It hasn’t happened yet, but don’t be shocked if “The Walking Dead” takes a break from the carnage for zombies to harmonize to “Monster Mash.” Having TV characters turn the small screen into a cabaret may be a hot trend, but it’s not necessarily new:
“One Day at a Time” (1976): Before marrying Eddie Van Halen, Valerie Bertinelli dressed up as Elton John for a New Year’s Eve episode, mugging her way through “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” as duet partner Mackenzie Phillips prayed that fans of the Mamas and the Papas weren’t watching.
“The Love Boat” (1977): The Pacific Princess cruised down memory lane with Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Van Johnson and Cab Calloway aboard for a tap-dancing, ballad-busting trip that must’ve been booked by Busby Berkeley.
“Taxi” (1980): Marilu Henner dragged the boys away from their card game for “Lullaby of Broadway,” capped with a tuxedo-clad dance line and Andy Kaufman tiptoeing by with sparklers. Just another reason this remains one of TV’s most heartfelt sitcoms.
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (2001): Sarah Michelle Gellar can kick and punch with the best of them, but she couldn’t quite keep up with the rest of the gang in this otherwise winning musical episode featuring original songs from show creator Joss Whedon.
“The Office” (2002): Sorry, patriots. The British version edges out the American facsimile, if only for Ricky Gervais’ painfully awful dance routine that made drunken relatives at your wedding reception look like the Joffrey Ballet.
“Family Guy” (2006): Seth MacFarlane does fine work moonlighting as a Frank Sinatra impersonator, but his greatest tribute to 1950s music is giving Peter Griffin a chance to shine in “Shipoopi,” a formerly forgettable ditty from “The Music Man.” In the words of composer Meredith Willson: That’s fancy cookin’!
“American Horror Story: Asylum” (2013): The only scary thing about this version of “The Name Game” is how Jessica Lange was able to temporarily shed her role as a sadistic nun and pass as a go-go girl, never once taking a break to sip from the water bottle of youth.
“Mad Men” (2014): Don Draper needs a drink after envisioning the late Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) singing “The Best Things in Life Are Free” in a Technicolor treat. I’ll have what Don’s having.