'Awake,' 'Walking Dead,' 'New Girl,' 'Parenthood': EW TV Jukebox
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, andthe 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.
Watch it! “No Olympics” isn’t currently online, but you can hear “Oh L’Amour” on Erasure’s official site and watch snippets of the scene on IFC’s Portlandia blog.
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!
Watch it! Full eps of Eastbound and Down are only available to HBO Go subscribers, but you can hear “Egyptian” in all its whistling glory on The Bangles’ official site.
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.
The song: Cat Power, “Maybe Not”
The episode: “Pilot” (101)
The hook: Chan Marshall’s piano meditation made for a thematically appropriate complement to this complicated “Real or not?” dreamworld drama about Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs), a man whose life was split in two by a car accident. In the waking world, his wife survived instead of his son. When Michael went to sleep, he was transported to a reality in which his son had lived but not his wife. Marshall’s words, “There’s a dream that I see, I pray it can be,” portrayed the bittersweetness of Michael’s fractured existence as he made love to his wife in this state of limbo. Shuttling back and forth between the worlds, Michael echoed Marshall’s notion that “We all do what we can so we can do just one more thing. We can all be free… with your mind.”
Watch it! To sleep, perchance to dream? The scene begins around 23:24 on Awake‘s Hulu. See what Ken Tucker thought of the intricate premiere in his review.
The song: Lynda Kay, “Jack & Coke”
The episode: “Watching the Detectives” (308)
The hook: When music supervisor Greg Sill wanted to portray the down-and-out mental state of Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), he turned to honky-tonk chanteuse Kay. As Raylan sat in the bar he’s lived above since his break-up with Winona (Natalie Zea), Kay sang this alcoholic anthem in the background, proving nothing mixes with “Jack & Coke” quite like steel-guitar sadness. You could hear the desperation in Kay’s voice, and indeed see it in Raylan’s eyes, atop the lyrics, “Well, I wanna get drunk tonight… I don’t care if it ain’t right, just give me a Jack & Coke. I got a scratch that needs itching, and a thirst that needs quenchin’. So shut up with your bitchin’ and pour me a Jack and Coke.”
Watch it! “Watching the Detectives” isn’t available in full online, but you can read Justified executive producer Graham Yost’s behind-the-scenes take on the episode in his interview with Mandi Bierly, then head over to the show’s official blog and watch Kay perform the song.
BEING HUMAN (BBC America)
The song: Henry’s Funeral Shoe, “Dog Scratched Ear”
The episode: “Being Human 1955” (402)
The hook: The Welsh power duo’s thrummer was spot-on as vampire-slaying werewolf Tom McNair (Michael Socha) snuck back into his house after a night of bloodsucker bashing. While Tom added a vamp’s teeth to his trophy box, frontman Aled Clifford sang, “Your actions are infectious like a dog scratched ear. The pleasure is high. You’ve been climbing walls, chewing up time, looking for joy when there’s none to find.” Philip John, who directed this episode, explained, “We liked the momentum [this song] brought — the freewheeling rock ‘n’ roll intoxication spoke precisely of Tom’s current and crusading obsession with ridding the world of vampires.”
Watch it!BBC America doesn’t have full episodes of Being Human available online, but you can hear “Dog Scratched Ear” on Henry’s Funeral Shoe’s official site.
NEW GIRL (Fox)
The song: Beach House, “Take Care”
The episode: “Injured” (115)
The hook: The Baltimore indie outfit’s heartwarming tune was the cherry on top of the quirkfest sitcom’s most poignant episode yet. After a game of flag football went awry, Nick’s (Jake Johnson) minor injury turned into a major cancer scare, forcing the gang to ponder the big questions in life… and bust out some freestyle rap (this is still New Girl!). A night of heavy drinking led to bucket listing and sleeping on the beach. The roommates dragged themselves to the hospital in support of Nick and even paid for his ultrasound since Nick didn’t have health insurance. Right after Nick learned he wasn’t dying of cancer, “Take Care” played, voicing the roommates’ promise to each other: “I’ll take care of you, if you ask me to.” I thought this was a comedy. Why am I crying?!
Watch it! “Injured” will be online March 14, and you can read about the surprisingly emotional ep in our recap and listen to “Take Care” on YouTube.
COUGAR TOWN (ABC)
The song: Benjamin Francis Leftwich, “Pictures”
The episode: “Lover’s Touch” (303)
The hook: Despite a ridiculous beginning (befitting the self-professed worst-named show on TV), the Feb. 28 installment came to a touching conclusion. Travis (Dan Byrd) fractured his skull dogboarding — yes, it’s exactly what you think it is — so mom Jules (Courteney Cox) watched him like a hawk and embarrassed him like only a mother can. As he became annoyed, she told him emphatically (and amusingly), “When you’re 80, and I’m telling everyone that I’m 90 and getting away with it, by the way, I will still lay awake at night in the nursing home where we live together waiting for you to get home.” Leftwich’s ditty was just delicate enough to linger in the background without being overbearing — something Jules is slowly learning how to do as her son grows up.
