Once Upon a Time, a show with deep roots in Disney canon, are tackling something huge in 2017 — a musical episode!
Forget stunt casting announcements and drop your bets on when Once Upon a Time will introduce Moana! The ABC hit will venture into familiar Disney territory with a musical episode in spring 2017. But why?
The cast is not lacking the musical chops to pull off the episode in question. Jennifer Morrison, Josh Dallas, and Ginnifer Goodwin can all carry a tune. Colin O’Donoghue and Robert Carlyle are at the ready with their guitars. Lana Parrilla and her wicked sister Rebecca Mader both have pipes.
So, what’s the problem? Why should Once Upon a Time steer clear of a musical episode? Because it’s season 6 and it feels like a Hail Mary rather than a new adventure.
There are few shows where a musical interlude makes sense. Glee and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend have showstoppers built into their framework. Supergirl and The Flash not only have the talent to pull it off, but a villain in the source material to help it naturally materialize.
But Once Upon a Time never needed a catalyst. Nor did it need the inherent framework to support this type of episode. Once has all the right resources at its disposal. Instead of capitalizing on them, Once took forgettable detours into Frozen and Camelot storylines. It dragged the audience to hell and back. And, most importantly, it picks up and drops storylines at whim.
A musical this late in the series, when the show has plenty of other issues to resolve, seems out of place. Like it or not, the musical episode is set to materialize in season 6.
Alternate realities is where the show truly shines. The immense talent of the ensemble is undeniable. When they are given the opportunity to play outside their characters, the show takes on a new life.
If the musical episode were to take place in an alternate reality, then the show handicaps itself for realm hopping too often in one season.
A curse then! What if a curse takes over the town and suddenly the only way to communicate is to sing? “Shattered Sight” brought out the darkest side of everyone in town. Another curse might make them run for their tap shoes and top hats!
Even if there are ways for the show to work a musical into the universe, it does not mean it should.
Given the forced storytelling of past seasons (ahem, the Underworld), every possible scenario for music to enter this realm becomes more and more ridiculous to justify.
Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis already claim they have no business writing a musical. So why introduce it to the world in the first place?
Did we miss out on some important element of Snow White’s story because she never sang to the animals? No! Is Rumpel’s tale somehow going to be justified with show-stopping ballad while he spins gold? Definitely not.
Additionally, Once is not lacking when it comes to music.
In fact, Once Upon a Time has a rich musical element. From the high seas to the ships that sail them, the score behind the scenes drives the show as much as the characters. Take Regina’s themes, for example.
— Allison Geatches (@allisongmuse) February 8, 2017
The score is a detailed and under appreciated element of the series. Except for one major faux paux that spoiled Neal’s return, the people behind the music of the show go largely unrecognized.
A musical at this juncture seems out of place. And for a universe where timelines, family trees, and magic make little to no sense whatsoever, that is saying something.
Once Upon a Time season 6 returns Sunday, March 5 on ABC.