The phenomenon of musical television episodes combines a predominately naturalistic electronic media form with the presentational, expressionism characteristic of live theatre. This series of articles featuring video clips, historical context, and commentary offers an in-depth look at musical television episodes.
Below is a partial chronology of musical television episodes, the 35 episodes listed represent 21 diverse television shows running the gamut of genres, including 1960s sitcoms, contemporary soap operas, animated children’s shows, medical dramas, risque science-fiction comedy cartoons, and gritty prison dramas.
The scope of this investigation will be limited to musicalized episodes of scripted, normally non-musical television shows that originally aired on American television. I will analyze the role of music as a means of furthering plot, developing character, and creating mood. Most importantly, I will discuss the writers’ level of success in creating a plausible logic that supports music and dance as a storytelling element.
I will examine the following areas when deciding which episodes to feature:
(1) Historical precedent
(2) Overall artistic merit or lack thereof
(3) Critical and audience response
Stay tuned! The first installment of this series will take a look at “The Producer” from Gilligan’s Island which first aired on October 3, 1966.
I applaud this endeavor.