1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer - “Once More With Feeling”
Okay, maybe it was inevitable that I chose this as number one — I’ve already mentioned my devotion to all things Joss, and the play count for the soundtrack to this episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is well into the high double digits in my iTunes library (and that doesn’t include the times I’ve listened to the actual CD!). I can, however, completely justify putting this as number one.
First, there is a plausible reason for the singing, unlike many musicals which leave you wondering why the characters are singing rather than just saying what they want to say. I’m all for suspension of disbelief, but if there’s a reason for the singing, so much the better. Next, the singing not only furthers the story of the episode, but actually furthers the entire arc of the season. Much of what is revealed in the songs could not have been revealed in any other way that seemed natural, nor could it have been done so quickly. And the revelations have repercussions throughout the rest of the series. Okay, maybe it’s unfair to use that as a criteria when there’s no possibility of the others on this list fulfilling this criteria, but there’s more as well. The episode stands up quite well on its own.
I have actually shown the episode to some of my high school classes (most of whom have never seen Buffy before) and most of them have loved it. Finally, the soundtrack is, as hinted above, eminently singable and bears up well to multiple listening. Joss clearly understood the structure of musicals as well as the styles and pulled together an absolutely amazing episode.