Canoe dancing, cocaine overdoses, and car crashes were just some of TV’s strange scenarios made momentous by music these past two weeks. As some shows concluded their seasons, and others just got started, we found “show tunes” from past Jukebox favorites A Gifted Man, Parenthood, Cougar Town, Hawaii Five-0, The Lying Game, and New Girl, plus new entries from Eastbound and Down, Justified, Portlandia, Jane By Design, The Walking Dead, Awake, and the British version of Being Human. Check out our picks below. (Warning for those still catching up on DVR: SPOILERS ahead!)
The song: Erasure, “Oh L’amour”
The episode: “No Olympics” (215)
The hook: Behold an image of man communing with nature! To the sound of ’80s electropop? Fred Armisen’s fumbling canoe dance at the top of the sketch show’s March 2 episode was a prime example of the delightful weirdness that Armisen and Carrie Brownstein capture about “The City of Roses” each week. Armisen, Brownstein, and series co-creator Jonathan Krisel explained that they became obsessed with this clip and thought that pairing a tranquil nature-centric moment with unnatural synth music would make for a hilarious juxtaposition. We agree.
EASTBOUND AND DOWN (HBO)
The song: The Bangles, “Walk Like an Egyptian”
The episode: “Chapter 16” (303)
The hook: The ’80s and cocaine references go together like peanut butter and jelly, so it was only appropriate that minor league baseball player Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) leaned on both after his coach benched him in favor of Kenny’s own protégé. Desperate not to feel old, Kenny and his friend Shane (Jason Sudeikis) did massive amounts of blow, but the music wasn’t “coke-worthy” enough. Kenny headed over the his iPod and began scrolling through until he landed on this 1987 gem. Perhaps Kenny was a little too excited? Somewhere between pharaoh arms and what could only be described as chicken dancing, he completely missed the fact that Shane was suffering a massive, drug-induced heart attack. Gong!
THE WALKING DEAD (AMC)
The song: Wye Oak, “Civilian”
The episode: “18 Miles Out” (210)
The hook: Between infidelity and insubordination, Dead‘s hero Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) has had a tempestuous couple of seasons with former partner Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal), to say the least. At the end of the show’s Feb. 26 episode, the two reached a temporary détente on the condition that Shane would fall in line with Rick’s leadership. As they drove down the road, the somber first notes of the Baltimore indie rockers’ track began to play. Sitting in the passenger seat, Shane spotted a zombie — one he’d seen earlier in the hour — trudging through a field completely alone. The moment underscored Shane’s own loneliness, mostly self-imposed, but the lyrics (“I don’t need another friend, when most of them I can barely keep up with”) and the reappearance of the walker also implied that Shane will never be able to passively follow Rick’s lead.
Watch it! “18 Miles Out” isn’t available online, but you can hear “Civilian” on Wye Oak’s official site. Darren Franich recapped the ep, and Clark Collis also chatted with creator Robert Kirkman about it.