I've only seen a handful of episodes of the series so far; while I seriously enjoy its less serious take on the Dark Knight and its unabashed love of the DCU, I rarely seem to find it when it's on. And when I do, it's always the first episode with Blue Beetle or Red Tornado, or the "Incredible Journey" one with Aquaman and Atom. I've seen maybe five episodes outside of that, but when I found out that the musical episode with Neil Patrick Harris was going to air when I could watch it--and during Bat-Month no less!--I couldn't resist.
I'm going to restrict the commentary to moments and thoughts, avoiding plot summary as much as I can. You should watch it yourself; it was a blast.
So, I'd seen episodes with Green Arrow and Aquaman before, but this was my first exposure to BatB's version of Black Canary--who I didn't know had even appeared in the show before. She's one corner of a love...well, it's not even a love polygon, and I'd prefer not to draw a diagram at the moment, but she's got an unrequited crush on Batman, which is a romantic pairing that I hadn't thought about before. Somehow, despite being a comic geek and ostensibly a fan of both Black Canary and Green Arrow, I didn't consider why I'd never thought of that pairing before.
There is nothing quite like seeing Aquaman and Grodd waltzing. It's like the Silver Age coming to life.
The villain of the piece (well, aside from cameos) is the Music Meister, who is kind of a combination of the Fiddler and Pied Piper--which makes it a little sad/strange that the Flash didn't show up in this episode. He can control people's minds by singing, and wields a staff that seems to be based on the musical weapons of Bluegrass and Melodia.
There's a great scene when Batman shows up (on the Bat-Gyro1, no less!) where those under the Music Meister's thrall approach him while snapping in the classic "West Side Story" style.
Arkham Asylum makes an appearance, looking surprisingly similar to how it looked in the old Animated Series--I'm pretty sure even the jagged font on the gate is the same.
The song set (largely) in Arkham also manages to mention the Batusi and Shark Repellent. Fantastic.
Black Canary has a ballad about her love for Batman--which is interrupted by Music Meister's ballad about his love for Black Canary--that reminds me quite a bit (something about the scansion and tune) of "I'm Not a Killer" from "Evil Dead: The Musical." It kind of makes me want to compare the writing/composing staffs for both shows.
While Batman and Black Canary are trapped in Music Meister's deathtrap, the walls are covered with band stickers and posters, all named after DC properties. They range from the obvious (Metal Men) to the obscure (Inferior 5) to the surprising (Trenchcoat Brigade). I wish I'd been able to get down more; it's a reason for freeze-frame when the show makes it to DVD. Speaking of which, the DVD release schedule for this series is really obnoxious--three-plus volumes of four episodes each, with no season set on the horizon? That's ridiculous.
This episode contains the only use of the word "unfurled" in song that I've ever heard outside of the Pinky and the Brain theme song.
I won't spoil the climax, but I'll tell you that it contains a line that I don't think anyone ever expected to hear Batman say.
Don't tell Jay-Z, but even Batman uses auto-tune. Specifically, a "Bat auto-tuning amplifier." Now, since Jay-Z compares himself to Superman, what does this mean for the World's Finest team? Or does Batman keep the auto-tune in the same way that he holds onto the kryptonite ring, as a failsafe?
Getting back to my sudden fan amnesia, the episode ends with Black Canary lamenting her unrequited love, as Green Arrow shows up to declare his own crush on her. And so she settles for a cheerful Batman knock-off, which is funny on a variety of levels.
Bottom line: it was a fun episode, though I wish Batman had gotten a song instead of just an operatic warm-up. After all, we already know he can sing:
But I hope they're just saving that for a sequel.
1. Which I assume is made from a mix of bat-beef and bat-lamb, placed on a bat-pita with bat-tzatziki sauce.