Musicals have some very passionate fans. In our cynical times, no one attempts to do musicals except for Broadway. Recently, La La Land successfully brought the musical into modern times for the big screen, not to mention a live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast is killing it at the box office right now. But, La La Land is not the first to have a musical set in modern times. This has been done successfully before. Joss “da Gawd” Whedon did this with the seventh episode of the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called “Once More, With Feeling”. Besides this being an excellent episode of an excellent show, it worked for people who have never seen an episode of Buffy while still continuing some big story arcs in what could have been a disastrous episode. Well, trying its hand at musicals is this week’s episode of THE FLASH. Does it work? For the most part, but I had some reservations about it.
Picking up where Supergirl left off, the Music Meister (Darren Criss) arrives on Earth-1 to trap Barry (Grant Gustin) in the same hell he trapped Kara (Melissa Benoist): a 1930s gangster set musical as Kara and Barry both love musicals. With Barry and Kara trapped with no other option but to sing, Mon-El (Chris Wood) and J’onn J’onzz aka the Martian Manhunter (David Harewood), who both followed the Music Meister to Earth-1, work with Team Flash to find a way to save the two comatose heroes before their powers are drained to the point that they die.
The main reason this didn’t work for me is that I could tell the cast was singing over recordings of their performances. The words sometimes didn’t match their mouth movements. I’m asking myself why didn’t the cast sing live on-set as Darren, Grant, and Melissa can all sing well. It was distracting for me to see that with everyone frankly, as Jesse L. Martin, Victor Garber, Carlos Valdes, John Barrowman, and Jeremy Jordan can all sing. Jeremy was doing the Newsies on Broadway, so count me doubly disappointed there. Anf yes, there are tongue in cheek references to The Wizard of Oz and Singing in the Rain, Kara and Barry’s favorite musicals respectively.
As for the songs themselves, there are only two new ones and only one stood out. Rachel Bloom penned “Superfriends” which worked well enough, but the showstopper was “Runnin’ Home to You”. It was romantic and served its purpose in storytelling. Not to mention the lighting during that was excellent. And that’s no shade to Rachel Bloom either as “Superfriends” was good, but Benji Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote “City of Stars” for La La Land, crafted another earworm with “Runnin’ Home to You”. But points to “Superfriends” for having a plus tap dancing from Grant. That guy is an embarrassment of riches.
As for the actual story, it all basically boiled down to this and this (with all respect to Bryan Ferry and Ridley Scott, I like Trent’s version better). It was a curious thing to have the Music Meister’s motivations be so basic in that it was almost an excuse to have the heroes go through emotional turmoil just for a musical crossover and to have Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) get his courage back. However, huge shout to Danielle Panabaker on delivering the best moment of the night with “Hello” upon seeing Martin Manhunter. So perfectly played and acted that it had me laughing longer than it should have. Darren Criss was awesome as the Music Meister, a character created for the underrated show Batman: The Brave and the Bold. I hope next time if the writers decide to use him again for another musical episode to please have it so everyone on the show is affected on Earth-1 in Central City. It was pretty funny having Joe and Martin be in a relationship with them asking in unison “Do you have a problem with that?” when Barry says “Dads?”. Candice Patton’s 1930s gangster talk was cringe-worthy no offense to the lovely Miss Patton.
Look, I was looking forward to this musical episode when it was announced and maybe I had my expectations a little too high. I liked it well enough, I’m just not floored by it like everyone else seems to be. I wouldn’t be opposed to another musical episode, just executed better. If they can find another lesson the Music Meister wants to teach, I’m all for it. Just better motivations and live singing, please. Also, can these be true crossovers, with these having a full start on Supergirl and not just the last ten minutes each time, please?
Will we find out who Savitar is soon? Will the Music Meister return? Can Barry truly save Iris or can Iris save herself? Stay tuned true believers!
Season 3, Episode 17 (S03E17)
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8PM on The CW
A lifelong film enthusiast since he can remember, Brandon is an indie filmmaker/screenwriter and freelance critic who resides in Trenton, NJ. Feel free to hit him up on Twitter to talk movies, shows, and music (especially hip-hop).
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Brandon Norwood | Contributor