Well, folks, I wouldn’t have seen myself here for this particular purpose in a million years, but brace yourselves, Interweb and TV snobs alike, because I’m about to rave review the crap out of Grey’s Anatomy. Yes, that show. The very same melodramatic, repetitive, monologue-laden Grey’s Anatomy that, in an era when the preponderance of musical TV seems to be at an all-time high, managed to pool its collective creative resources and put out a really fine hour of television and the show's single best episode since last season's finale, in my newly humble opinion.
Viewers had been waiting for this musical event with varying degrees of anticipatory glee. Me, I wasn’t expecting very much, both because Grey’s is not my favorite thing on TV and because the musical episode is a feat many shows have done before to varying degrees of success. (I loved the Scrubs musical and, in spite of my better judgment, still enjoy Glee. And to all you Buffy fanatics out there: relax; the only reason I’m not extolling it here is because I haven’t yet gotten around to watching the entire series. Someday, fellow Whedonites. Someday.) Perhaps that’s why I was so blown away by “Song Beneath the Song,” which succeeded in the added challenges of being a non-cheesy musical chapter in a drama and fitting into the larger-scale continuity of the show. In other words, it wasn't a standalone.
Granted, not all the musical interludes made sense within the framework of the episode, in that they were supposed to be a projection of Callie’s damaged brain/subconscious even though neither Callie nor astral Callie were present for all of them. Still, the production struck a good balance of reality and dream, and I liked the way the music was integrated, at times being superimposed with real dialogue. And I really liked the way the episode stayed true to one of the show’s trademarks—characters overly repeating certain lines—but this time switched it up by interrupting those repetitions with the musical sequences. Finally, I liked how this detail was mirrored in the final scene, with Callie’s first words upon waking being her acceptance of Arizona’s marriage proposal, a continuation of her earlier speech in the car fantasy.
Musically, though it was obvious that most of the cast members aren’t singers, I think the gang did a decent job of faking it for a night. And none was better (or more featured) than Sara Ramirez, who was luminous and fierce and totally in her element—clearly, that Tony was well deserved—which was fitting, since the episode was narrated from her character’s perspective. Her version of Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” that kicked off the episode had me so enraptured that I had a stronger-than-usual urge to smack Owen Hunt when he cut in for the second stanza. All in all, it might not have been a perfect musical episode, but it was a great Grey’s Anatomy episode, unusually well written and well directed.
Here were some of my favorite moments (I’ll fight the urge to recount the episode scene by scene):
- The slow-motion sequence. Can someone explain to me how Callie’s lip movements were slowed down yet in perfect sync to the song recording?
- The “How to Save a Life” number. Sure, the famous Fray song is a huge cliché, but it happened to fit in really well with what was happening on-screen.
- Arizona saving the baby. It worked out perfectly, her being the only one of the Callie/Mark/Arizona parental trio to be legally allowed to treat the baby, and by doing so, carving for herself the much-coveted connection to said baby. Biology, be damned—Dr. Robbins just became a mother. Well played, Grey’s.
- Callie belting out “The Story.” Ramirez’s emotive singing, pitch-perfect acting and vocal power made this cover more than worthy of Brandi Carlile’s original rendition.
What did you love about “Song Beneath the Song”? What did you hate? And how do you feel about this ever-popular musical television trend?
P.S. How awful would it be of me to say "April Fools!" right now?