This review contains spoilers.
Cartoon Network's "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" has been a delightful show, thus far. While it keeps Batman more or less "Batman," it embraces much of the wackiness the DC Universe has to offer. A previous episode introduced a pitch perfect interpretation of Aquaman, casting him as a "Hercules of the Sea" character. The producers even brought DeMatteis in to write an episode bringing Batman to the Green Lantern Corps, where he befriends Sinestro and reenacts the infamous "one punch" scene with Guy Gardner, from the classic Giffen/DeMatteis "Justice League." With a new run of episodes in full swing, Warner Bros gave us access to tonight's episode: "Mayhem of the Music Meister."
The episode opens with Gorilla Grodd, Clock King, and Black Manta plotting to hijack a satellite for their nefarious ends. They are intercepted by a trio of goodies: Aquaman, Black Canary, and Green Arrow, but before a brawl can begin, Black Manta breaks out in song, much to his chagrin. Soon, the rest find themselves acting in a similarly peculiar manner, and the group discovers that they are in the thrall of the Music Meister. Batman soon appears overhead in a tiny Batcopter, remarking "This concerto of crime is over!" Quickly donning earplugs to avoid the Music Meister's dulcet tones, he challenges the Meister to battle. Batman soon finds, however, he must also face his own allies. In the midst of the chaos, the Music Meister makes his own discovery: Black Canary's voice charms his wicked little heart.
If you cannot get into the basic concept of the episode, it will be a grind. Most of the songs revolve around the Music Meister and his need to make himself a personality across the world. The first one is quite fun because of its oddity, but a subsequent song about the character is quite grating. The standout number in the episode is "He Drives Us Bats." The song will kick around in your ears and stick in your mind well after the episode has drawn its final curtain. Since this particular song is rather good, it will not be an unpleasant experience.
Neil Patrick Harris brings his particular talents to the voice of the Music Meister. If you have seen "Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog," you'll recognize Harris' voice instantly. Like in "Dr. Horrible," the actor brings a certain desperation to his villainous canters. The Meister is a sad individual, forced to control other people in order to simply interact with them. Eventually, his fascination with Canary is shattered, and he returns to his original, evil plot.
The episode does seem to have a weakness in never defining just what the Music Meister is after. Many scenes show controlled citizens delivering money to the Meister's stage, but if he already controls the people of the Earth, why would he need all that loot? Of course, that is a minor concern as the songs are the episode's hook.
Special mention should go to Grey DeLisle, who plays Black Canary. Her voice is a great counter to Harris. Also, the design of Canary resembles Lauren Bacall or Veronica Lake and, combined with the voice, makes for one of the best interpretations of the character on screen thus far.
"The Mayhem of the Music Meister" continues "The Brave and the Bold's" tradition of weaving crazy ideas into Batman's field of vision while never once losing the character. It is surprising to learn that every episode to date is from the initial order of episodes. It is rare to see such a show display the kind of confidence on display here.
"Mayhem of the Music Meister" debuts October 23 at 7:30 PM ET on Cartoon Network.