It’s Rob Benedict’s birthday on Sept 21 and it wasn’t easy picking the story to review that features him in some way, because he’s been in a lot of great episodes. However, since I love musicals and Rob is a talented singer - I just had to review the first (and most likely - only) Supernatural musical episode.
Did I say that I love musicals? Oh yes, I do indeed. As a child, I was not only fascinated by The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music, but I also watched many musicals featuring Judy Garland, Doris Day, and Julie Andrews on television. Did you know that when Dorothy arrives in Oz that the movie is suddenly in Technicolor? Not me. I didn’t have a color television as a kid and was very surprised the first time that I saw the movie in color. Anyway, there’s little that makes me happier than when someone bursts into song. It’s an added bonus if they are also dancing…and in color.
The Road So Far
Sam and Dean posed as game wardens as they dealt with Kate (“Bitten”) and her sister Tasha. Poor Jared still has his arm in a sling and looks really thin and uncomfortable. Tasha is a bad werewolf and must be put down but Kate is allowed to go on her way.
Mean drama teacher gets snatched by something unpleasant. An all-girl school is rehearsing a very special musical while Sam and Dean get some shut-eye and some Baby engine maintenance done. After Dean finds out about the missing drama teacher, the boys arrive at the school where they get a very big surprise.
Okay, enough with the recapping…on with the show!!!
Calliope: Supernatural has everything. Life, death, resurrection, redemption…but above all, family. All set to music you can really tap your toe to. It isn't some meandering piece of genre dreck, it's... epic.
I’m with Calliope on that one. Supernatural at its best – is epic. Plus, when they add musical numbers, no matter how cheesy, I’m a very happy fangirl.
I had a mean drama teacher in high school who probably derailed my career as a character actor in small, but memorable roles. Thank you, Mrs. Parks…ya big meanie. Anyway, I was delighted with this episode right from the beginning. It’s genius the way that Marie and Maeve look at their lighted Supernatural signage, only to have it turn into a lovely montage of a few memorable title cards.
Do we have the best show, or what? What other series has title cards that are this entertaining and imaginative? Also, our recaps are marvelous. Most other shows have really boring recaps that I barely pay attention to, but ours are part of the show and very important to us. I commend whoever puts those recaps together. They are usually excellent.
Now, let’s pause to admire Baby’s shiny engine, Dean’s single-layer greasy tee-shirt, and Sam’s sleepy vee-neck attire. Oh, yeah. That’s such a great shot from Baby’s trunk (also, there’s a great shot of Dean walking away in his ripped blue jeans), with a throw-back to the famous line – “We got work to do.” The fun doesn’t stop as we get some bro-bantering and the arrival of Sam and Dean to an all-girl school where they get another meta-type shock. Man, I love Supernatural’s meta episodes. They’re one of the highlights of my viewing experience. This time, I love the way that the singing starts as Sam and Dean enter the school auditorium. The camera is on Sam and Dean and it’s wavering in a Twilight Zone kind of way to show the boys' shock and discombobulation.
I love the first song - “John and Mary, husband and wife…bringing home a brand-new life…” but then again, I also love Dr. Seuss. I also love Jumanji, which would not have been half as fun if there hadn’t been all that rhyming. “In the jungle, you must wait…until the dice read five or eight.” Ooh. There’s just something about a rhyme, especially set to music, that makes me very happy.
It’s also great the way that Dean’s so agitated about there not being any singing in Supernatural. I guess he doesn’t like crying in baseball, either. I love that Sam thinks (after he gets used to the idea) that the musical is charming, but Dean’s still not amused. I like Sam wanting to talk about his tech days and play with the equipment. Yes, Dean once again takes center stage, but isn’t that how it usually was, when they were growing up? Dean dates the head cheerleader and struts down the hallway, while Sam studies or hangs out with the geeky kids. It’s fun to listen to Sam and Dean talk about Sam’s theatre experience. I love those references to their shared past.
