Our Favourite Musical Episodes of Non-Musical Shows

Shakespeare infamously said: “All the world’s a stage” (and then a bunch more allegorical stuff) – with this in mind, here are a few of our favourite TV shows that had a musical one off. Although not featured here, some other series’ that continue this trope are: How I Met Your Mother, Grey’s Anatomy, Daria, Community, Xena: Warrior Princess and many others. We hope you enjoy this recommended list.
[Exits stage left]

The X-Files // Post Modern Prometheus

The X-Files has always been considered ‘out there’ with its heavily paranormal/extra-terrestrial themes, and has managed to further that notion with crossover episodes with shows like the documentary TV series COPS or through extensively comedic episodes such as ‘Bad Blood’ or ‘Small Potatoes’.

But you wouldn’t really think that you’d be able to associate Cher with any episode of The X-Files…that is until you reach ‘The Post Modern Prometheus’. It isn’t your typical musical episode, Mulder and Scully don’t break out into song every five minutes. The storyline instead focuses heavily on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, in the form of a monster nicknamed The Great Mutato. A monster who seems to have an affinity with Cher’s music and movies, which have helped him understand human life.

What seems even more bizarre is not that the entire episode is based around Cher’s songs, but more so that the show’s creator – Chris Carter – became fixated on her songs after listening to her music all summer. Carter knew Cher through her sister who was a fan of the show. Cher was actually meant to appear in the episode, but couldn’t due to being unavailable at the time.

Three Cher songs are heard throughout the episode, ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’, ‘Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves’ and ‘Walking in Memphis’. The latter being a staple moment for every Mulder and Scully shipper, through which the duo take The Great Mutato to a Cher concert at the end of the episode, and Mulder invites Scully up to dance with him. Cue the shipping tears.

Words by Sophie McEvoy.

Scrubs // My Musical

My Musical aired as the 6th episode of the 6th season of Scrubs, at a point where critical love and Nielsen ratings were beginning to wane. However, ask anyone to name their top 5 Scrubs episodes and this will surely feature, because even to a casual viewer, My Musical sticks out. Scrubs never shied away from the surreal and thus a musical episode didn’t seem like a forced gimmick and actually worked supremely well. The soundtrack was a hit – songs such as ‘Everything Comes Down To Poo’ and ‘Guy Love’ are forever lodged in the minds of an E4 viewer of a certain age, because they’re as funny as they are infectiously catchy. However, Scrubs was never a show to stay too cheery for too long and the episode’s ending is emotionally gutting, which contrasts so fittingly to the absurdly upbeat nature of musicals. It’s no wonder this episode was single-handedly responsible for 5 of Scrubs’ 17 Emmy nomination.

Words by Ashley Woodvine.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer // Once More, With Feeling

Often argued as possibly the show’s best episode; ‘Once More With Feeling’ is an example of Whedon really expressing his ability to incorporate potentially lacklustre and drab emotional aspects of a story arc into an explosive and entertaining episode of resolution. The songs are frustratingly thorough – delightful as you’re listening to them and fierce earworms once the episode is done. This episode also features one of the show’s best “villains”: a dancing, jazzy demon that temporarily attempts to steal Buffy’s little sister. A worry with musical episodes is that the “gimmicky” aspect overruns the actual content, however that is not the case with this marvellous creation, as it is equal parts cheesy as it is intelligent. The actual styles of the songs are tailored to the characters individually, coming together in the group tune If We’re Together. Overall, it’s a definite must-see, if not just to watch Anya’s rant about bunnies or Spike’s general badassery throughout.

Words by Charlie Ginger Jones.

Skins // Sketch

No matter how serious a drama is there will always be a provider of comical relief. In the second series of Skins this is created by the much unexpected musical production that various lead characters find themselves in. The episode is comical from the start with the introduction of super stalker and creep ‘sketch’. The director wants you to laugh at her, her crazy habits suggest this but he also wants to make the viewer feel bad when he introduces the background to her troubled life and disabled mother that she has to care for. The sympathy is built as the episode goes on but that is completely ripped down towards the end until Sketch becomes almost like a pantomime villain. This pantomime correlation links nicely to the much unexpected introduction of the musical number that is performed, as it’s in a school production that is just so ridiculous you can’t help but laugh. The theme of the song however have caused complaint as it’s primarily about 9/11 and Osama bin laden, with people saying it’s too soon and insensitive. I agree the topic shouldn’t be laughed at but the context it is used in, as well as the situations the characters find themselves in and the overall presentation of event just makes it hilarious and makes this episode one of the stand out ones of the whole show. I also argue that this topic of song was chosen to promote more guilt in the viewer as they laugh at the events that unfold. Finally it’s also worth pointing out that it was a very good production with good performances all round, however I do think a bit of auto tune was used.

Words by Domenic Edwards.


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