Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Flash - Duet

I had been advocating on Twitter for a musical episode of "The Flash" since about the beginning.  I was aware for obvious reasons that Joe (Jesse L. Martin) could sing.  As an avid Disney channel movie watcher of a certain era, I also knew that Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) could sing.  I assumed the rest could too. (Nice people later pointed out to me that Grant Gustin had been on "Glee", that there had been a musical episode of "Ed", and of course, with my Disney movie experience, I knew about Victor Garber. And then, for a side project, Jesse L. Martin, Rick Cosnett, and Carlos Valdes sang the Firefly theme song (video here) and I was all in.  Oh, who  am I kidding, I had already been in. 
I do not believe that every show needs a musical episode.  I think more shows should think seriously about doing on.  Or coming up with an excuse to get them to sing.  "Ground Floor" and "Ally McBeal" never did an actual musical episode. But both shows made use of the singing talents of their cast members in ways that advanced the plot.  And yes, speaking of "Ally McBeal", I'm a little sad "Supergirl" didn't follow my advice sooner.  (Also, you may recall that Jesse L. Martin guested on "Ally McBeal", and I would have love to have seen Martin and Flockhart together again.  Ah well.) 
So, when Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin (along with Stephen Amell) did a joint interview with Conan O'Brien who asked them about the fan desire for a musical episode, and Benoist said she didn't know if there was fan outcry, I might have tweeted at her that hello, there was.  (I assume this question was planted since the episode was already in the works.)
Anyway, I was excited about the musical episode, even though I was a little bored with "The Flash", and their constant mucking with the timeline.  "Supergirl" I remain more attached to, although this year's Kara tries to be a reporter even though her boss is mean had, in my opinion, been a terrible waste of Ian Gomez. 
But singing. 
Making use of Darren Criss as the Music Meister, he whammied Kara on "Supergirl" causing Mon-El and J'onn to track him to Central City, where it turns out he whammies Barry too and they collapse but both wake up in a old school musical where they work as singers in a Club run by a dude named Cutter, in case you didn't think that there might be danger in the musical dream world. They hammer Kara's love of "Wizard of Oz" to remind you why all the characters in this world look like people that Kara and Barry know, Joe, Merlin, Iris, Mon-El, Winn, Cisco, and Doc are all there.  If you think I'm still miffed that Caitlin wasn't - you might be right.  There is at least a passing mention that HR can sing, so I'm guessing time and/or budget constraints were the issue, but I think they could have tightened up the Wally, J'onn, and Cisco capture the bad guy plot and saved us all some time for more songs. 
So, Kara sings "Moon River".  The Music Meister leads the club members, including alt-Cisco and alt-Winn in a group number of "Put a Little Love in Your Heart". Kara and Grant get kidnapped by alt-Doc and alt-Joe to find their daughter, who turns out to be alt-Iris who has been hooking up with alt-Mon-El, which throws both our superheroes who have both just kind of ended things with their significant others. Kara and Barry convince them to tell their parents about their love, and Kara and Barry each follow their alt-love back to witness this.  The dads, because alt-Mon-El is of course Cutter aka alt-Malcolm.  After singing "More I Cannot Wish From You" (trading verses, that's right Garber, Martin and Barrowman - together!), the dads hug their kids and then go off to declare war.  Oblivious to the oncoming war, Kara and Grant ask alt-Winn if he can help them with the prior instruction they received to do an original number, and he presents them with a song that any "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" fan will recognize as having the wry sensibility of one Rachel Bloom.  The song is called "Super Friend" and in addition to having references about not mucking with the timeline, it also is incredibly fun, and the characters go full on dancing on furniture and tapping throughout.  
This is what I love about musical episodes, they are often a bright spot.  Also, it's why I tend to like Barry better when he hangs with Kara, even when they are griping about their love lives, Kara is so bright, that she lightens Barry up.  (I think "The Flash"/"Arrow" crossovers reinforce what a serious, boring doom and gloom dude Oliver is compared to "The Flash" team, but on the peppy hopeful spectrum, "Supergirl is definitely the peppiest of the three.) 
Shots break out as the previously mentioned war breaks out, dream Kara and Barry race out and realize that without their powers they are not much help and both get shot.  And of course, dying in this dream would mean they die in real life. Back in Central City, Caitlin notes their dropping vitals, and Iris and Mon-El, with a nudge from the now captured Music Meister, try out the true love's kiss methodology and save them.  
And the Music Meister reveals that his point was to teach Kara and Barry that even superheroes need to get saved sometimes, and that's what love is about. 
But, you might have noticed, gee, the hour's not up yet, but we...seem to be done?  And if you had been stalking interviews you might have recalled that there was supposed to be Benji Pasek and Justin Paul song (the now Oscar winning duo who also worked on "Dear Evan Hansen").  So, perhaps it was less of a surprise to you when Barry pulled out his phone and triggered some background music so he could sing "Runnin' Home to You" which was sappy but still nice, especially as a lead up to Barry re-proposing to Iris.  (It also reminded me a bit of "You Will Be Found" although it's not like the idea of people being there for you isn't littered across the musical landscape. This isn't a knock, more a statement that this song felt very Pasek and Paul to me.) 
So, am I happy?  Sure. Overall it was great, and certainly proved that the cast has the chops to do this. I think that it suffered from trying to not be an all out musical episode.  It also had a jukebox musical feel, in that it was clear that the songs were written by different people and had different sensibilities, and not always in ways that made sense.  
But in the end, for all my quibbles, if all we got out of this was the "Super Friend" song, it was worth it.