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It must be sweeps time again: bands pointlessly appearing on TV series

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(Warning: there is gratuitous overusage of the word “cheesy” ahead.)

It’s pretty cheesy when a TV show tries to shoehorn in special guest stars, because they are usually Big Name Actors and have a presence that seems a little too large for the shows in question. It’s usually far cheesier when a TV show manages to land an actual real honest-to-goodness band for an episode, because, really, how many TV shows have an excuse to show a band doing anything? So in the past week two great bands have done this feat, and one example came off surprisingly well while the other came off as just a cheesy stunt.

First, Gilmore Girls I figured out a way to fit the Shins into a show about a tiny eastern town that the Shins would never play by sending youngest Gilmore Rory to Florida for an out of character spring break getaway. “Gilmore Girls Gone Wild.” Seriously – that was the title of the show. I’ll give the writers credit for at least trying to maintain a bit of Rory’s actual character by having her and Paris attempt to watch Joseph Campbell’s “Power of Myth” series in a hotel room while others around them partied. Of course, they had to have the girls give in to temptation, and soon enough the two find themselves in a small club where – you guessed it – the Shins are playing. However cool the Shins may be, this was a lame episode, bolstered only a tiny bit by the fact that the Shins were actually playing live, or were lip-syncing to a live tape of themselves instead of the really cheesy routine of using the original album track. Yeah, even the controversial kiss between Rory and Paris was lame. A sad, possibly “jump the shark” moment for a show I really enjoy.

But Scrubs managed to pull off not only the feat of having a band play on the show, but also somehow fitting into the shots the majority of the ambiguously large Polyphonic Spree (whose members number from 20 to 30 depending on when you see them, apparently.) One of the throng of happy robe-wearers winds up under Dr. Cox’s care and begs to be let out to play one last show with the band before they’re off to Europe. He poo-poos the idea – of course he does, that’s his way – but by the end a grinning group of robe-wearers filter through the doorway of the patient’s room and somehow all their equipment, including bleachers for the singers, winds up in the room, just in time for the band to wind up the show with “Light & Day,” in case you didn’t see the Ipod/VW ads enough last year. Cheesy? Of course, but delightfully so – because Scrubs can pull off that kind of cheesiness and have it work in their favor. It’s all done knowing full-well how dumb having a band on the show really is, so they just have fun with it – like inexplicably having the instruments, drum riser, bleachers, microphones, etc., all wired up in a hospital room, of all places. But, again, it’s this very freedom that exemplifies why Scrubs is one of the best shows on TV right now.

So score one for Scrubs, and I’ll throw in a half a point for Gilmore Girls just for having the Shins play live, or an approximation thereof.

(Unproductivity is an approximation thereof.)

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