Once Upon a Time finally aired its highly-anticipated musical episode “The Song in Your Heart.” And it was amazing! What else would you expect from your favorite Disney characters singing? But how does it stack up to other musical TV episodes?
Basically, Snow wished upon a star that Emma would have a happily ever after. This led to everyone breaking out in song. Now Snow and Charming could beat the Evil Queen through the power of love and song. Right?
Wrong. Turns out, the music was meant for Emma. Now she’d have her loved ones inside her her whole life. Back in the present, Emma realized that she had never truly been alone and that the songs were inside her heart all along. With that knowledge, she faced off against the Black Fairy and married Hook just before the Black Fairy’s spell was cast and the Final Battle began.
I loved the songs in “The Song in Your Heart,” especially “Revenge Is Gonna Be Mine,” and “Emma’s Theme.” They were fun and were really well done. “Emma’s Theme,” in particular, really showed more about Emma and her realizations that she could beat the Black Fairy and that she was never truly alone.
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The final song, “A Happy Beginning,” was also a really cute group number. It was exactly what you’d expect for a final, cheery number, though, so I loved that it had a dark twist when the Black Fairy’s spell descended right at the end. There were also some cheesy songs during the episode, like Snow and Charming’s number.
So how does “The Song in Your Heart” compare to other musical episodes? Overall, I liked Once Upon a Time‘s musical episode. But I do think it could have learned a thing or two from others (like Buffy). Here are some comparisons to other big TV musical episodes:
1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
When I think musical episodes, Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s “Once More with Feeling” is the first thing that comes to mind. Not only were the songs amazing, but they also had a purpose. The characters were cursed to sing. And as they sang, they revealed some of their deepest secrets. “Once More with Feeling” ended with all the characters in a completely different place than where they started and really pushed the plot forward. It would be hard to skip the episode and still really know what was going on the next week. It was essential. Once Upon a Time pushed the story forward and prepared Emma for the Final Battle, but it didn’t do it as well as Buffy and I feel like I wouldn’t have missed much if I just tuned in next week.
There also weren’t really any effects from the singing, other than the fact that they were, well, all just singing. With Buffy, they were trying to stop the curse that forced them to burst into song and defeat the demon. But with Once Upon a Time, it was just kind of happening.
“The Song in Your Heart” did feel a bit like a standalone episode. While Emma did prepare for the Final Battle, the episode was really for the fans who’d been waiting for a big musical.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. This is similar to Psych’s “The Musical” episode. The Psych episode was actually out of order from the rest of the season. But like Once Upon a Time, it was really a tribute to the fans. It had been promised and promised and had so much heart that it was still amazing despite the weaker plot. Plus Psych’s songs were super catchy.
Scrubs worked so well because it didn’t take itself too seriously. With “My Musical” having songs like “Everything Comes Down to Poo,” and “Guy Love,” Scrubs’ musical episode was just a good time. There were times when I thought Once Upon a Time did take itself too seriously. And some of the songs like “Powerful Magic” were a little too corny.
TV musicals also tend to have a hard time justifying why everyone is bursting into song. Scrubs explained the music away with a patient with an aneurysm. Obviously that wouldn’t work for Once Upon a Time, but I was hoping for a better explanation than just a wish they all forgot.
Like Scrubs, Community was a comedy, so it could get away with a musical episode more easily than some other shows. But what made “Regional Holiday Music” so great was that it was incredibly smart. It was a perfect parody while still having really catchy numbers. This was a great example of a standalone musical episode.
What did you think of Once Upon a Time’s musical episode? Was it better or worse than other TV musicals?
Once Upon a Time airs on Sundays at 8/7 c. on ABC. Like our Once Upon a Time Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of ABC)