Thursday, March 23, 2017

'The Flash'/'Supergirl' Musical Crossover Is Sheer Glee!

Just like last year, I’m once again compelled to review this season’s Flash/Supergirl crossover because of how immensely delightful it is.  This time around, they did something that’s simply logical, something that I – along with all fans – have been clamoring for after learning that the cast members of the DCW shows are great singers: a musical special!

The Flash/Supergirl musical crossover is extremely refreshing, and it’s absolutely what I need for The Flash and Supergirl at this point.  This current season, among all DCW shows, Legends of Tomorrow is the only one I’m excited for each new episode of.  I still regularly follow Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl, but though they still deliver some good entertainment, they aren’t as enjoyably rewarding as they used to be – or, with the case of Supergirl, still hasn’t figured out how to significantly improved itself from its problematic debut seasonThe Flash used to be my most favorite TV show, but it had lost its consistently enthusiastic sense of fun and is now instead bogged down by so much angst.  But this musical has given me renewed energy to watch The Flash and Supergirl through the rest of the season – even if they continue to be hindered by being occasionally gloomy and corny, respectively.
This musical crossover isn’t exactly perfect.  First of all, it’s too short.  I was led to believe that it was a two-part special, starting in Supergirl season 2 episode 16 and concluding the next day in The Flash season 3 episode 17.  I would have been satisfied with its length if that has been truly the case.  But just like the DCW mega-crossover last year, the “kick off” in Supergirl only occurred in the closing minutes of the episode (at least, this time, it wasn’t a scene from The Flash which they just shoe-horned in at the last part).  The actual musical crossover only really happened in The Flash, episode title “Duet.”

Another disappointment is that the musical is set in a dream sequence.  Though it has some substance of reality (with Barry and Kara sharing the same dream) and real stakes (they don’t have their powers, and if they die in it, they also die in real life), I prefer if it would have occurred in “real-life”, either by being in an alternate earth or a warped reality (that’s why I thought Mister Mxyzptlk was going to be the plot device for this musical crossover).  I could also see it being brought about by Music Meister mind-controlling everybody to sing, as his original power was when the character was first introduced in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

Indeed, they opted for Music Meister to make this musical crossover happen.  But they also reinvented him to have Mister Mxyzptlk-level powers in order to do so.  Which is kinda dumb.  They already had Mister Mxyzptlk earlier in the season, why not use him in the first place?  Also, again, instead of manipulating them to sing or recreating reality into a musical, he trapped Barry and Kara to be in a shared dream.
Doing it in a dream sequence is fine, I guess.  What’s important is giving the DCW cast the opportunity to showcase their musical talents.  And since it accomplishes that, I could forgive its inadequacy as a setup, along with a couple of other storytelling flaws.  Besides, “Duet” is an utter joy to watch that I couldn’t care less if the plot makes sense or not!

Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist have incredible chemistry together.  Though that’s enough to easily make them a romantic couple, it’s effectively used to give them a believable “long-time best buddies” dynamic despite the fact that they have only met thrice – peaking during the “Super Friends” song sequence (which jubilantly explored their friendship while also quipping about their superhero lores).  And thus, it’s tremendous fun to see them feed on each other’s energy and charm as they progress through the plot of a 1920’s Jazz Age-set musical, and be continuously astonished by how ridiculously easy things work in it and when encountering alternate versions of their friends and acquaintances – especially the central lovers of the musical’s plot, which hilariously happens to be alternate versions of their respective romantic partners, Mon-El and Iris.

Aside from Mon-El and Iris, the musical also has alternate versions of Winn Schott, Cisco Ramon, Malcolm Merlyn, Joe West, and Martin Stein.  They participate in at least one musical number (Malcolm got to be in two), and this is why the limited length of the musical bugged me because all of these characters’ actors are wonderful singers (seriously, Youtube these guys), and one or two songs are just not enough.  I wanted more – much more.  Especially for Jeremy Jordan (Winn), who is one of the greatest singers I’ve ever heard.
There are five song numbers in “Duet.”  The best is the aforementioned “Super Friends.”  Followed by Kara’s heart-melting cover of “Moon River”; then “More I Cannot Wish You”, which is movingly sang by the trifecta of Jesse L. Martin (Joe), Victor Garber (Stein), and John Barrowman (Merlyn); and then “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”, a stirring song-and-dance performance by Barrowman, Jeremy Jordan, Carlos Valdes (Cisco), and Glee alumnus Darren Criss (who plays the Music Meister).  My least favorite is “Runnin’ Home to You”, which Barry sang to Iris when he returned to the real-world as he proposes to her again.  Nonetheless, they are all fantastic song numbers, and I love them all.

