Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mayhem of the Music Meister!

Season: 1
Episode Number: 24
Season Episode Number: 24
Production Number: 125
Airdate: September 22, 2009

Writer: Michael Jelenic
Lyrics: Michael Jelenic, James Tucker
Music: Michael McCuiston, Lolita Ritmanis and Kristopher Carter
Director: Ben Jones

Voices: Diedrich Bader (Batman), Jeff Bennett (Batman's Singing Voice), John DiMaggio (Aquaman, Gorilla Grodd), James Arnold Taylor (Green Arrow), Grey DeLisle (Black Canary), Dee Bradley Baker (Clock King), Kevin Michael Richardson (Black Manta), Tom Kenny (Babyface), Neil Patrick Harris (Music Meister).

Plot: The Music Meister uses his power to control people with his singing voice in an attempt to take over the world.

Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Never in all my days of watching superhero cartoons did I ever think that I would see a musical episode, and I especially wouldn't have thought it to be good! But Mayhem of the Music Meister has to be one of the best produced episodes of the series.

This episode pushes everyone involved into doing something that they are not used to doing: The music composers and script writers have created several magnificent musical numbers that fit very well with the show's soundtrack that we are already familiar with; The voice actors all provide not only the spoken dialogue, but the singing voices as well (with the exception of Jeff Bennett who provides Batman's singing voice); And the animators, who have become experts in battle scenes and lots of action, now get a chance to animate choreographed dance numbers and dancing gorillas.

All this, and there's a story in there too! Let's break this episode down by musical number. The first song of the episode, I'm the Music Meister, introduces us to the titular villain, voiced by the amazing Neil Patrick Harris, and gives us just enough backstory to justify why everyone is singing and dancing. It seems that the Music Meister's powers manifested at puberty, just like the X-Men. The clever lyrics explain that there is actually a point in every singing and dancing rather than having them break out in song simply because it's a musical. This is my favourite piece in the episode.

Drives Us Bats is Batman's first major encounter with the Music Meister and is a clever song that basically explains the premise of Brave and the Bold and also brings in dozens of villain cameos as they all sing about how they don't like Batman. Throughout this number, the Music Meister changes costumes a number of times, into various outfits from other musicals such as Amadeus and The Music Man.

Next up is the Black Canary ballad, If Only, which is hilarious if you think about the juxtaposition of the tender song with the violent battle taking place in the background. The song also provides us with a bit of character development for Black Canary as she sings about her feelings for the Bat, something we got a tiny hint of in Night of the Huntress.

It seems that in all modern Broadway musicals, there must be a heavy metal song, and Death Trap is that song. Black Canary and Batman are tied up and the song plays on the classic superhero cliché of a villain trapping the hero in an elaborate death trap and then leaving the room assuming that everything will go as planned. Not my favourite of the episode, but still not a bad song.

The climax of the episode is The World is Mine and is one of the best songs we hear. The magnitude of the Meister's plan is almost bigger than most of the devious plots in this show as he actually manages to control the entire planet! But Batman saves the singing! Batman had retains his composed character up until this point, not allowing himself to stoop to the goofy level of the episode, as he usually does in every episode, but he finally steps into the spotlight in order to bring the Music Meister down.

The final number is a reprise of If Only in which we see Black Canary and Green Arrow share a beautiful duet, which is only fitting seeing as they are married in the comics.

I can't tell you enough how much I loved this episode. It was a truly brave and bold step for the producers to take, but I think this single episode raises the bar for any future superhero animated series! I hope to see more episodes of Batman: the Brave and the Bold that are up to this caliber.

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wallruss said...

I agree with everything you said. It's now my favorite episode of the series. I never expected to like it this much.

Orphen said...

I agree also, it was an entertaining episode to say the least. I am glad that they did not try to put together some random music that did not really work well together. Instead they made definitely one of the best TV show musical episodes I have ever seen. (The Scrubs musical episode is still my favorite) But it was easily one of my favorite episodes of the season.

Paul said...

This is my favourite episode, and I have to agree that "I'm the Music Meister" is the best song and that "Death Trap" is the weakest of the songs. I'd say that "The World is Mine" and the reprise of "If Only" are fantastic too.

There are some plot holes, such as why characters like Black Canary, Aquaman and Green Arrow break into song before they've even fallen under the Music Meister's control, and these plot holes stop it from being a perfect episode, but the episode is still excellent.

This is definitely the most entertaining season 1 episode, that's for sure.