What, a kids superhero cartoon is the subject of our sixth Essential Episodes series? And not something like Nathan For You, Brass Eye or It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia? Yes, I might have gone slightly mad, and articles on all of those series are forthcoming, but this particular instalment of the show made back in 2009 is legitimately enormous fun. A musical episode of the superhero team up show entitled Mayhem of the Music Meister with Neil Patrick Harris as the titular villain, normally the show was rather standard superhero fare with Batman (Diedrich Bader) having to solve crimes with some DC B or C-lister by his side, but this one was rather different as it features Aquaman (John DiMaggio), Green Arrow (James Arnold Taylor) and Black Canary (Grey DeLisle-Griffin) all singing and dancing in glorious style.
The episode begins with the super villains Black Manta, Gorilla Grodd and Clock King planning to steal a communications satellite but when they arrive they find Aquaman, Green Arrow and Black Canary waiting for them. But instead of a battle breaking out, they all break out in to song, while being utterly confused as to what’s suddenly happening. It’s a bright, breezy number, made all the better by Gorilla Grod’s surly vocals, and then becomes even more delightful when the Music Meister arrives on the scene and rather handily explains how his singing voice is hypnotic and no one can resist doing whatever he says. One quick origin tale and a bit of flirting with Black Canary and it looks like he’s going to get away with his evil plan.
Alas Batman then turns up and rather conveniently he’s worked out what’s happening while flying about in his Batcopter, this being more like the sixties Batman series than the grim dark modern version, though it’s not quite as camp as Adam West and Burt Ward’s antics were. Due to what he’s heard he’s wearing earbuds and can’t be hypnotised like the others were, and thus doesn’t belt out a number, but thanks to the Music Meister’s hypnotic voice all of the heroes and villains attack him, dancing in a style reminiscent of West Side Story, it’s one of many nods to classic musicals each of which is more fun than the last.
While they’re singing and battling the Music Meister steals the satellite and sods off, leaving everyone bar Batman to die. Fortunately Bats manages to save them all, causing Black Canary to get amusingly all hot and bothered and flirty with Batman, which makes Green Arrow looking forlorn as his one true love doesn’t want to sleep with him. And who can blame her, I mean even though Green Arrow now has his own tv show Bats was always going to be the bigger draw, and rumour has it he’s much better in bed too. Well, that’s what Vicky Vale told me, anyhow.
After this we cut to the Music Meister who provides us with some handy exposition as to what his overall plan is, but once again Batman arrives to spoil the day, and so a chase ensues. This isn’t any normal chase however as the Music Meister sings a song as to how Batman drives everyone bats, sure it’s an obvious pun but the song is a joyously funny one and even Aquaman and Green Arrow join in to moan about Batman’s irritating popularity.
Then it gets even better as we’re presented with another song where Black Canary sings a slow ballad about how she wishes “If only he could love me” as there’s lots of slow motion shots of Batman looking heroic and incredibly cool, and villains get the shit beaten out of them by the singing Canary. And to add to the madness Music Meister joins in to warble on about how much he lusts after the Black Canary, making it a somewhat odd but very funny love triangle, though as the Music Meister seemingly prefers villainy to sex it ends with both Black Canary and Batman captured and place in a death trap where a suddenly punk-y Music Meister sings an impressively catchy rock number.
Said song is another track where the Canary joins in, as the duo manage to escape a fantastically convoluted death trap which involves acid pools, moving walls, lasers and a bomb, because the Music Meister knows how to do this sort of thing in style. Finally it comes to an end with a huge showtune as the Music Meister uses the stolen satellite to make everyone in the world do his bidding and steal jewellery and cash while attacking our heroes, and everyone joins in this song too. Yep, everyone in the entire world (or at least as many as they had the time to animate, anyhow).
Sadly the Music Meister is defeated which is the only fault I can find with the episode, in a perfect world he would have won, Batman would have died, and the show would have been retitled as Music Meister And The Bold and seen his singing about the heroic idiots who annoy him each and every week. Still, at least his defeat involved Batman finally joining in with the warbling so it wasn’t all bad, and after Batman lets Black Canary that he has no interest in dating her, telling her “Sorry, crime doesn’t take dinner breaks, and neither do I”, she gives Green Arrow a pity date, so at least there was a happy ending for someone.
Many tv shows have done musical episodes from Buffy to Supernatural, Scrubs to The Magicians, and as much as I love all of those examples and many more, for me this is the most fun and ridiculously entertaining. So yes, I am saying it’s better than Once More With Feeling, which might sound insane given how amazing that episode was, but it’s genuinely true, if only for how absurd, daft and plain silly this often is while also being filled with incredibly catchy numbers. The character of Music Meister was created for The Brave and the Bold but recently turned up in The CW’s Supergirl and The Flash musical episodes which I’ve yet to see, but if they’re as fun as this is than I’ll no doubt be raving about those shows very soon too.
You can watch the episode on Dailymotion here.