The Flash and Supergirl have a heck of a Duet

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After all the waiting, the wishing, the endless think pieces leading up to it, the musical crossover between Supergirl and The Flash is here and it’s … pretty good. Not great, not amazing, but pretty good. Probably falling around the number three or fourth best musical episode of a non musical series. The first two spots belong to Buffy‘s and Scrubs‘ musical outings while a few other shows could make a good case for spot number three.

Surprisingly the biggest weakness from this musical was the lack of music. Five. Only five songs in the entire episode. For comparison, Buffy’s “Once More with Feeling” featured ten full length original numbers plus a few original jokey short songs. Scrubs‘ “My Musical” was half the length and featured eight original songs. “Duet” featured five and only two of which are original numbers.

Barry Allen’s mom says, “Musicals have the power to make everything better,” and she’s not wrong. They managed the incredible and made Mon-El moderately tolerable. But seriously, the whole way things were set up and payed off had two things in spades, an adorkable quality and a feeling of having been rushed together.

While thoroughly enjoyable, the entire endeavor just had a slapshot choppy pace to the whole thing. So once Barry and Kara are in the dreamworld courtesy of The Music Meister, a huge chunk of time is spent explaining what’s going on, and the rules of this fantasy world, having the supporting players from the DC CW shows playing other roles and having to act surprised and remind us that none of them are the actual characters but projections in their minds. The framing device became such a weight on the episode, sucking energy and, more importantly, time away from the interesting stuff.

Going back to the start, we get a very nice moment with a young Barry and his mother, a surprising cameo in an already stuffed episode. We see Barry and Mom watching Singin’ in the Rain, establishing his love for musicals. Later, Kara talks about her love for The Wizard of Oz. Now Kara’s childhood favorite came into play far more than Barry’s. I loved the almost ridiculous number of Oz quotes the pair toss out, even comparing the whole “people from real life as other characters” device to the film.

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Seeing just how many cast members on these shows have singing chops begs the question: why didn’t they make this a multi-parter? I’m sure some viewers will be shocked to see how many cast members get to join in on the fun. Sure, the big three here are former Glee costars Darren Criss, Grant Gustin, and Melissa Benoist. Some people might even be aware of Jesse L. Martin’s and Victor Garber’s Broadway chops. But John Barrowman is definitely better known for his work in genre TV more than his stage work, and Carlos Valdes and Jeremy Jordan, Cisco and Winn respectively, were amazing when they started singing.

Again the biggest crime was how limited the numbers were. With these kind of talents at their disposal this should have been a melodic outing from moment one till the last second. But let’s examine the five songs we did get.

Kicking things off was Melissa Benoist’s rendition of “Moon River”. The classic song was performed beautifully by the actress. I actually never enjoyed her time on Glee so color me surprised when she blew me away right from the start.

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This was soon followed by what the Music Meister declared the big “opening” number, “Put A Little Love in Your Heart”. This was sort of a catch all, giving Cisco and Winn a chance to shine alongside the Meister. A shame they didn’t get more but the arrangement was fantastic. Am I the only one who can’t hear this song in any form without immediately thinking of Scrooged? That’s not a criticism, it’s a great song and now I will think of both versions.

“More I Cannot Wish You” was at times the best song of the evening and at others the worst. Featuring three fathers (by the way, that dad’s line about Joe and Stein as a same sex couple was hilarious) when the three veteran singers Garber, Martin, and Barrowman came together, wow oh wow, was that powerful. Even most of their solo parts were just amazing, weaving in and out of one another’s harmonies. The big sore thumb was when Victor Garber initially jumps in, his staccato is so pronounced and nearly cartoonish I thought he was doing a bit. Eventually it all evens out but those first twenty seconds or so were painful.

Then there was “Super Friend”, written by fellow CWer Rachel Bloom of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I was dying to hear what she had come up with for this episode. I love her show and she has said she reached out to offer her help for this episode so I had high hopes. Unfortunately this has to be the weakest of all five songs. Cutesy, simple, and safe. Those are the first words that come to mind. How disappointing from the woman whose show never shies away from being edgy and pushing musical boundaries. Gustin and Benoist are very cute performing the number but if I was playing the album, already available on iTunes by the by, this is the one I would skip.

The final song “Runnin’ Home to You” was written by two of the songwriters from this years almost best picture La La Land. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul went above and beyond here, crafting an amazing ballad for Gustin to solo. Being the only song in the real world and ending up in a the re-proposal to Iris, this was just beautiful. If you didn’t feel anything while watching this, go thaw your heart out. I may or may not have oddly found an unusual amount of dust entering my eyes at around the same time. My only complaint is that the track was a bit too professional, a bit too polished. This actually carries through all the performances. They all were a bit too squeaky clean studio versions but being as this was outside of the dreamworld it would have been nice to let him sing on set or just give it a more raw, unproduced sound.

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The meta nature of this episode, the wonderful musical numbers, Barry’s dorking out about the whole thing, it just all worked so well. Darren Criss gets all the couples back together by the end and says the lesson was love, or something, it’s all a bit silly but so utterly enjoyable too. Even the little action scene in the real world was solid and fun with Cisco coordinating attacks, using his portals, and J’onn and Mon-El.
This feels like a good first go, and much how the big crossover events have gotten better from last year to this one, I can only hope next year will bring another taste of the Music Meister. With more time to plan and write, it could go from one of the best episodes of The Flash to one of television’s best musical outings period.

So, what did you think of The Flash’s musical crossover? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

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