The 2010 Tony Awards this weekend had its own share of special moments and the first season of Glee is over and has received mixed reviews — despite the fact that it’s continuing on for at least two more seasons — but before Glee ever happened and in spite of the Tonys, television ventured into musical territory on special occasions: to celebrate a landmark episode, to reward faithful viewers and/or because the writers finally figured out a way to make it somewhat plausible. It was a (mostly hilarious) treat to see familiar characters singing their hearts out. Here are five of the greatest television-gone-musical episodes of all time:
Even Stevens: “Influenza the Musical”
Back before Shia LeBouf was making movies that even he didn’t think were any good, he was on a Disney channel show called Even Stevens. In this episode, his over-achieving sister Ren gets the flu and is forced to stay home from school—but she dreams her way back to school, where everyone bursts out into song at the slightest provocation.
That ‘70s Show: “That ‘70s Musical”
Poor Fez. All he wants to do is sing…and for his friends to be right there with him. The 100th episode of That ‘70s Show went completely musical, employing songs from the decade sung by the cast in Fez’s daydreams. Even curmudgeonly Red jumps up to join in a rousing chorus of the Turtles’ “Happy Together.”
Who knew that the monotone-speaking Daria would (sort of) sing her way through a hurricane headed her way? And not just her, but the rest of the cast from the witty cartoon from the ‘burbs. There doesn’t appear to be a clip from this one on the internet, but here’s our DVD review of the complete series.
Scrubs: “My Musical”
Leave it to Scrubs to pull out a musical episode, complete with songs about poo. The music in this episode was created by the folks behind Avenue Q and the guest star—the patient who’s brain aneurysm leaves her hearing song instead of dialogue—originated the role of Kate in the hit broadway musical. The episode manages to do both comedy (“Guy Love”) and poignant moments (“You’re Going To Be OK”) well in that signature Scrubs way.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “Once More, With Feeling”
This sixth-season episode found a demon causing everyone in Sunnydale to start singing and dancing until they—wait for it—spontaneously combusted. Joss Whedon manages to get songs that cater to each actor’s particular style and wrap it up in a witty, entertaining episode that also manages to address the themes running throughout the season and propel the storyline along. Not surprising, from the man who would later give us Dr. Horrible.