'American Idol,' 'Glee,' 'Smash': EW's TV Jukebox
Rainy days and Mondays may have gotten Karen Carpenter down, but the rain washes away old heartbreaks for at least a couple of our favorite characters in this latest TV Jukebox.
A pathetic fallacy of a rainstorm made for a new lease on love in this week’s How I Met Your Mother, and a downpour was key to an impromptu proposal on Parenthood — though, thankfully, not on Cougar Town; otherwise they’d still be cleaning up the wet toilet paper!
Elsewhere, crazy dreams came true on Smash and American Idol, paint went splat for science’s sake on CSI, and sexytimes abounded on Nikita and Being Human. That’s without mentioning the “show tunes” from Glee, House of Lies, Private Practice, Body of Proof, Fringe, and Hart of Dixie. Click through to see our picks. (Warning for those still catching up on DVR: SPOILERS ahead!)
COUGAR TOWN (ABC)
The song: Ed Sheeran, “Fall”
The episode: “Ain’t Love Strange?” (301)
The hook: The long-delayed season 3 premiere of ABC’s wine-guzzling sitcom ended with a surprise proposal. Grayson (Josh Hopkins) expertly set up the moment, making it look like teen hooligans had “sharked” Jules’ (Courteney Cox) car with toilet paper and sending her on what turned out be an elaborate mission to prove that a.) she is extremely predictable and b.) he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. The delicate ditty from the Brit-winning singer-songwriter (see him also in this week’s Singles Swap in EW’s print edition) underscored this poignant moment, offsetting Grayson’s good-hearted trickery with a touch of sweetness and getting Cougar Town as close to a fairytale ending as possible.
The song: “Crazy Dreams,” originally by Carrie Underwood
The episode: “The Callback” (102)
The hook: Strains of “Let Me Be Your Star” from the episodic musical’s premiere were still hanging in the air at the onset of episode 2, but it was time to make a decision about who would play Marilyn. The narrative shifted from bright-eyed Broadway newbie Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee) to hard-working chorine Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty), exposing her vulnerability and undeniable talent. Truly, this was Ivy’s episode and her moment to step into the spotlight. After she got the part, she performed an unadorned performance of Underwood’s underdog anthem that was pitch-perfect, just like its powerhouse singer.
AMERICAN IDOL (Fox)
The song: “Nice and Slow,” originally by Usher
The episode: “Final Judgment, Part 1” (1113)
The hook: Growling guitarist Phil Phillips was feeling the pressure as he strode across a Vegas stage to learn his fate from Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler. It had been an up-and-down week, but Phil hoped his sing-for-your-life performance — a Dave-Matthews-meets-Ray-LaMontagne-style reboot of Usher’s R&B 1998 hit — would seal the deal. Indeed, it did. Phil’s unexpectedly sultry slow jam proved his versatility and showed off that gravelly goodness he’ll bring to the top 24.
NEXT: Kicking butt and rocking out on CSI, Nikita, Being Human, and House of Lies
The song: Audra Mae & The Almighty Sound, “Ne’er Do Wells”
The episode: “See Red” (1214)
The hook: Julie “Fin” Finlay (Elisabeth Shue) — or the “blood whisperer,” as former colleague D.B. Russell (Ted Danson) dubbed her — was fresh from an anger management course when she arrived in Las Vegas on CSI‘s Feb. 15 episode. In the most bad-ass of a series of lab scenes (the first was set to the moody “The Keeper (Banks Remix)” by Bonobo Feat Andreya Triana), Fin proved her prowess as a technician using a white tarp, several bottles of paint, and a couple of truly unfortunate dummies, violently tearing into them to test out blood splatter patterns. Talk about art therapy!
NIKITA (The CW)
The song: Heavy Young Heathens, “Jackie Come Lately”
The episode: “Rogue” (214)
The hook: Now take the rage Fin expelled above and add a few layers of sweat and sexual tension, and you’ve got the in-your-face musical entrée to Nikita‘s Feb. 10 episode. To the jolting Sunset Strip sound of the Heathens, Nikita (Maggie Q) and Michael (Shane West) cast blows and sizzling glances at each other during a round of full-contact sparring. The pounding of Robert Mardo’s bass drum echoed the characters’ punches as his frontman brother Aron sang, “I see myself when I look at you. I’ll give my love if you want me too.” The lyrics may seem delicate on paper, but the distorted reverb doesn’t leave any room for confusion — this is a song for cracking skulls.
