There’s something odd about watching someone in scrubs singing while cutting a colleague open with a scalpel. But that’s what happened in the March 31st musical-inspired episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
I like musicals. I think musicals are a great and entertaining way to share a character’s thoughts and feelings. But Grey’s take on a musical production with Song Beneath the Song last Thursday didn’t meet my expectations, especially given that Grey’s musical directors typically do a great job of matching songs with scenes (this is one of my favourites).
Musicals work when the singing and dancing move the story forward, but this is not what happened in “Song Beneath the Song”. In fact, the songs slowed the plot down, leaving this viewer wanting to fast forward to the inevitable happy ending. If Grey’s had used original songs with lyrics pertaining to the show, instead of singing popular songs by other artists, the musical form would have been much more effective in communicating Calliope’s story. Although many musicals have used cover songs successfully (Across the Universe and Mamma Mia, for example), the songs used in “Song Beneath the Song” didn’t seem to fit the scenes. But that makes sense – has any artist written a song about performing surgery? Because Grey’s has a plot line of its own, versus Across the Universe which was written based on the Beatles songs, the use of original songs is necessary to progress the viewer to the next episode. Granted, the songs did increase the plot’s dramatic tension, making each twist in Calliope’s ordeal excruciatingly emotional. However, this could have been accomplished just as effectively, if not more so, with the use of background music and dialogue. As it was, the viewers’ attention was focused on the actor’s vocal talent instead of the dramatic action.
On the other hand, “Song Beneath the Song” did a great job of showcasing the Grey’s actors musical talent and potential spinoff careers. Sara Ramirez, who plays Dr. Callie Torres, has a fantastic voice and theatrical style – is it a coincidence her self-titled album was released last week as well? Another surprise was Chandra Wilson (Dr. Miranda Bailey) whose intense facial expressions and voice took the emotionality of the episode to a whole new level.
While the episode hasn’t turned me off of the show, I’d suggest that the Grey’s Anatomy producers should stick to what Grey’s does best – using great background music to accent and underscore the acting talents of its cast.