There haven't been too many musical series of late (the last show to try was NBC's disappointing Smash, about which, the less said the better), but ABC is betting on the genre with musical comedy Galavant (Sundays at 8/7c). The medieval songfest would do well to take a page from these ovation-worthy musical episodes of otherwise nonmusical shows.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Once More, With Feeling" Season 6, Episode 7: Song is so much easier than plain speech when it comes to expressing strong emotions. Not only that, but our brains are wired to better remember words set to a melody, and they’re also more receptive to what those words might mean. So when a demon resembling an ambulatory piece of caramel taffy places Sunnydale under a curse that has its residents bursting into song, every character gets a moment to belt out long-festering feelings and doubts. The result is 50 minutes of gut punches and stellar songs.
Psych, "Psych! The Musical" Season 7, Episode 15: In retrospect, this might have been Timothy Omundson’s Galavant audition. From the “narrator reading a fairy tale” open that leads into the Beauty and the Beast-esque first number (“Under Santa Barbara Skies”), creator Steve Franks’s playful side is on full display in all 16 songs he wrote. Mentally ill playwright Z (original Rent star Anthony Rapp) goes on what seems like a murder spree, but really it’s a showcase for the entire cast’s surprising musical chops.
Scrubs, "My Musical" Season 6, Episode 6: A woman (Avenue Q’s Stephanie D'Abruzzo) collapses in a park near JD and Elliot, and when she comes to, everyone around her is singing, thanks to a nasty aneurysm in her brain. Bad luck for her, but it makes for some great old-school Broadway numbers infused with hospital humor (“Everything Comes Down to Poo”), and JD and Turk’s “Guy Love” provides a welcome replacement for “bromance,” which really needs expunging from the vernacular.
Daria, "Daria!" Season 3, Episode 7: The biggest potential pitfall with a Daria musical is that Daria herself is about as likely to suddenly start singing as the Dalai Lama is to take up heavy-metal drumming. Luckily, the creators have Daria (voiced by Tracy Grandstaff) tunelessly speak-sing while the rest of the town goes bananas over a hurricane about to smash Lawndale into oblivion. Leave it to the best animated show of the ’90s to rhyme “Lexus” with “solar plexus.”
That'70s Show, "That '70s Musical" Season 4, Episode 24: All right, this one doesn't feature original songs, but Fez gets to daydream some really well choreographed covers of ’70s songs (the Turtles’ “Happy Together,” the Steve Miller Band’s “Joker”), and the whole cast -- including Kurtwood Smith! -- is delightfully game.
Fringe, "Brown Betty" Season 2, Episode 19: After the revelations of Peter's alternate-universe origin and the heart-wrecker of “White Tulip,” the Fringe creative team decided to have mad scientist Walter work through the issues surrounding his son’s disappearance in a less than conventional fashion -- thus, Walter’s self-medicating with a strain of marijuana he calls “Brown Betty.” But instead of the “Bishop-Is-Tripping Wacky Fun Times Hour,” the noir story he imagines is full of self-loathing and sadness. This one doesn’t feature original songs either, but it does have corpses singing “The Candy Man.”