The long-gestating “Grey’s Anatomy” musical episode aired Thursday night, and just as the creators and cast predicted, it didn’t feel like too much of a stretch; instead it was one of the stronger episodes of the season.
Having the music centered around Callie’s unconsciousness/drugged out/hurt state was a nice stroke, perhaps keeping it more grounded that a musical episode would have otherwise been able to.
Far and away the best part of the show was Sara Ramirez, who portrays Callie; Ramirez single-handedly made her songs with her powerful crooning. Ramirez is a Tony Winner from Spamalot; after she won the award several years ago, ABC offered Ramirez a part in any show: she chose “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Her first song, “Chasing Cars,” opened the episode, and was pretty moving. The song is a favorite amongst Grey’s fans, as it exploded to popularity with its use in the second season finale. It’s been off my iPod playlist for a while now, but I fully intend to buy the “Grey’s” version of the single and reincorporate it; it was that good.
Ramirez wasn’t the only one with good chops; I was extremely surprised by Kevin McKidd’s chops (who knew military docs sing), and Chandra Wilson (Bailey) was great. Chyler Leigh was solid, though I didn’t buy into her songs as much as it was perhaps intended.
Most of the songs in the hours first half didn’t really offer much; there’s a goofy interlude for all the couples that seems like a good idea in a musical, though it really detracted from the somber mood of the episode.
Shaky musical numbers turned to good form toward the end of the episode though when “Grace” by Kate Havnevik, sung by Ramirez, (one of the shows early gems — remember when Grey’s had a great soundtrack?) jolts the viewer back into the drama. I thoroughly enjoyed the cast chorus version of “How to Save a Life.”
The episode wasn’t entirely about the music though. The rest of the cast outside Callie’s dream world did a good job of propelling the storylines and turning in a superb episode for the series. As Christina, Alex and Meredith — the remaining original interns — discussed Callie’s plight, they made light of their lives in typical “Grey’s” black humor; apparently its fun working at “Seattle Grace Mercy Death,” where your significant others may go crazy, get cancer, get shot or get hit by a truck.
I liked that Addison returned for the episode; though “Private Practice” has finally established itself as a solo show, it’s still intrinsically connected to this world, and it felt good having Addison for a monumental episode. Sadly, she was fairly useless in the hour otherwise.
The “Grey’s Anatomy” musical has come and gone. It offered emotional resonance, and a few of the songs were superb enough to fix those that didn’t work. But more than anything, it served as a booster shot for a season that while solid, was somewhat lacking in oomph.