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It's happening! The fan-demanded Flash/Supergirl musical I wrote about in July is actually happening on The CW on March 20th and 21st.
I know that many other fans are against a musical episode because they feel it will detract from the drama and/or be ridiculous. However, if done the right way, a musical episode can be extremely successful, offer revealing insight, and bring the characters closer together.
Case in point: the musical episode of #BuffyTheVampireSlayer, "Once More With Feeling," that aired during the series' sixth season.
A substantial success, the episode was highly lauded by critics, received three award nominations (although the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences neglected to include the title on the ballots for Emmy nominations in 2002), spawned a CD and was ranked by TV Guide in 2009 as the 14th best TV episode of all time. Not bad for a musical.
Obviously, it takes a certain amount of panache to pull off a successful musical episode, and — since there's no doubt Buffy's hit the mark — here's a few pointers that Berlanti and company can take from the Slayer's playbook.
Make The Plot As Strong As A Normal Episode
One thing Buffy did well was play to its strengths, even in the musical episode. Each of the major songs told a story and added to the plot. In addition, the entire episode wasn't all about the singing. The cast wasn't on Broadway, and while a lyrical episode was enjoyable, we still wanted the storyline to move along.
Both #TheFlash and #Supergirl have more than their fair share of enviable talent, but the last thing viewers want to hear are fluff pieces. We want the songs to be meaningful, and while we're looking forward to hearing the powerhouse vocals of Grant Gustin, Melissa Benoist and Jeremy Jordan, we also want to be moved by the songs. We want to understand why it was important for this particular storyline to be told in song.
Use The Songs To Learn More About The Characters (And Their Relationships)
"Once More With Feeling" introduced a character named "Sweet" who had the ability to force people to sing how they felt. "I'll Never Tell," sung by Xander and Anya, is the perfect example. The engaged couple was having doubts and were only able to share their fears through the song. It revealed a side to both of them that viewers wouldn't have ordinarily seen.
The Flash/Supergirl crossover is using #MusicMeister to compel the songs, a villain who controls people by making them sing and dance. But the songs have no revelations attached and are a means of creating puppets for Music Meister to use as he pleases.
There's still a chance, though, that the songs will be moving for the characters, and let's hope that is the case so that the crossover doesn't turn into a night on Broadway with no clear character development.
Embed A Twist To The Episode In A Song
Buffy dropped two bombs in one song in Once More With Feeling: Giles' impending departure and the breakup of Willow and Tara. While both of these twists could have been played out in future episodes, the show was able to pack a one-two punch in less than four minutes. While viewers figured Tara would eventually find out about Willow's deception, Giles' decision to leave came out of left field. So the song served a strong purpose and wasn't just for entertainment or to showcase the singing talents of Anthony Head and Amber Benson.
So what creative insights could The Flash or Supergirl deliver within the lyrics of a song? Perhaps Barry will reveal his vision of the future in which Iris dies or Supergirl will announce a shocking truth about Jeremiah Danvers. The options are plenty, and I hope Berlanti's team will use songs that are about more than "hey, these folks can sing."
Most, if not all, of the fans of the #DC Universe are looking forward to this crossover musical episode taking place in March. Other viewers are concerned that this will become two nights of flashing lights and peppy tunes that mean little to the overall flow of the stories these shows have been telling since the beginning of the seasons.
Let's hope #GregBerlanti has more in store for the fans than we think is even possible. After all, he's surprised us many times before!