Surely, reviews about the musical episode of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy will be mixed, as they often are for any type of big risk that isn’t hands down brilliant. Grey’s did a lot of things right. They stuck to the style of music their fans are accustomed to, indeed, using many of the songs made famous by Grey’s promos. They also let their strongly gifted actors sing, while not forcing the entire cast to participate musically. As for complaints, I could see some saying there is too much music. Ten songs are used in the hour, compared to four to six for a normal episode of Glee. But overall, I’m pretty pleased.
The best songs are the crowd pleasers, of course. Big ensemble performances of Jesus Jackson’s “Running on Sunshine” and THE Grey’s anthem, The Fray’s “How to Save a Life”, are a visual and auditory delight. The weakest point, in my opinion, is the very first. I have complained lately of shows jettisoning their theme songs. Grey’s theme, “Cosy In the Rocket”, was abandoned long ago. But the series only teased by letting a few lines of the song be sung just before the title card. This is the perfect opportunity to bring it back, at least for one episode, and instead, they only allow a small taste.
Sara Ramirez, who plays Dr. Callie Torres, is at the center of the episode, as she is badly injured in a car wreck, and the one hallucinating the singing as the staff tries to save the life of her and her unborn child. Ramirez won a Tony for her performance in Spamalot on Broadway, so it is no surprise that she sings in seven of the ten numbers. Her biggest highlight is probably The Story, made famous by Brandi Carlile, where Sara shows her true range and belting capabilities. Plus, the cut shots throughout the song made it look neat.
Other featured players are Kevin McKidd as Dr. Owen Hunt and Chyler Leigh as Dr. Lexie Grey, who both have their own solos, as well as participating in group numbers. Chandra Wilson’s Miranda Bailey and Jessica Capshaw’s Arizona sang in multiple songs, but didn’t have their own. Other actors, like Justin Chambers (Alex Karev), Eric Dane (Mark Sloan), Scott Foley (Henry), and Daniel Sunjata (Eli) only get the briefest of moments, which is more than Sandra Oh or James Pickens Jr. did. Sarah Drew’s April is somewhere in the middle ground, getting to sing in several songs, but never really being featured. But it works out, because if they are bad singers, we don’t want to hear them anyway (I’m looking at you, Alyson Hanigan, whom I adore, but whose “This line’s mostly filler” may have been the most out of tune moment in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode.)
I am left wondering why Kate Walsh’s Addison Montgomery is even brought over for a crossover during this episode. A veteran of The Drew Carey Show, which periodically did big numbers, I expected some sort of singing from her, but am disappointed that she doesn’t appear to sing at all. In fact, she is barely in the hour. I guess she is only here to shake Dr. Lucy Fields’s (Rachael Taylor) confidence in herself as a doctor, which she more than adequately does.
Near the end of the episode, I kept thinking this would be the perfect time to kill off Callie. I’m a fan or Ramirez, so this is merely a musing from a storytelling perspective, not because I want the character gone. Arizona and Mark are at odds, but then make up. Having the two of them raising a child together without their connective tissue would have been interesting. As Arizona is a lesbian, it is unlikely the two of them would have ever made a go romantically, but it would have been a kind of cool story idea. I do wonder, based on next week’s previews, if Callie’s baby will die instead, thus making Arizona and Mark’s budding friendship struggle into fruition on its own, without the aid of a shared child.
It is amusing when shows poke fun at themselves, and acknowledge the unrealistic things that often happen within the confines of the various plot arcs. This week, Alex dubs the hospital “Seattle Grace / Mercy Death,” instead of West, as the last word actually is. This references that a lot of doctors have suffered a lot of tragedy there. Because this is a TV show, and drama is needed to keep it moving along, that is not unexpected. But most real hospitals don’t have such a high rate of serious happenings in their staffs, so it’s nice that the writers let Alex mention it, tongue in cheek.