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TV Shows We Wish Would Do A Musical Episode
The Debrief: We're a bit obsessed with BBC Three's new reality TV show South Side Story - not least because the drama's punctuated by the odd musical number. Here are some other TV shows that are just crying out for a musical episode...
Yes, 2014 was a vintage year for great drama, comedy and reality formats… but what TV REALLY needs is more people belting out a show tune as though it only just occurred to them.
We want spontaneous scissor-kicks and sequinned bowler hats. We want the constant, nervous threat that at any moment, we might be exposed to a soaring key change and have our hearts warmed. We want more musical episodes, goshdarnit – and until we get them, we can but dream…
Don’t Tell the Bride
Just imagine if Don’t Tell The Bride finished off its time on BBC Three once it moves online (don’t worry! It’s coming back on BBC One!) with a musical episode! IMAGINE. From the mother of the bride’s teary ballad of lost hope (refrain: ‘You daughter only gets married once so it’s a big thing, y’knoooow?’) to the artfully wobbly Hen Night Tango and final, cheery ensemble number He Knows Me Better Than I Know Myself (But We’re Renewing Our Vows In A Castle Next Year), the whole thing would be a riot.
Besides, for a show based entirely around people saying identical phrases at least 12 times an episode, writing choruses would be a piece of piss. And in the tradition of all musicals from the 1950s and 1960s being at least half an hour too long (if anyone actually knows how Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ends I’d love to find out), we could even continue beyond the big day and witness the wedding night, where the groom falls asleep in the bouncy castle without his pants on, and the bride spends a tearful night looking at origami decorations on Pinterest.
From the harrowing, Dickensian bleakness of the Soup Nazi queue (‘Please Sir, can I have some more?’) to the wardrobe of puffy shirts and white sneakers that would outfit the backing dancers as they stag leap across the counter at Monk’s coffee shop, Seinfeld would make a goddamn beautiful musical. All the raw material is there: Elaine’s little kicks could be the centrepiece of the choreography that ends the first half; Kramer’s famous sliding entrance would be amplified by simply sticking him on casters. Meanwhile, the number to accompany the gang’s infamous ‘contest’ would have more repressed sexual tension than a thousand tight-trousered Danny Zukos. And of course, the unlikely stand-out would be Frank Costanza, with heartfelt numbers Festivus for the Rest of Us and Serenity Now, during which a wire and harness would hoist him to swing merrily above the audience like a rogue marble rye.
We’ve had the porn parody, so a musical could only be the next logical step for everyone’s favourite on-screen sofa spuds. Obviously, to stay faithful to the format, we’d have to watch them watching other musicals – Reverend Kate belting her way through the Cabaret score, or Sandy and Sandra in Brixton going the full Olivia Newton John in honour of their namesake. We’d have Steph and Dom trussed up in M&S basques and stockings for the Rocky Horror Show, and Leon and June melting hearts with their lovesick rendition of I Am 79-Going-On-80. And before long it’d transfer to the West End, where hoards of people would queue hours for the chance to see the surprise moment where hedge-headed ‘Silent Jay’ from the Wirral lets rip with a velvety-rich baritone to make angels weep. Whether surprise UKIP candidate Mr Michael would be allowed to return as one of the dancing Nazis from The Producers remains to be seen.
‘I’m a star! I’m on top! Somebody bring me some haaaaaaam.’ SEND IN THE DANCING HAMS. It’s been a little while now since 30 Rock was top of our to-watch list – long enough that its musical episode could simply be subtitled ‘That thing you loved before Parks and Rec, remember?’ It would barely need to be filmed either, just mashed together clips of the many, many musical moments from the show’s seven-season run. We’d open on Liz Lemon busting out some moves to Workin’ on my Night Cheese, cut to Kenneth duetting with the Muppet friends who live in his head, then to footage of Jenna on rollerskates for a Starlight Express spin on her ‘hit’ single Muffin Top, skip to Tracy’s video for Warewolf Bah Mitzvah, fondly revisit the Rural Juror musical, and then close with Kidney Now, the celeb charity single that made Band Aid 30 look culturally sensitive. 30 Rock’s already-flimsy fourth wall would shatter like a GE microwave door, and the whole thing would be tremendously meta. Or ‘meat-ahhh’. Bring back the dancing hams!
Take Me Out
Provided Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson are willing to license the rights to Fernando (and let’s face it, those guys aren’t fussy about taking a fast buck), the Take Me Out musical has all the makings of a modern-day Sweet Charity – with only *slightly* more misogynistic overtones. From Paddy McGuinness’ opening number, Let the Cheese See the Pickle, to a conveniently repurposed version of Roxanne (‘You don’t have to leave on your white light’) and a soft-rock rendition of something that sounds a bit like, but not exactly like, Franz Ferdinand’s hit of the same name*, it would be a magical tale of love, lust and longing with some of the most technically proficient pirouetting in nine-inch heels seen since Priscilla Queen of the Desert opened on Norwegian Cruise Line.
*Franz Ferdinand probably wouldn’t be as forthcoming with the copyright permissions, despite half the band now working in the baguette shop at Glasgow Central Station.
Keeping Up Appearances
We’ve been giddy and nostalgia-drunk over the 1990s revival for the past couple of years now, yet while everyone harps on about Clarissa Explains it All and Kelly Kapowski’s jean shorts, no one has thought to revive the fortunes of the once-loved staple of Sunday night viewing: Keeping Up Appearances. So let’s make it a ruddy musical! Half the cast are now dead or infirm, which is admittedly a problem, but Onslow and Daisy could probably just as easily be played by James Cordon and Sheridan Smith in a wig. Then all they’d need to do is set ‘Bouquet residence, the lady of the house speaking’ to a disco beat, and take some artistic license to make sure the Dishy Vicar gets a nude scene. You know it makes sense.
Musicals don’t just exist to make us happy. Sometimes they’re meant to be challenging and thought-provoking, or showcase the most miserable elements of the human condition so we can have a good cry, then go home and feel better about our own lives. It’s true of Blood Brothers, and it’d be true of Question Time: The Musical too. With the wise, stately air of Old Deuteronomy in Cats, David Dimbleby would preside over a musical duel between Nigel Farage dressed as the Child Catcher, and Russell Brand, dressed as… er, Fagin. The episode would climax with an almighty custard pie fight involving all main party leaders, and the hopes of the nation would be triumphantly restored as everyone shook hands and sang the ‘la la la la’ refrain from the end of Bugsy Malone. End scene.
Catch South Side Story on BBC iPlayer.
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