Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past six months, you know that Grey’s Anatomy is about to go where few shows have gone before — headfirst into the risky television institution known as the musical episode. To mark the occasion, Shonda Rhimes — aka the the fearless architect behind the much-hyped hour (Thursday 9/8c) — shared with TVLine her most pleasant surprise while shooting the episode, floats the possibility of a sequel and previews the Mer moment that’s been a long time coming.
TVLINE | When you embarked on this musical adventure, did you ever think, “This is either going to be an unqualified success or an all-out disaster”?
I did think that this could really suck. But I fought the network so hard for it that you have to put on some bravado and just go forward.
TVLINE | Any ground rules going in?
I didn’t want any jazz hands happening in my hospital. There are some shows that can really pull that off — the big Broadway thing. Our musical style is very set and very clear. And to do a musical episode, it had to lie within our musical style. And if it didn’t, it was just going to feel ridiculous.
TVLINE | Are you happy with the finished product?
I’m really pleased with it. It’s the first musical I’ve ever written. It’s the first musical episode we’ve ever done. I always say that Grey’s Anatomy is like the craziest graduate school I ever went to for learning how to work on television. Are there things I’d do differently? Absolutely. But in a lot of ways I wouldn’t do anything differently.
TVLINE | What would you do differently?
We discovered later than I would’ve liked that some people who claimed they couldn’t sing could really sing. And I probably would’ve played that up more. Played with more voices.
TVLINE | Who surprised you?
Justin Chambers really surprised me. He has an amazing voice. Chyler Leigh has an amazing voice. I think the only singing she had done prior to this was to her children. And Ellen Pompeo. Ellen’s voice is really pure and true, and she was so sure that she couldn’t sing and she really can.
TVLINE | Would you ever attempt this again on Grey’s or maybe Private Practice?
I really want to see Ellen sing [“Portions For Foxes”] by Rilo Kiley, which was the very first song we ever had in the pilot. I’ve already been saying I want to do it again. It was really tough on everybody though. We’ve been working on the episode since September. Everything from rehearsals to recording, it was a really difficult episode. I don’t know if we’ll ever do it again, but I already want to.
TVLINE | The crisis involving Callie obviously is at the heart of the episode, but the previews suggest it’s also an emotional hour for Meredith.
She’s been really tough this entire time about her own fertility issues. She’s been really stoic and strong and fairly positive about it. This is her weakest moment when she feels the randomness of the world.