Watch it! Sweat and sex permeates the room at 1:06 on Nikita‘s CW page.
BEING HUMAN (Syfy)
The song: The Love Me Nots, “The End of the Line”
The episode: “Mama Said There’d Be Decades Like These” (206)
The hook: Perhaps the unconsummated tension above left you wanting more. Look no further. Just as spare, surging rock ‘n’ roll is the music world’s proxy for unbounded sexuality, vampires are science fiction’s toothsome translation. Being Human brought blood suckers and head bangers together this Monday when nightwalker Aidan (Sam Witwer) gave in to his basest impulses and got drunk on lady blood. The insistent bass-and-drum thump of the Phoenix garage quartet’s song played underneath the pulse of the victim’s draining blood. At the end of the day, it was about existing in the moment, and who better to do that than a member of the animalistic undead?
Watch it! “Mama Said” Syfy hasn’t posted Monday’s episode online yet, but you can hear “The End of the Line” on The Love Me Nots’ official site.
HOUSE OF LIES (Showtime)
The song: Scene of Action, “Don’t Question My Sense of Loyalty”
The episode: “Our Descent into Los Angeles” (106)
The hook: It should have been a down week for Marty Kaan (Don Cheadle) and his crew of jet-setting corporate fixers. Instead, Marty’s return to his home base of L.A. brought domestic drama aplenty. Most notably, Marty’s cross-dressing-prone son Roscoe (Donis Leonard Jr.) was accused of sexual harassment by one of his classmates. (Did I mention they’re in elementary school? Kids these days!) A meeting with Roscoe’s principal turned into an ambush for Marty, who is admittedly not the most attentive father. In the end, Marty handled this crisis like all the others — with unflappable aplomb — until the truth (Roscoe’s classmate actually kissed him) surfaced. Problem solved, this rumbler kicked up, and Marty was bound for the road.
Watch it! House of Lies isn’t available online, but you can hear the song on Scene of Action’s YouTube.
NEXT: Tunes to test relationship by on Glee, Private Practice, Parenthood, and Fringe
The song: “I Will Always Love You,” made famous by Whitney Houston
The episode: “Heart” (313)
The hook: Though the super-fun B-52’s party classic “Love Shack” provided much-needed relief at the end of a dramatic Valentine’s night Glee, it was the heart-hurting performance of “I Will Always Love You” that demonstrated the show at its powerful, tear-jerking best. Mercedes (Amber Riley) had just broken up with dependable, unexciting boyfriend Shane (LaMarcus Tinker) after cheating on him with Sam (Chord Overstreet). She realized she had far too much emotional baggage to love anyone properly and ended it with Sam. Whitney Houston’s power-note-hitting 1992 cover of Dolly Parton’s original was a soul-stirring choice for this moment, which Riley nailed. Giving it even more emotional resonance, the episode aired just days after Whitney Houston’s shocking death (though it was taped previously).
The song: Death Cab for Cutie, “Transatlanticism”
The episode: “Remember Me, I’m The One Who Loves You” (317)
The hook: The title track from the Seattle indie-emo kings’ 2003 album may be more than eight years old, but its urgency has not been abated by time. Music supervisor Liza Richardson allowed the epic track to play nearly in its entirety as the textured final act to the season’s penultimate episode. Frontman Ben Gibbard and guitarist Chris Walla’s meditation on love, longing, and loss — girded by the insistent refrain, “I need you so much closer” — grew and developed as the scenes shuttled between various members of the Braverman clan. First, with quiet melancholy as Julia learned she would not be taking home the adopted baby she already loved as her own, then as Amber (Mae Whitman) stopped fighting to be grown-up for a moment and allowed herself to fall into the arms of her mother, Sarah (Lauren Graham). The song soared to its crescendo as Jasmine (Joy Bryant) summoned her courage to reveal her feelings for sometime boyfriend/baby daddy Crosby (Dax Shephard), reuniting their family and setting up a possible wedding in the season finale. Keep hold of those tissues you pulled out Tuesday. You’re sure to need them.
Watch it! The epic, six-minute denouement begins at 37:18 on Parenthood‘s Hulu.
