Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Podcast Tuesday: "All Singing! All Dancing! Some Chachi!"

"Be My Valentine" features the entire cast of Happy Days in musical fantasy numbers.

It is now time to talk about musical episodes. You know, those surreal, often dreamlike TV episodes that break from a series' usual pattern and have the characters singing and dancing, Broadway-style, for our ostensible entertainment. As a viewer, you might consider them a delightful change of pace or an unforgivable violation of a show's own internal logic. I tend to enjoy them, but I have a pretty high tolerance for showtunes and production numbers. Your mileage may vary. Maybe you feel like animated shows (The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers, Family Guy) can get away with them, but you won't tolerate them from live-action shows. 

Either way, I think musical episodes exist for a number of good reasons. First of all, they give the cast and crew a chance to do something a little different for a week. Sitcoms especially can become very repetitive, utilizing the same characters and the same stock sets over and over. Why not have them do a musical episode now and again, just for the sake of variety? Secondly, the actors on these shows often have backgrounds in theater. They've probably done their share of singing and dancing in the past. Musical episodes give them a chance to show off their terpsichorean skills. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, musical episodes exist for the same reason that any musicals (on stage or screen) exist -- songs are a way of having your characters express their emotions in a very direct way that they might not do though normal dialogue.

"Be My Valentine" from February 1978 was Happy Days' first (but not last) musical episode. It certainly stands out from all the other Season 5 episodes! What did we think of it? Well, you can find out by listening to the latest installment of our podcast, These Days Are Ours