I don’t think I’d be very good at living in a musical. I’m horrible at singing and not so great at dancing, but I love watching other people sing and dance. So I love musicals. But sometimes even better than musicals, are musicals mixed in to my all-time favorite medium- television. It’s become a trend to have television shows feature musical episodes or musical moments, and I for one am definitely on board. There’s something magical about sudden song and dance, and the surprise of seeing your favorite characters sing is so much fun.
So, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite musical tv moments and the things that make them so great.
I’ve Got A Theory- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once More with Feeling
Buffy might not have done the musical episode first, but it sure did it best. Not only were the songs fun and catchy, they were thematically relevant. Once More with Feeling wasn’t just an excuse for singing, it was an episode that contributed to ongoing story lines, developed characters, and was just all around incredible. I’ve Got A theory is probably my favorite song from the episode because not only is it filled with great jokes (this is a Whedon show after all!), but it features most of the main characters and all of it feels so true to character that you aren’t even thinking about the fact that everyone is singing. Also bunnies. Because bunnies.
Midnight Train to Georgia- 30 Rock, Episode 210
30 Rock is in many ways a live action cartoon. It’s zany and weird and just enough based in reality that you feel like these people could be your weird neighbors. Midnight Train to Georgia is a musical number featuring Kenneth the Page leaving New York to go home to his family’s farm in Stone Mountain Georgia, but well… you know. The song scene features showgirls, train whistles, conductor hats and a duet between a boss in a tuxedo and his girlfriend who is on CSPAN on the television behind him. How can anyone not enjoy that?
Hopelessly Devoted to You- Pushing Daisies, Dummy
Oh Pushing Daisies. A show too short lived in it’s utter brilliance. A show about a baker who makes pies and makes the dead, brilliant and unlike anything else that has graced television. So of course it got cancelled. But before it got cancelled it gave us some brilliant moments. Moments like Hopelessly Devoted to You. Because honestly, how can you have Kristin Chenoweth (you know, the one who starred in Wicked? You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown? Tony award winner? Yeah, that one) on your show and not let her sing? In this scene, Kristin’s character—Olive—is singing out her heartbreak. The scene is moving and emotional. It fits her character and the plot, and it manages to make you feel all kinds of feelings. Plus it features a cute dog. Always a plus.
Troy and Abed’s Jehovah’s Witness Rap- Community, Regional Holiday Music
“I guess I just like liking things.” That line from Abed right before he and Troy break out in a ridiculous rap number about being an undercover Christmas celebrator makes me so happy. Donald Glover, who plays Troy has an actual real life rap career under the moniker of Childish Gambino, so it’s no surprise that his rapping here- about being a Jehovah’s Witness who is only celebrating Christmas so he can destroy it from the inside- is a pure delight. This song is goofy, but it takes itself seriously—and that just makes it more fun for everyone. Also it’s in a pillow fort.
Guy Love- Scrubs, My Musical
Is there a bro-mance more bro-mantic then that between Turk and JD on Scrubs? Scrubs did a musical episode that was phenomenal, and full of great musical moments, but none come close to topping the show of love and emotion that comes (literally!) to crescendo during this song.
Forever- The Office, Nigeria
I feel like I need to admit that I cried through this entire– almost 4 minute long–scene. Horrible blubbery tears. I’ve been a fan of The Office from it’s strange beginnings in season one, and this moment and that wedding was the payoff of so much buildup that so many Office fans had been loving for so long. The scene is an homage to the viral video that’s as of now up to almost 85 million youtube views. It’s campy and cheesy and emotional and just so classic Office. I love it.
Topsy- Bob’s Burgers, Topsy
There just can’t be a better joke about a dead elephant named Topsy then “they’ll say ‘aw Topsy’ at my autopsy.” That is the golden standard. This song has been stuck in my head for about a month now.
The Jackal- The West Wing, Six Meetings Before Lunch
Don’t talk to me when the Jackal is happening. I, like White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry, will not put up with anyone trying to divert my attention away from this majesty. So this scene came to be in the show because Allison Janney, who played CJ Cregg, was very very good at doing this lip synch. She would perform it in her trailer for the cast and crew, and when the writers heard about these performances, they decided to incorporate it in to the show. It seems so random, in the placement of the episode, but it’s goofy and fun, and sometimes The West Wing (which is one of my all-time favorite shows!) need s a little douse of goofy and fun.
- The Nightman Cometh- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia , The Nightman Cometh (Warning, this episode and video is filthy. Like pure rated R, ridiculousness. But it’s so so funny.)
- Dr. Cox’s Singing Rant- Srubs, My Musical
- Walk Through the Fire- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once More with Feeling
- Will You be Mine (Coal Mine)- Bob’s Burgers, Boys 4 Now
Have any musical moments you think I left off? Disagree with any of my choices? Want to squeal with me about the magical musical moments in Bob’s Burgers? Let’s talk in the comments below!