Firsts: The first musical episode of a sci-fi TV show isn't what you think

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Jan 18, 2018, 12:30 PM EST

The past 20 years have seen an unusual trend on TV in which a series would feature a very special musical episode. What better place to explain characters bursting into spontaneous (yet intricate) numbers of song and dance than genre TV, where spells, technology, trickster demons, and supervillains can justify having the whole cast suddenly being in, well, a musical?

The CW's long-running Supernatural dipped its toes into the genre by featuring an all-female cast of kids performing a musical based on the male-centric Supernatural books (it's all very meta). The Flash and Supergirl also boasted a joint musical episode last season thanks to the Music Meister. Eli Stone had musical visions, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil did a metal episode, and then you had Galavant, which "aped" everything from The Little Mermaid to Hamilton, and it was awesome. Marvel's Agent Carter even featured a musical number in Season 2 while Peggy was knocked out at some point.

SYFY WIRE's Dany Roth takes a look at this particular subgenre, revealing which TV show was the very first to start the whole trend. While you might think it all began with Buffy the Vampire Slayer's excellent "Once More, With Feeling," it was actually another badass female character who "planted the flag" into the musical episode genre three years earlier on Feb. 2, 1998: Xena: Warrior Princess.


Created by Rob Tapert, Xena: Warrior Princess aired for six seasons between 1995 and 2001. "The Bitter Suite" was the 12th episode of the show's third season, which earned two Emmy Awards nominations for Best Song: one for regular series composer Joseph LoDuca for "The Love of Your Love," and the other for LoDuca and Dennis Spiegel for "Hearts Are Hurting." "The Bitter Suite" proved to be so successful that Xena would return to the musical genre two years later in the Season 5 episode "Lyre, Lyre, Hearts on Fire."

Which genre TV musical episode was your favorite?

Additional material by Nathalie Caron.