“And so for me, it’s destiny to be the maestro of villainy!
Yes I’m the Music Meister, and I’m here to settle the score!”
In the most unusual of all of the episodes of “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”, an all-singing, all-dancing episode, where heroes and villains alike fall under power of the hypnotic melodies of the Music Meister!
Description: In ‘The Mayhem of the Music Meister!’, Black Manta, the Clock King and Grodd are out to sabotage a communications satellite with the intent of causing world-wide chaos. Fortunately, Aquaman, Black Canary and Green Arrow are on the scene to halt them. But when they all starting singing (beginning with the two most stuck-up characters, Black Manta and Aquaman) and dancing, it is obvious that another player has entered the game: the malevolently mesmerizing Music Meister! Under his control, they install a device to the satellite that will enable him to broadcast his mesmerizing melodies to control the entire world, all to the tune ‘I’m the Music Meister!’
Batman tracks down the Music Meister to his lair, only to precipitate a chase as the Music Meister sings ‘ Drives Us Bats!’ on his way to Arkham Asylum where the prisoners all take up the chorus when the Meister releases them. Under their combined assault, Batman is taken prisoner, while the Music Meister falls in love with Black Canary as she sings ‘If Only’ about her unrequited love for Batman. When she rejects him, she falls to a blast from his staff, whereupon they both are put into a deathtrap (to the tune ‘Deathtrap’.) Of course, death traps are no problem for the master escape artist, and together they turn to Times Square to confront the Music Meister just as he puts everyone who can hear his voice, which is the entire world! under his control, singing ‘The World Is Mine’. Its an unequal battle, and when Black Canary has her bat-earplugs taken away and falls under the Meister’s power, Batman challenges her to a singing duel. At the very high note, which triggers Black Canary’s Canary Cry sonic power, Batman cunningly seizes the Meister’s microphone and broadcasts the Cry to everyone listening, breaking the Meister’s control. After that, its one punch and the Music Meister’s music act is on a one-way road trip to Arkham Asylum.
But that still leaves Black Canary to reprise ‘If Only’ as Batman leaves to answer the Bat-Signal. But never fear, someone else heard her plaintive cry for love, Green Arrow, who responds with his own unrequited love for her, and they find themselves in each other’s arms.
Commentary: All Singing! All Dancing! One of the best episodes of the series, one that got significant praise, an Emmy nomination, independent release of the soundtrack and people cosplaying the Music Meister at comics conventions. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the actors involved, Neil Patrick Harris (Music Meister) and Grey DeLisle (Black Canary), are professional singers as well as voice actors, as are James Arnold Taylor (Green Arrow) and John Di Maggio (Aquaman and Grodd).
Recommendation: Definitely recommended, 10 out of 10 spirals, for the catchy music, well-done singing and orchestration, and most definitely for the sense of humor from all of the musical riffs from “West Side Story” to “Phantom of the Opera” to “Amadeus” and the many musical costume changes from the Phantom to mod 60’s to a drum major’s uniform to heavy metal.
What to Watch For:
- Black Manta, the Clock King and Grodd show off some pretty decent classical (and coordinated) ballet moves under the Music Meister’s control.
- When Batman tries to stop the rocket launch, he is attacked by all six heroes and villains under the Meister’s control. As they circle him, they are all snapping their fingers, just like the fight scenes from “West Side Story”.
- The Music Meister’s staff shoots out an electric shock that looks like a musical score.
- See how many of Batman’s enemies you can identify as they are shown in Arkham Asylum. Most are still wearing their headgear which helps in identification. (But why is Black Manta imprisoned in a giant goldfish bowl?)
- Check out the names on the walls in the death trap scene. There are some very obscure DC hero and villain group names there, such as “Inferior Five”, “Tornado Twins”, “Trenchcoat Brigade” and “Injustice Gang” that never appeared in an episode. Someone was having fun there.
- When Batman and Black Canary get out of the death trap, Batman asks Canary “Was the singing really necessary?”
- ‘Drives Us Bats!’ has the line “Whether dancing the Batusi”. The Batusi was a dance created in the the original “Batman” TV series in the 60’s.
- ‘Drives Us Bats!’ also has the line “He’s just a flying rat.” The German translation for ‘bat’ is ‘fleidermaus’ or ‘flying rat’. “Die Fleidermaus” is a German comic operetta that is about the impending imprisonment of the lead character, as well as a host of comic masquerades and mistaken identities, and someone wearing a bat costume. (Hence the name of the operetta.)
- Neil Patrick Harris’ best known singing was for “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” but older readers would recognize him from “Dougie Howser, MD”.
- Grey DeLisle is a very prolific voice actress whose biggest known character would be Daphne Blake of “Scooby-Doo!”
- James Arnold Taylor has doubled for the voices of almost every male actor in Hollywood.