It's Batman and Black Canary taking on Dr. Horrible... I mean, Freakazoid... in this latest episode of The Animaniacs!
No spoilers this time, kids. Nothing to spoil.
"Was the singing really necessary?"--Batman
This is beyond a musical episode- it's a mini-operetta. (Well, an operetta. Operettas are short by definition.) Barely any dialog is spoken... most everything is sung.
So instead of a play by play, I'm going to play music critic.
The first number: "He's the Music Meister"... advances what little plot there is in this episode, but it drags on for far too long.
"He Drives Us Bats"- Funny number with a handful of nods to the 1966 Batman series. If you look carefully, you can see King Tut from the old series in Arkham, and a references are made to 'Shark Repellant' and the Batusi.
"If Only He Could Love Me"- a very well crafted and sung song in the classic unrequited love sub-genre. Harris and Grey "Black Canary" DeLisle are incredible singers, and I must say at this point that I REALLY like Black Canary's character design.
The less said about Music Meister's Freakazoid by way of Liberace design, the better.
"DeathTrap"- The visuals on this number were more impressive than the song. DeLisle sings it well, but the real treat is to read the signs in the background and see how many of D.C.'s minor teams are listed. There's even one for D.C.'s newest team, The Great Ten.
"The Music Meister Reprise"- features Batman vocalizing for the only number in the show--- and it definitely isn't Deidrich Bader singing.
I'm convinced that the character animators love Canary's design as much as I do. There's actually subtle facial acting in the animation. Subtlety that's completely absent from Freaka-zee Meister, unfortunately. It's standard villain stuff.
"If Only He Could Love Me Reprise"- Canary and Green Arrow start their romance, using another musical theater cliche.
During my acting days, I did some musical theater-- A key concept and conceit of the form is that music, especially sung music adds enormous emotional and contextual bandwidth to a narrative. You can get more information and character development into a song than a soliloquy.
That said, Black Canary is the only character that benefits from that added bandwidth. Batman is almost a tertiary character in his own show, and far less dimensional than he usually is.
The Music Meister is not an interesting villain. This is no slam on Mr. Harris' performance, but his songs waste way too much time on his establishing himself and not enough on developing WHO he is. There's not much depth, but he sounds good.
The form of the American Musical and its conventions is a bit beyond the scope of Republibot- but I think there are a few examples that I can pull from to illustrate the form's cultural value. Unfortunately, this isn't one of them. I found it okay, but they could've done so much more, and better.
It was a nice try, though