What happens to the picked on choir-kid who discovers that his voice can hypnotize folks into do whatever he wants? Well, villainy, of course. Bouncy, toe-tappy villainy. In tonight’s episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the Dark Knight does battle with such a grown-up fiend, the somewhat-goofily named Music Meister. And what makes this episode of the Cartoon Network’s already fun Bat-show noteworthy was that Neil Patrick Harris — he of How I Met Your Mother and Dr. Horrible fame — lent his precisely pitched pipes to the role.
It’s been said that in musicals, the song-and-dance numbers are the equivalent of action scenes in action movies. The weirdness of “Mayhem of the Music Meister” is that the music actually slows down the action: The story pauses while, for example, Black Canary (Grey Delisle) sings a torch song for Batman (with lyrics like “If only he could love me/like he loves fighting villainy”). The songs are fun — and NPH sings them out of the park — and it’s a perfect time to try this kind of musical experiment, in the wake of Dr. Horrible and the current mania over Glee. But, ultimately, it’s not a successful experiment. The songs and the superheroism don’t quite gel here as well as they should. Plus, Batman should never, ever sing. I don’t care how good his Bat-Auto-Tune gadget is.