Lastly, aside from Gustin and Benoist’s chemistry and the song numbers, what I like most about this special is that Barry Allen becomes light-hearted, humorous, and lovable again – it had been so, so long since the last time he had been so.  I particularly enjoyed his perfectly timed and executed reactions of bafflement, surprise, and delight to the musical happenings unfolding before him, especially when he was spellbound by Kara singing “Moon River” and Joe and Prof. Stein singing “More I Cannot Wish You.”

I truly had a blast with DCW’s first (hopefully not last) attempt of a musical.  It’s objectively silly, but it was awesome nonetheless.  And I hope that the producers and showrunners realize that they have something special here, and that they would decide to make this an annual tradition for the DCW.

Miscellaneous musings:
  • I’m not a fan of Glee.  But I think it would be a nice touch to have at least one other Glee alumnus joining Gustin and Benoist whenever they have these musical specials. 
  • I love the look on Barry’s face when he saw Kara singing “Moon River.”  I thought he was falling in love.
  • Music Meister robbing a bank is so dumb.  It’s definitely just there so that Martian Manhunter, Kid Flash, and Vibe could fight him.  I could have got rid of that, if it would have provided more time for another song number.
  • Music Meister’s endgame is irresponsibly stupid.
  • I would have liked it more if Music Meister had a similar costume as his original cartoon incarnation.
  • Candice Patton’s moxie accent was so perfect.
  • Winn mentioning (in Supergirl season 2 episode 16) that he and Cisco would have been BFFs if they live in the same dimension just bums me out that they still haven’t met yet, considering that both actors are in this episode anyway (only Mon-El and J’onn went over Earth-1).  Hope that eventual first meeting would be great enough to make up for this missed opportunity.
These two look awesome together.
  • Non-“Duet” musing: with Kevin Sorbo (a.k.a. Herculer) portraying Mon-El’s dad, it would have been cooler if Lucy Lawless (a.k.a. Xena) had been cast as Mon-El’s mom instead of Teri Hatcher, who should have been reserved for a later role that would interact with Dean Cain’s character.  (Only 90’s TV viewers would get the sense of this.)
  • In a practical world, since Supergirl is around anyway, Barry should have solicited her help with their Savitar problem.  They could have beaten him easily.  But that’s not how comic book TV logic works.
  • I know Tom Cavanagh can sing and play the guitar.  Too bad he wasn’t one of the alternate characters in that musical world.  Would have been so fun to have another version of Harrison Wells.
  • Seriously, DCW should make musicals an annual thing.  There are still plenty of singers among its four shows’ casts that didn’t participate in “Duet.”  Aside from Cavanagh, Keiynan Lonsdale (Wally West), Mehcad Brooks (Jimmy Olsen), Frank Drameh (Jax a.k.a. Firestorm), Arthur Darvill (Rip Hunter), Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak), Chyler Leigh (Alex Danvers), and Wentworth Miller (Leonard Snart a.k.a. Captain Cold) are all capable singers, as well as former DCW regulars Malese Jow (Linda Park), Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance), Colton Haynes (Roy Harper a.k.a. Arsenal), Andy Meintus (Hartley Rathaway a.k.a. Pied Piper), and Colin Donnell (Tommy Merlyn).  There are plenty of Youtube videos out there demonstrating their singing talents.  Also, though I’m not sure if Caity Lotz (Sarah Lance a.k.a. White Canary) can sing, she definitely can dance extremely well, being a former professional backup dancer and all.  So, yeah, DCW, with all these talents you have, it’s only common sense that this should be an annual thing!

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