I admire Marie’s tenacity and the way that she can’t leave the story where it ended. I agree with her that leaving Dean with Lisa and leaving Sam mysteriously back from Hell, with no explanation, was a terrible ending. Dean’s recap of what really happened was fun, but I get a little miffed at Marie for calling it garbage. Hey, it wasn’t that bad. The trials were great, as was my beloved season seven. Heck, I even enjoyed most of season nine. Demon Dean was underwhelming and I for one was glad that they moved on quickly from that. On the other hand, maybe Demon Dean would have been done better if they had a longer time frame to tell that story. Regardless, I’m still mostly happy with the series, at this point.
There’s more poking the fandom about subtext, Sam smiling and having fun, a horrifying (not) scarecrow with button eyes, and then the boys figure out who’s behind the problems. It’s Calliope, the Muse. Fun fact: Felicia Day named her daughter - Calliope Maeve. She must really like this episode. Anyway, Marie is rattled when she finds out that she’s about to be eaten by a Muse in a long gown and I think it's fun when we find out that Marie likes Sam best! Hey, just like Becky! You know, that does make her seem awful dense when Sam is right there in all his glory, but she doesn’t recognize him or pay that much attention to him, once she realizes who he is. Her loss, I say.
I do think that it’s weird when Dean just starts giving a big speech to the cast – it’s not like the rest of them know why he’s there, do they? Don’t they think it’s odd that the FBI guy is now wearing flannel and giving them a pep talk? Anyhow, it’s a good speech, I guess. At least Marie does take charge at the end and leads them through their ghostfacers cheer.
I enjoy it when the musical starts and behind the scenes, Sam and Dean are hunting the scarecrow. Actually, I guess - the scarecrow is hunting Sam, who doesn’t turn around fast enough when Dean starts madly signaling at him. Oh no, Sam’s been taken again! Okay, true confessions…I love that. Sam’s missing, Dean’s worried – that’s kind of my thing. I know, it has been going on forever, but I just can’t help loving it still. Then we do get some backward sliding Sam action and Dean’s running through the backstage to get to where Sam has disappeared. Then there’s a single man tear and “Dean” keeps singing while real Dean flies across the stage when he’s thrown by the scarecrow. Next, a single wise man puts on his poncho. I would too - I hate to get my clothes wet. There’s a happy ending as Calliope is defeated, the audience starts to clap, Marie looks happy, and everyone – Dean included – bows. Okay, Sam being out there too, for that bow, would have been better. It’s cute, anyway, and it’s even better because Dean says this:
Take a bow, Sammy.
I like the subtext that I read in that line - it seems to me that he meant Marie, but also, his brother. Wishful thinking? Maybe, maybe not. Remember the ending of Foul Play (some of you might be old enough to remember that one) when Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn are onstage with the opera cast and almost the same thing happens? I love that ending.
Of course, it’s not yet over as Marie tells Dean that he never should have thrown the “Samulet” away. You tell him, Marie. Sure, Dean, maybe you don’t need a symbol to show how you feel about your brother, but maybe Sam needs you to care about that amulet more, you think?
Confession time - up to this point I’ve been doing just fine, but now we’re up to the part of the show that makes me start to lose it, every time. Hey, I almost rhyme.
Marie as Sam: The two of us against the world. Real Sam: What she said.
Then that song starts. The focus is on the girl who’s playing Mary and to make it extra painful; Bobby wheels up, then he gets out of his wheelchair, Adam joins the line, Sam and Dean look sad, and then my handwritten notes become barely legible. I have to take off my glasses to watch the rest of the show, because I’m crying too much to wear them – they won’t stay on my nose.
The close-ups on Sam and Dean’s faces with tears in their eyes…I can’t even. Oh please, don’t cry no more, I can’t stand it. As the sweet sounds of Carry On Wayward Son fade into a shot of the boys sitting in Baby - Dean hangs the Samulet on the rearview mirror and they drive off into the sunset.
There’s one more surprise guest, though. The author of the Supernatural books shows up at the end to give Marie a brief critique. “Not bad,” Chuck says.
