Top 5 Tuesday: Favorite Musical Episodes
I must have been really good this year because Santa (and by Santa, I mean Dan Harmon) gave me exactly what I wanted for Christmas: a musical episode of Community! I’ve been hoping and waiting for my favorite comedy series to finally do a musical, and seeing as I’ll be waiting, ahem, awhile for the next new episode, I’m glad the midseason finale was full of awesomeness to tide me over. To celebrate, I thought this week we’d tally up our favorite musical episodes. Some were astounding, influential, and Emmy-nominated (“Once More, With Feeling”), and others were just entertaining.
1. “Once More, With Feeling” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) – Let’s face it, “OMWF” is above ranking. It’s above comparison to any other episode of any other show. It’s the definitive musical episode. I remember back in 2001 when it premiered, and this was before Hulu and TiVo, and before Buffy was on DVD, so my tech-savvy uncle somehow burned a copy of “OMWF” for me, and it was the greatest thing ever. Needless to say, it was worn beyond recognition, along with my copy of the soundtrack. My best friend and I once sang the entire soundtrack together–from memory–when we were stuck in a boat. (Our fellow boaters were not thrilled.) “OMWF” is a brilliantly crafted piece of television mastery. Who could forget Willow’s line in the climactic number “Walk Through the Fire”: “I think this line’s mostly filler.” Only Joss Whedon could pull off an episode of TV where a demon makes everyone break into song, belting out their feelings about everything from dry cleaning and parking tickets, to Heaven and Hell. No other musical episode will ever be able to touch this one.
2. “Regional Holiday Music” (Community) – Community has parodied just about every genre you can think of: documentary, Western, action/adventure, buddy cop movies, claymation–they’ve done it all. But until this week, they’d never done a musical episode. For this season’s holiday episode, Community kicked off their Sunday shoes and sang their hearts out. Instead of playing on the aspects of the classical musical film genre, they parodied Glee (which, frankly, needed to be taken down a few pegs). One by one the Community gang was brainwashed into Greendale’s glee club, singing inane but hilarious original songs, and talking about nothing but “Regionals.” I especially loved their mute Piano Guy, who looked eerily similar to Glee‘s mute Piano Guy. And how awesome was “Baby Boomer Santa”? That song has been stuck in my head for days. All in all, it was the perfect Community Christmas: some fighting, some snark, some mocking of Glee, but in the end, they all overcame their collective shame and watched the Inspector Spacetime holiday special together.
3. “Brown Betty” (Fringe) – If you’ve ever seen Fringe (which, judging by its current ratings, I’m guessing you haven’t), then you know that the tone of the show doesn’t exactly lend itself to the cheesy choreographed merriment of a musical. Fringe chose instead to take on a ’40s noir theme, with some low-key musical numbers thrown in. Forced to babysit Olivia’s niece, Walter decided to make up a story to entertain her. This story happened to involve a fair amount of singing (no original songs, though) from most of the main cast. Some highlights included Walter singing Tears for Fears’ “Head Over Heels” (priceless), and his singing corpses’ rendition of “The Candy Man” (adding a new level of creepiness to that song). My favorite was Olivia’s emotional a capella performance of “For Once In My Life,” which she sang to an unconscious Peter. At first I was disappointed in Fringe for stooping to that level of imitation by doing a musical episode, but they made it their own, and it gave Fringe the chance to show a little more heart than usual. Plus, Joshua Jackson looks damn good in his ’40s ensemble. Watch a summarized video of the episode including a few of the musical numbers here.
4. “My Musical” (Scrubs) – When a new patient arrived at Sacred Heart with the convenient symptom of hallucinating people singing all around her, it lead to some fun musical numbers on Scrubs. While it didn’t have the clever commentary of Community‘s “Regional Holiday Music,” or the emotional power of Fringe‘s “Brown Betty,” “My Musical” was worth it just to hear Turk and J.D. sing “Guy Love,” a song professing their best-friendship, “but in a totally manly way.” You can watch the whole wonderful performance here.
5. “Girls Vs. Suits” (How I Met Your Mother) – For its 100th episode, How I Met Your Mother decided to do a musical number dedicated to Barney’s favorite clothing item: suits. Lucky for them, a number of the HIMYM cast was already pretty familiar with musicals. Alyson Hannigan had of course already been in the greatest TV musical episode of all time; Neil Patrick Harris starred in Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog; Cobie Smulders had already done two music videos as Robin Sparkles; and Jason Segel sang his way into our hearts with his Dracula puppet musical in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The big musical number, which featured dozens of extras in suits singing and dancing in the street, actually reminded me a little bit of the “The Mustard” number in “OMWF,” but obviously longer. It was a fun episode, and any excuse for Neil Patrick Harris to break into song is fine by me. I wouldn’t mind seeing a reprise at some point in HIMYM‘s future.
Honorable Mention: Pushing Daisies – While they never did an entire musical episode, there was a fair share of spontaneous song, especially by Kristin Chenoweth’s Olive. See her rendition of “Hopelessly Devoted To You” here.
What do you say, pop culture fans? What are your favorite musical episodes? Has there ever been a more brilliant hour of television than “Once More, With Feeling?” Which song from Community’s “Regional Holiday Music” was your favorite? Share your comments below, or tweet us @PopCultureNexus.
Posted on December 13, 2011, in Television, Top 5 and tagged Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Community, Fringe, how i met your mother, Joss Whedon, musicals, Pushing Daisies, Scrubs, television, TV. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.