Pick of the Week – November 2-8, 2015

I grew up watching musicals.  My mother was (and still is a fan), and she directed shows at the high school where she taught when I was growing up.  After we moved to the East Coast when I was in junior high, we took advantage of our proximity to Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and New York City to go see professional productions of shows such as Les Miserables, Into the Woods, Phantom of the Opera, and Miss Saigon.

So while some folks cringe at the idea of seeing characters burst into song, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, even when it happens on television shows that aren’t exactly known for that sort of thing.  Sometimes it is a single production number, such as “Nothing Suits Me Like A Suit” from the 100th episode of How I Met Your Mother.

Other times, though, a series will decide to do an entire musical episode.  As far as I’m concerned, the gold standard for this is “Once More With Feeling” from the 6th season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  That’s not my Pick for this week, though.

Instead, I’m choosing “My Musical” from the 6th season of the sitcom Scrubs, which features several songs co-written by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez, the duo behind the wonderful (and Tony Award-winning) musical Avenue Q.  In the interest of completeness, I would note that they did not write all of the episode’s songs, and all of the lyrics were provided by the episode’s writer, Debra Fordham.

As with the Buffy episode, “My Musical” is not only full of songs but also fits into the continuity of the series and including an actual reason for the singing to be occurring in the first place.  While Buffy relied on a demon, the Scrubs episode centers around a patient, played by Tony-nominated actress Stephanie D’Abruzzo, who comes to Sacred Heart Hospital complaining that everyone around her now seems to be singing all the time. 

Is she crazy?  Is something else going on?  That’s the medical mystery of the episode as D’Abruzzo’s character interacts with the show’s main cast, allowing them to sing about their feelings toward each other.  Most of the actors can carry a tune, and some of them are quite good.  It also helps that the songs are fun.  My particular favorite sets one of Dr. Cox’s rants about J.D.’s behavior to music.

“My Musical” may not turn you into a fan of musical theater, but it’s a diverting half-hour and, for fans of Scrubs, it was an opportunity to watch the cast having fun with their characters in a change of pace episode.

- Alan Decker

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