Review: ‘Flash’-‘Supergirl’ Musical ‘Duet’ More ‘Glee’ Than ‘Buffy,’ But Pretty Darn Adorable
Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s Musical “Duet”:
I really wanted to love the Flash and Supergirl musical. How could you not? Regardless of whether you’re open to musical theater, the CW series have always held between them an absurd amount of musical talent, and it was inevitable that producers would embrace such a fun challenge as tonight’s crossover “Duet.” And even then, strictly superhero fans get to enjoy another mini-crossover anchored by the Barry-Kara dynamic first adored on CBS, with the added bonus Cisco Ramon meeting Martian Manhunter, and all manner of little moments that make these worlds feel more connected.
Where I get off that train a little bit, is that every TV musical lives or dies by the device it uses to get the cast singing and dancing. And despite the clear reverence for classic musicals like Singin’ in the Rain or Guys and Dolls, I can’t help feeling the decision to make the musical aspect a fantasy world of cover songs robbed us of a lot of its fun. Combining cast and crew for these crossovers is a Herculean task, and it wouldn’t be fair to hold “Duet” to the same standards as Buffy’s “Once More With Feeling,” or even the animated Batman “Mayhem of the Music Meister!”* inspiration; I just kept coming back to these grand displays of singing and dancing as an exhibition for all the incredible talent involved, without much actual substance to them.
It’s my fault for expecting Buffy from a cast literally comprised of Glee, though it’s no accident that the clear highlights of “Duet” belong to original numbers with lyrics actually applicable to the characters at hand. Rachel Bloom’s “Super Friends” in particular offered a fun, if somewhat superficial take on the – no pun intended – gleeful silliness at work here, but Benj Pasek and Justin Pauls’s “Runnin’ Home to You” was the clear standout. Having one character emote to another through original song is the basic lens through which I’ve always defined musicals, and a lot of that felt lost with Barry and Kara merely watching, or otherwise reacting to these imaginary characters singing borrowed songs about events that weren’t actually happening.
Mileage is going to vary, and musicals aren’t for everyone to begin with, so it’s perfectly fine to just enjoy the sheer joy on display. Cast members like Jesse L. Martin, John Barrowman and Jeremy Jordan clearly had a blast playing these heightened ‘40s caricatures, and the amused rapport between Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist remains effortless enough to keep everyone grounded overall. It didn't hurt that the external reality got its share of action as well, between Kid Flash, Martian Manhunter and Vibe taking on a Music Meister who could fly, and shoot lasers at super-speed. Who are you, if you can’t at least enjoy that?
I don’t know if either Flash or Supergirl needed an hour devoted to reuniting their respective super-couples so soon after their breakups, and certainly Darren Criss got the short end of the stick overall, but whatever baggage “Duet” carries is likely that which you brought in. If you enjoy the stupid glee of these charming performers in a ‘40s musical, great! If you love the songs, but wish the format allowed for actual characters and original numbers, I’m right there with you. If nothing else, get some joy in your life!
Come on, this was just fun.
AND ANOTHER THING …
- Hi, new young actor brought in for flashback Barry!
- How do you have a line like “Alex says I put the ‘Kara’ in ‘karaoke,’” and not end with the whole gang singing at a bar?
- So … what exactly was Music Meister’s purpose here? Sure, he’s some eccentric extra-dimensional who wanted to teach everyone a lesson about love, but … what did that have to do with robbing a bank, sapping Barry and Kara’s powers, or that book deal he supposedly had in the future?
- Blah, blah, “follow the script,” but why would Kara agree to escort “Mon-El” to the club, instead of having Barry do it?
- YOU MAKE GOOD ON BARRY CLAIMING TO HAVE MET SUPERMAN RIGHT NOW.
- Barry, you moved out a week ago. What was Iris going to change about the apartment?
- Odd to have Barry inexplicably compose, write and record “Runnin’ Home to You” out of nowhere, rather than serve as one last bit of Music Meister magic, but I suppose the moment needed a gesture performed on his own.
Supergirl will return on March 27 with “Distant Sun,” followed by March 28 Flash installment “Abra Kadabra,” both airing at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.
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