I hope Rob has a happy birthday, he’s such a huge part of the show and the fandom. Canonically speaking, he’s the Big Guy. I’m okay with Chuck being the God of Supernatural, I just wish that there was a better explanation of Chuck the Prophet’s actions during the early seasons. Oh well, that’s showbiz.
Random Favorite Musicals (Spooky or otherwise)
Moulin Rouge (2001) – This is my favorite movie musical (until they finally make Wicked into a film, probably) of all-time. I adore Ewan McGregor and his sparkling grin. Nicole Kidman is also wonderful as the lovely Satine. I was transfixed as the film moved through comedy to tragedy. I loved the way that different songs were sprinkled throughout, but my favorite song and dance number was the tango set to “Roxanne.” It’s breathtaking with the large number of dancers intercut with all the other actors, dancing and acting their hearts out. Amazing.
Yentl (1983) – Barbara Streisand and Mandy Patinkin are sublime in this musical, but I was the most taken with Amy Irving, who played Hadass – who never sang a note, unless you count the humming. She’s so gorgeous and sweet here, it’s no wonder that both Avigdor and Yentl are so smitten. “Tomorrow Night,” is my favorite part.
Galavant (2015-2016) Timothy Omundson was fantastic as King Richard. He was so funny and really grew the most, as a character. Timothy was unhappy that this show was canceled, and so was I. It had some rough spots, but it also had so many great songs. I loved it a lot. Here’s part of the opening song:
Way back in days of olde,
there was a legend told,
about a hero known as Galavant.
Square jaw and perfect hair,
cojones out to there,
there was no hero quite like Galavant.
Tough, plus every other manly value,
mess with him, he'll disembowel you.
Yay! He ruled in every way!
A fairy tale cliché!
And people called him Gaaaaaaa-laaaaaaa-vaaaaaaaaaaaant!
Doctor Horrible’s Sing A-Long Blog (2008) – Joss, Zach, and Jed Whedon wrote this musical during the writer’s strike of 2007-2008. Coincidentally, that was the same strike that derailed season three of our show. They put it on the internet so that they wouldn’t be breaking the television strike. I read a lot of good things about it, so I bought the DVD. Oh my, I fell in love and I watch it over and over. Felicia Day plays Penny and Neil Patrick Harris is fantastic as Doctor Horrible, who would make a great villain on Supernatural, by the way.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015 -) I had never heard of Rachel Bloom before I watched this show. Now, I’m a big fan. Rachel is wonderful as Rebecca Bunch - an incredibly smart, but totally clueless character. Rebecca breaks my heart as she tries to navigate her life towards happiness, but she always seems to get it wrong, somehow. There are wacky music and dance sequences and laughs abound. I just wish that Rebecca would stop singing so much about sex and bodily functions. Other than that, it’s genius. Sample song:
I'm the villain in my own story,
my actions have gone way too far.
I told myself that I was Jasmine,
but I realize now - I'm Jafar.
We're told love conquers all,
but that only applies to the hero.
Is the enemy what I'm meant to be?
Is being the villain my destiny?
That's Rachel as the witch and Gabrielle Ruiz as her victim - Valencia.
Into the Woods (2014) – Meryl Streep’s very good in this film, I loved every moment of her performance onscreen. The rest of the cast also brings this lovely tale to life. I loved the twists and turns and the way that this story differed from a “happy” fairy-tale, which are not supposed to be so up-beat, anyway. Fairy tales used to be quite frightening, before Disney got their mitts on them. The first time I watched this, my college-aged daughter had just moved back home to go to a local college, so the song the witch sang about children – that really got to me:
Don't you know what's out there in the world,
someone has to shield you from the world...
Stay with me.
That’s the gist of what I want to say to my adult children, even though I know, one day soon, that they will leave and go out on their own. Parenthood is really like wearing your heart on the outside, isn’t it?
