm’s stache wasn’t real, but the credits were downgraded to look like old VHS recordings, so it didn’t matter.