Watch it! Motherly love prevails at 18:32 on Hulu. And be sure to check out Breia Brissey’s take on the episode.
HAWAII FIVE-0 (CBS)
The song: The Swell Season, “Love That’s Bigger”
The episode: “Lekio (Radio)” (218)
The hook: It was a family affair on Feb. 27 when James Caan guest starred alongside his son Scott. Caan played Tony Archer, an ex-bomb expert from New York City who retired to Hawaii, crossing paths with the Five-0 when his best friend was murdered. Archer hilariously ribbed bickering partners McGarrett and Danno (Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan), but there was also a lot of heart under all that snarking, and the Once folksters’ soaring song cut right to it as Archer solved the crime, finding justice for his friends’ daughter.
Watch it! See the softer side of of Sonny Corleone at 40:04 on Hawaii Five-0‘s official site.
A GIFTED MAN (CBS)
The song: James Morrison, “One Life”
The episode: “In Case of Heart Failure” (116)
The hook: Viewers will be very disappointed indeed if A Gifted Man isn’t renewed given the season-ending relationship cliffhanger between doctors Michael (Patrick Wilson) and Kate (Rachelle Lefevre) last Friday. Kate struggled against her feelings for Michael, whom she had kisses episodes back while attempting to save her marriage. In the last moments of season 1, Kate revealed that her husband was not taking a job in Texas and that she was staying in New York (good news) to work on her marriage (bad news). Before Michael could say anything, a patient was brought into the clinic (bad news), but Kate asked him to help her lend a hand (good news?). Underscoring all this, the raspy Rugby, England, singer-songwriter urged, “I’ve got one life, and I’m gonna live it.” Note to Michael: That’s what we in the biz call a rallying cry.
Watch it! Keep on L-I-V-I-N at 40:36 on CBS’s official show page.
JANE BY DESIGN (ABC Family)
The song: Andrew Belle, “Open Your Eyes”
The episode: “The End of the Line” (110)
The hook: Everything was on the line, literally, during the spring finale of this fashion house dramedy. An unexpectedly bittersweet moment arose when heroine Jane Quimby’s (Erica Dasher) work frenemy India Jordain (India de Beaufort) got her long-awaited comeuppance for all the the wrong reasons. After months of scheming and sabotaging, India took took the fall when Jane suspected her to be the mole who was stealing designs for a competitor. The girls’ boss Gray Chandler Murray (Andie MacDowell) trusted newbie Jane enough to fire her long-time employee India on the spot. Belle’s anthem swelled as India was sent out the door. If only Jane and Gray could hear Belle’s plea to “open your eyes.” It turned out India wasn’t the mole after all!
Watch it! When it comes to fashion and life, sometimes you’re in and sometimes — like India at 31:50 on Jane‘s Hulu — you’re out.
The song: “Make You Feel My Love,” originally by Bob Dylan
The episode: “My Brother’s Wedding” (318)
The hook: It wasn’t a six-minute, rain-soaked reunion like the last time the show appeared in Jukebox, but that didn’t make it any less powerful. Dylan’s 1997 swooner has been covered by Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, and most recently Adele. For Parenthood, it got the gospel treatment as bohemian couple Crosby (Dax Shepard) and Jasmine (Joy Bryant) finally said “I do.” While conflict and sadness (Crosby rescinding his invitation to let his brother be his best man, Julia’s lingering sadness over an adoption gone awry) dominated much of the episode, this moment was all about love and reconciliation. The family united in their happiness for the newlyweds, and the lyrics about being there for someone during life’s hard times were fitting. After some LMFAO-inspired dancing, “Are You Ready Yet?”, by Clare Bowditch featuring Gotye, provided a beautiful send-off as Crosby and Jasmine departed for their honeymoon.
Watch it! Can you feel it? You will at 24:02 on Parenthood‘s Hulu.
THE LYING GAME (ABC Family)
The song: Kari Kimmel, “Black”
The episode: “Weekend Of Living Dangerously” (119)
The hook: Though Taylor Swift’s anti-bullying banjo plucker “Mean” made an appearance in the dramatic season finale, a more intimate moment from the Jan. 27 episode caught our attention. Uptight police officer Dan Whitehorse (Tyler Christopher) had been a one-note character throughout the first season of the identity-swapping twin teen soap. Finally, 19 episodes in, he got a moment of legitimate depth and allure. Set to Floridian Kimmel’s “Black Velvet”-style strumming, Dan explained to ex-girlfriend Theresa Lopez (Yara Martinez ) why he has been carrying the chip on his shoulder for all these years. The fire crackled before them, the heat turned up, and the sultry song showed that Dan had gotten his mojo back.
Watch it! “Weekend of Living Dangerously” is no longer online in full, but you can hear “Black” on Kimmel’s Band Camp page.