Fiddler On the Roof (1971) – Oh Yenta, Yenta! How I love this extra-long musical. I’d only heard the lyrics on a record player before my best friend took me to see this in a theatre that was playing retro films. She made me keep my eyes closed until the movie started, for a surprise. I was surprised, alright. I yelled something, I forget what, when the Fiddler started to play. What a beautiful, life-affirming, yet sad film.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Once More with Feeling” (2001) – This is the standard against which all other television musicals are held up to. So far, none have been able to top this almost perfect musical episode. Sarah Michelle Gellar once again brings the pain and joy of The Slayer to life, only this time, she’s singing her heart out. She has an average voice, but she’s still sublime. All the cast and especially, Anthony Stewart Head as Giles, bring something special to this one.
Xena: Warrior Princess “The Bitter Suite” (1998) – I was obsessed with this episode and thought it was the epitome of musical television excellence until I saw Buffy’s musical episode (sorry, Xena). It’s still quite wonderful, though. Lucy Lawless, oh my…can that girl sing! Yes, she can. She has a lovely voice and it’s a treat to get to hear her sing. Unfortunately, Renee O’Connor (Gabrielle) didn’t do her own singing, and her dubbed voice…it just sounded weird. Like it was Gabrielle, but not. You know what I mean? No matter, this musical interlude is so magical and heartrending, but also fun and imaginative. Hudson Leick (Callisto), Ted Raimi (Joxer), and Kevin Smith (Ares) are wonderful back-up players to this marvelous episode.
Sweeny Todd (2007) – Yes, I know that’s not the complete title, but my fingers are wearing out. Johnny Depp might not be the best singer, but he’s awfully good as Sweeny. I feel so bad for him and his lovely family. What a terrible sequence of events that befell those poor people. Of course, it just gets worse, but in the meantime…there are many gorgeous visuals and sounds to enjoy. At first viewing, the bloodletting did bother me, but as productions become more and more violent – this might not seem too bloody, anymore.
A Random Bonus Musical Review
Les Misérables (2012) – I wrote this review, years ago, before I found out that I was a writer. I wrote a review of this movie, as a joke, to send to a friend. I had such fun writing it, that I saved a copy. You know, I think I’m a little dense. Even my high school career test said that I should be a writer. Forget acting, I could have been either Siskel or Ebert. Here’s a condensed version:
Nearly every song is filmed in extreme close-up; I bet I could tell you the number of pores in every actor’s face. I've also never seen so many close-up shots of bosoms, smeared with dirt. Not to mention the shots of brown teeth, also close-up. By the halfway point, I’m dying for a view of a bird or the sky. This movie is filmed in France, or against a brick wall in Detroit? There’s no way to tell. I guess it’s my autistic tendencies coming out, but I want to physically push the camera back. Talk about getting in your personal space, it’s so claustrophobic; I start wishing that Julie Andrews would swoop down a mountain and save me.
The middle part’s so slow. Every time the action starts getting anywhere, they must pause so that Hugh Jackman or Russell Crowe can sing a boring song for five minutes. I do marvel at the actress playing Eponie. She has a waist that’s the tiniest one that I’ve ever seen, even on a six-year-old. She’s also one of the good singers, thankfully.
I almost leave in the middle, but I’m determined to see it through to the end. It occurs to me, while I am longing for the camera man to pull back, that they should show this film to political prisoners on a continuous loop at a loud volume. They would confess in no time. (In their not-horrible political prison - this is what they should have done to Sam and Dean. Now, THAT would have been worse than 100 years in Hell.)
Finally, it’s over. I stagger to my car where the first thing I do is turn off the radio. I just can’t take one more person singing at me. A friend of mine loves this movie - she saw it in the theatre, twice. Twice!! I’d rather get a root canal without sedation.
Whew, I’m finally done, I think. Of course, there are lots more musicals that I could mention, but I’m too long-winded, already. Even if everyone wasn’t happy with this musical version of Supernatural’s 200th episode, there must be some musicals that you like, right?
Once More with Feeling - thanks for reading!
Screencaps courtesy of: