Musical Episode Fail

By Caitlin Herlihy

Musical episodes provide a strident reminder that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Established television shows like Scrubs, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Seventh Heaven have all attempted musical episodes, and some shows have been more successful than others. While exciting for the audience, adding musical numbers to established television series is often, in my opinion, awkward and ill-suited.

“Song Beneath the Song” is Grey’s Anatomy‘s attempt at a musical episode. Also known as The Music Event, the episode was the 18th episode of season seven. Pregnant Callie Torres and girlfriend Arizona Robbins suffer a serious car accident, leaving Torres hospitalized. While the doctors at Seattle Grace operate on Torres, they sing popular pop songs featured earlier in the series.

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Grey’s Anatomy, “Song Beneath the Song” (Season 7, Episode 18)

While I must admit the vocals were impressive, the playlist seemed forced. Torres, played by Sara Ramirez, singing Brandi Carlile’s “The Story” gave me chills. Dr. Bailey, played by Chandra Wilson; Lexie Grey, played by Chyler Leigh; and Dr. Hunt, pleayed by Kevin McKidd were the star vocalists in the episode. Songs from the episode include “How to Save a Life,” “Breathe,” and “Chasing Cars.” The most-out-of-place song was definitely the cast’s performance of “Runnin’ On Sunshine.”

Reviews of the episode were mixed, as they are for many musical episodes. I think it was an interesting change of pace from the traditional format of 45-minute Grey’s Anatomy episodes. However, the cast as a whole was not musically talented enough to keep up with Ramirez, Wilson, Leigh, or McKidd. The playlist could have been more subtle, and I wasn’t a fan of the doctors singing behind their masks.

In my opinion, dramas should leave the singing to Glee.


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4 Responses to Musical Episode Fail

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I could not agree more! To begin with, I am not a big fan of musical television shows, but respect those that have done it successfully, like Glee. It is funny, because as I read your first paragraph, the first thing that came to me was the Grey’s episode (mainly because of how bad of an episode I thought that it was) and I was happy to see that you focused on that one in particular. There have been select times when this may have worked, but for me I would recommend sticking to the basics and avoiding singing like that altogether.

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I totally agree! I know that most actors and actresses go into musical theatre before making it onto the screen. With this, when television shows use musical numbers, it only reminds me that what I am watching is in fact, television. This episode made me think of each of the characters as actors and not the doctors I had grown to love and know.

    Katherine Naylor

  3. mediaphiles says:

    It’s interesting to see beloved network dramas make the musical transition because I never expect it. I wonder why that is such a popular trend. I am interested to know more about this because I am genuinely curious about why some shows go off into that direction. It definitely shows the range of some actors, which I am glad to see. This post really has me thinking about this now.

    -Shelby Halliman

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I have only ever seen a few episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy”, but it just does’t seem like a show that could ever pull of a musical episode. Musical episodes are for comedy shows that would make fun of themselves with an episode like this. The absolute best example is in “That ’70s Show” called That ’70s musical and it is probably my favorite episode of the whole show because it is so funny and over the top.

    -Kendra Thornton

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