PRIVATE PRACTICE (ABC)
The song: Perfume Genius, “All Waters”
The episode: “You Break My Heart” (515)
The hook: Crossover episode! As Sam (Taye Diggs) dealt with the news of his sister Corinne’s (Anika Noni Rose) bipolar disorder back in L.A., Cooper (Paul Adelstein) and his son Mason (Griffin Gluck) traveled to Seattle so Mason’s mom Erica (A.J. Langer) could undergo life-or-death brain surgery. The Emerald City artist’s contemplative track washed over the characters in waves as Corinne grappled with her diagnosis, Cooper waited anxiously with Mason to learn Erica’s fate, and Cooper’s new wife Charlotte (KaDee Strickland) put on a brave face for all of them. Later in the episode, when Erica awoke, alive and able of body, “Rivers and Homes” by J. Viewz struck an appropriately triumphant note.
Watch it! The waiting game begins at 25:14 on Private Practice‘s Hulu.
The song: Karen Elson, “The Ghost Who Walks”
The episode: “A Better Human Being” (413)
The hook: Tripped-out timelines and alternative universes sure do make for complicated love lives! Former model (and Jack White ex) Karen Elson’s haunting tune played Feb. 17 as Walter (John Noble) tested Olivia’s (Anna Torv) hair for clues as to why she was experiencing memories from her relationship with Peter (Joshua Jackson). The complication? Those memories were from an alternate timeline version of Olivia. Walter hoped to find the forces at work behind these memories — were they Peter’s projections or something else? Elson’s lyrics (“She looked at him with clean eyes. He softly spoke, ‘My dear, the love has died'”) offered an especially eerie insight to Peter’s moral dilemma: Was he right to encourage Olivia to embrace memories that technically aren’t hers, or would he be clinging to a ghost version of the Olivia he truly loved?
NEXT: One door closes on Body of Proof, two more open on Hart of Dixie and How I Met Your Mother
BODY OF PROOF (ABC)
The song: Diane Birch, “Rewind”
The episode: “Occupational Hazards” (215)
The hook: Tuesday’s episode focused on the fallout of secrets and lies. This week’s vic left behind a pregnant wife and clear evidence that he had been keeping her in the dark about the last year of his life. Meanwhile, Chief Medical Examiner Kate Murphy (Jeri Ryan) made a bold decision in her handling of a murder case involving tainted drugs — and it backfired. By the end of the hour, Kate had been demoted, the victim’s cause of death had been determined, and Megan (Dana Delany) delivered a letter he had left for his wife before dying. It proved he was the man she thought he was, but she (like Kate) was stuck yearning for the ability to press rewind on life because, as Birch sang, “Days are passing by, and all the leaves are changing too, but time won’t change the things unsaid.”
Watch it! Hindsight is 20/20 at 39:18 on Body of Proof‘s Hulu.
HART OF DIXIE (The CW)
The song: The Band Perry, “All Your Life”
The episode: “Snowflakes & Soulmates” (115)
The hook: The last time we visited Bluebell, Zoe (Rachel Bilson) and Wade (Wilson Bethel) were on the verge of gaining some romantic traction. Oh look, here we are again! Late in this week’s episode, Zoe had broken up with her vet boyfriend and encountered rejection from her father. Those endings set the stage for a potential beginning for her and Wade. But first, there were dozens of macaroons (returned from Zoe’s father) to share with her good friend Lavon (Cress Williams), who had also just gone through a break-up. As The Band Perry’s straightforward banjo plucker demonstrated, some times it’s the simple things in life. It would appear that Zoe’s needs are getting simpler by the longer she stays in Alabama, and that‘s a good thing, y’all.
Watch it! Sweet simplicity starts at 39:07 on Hart of Dixie‘s official site.
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS)
The song: Florence + The Machine, “Shake It Out”
The episode: “No Pressure” (717)
The hook: How better to end this week’s Jukebox than with a ray of light shining through the clouds? “No Pressure” opened and closed with a rain storm: First as Ted (Josh Radnor) told “Mother” he loved her for the first time, then right after he uttered those same three little words to Robin (Cobie Smulders). When Robin did not reciprocate, Ted decided to drown his sorrows at McLaren’s. Soon enough, he realized that ending it with Robin signaled the first time in years that his world was full of possibility. And as we knew from the opening scene, it was only from heartbreak that he would find the love of his life. As Florence Welch undulated toward the song’s chanting climax, Ted walked out into the rain and was met by a flood of bright yellow umbrellas — the very same shade of yellow Ted and “Mother” would stand under years later when their relationship went from like to love. The moment was visually breathtaking, underpinned by the song’s rousing, hopeful chorus, and an all-around spirit lifter.
Watch it! Robin moves out, Ted moves on at 19:40 on HIMYM‘s official site.