Musical episodes, in and of themselves, aren’t that cool anymore, neither are they crazy. Everyone’s done a musical episode at this point, so Comedy Bang! Bang! is setting itself a bit of a challenge by airing (as its mid-season finale, too!) a musical episode. How do you approach it? Ironically? Break the fourth wall or just be a full-on musical from minute one? As a long-time fan of Scott Aukerman’s work, I figured he wouldn’t half-ass it—the guy knows from musicals, and he wisely brought Paul F. Tompkins back as Andrew Lloyd Webber to stage the whole thing for him.
“Casey Wilson Wears A White Lace Dress And A Black Blazer” (props for sticking to the title format) is the right amount of self-aware. Aukerman and co.’s love for musical theater shines through, but the episode mostly has fun with the idea that they’re jumping on the musical train and, to some extent, kinda half-assing it, using the ridiculous Lord ALW to explain away anything that doesn’t make sense or really follow through.
My biggest complaint is that I wish the show had thrown its traditional format out the window this week. It may have been for budgetary reasons—even though there are some wacky set-pieces, pretty much everything happens on the same sets as usual—but the rhythm of the show gets interrupted every time Scott and Casey go back to the couch and do the weird awkward interview shtick. Most of their interview is taken up with internal-monologue songs where both acknowledge how badly it’s all going, before Casey (whose lace dress is appropriate attire) is kidnapped by the Phantom of the Bang Bang Set (the always-welcome Tom Lennon) and spirited away to his much better talk show.
Wilson’s presence is necessary to conform to the whole Phantom Of The Opera spoof, and she trills in an appropriately Sarah Brightman fashion as she’s boated away (although was that Wilson’s voice? I wonder). But I wanted more time with the Phantom and less time with the unnecessary plot—he steals Wilson away to be on his show, but then we just get one brief glimpse of it, so it seems like a lot of fussing for not enough payoff.
Tompkins is, of course, vital and brilliant as Lord ALW, now in top hat and cape after his (comparatively) subtle costume in season one. I cannot choose between Tompkins characters and you can’t make me, but Lord ALW HAS to be near the top. He’s so damn delightful even when he’s standing on ceremony (“you don’t touch Lords,” he reminds Scott), and his bonkers musical number to close the episode is definitely the most memorable of the night. When called on his shenanigans, he makes the reasonable point that Lord ALW can always make forever and ever: He’s produced a dozen or so completely demented musicals that have all been hits. “It’s no stranger than a roller-skating train, or the very concept of a Jellical ball,” he notes.
It’s also funny for the show to have a musical episode when it has such a distinct musical component already in Reggie Watts, although the two things are so different that they manage to co-exist in the same space. But it’s worth acknowledging that Reginald kills his big solo and is a commanding musical presence in all endeavors, forever and ever.
This has been such a fun, surprising, refreshing 10 episodes for this show, which in my opinion has really found its feet and distinguished itself even in the ever-more crowded world of alternative TV comedies. There’s something so distinctive about the Aukerman’s brand of humor and how straight-ahead and old-fashioned it can come across, even when it’s being super-weird. The show is only off the air for a month or so before returning with a brand-new bunch of episodes (which will air alongside The Birthday Boys, something you should all be super-excited for), and I’m looking forward to whatever it’s come up with.
- Lord ALW knows how to prepare for a play. “Off you go, boys! Do not say the title of the Scottish play, Macbeth!”
- “She’s the most talented Wilson since a little volleyball I know.”
- That was Laraine Newman as Melrose Ballrod, right? “I’m like a person who has successfully transferred her belongings from one domicile to another. Moved.”
- The Phantom lives below Scott’s chair. “If you were ever to poop through your chair and there was a hole in the floor, it would land on my head.”
- Nice Dom DiMelo cameo at the end there, bringing out the girls.