Thursday, March 23, 2017

Flash Ep 217: Duets

I have been watching the Flash show since the first season's premiere and overall have loved the show. The characters, their interactions, the deep dives into the DCU, and the personal plot lines have all made the show a winner.

You knew there was going to be a but, right.

But this season has been a bit more morose than I am used to with this show. Yes, there has been a lot of drama and depression in the first two seasons, revolving around the death of Barry's mom, the multiple supporting characters dying, the betrayal of Zoom, etc. This season has really wallowed in the depression and sadness. Everyone seems a little more sullen. Everyone is carrying some emotional burden. Barry hasn't been acting the hero.

In other words, the charm of the earlier seasons hasn't been there this season. And it was that charm that made this show such a winner.

This week, the Flash aired 'Duets', the much anticipated musical crossover with Supergirl. (It is Kara's presence that has me reviewing the show here.) And thankfully, this was a rollicking good time. The charm was back. Characters were smiling. Everyone seemed to be having a grand old time. That fun and charm just oozed off the screen.

I love that we learn how much Kara loves The Wizard of Oz, a perfect musical for her, with a female hero trying to recapture her home after being sent to someplace strange.

And perhaps most amazingly, even though this was a 'side mission', the episode moved both shows plots forward.

Suffice it to say, the family and I basically grinned for an hour. Now it doesn't hurt that the Anj household likes musicals. Maybe we were the perfect target audience.

The show starts with Barry, in the doldrums, watching Singin' in the Rain in Cisco's apartment. We learn that he watched musicals with his mother whenever he was sad. "Everything is better in song."

As an avid TCM watcher and a musical fan and a huge fan of Singin' in the Rain (saw it on the big screen last month), I loved this. Who can't help but feel a little better seeing Reynolds/Kelly/O'Connor singing 'Good Morning'. Who can't get excited seeing the dance sequences in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers or West Side Story.

And this melds so nicely with prior episodes of Supergirl where we saw her watching The Big Sleep and Auntie Mame when she was feeling down. It shows why Barry and Kara would be good friends.

But before Cisco can rouse Barry out of his Iris-induced sadness, STAR Labs call. There's an emergency.

A breach has opened and out comes J'onn J'onzz and Mon-El carrying Supergirl. She has been put into a coma by the Music Meister. Does this count as a Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 knock-off?

Mon and Hank traced the Meister to this Earth and so followed him. Kara is hooked up to the monitors. Introductions are made. Mon-El struggles to say that he is Kara's ff-f-friend, trying to say that he is and isn't her boyfriend.

Before too much can happen, the Meister appears within the DEO. He tells Barry and Wally that he is simply there to teach them all a lesson. He hypnotizes Barry like he did with Kara. He collapses.

There is a nice moment in this when HR has to convince Wally to use his speed again. He tells Wally he needs to get back on the horse. 'Ride, Wallace, ride!' is his pep talk. I love all the riffs on 'run, Barry, run' we have in this show!

When Barry awakens, he is in the nightclub where we saw Supergirl at the end of her show. Melissa Benoist belts out Moon River. She just crushes it. And in a nice little moment, she changes 'Huckleberry friend' to 'Huckle-Barry friend' when she sees her friend arrive.

Barry explains how he was informed of what happened by Kara's boyfriend (she retorts that Mon-El is her nothing). They realize they are trapped in some sort of dream. Kara jokingly says she should click her heels three times, a suggestion Barry takes seriously.

And then in exploring the club, they see that their friends are there playing standard roles. Winn is Grady, the piano player. Mark Merlyn is Cutter Moran, a gangster who runs the club. Cisco is Pablo, the busboy with dreams of show business. It all seems legit for a big Hollywood musical.

I love how Kara again relates it to The Wizard of Oz saying 'you were there and you were there' like Dorothy did when she awakens from her dream.

The Music Meister arrives, describing the predicament.

The minds of Barry and Kara created this musical world. It could have been a war movie but their love for this genre made this. They need to finish the plot to get home (and it isn't to follow the yellow brick role as Kara suggests, yet another Oz reference). But there is danger within this world. If they die in this musical world, they die in the real world.

Kara admits she has reached her limits with magical creeps, a nice nod to Mxyzptlk.

But then the show kicks into high gear. The Meister leads all the ancillary characters in a big music and dance number with everyone singing the Al Green classic 'Put a little love in your heart'. Love it!

Barry and Kara are brought to a gangster's hideout.

While waiting, they talk about their current relationship woes. Mon-El lied for 9 months. Barry proposed for all the wrong reasons. Before they can talk more, the gangsters show up - Joe West and Professor Stein! West is 'Digsy Foss' and his daughter Millie (Iris) has gone missing after being seen at Cutter's nightclub. He asks Barry and Kara to look for her. And Millie best be fine or the 'city will run red with blood'.

A quick look at the club finds Millie with 'Tommy Moran' (Mon-El). These two are true star-crossed lovers, the children of the rival gangsters. It is also fascinating that they are the real love interests of our heroes now thrown together.

I thought this was a nice wrinkle, forcing the Barry and Kara to see their partners entwined with each other.

And Millie's absolutely forced Brooklyn accent is so laughable it is stupendous.

There is a silly side plot where the heroes on Earth try to stop the Music Meister who is draining Flash and Supergirl of their powers. A little strategy and they are able to punch the Meister unconscious. But it doesn't matter much to the plot.

Still, I like to post pictures like this to remind me how good we have it. Martian Manhunter, Vibe, and a yellow-clad Kid Flash teaming up to stop a super-villain. Unbelievable.

Barry and Kara convince Tommy and Millie to come clean with their folks. Barry thinks it is like West Side Story (apt given the star-crossed aspect). But Kara thinks it is like The Fantasticks. I'll 'Try to Remember' if that makes sense.

Barry brings Millie to her dads. He tells them that Millie is obviously strong, obviously understands the risk of being with Tommy, and wants to be with him regardless. It resonates with Barry. Iris gets it. He should know that. He loves Iris and shouldn't have asked her to marry for the wrong reasons.

Meanwhile, Kara brings Tommy to Cutter. When Cutter gets angry, she tells the hood that it shouldn't be a surprise that Tommy lied knowing this would be the response. Maybe Cutter should listen to Tommy's reasons for lying and see things from his point of view. This, of course, applies to Kara and Mon-El.

Literally Kara broke up with Mon-El 23 hours earlier. Maybe this realization is a little too fast?

Still, this sort of metaphor of their relationships was a nice way to keep the plot progressing.

We get another big number!

Now all the dads, hearing about their kids' love, break into More I Cannot Wish You from Guys and Dolls. And let me tell you, Martin, Garber, and Barrowman can bring it. Incredible!

I love how Barry, caught up in the moment, claps when the song is over!

Remember, Barry and Kara are singers in the club and they need an act.

Grady tinkles the ivories, prompting the two to break into the song 'I'm your super friend'.

The lyrics are so much fun. Kara says Barry could travel back in time to help her and he says he shouldn't do that. He says he is more impressed with her than Superman. They break out the top hats and tap shoes.

Iris and Mon-El had heard from the now imprisoned Meister that they can help save their 'friends'.

When the gangster war happens, Kara and Barry are caught in the crossfire and are shot. Both are dying. Iris and Mon-El vibe into the musical world. I thought this shot had to be some homage or riff of the classic Wayne Family murder in Crime Alley.

Both couples exchanges apologies and statements of love. And then a kiss from true love for both couples brings our heroes back to Earth.

Back in the real world, the Meister appears out of his cell. He reminds them that he really was there to teach people a lesson. He sees all. He saw two broken hearts. He wanted to mend them. And then he disappears.

Okay, a little bizarre. Maybe a little Silver Age crazy.

But we just had a musical episode. I can get over it.

There's nothing left but the wrap-up.

Kara and Mon-El return to their Earth. Kara says if Mon lies again she'll drop a mountain on his head. Again, I hope we see more of this reconciliation on the Supergirl show. Kara should need more than a kiss and a nod to get over this.

And Barry heads to Iris' loft and breaks into a song, 'Running home to you', a sweet love song of how life may be tricky and the future unclear but he needs her there. He wants to come home to her.

He pulls out the ring. And Candice Patton, as Iris, shows the shock and love wonderfully. He proposes and she accepts. Now it is for the right reasons.


I loved this episode. Complain about Mon-El all you want. Complain about the dour feel of the Flash this season. But take this madcap music crossover for what it is. Brilliant fun.


Anonymous said...

"I love that we learn how much Kara loves The Wizard of Oz, a perfect musical for her"


And the second issue of American Honda Presents Supergirl ends up with a children saying "You were there. And you were there. And you... I don't think you were there, Linda."

"Does this count as a Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 knock-off?"

I say it does.

"Complain about Mon-El all you want."

Be careful. Some people could think this is an open invitation.

I agree it was a very funny episode.

Anonymous said...

MB can really sing can't she? And tap dance as well...good to know. I suspect her "escape the cape" strategy once Supergirl has run her hopefully seven year course is to decamp for Broadway and Play Reno Sweeney in "Anything Goes". This was indeed a fun ep, my main complains are that the Music Meister went from being Central City's conqueror in the first 30 minutes to being an unpaid relationship counselor in the last thirty minutes without any explanation whatsoever. I suspect this whole ep will fuel a whole "Mon El got off easy" meme on line, but then again Kara could've clouted him one in the beezer when she woke up and still no one would be satisfied. My only other complaint is that I was half hoping to see a revival of the infamous "Super Evening Gown" circa Adventure Comics #402...but I guess we have to leave something for the next musical crossover....:). Man this is a meta cast that can really sing can't they? I am sure this will tempt Berlanti and his Junta to try other musical eps especially The Flash and Legend of Tomorrow....what constitutes a musical ep for the excessively noir "Arrow" show I cannot say.


Anonymous said...

Loved it, loved it, loved it.

And as for Kara threatening to "drop a mountain" on Mon-El, did anyone else catch that this is probably a reference to when the Pre-New-52 Supergirl did exactly that and dropped a mountain on her abusive boy friend Power Boy?

Gerry Beritela

Anonymous said...

> my main complains are that the Music Meister went from being Central City's conqueror in the first 30
> minutes to being an unpaid relationship counselor in the last thirty minutes without any explanation
> whatsoever.

+9000 on this. I can't say that I hated the ep, but on the other hand, exactly WHAT was Music Meister's
motivation for this little escapade? Is he just the multiverse's biggest altruist and/or an anti-Mxyzptlk?
Never mind AFTER stealing Supergirl and Flash's powers, he goes right for Central City's Bank?

> did anyone else catch that this is probably a reference to when the Pre-New-52 Supergirl did exactly
> that and dropped a mountain on her abusive boy friend Power Boy?

I'll have to read those issue again, though I can't bring myself to read the issues of Post Crisis Supergirl
before the Johns / Gates rehabilitation... I will say hearing Kara say "the geological one" cracked the heck
out of me!

Also don't know if anyone caught this from the minds of Shea Fontana & co :


Anonymous said...

"And thankfully, this was a rollicking good time. The charm was back. Characters were smiling. Everyone seemed to be having a grand old time. That fun and charm just oozed off the screen."

It was one of the best hours of TV anyone could enjoy. Just as good as Worlds Finest from season one thanks to the fun chemistry between Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin. Only this was given something extra...AND IT WORKED!

"I love that we learn how much Kara loves The Wizard of Oz, a perfect musical for her."

Well if TPTB decide a 2nd go round should be in order, perhaps Melissa could in a scene, sing Over The Rainbow. Perhaps make it for 2019, the 80th Anniversary of the classic film.

I have one correction. "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" was a hit for Jackie DeShannon. Perhaps the right Reverend Al Green did a cover of it.

As for the songs...hearing Melissa sing Moon River mixed her sweet soprano with the blues style of Norah Jones. The song should become a hit again 55 years after it's first success of winning the Oscar and Grammy.

I'm Your Super Friend was the show stealer. Given it was Rachel Bloom who wrote it and her show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, one expected baudy, instead we got bouncy. Clever, witty, funny; a song the family can love. A chance for the writers to take the mickey off.

The Guys and Dolls song served as Barrowman's US singing debut...and he took full advantage of his tenor. Martin's voice is a more soulful Jeffrey Osborne alto and Garber has the rich baritone. I sang in a church choir so I should know about singing voices.

Grant wound it up with a romantic bang in Barry's singing proposal to Iris. Though I wouldn't want another one too, too soon, another musical ep should be in the near future.

Scrimmage said...

I was really looking forward to this “special musical” crossover. Given the “Glee” background of stars Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin, and guest-villain Dustin Criss, I was expecting to hear them perform familiar songs that fit the context of the storyline, but instead, only “Moon River,” “Put A Little Love In Your Heart,” and “More I Cannot Wish You” from Guys and Dolls (which for some reason, was attributed to Paul McCartney on the closed captions) fell into that category, with original compositions making up the rest of the score. I suppose the expense of paying for the rights to use other, better known songs was prohibitive, but I felt the show suffered because of it. Kara's opening number, “Moon River,” was by far the best song/performance of the entire show, and the one I'll remember whenever I think about this episode.

While the comparisons to the classic “Once More With Feeling” musical episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” are obvious, I didn't think the original songs in “Duet” were up to that standard. In my opinion, they seemed a bit over-written, and self-conscious, as if the composers were trying to show off how clever they were, instead of simply writing a good song with catchy lyrics and a memorable melody. The only real duet between Kara and Barry, “Super Friends” was trying WAY too hard to be cute, but the talent and sheer joy of the performers overcame the inherent weakness of the material, and I have to admit, I did enjoy the way the song poked fun at some of the more annoying tropes from both shows. Grant's rendition of “Runnin’ Home to You” was a great showcase for his vocal abilities, but there was nothing about the song, itself that was particularly compelling.

I loved the sets, and especially the costumes in the musical dream sequence. I'm a sucker for 40's era fashion styles, and Melissa Benoist has never looked more beautiful! There's just something about a girl in a hat that I find irresistible. The contrast between Kara as a chanteuse, and her secret identity as a “funemployed” reporter were quite stunning.

Veteran stage actors Victor Gerber, Jesse L. Martin, and John Barrowman all showed the younger members of the cast how it's done, showcasing their amazing versatility and incredible vocal talents, but out of all the singing cast members, I was most impressed by Jeremy Jordan (Winn), whose surprisingly high range and soulful vocal style came as a total shock to me, since until now, I was unaware of his own Broadway background.

If you overlook the ludicrous premise, and the head-scratching subplots (why would anyone with the Meister's powers need to rob a bank, especially if he's not really a bad guy?) the episode itself was well written, beginning with the endearing scene of Kara and Mon-El snuggling on the couch, talking about movie musicals. That wasn't all acting, if reports of a budding, real life romance between the two stars are accurate. Kara and Barry's almost sibling-like chemistry was on full display as well. You can tell these two really enjoy working together. I felt as if the gratuitous mob violence, and the sight of our two stars getting gunned down in the street was out of place in such an otherwise light-hearted episode, but that was quickly offset by the sweetness of Kara and Mon-El's reconciliation, and Barry's musical proposal (for the right reasons) to Iris. Maybe this time, it will take, since we all know Barry and Iris are destined to marry eventually.

I just wish something could be done to put all of these characters into the same “universe.” It's much too confusing trying to keep up with who belongs on which “Earth” and in what “altered” timeline. Barry and Kara shouldn't have to jump though inter-dimensional hoops just to get together for a sequel. I'd REALLY like to see them together again the next time Supergirl puts the “Kara” in karaoke! It's something I'll look forward to.

Anonymous said...

I think we can all agree that "Once More With Feeling" is and remains the Gold Standard for Musical Episodes in this particular genre. But behind that particular episode, stood the Talent and Drive of Joss Whedon, he used that script and that music to advance his various storylines in a very effective way. "Duets" contented itself with wrapping up a pair of romantic entanglements and repairing a few emotional breeches, its ambitions were not as grand if I may say so. The irony is, Whedon's cast did not really have the voices (Sarah Gellar has always be uncharacteristically modest about her limited singing ability) whereas Berlanti had a good half a dozen first class singers including his highly personable and winsome leads.
But I liked it, I can see "Super Friends" having a second life on the shadow cast circuit...


Martin Gray said...

Well that was fun, if a bit of a headscratcher for someone who is still watching season one of the Flash. Love Harrison's haircut!

I loved the Super Friend number, it was sheer joy. Actually, the only song I didn't like was the sentimental dirge from Guys and Dolls, I always die a little when that shows up; still, it was nicely performed and fitted the moment.

It's funny to think Barrowman isn't known as a singer in the US, he breaks out those golden tonsils at every opportunity in the UK!

At the end, when Barry asked Music Meister if he was from a parallel world, and he said something along the lines of, oh, your mind would be blown, I'm taking that as him implying he's from the animated Earth of the Brave & Bold cartoon. I hope the character comes back, and as he was only Music Meister because Barry christened him that, because they were a musical, he can introduce a different genre, perhaps horror for a Hallowe'en episode. The Mystery Meister?