Review: Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is surprisingly entertaining, and engaging. It's a short and easy view, and doesn't feel like a waste of time.

The short version: For a three-part Internet show that lasts only 43 minutes, Joss Whedon packs in a complete story with well timed song, bits of action and a tragic love story - all wrapped up as a misguided tragedy that is pretty entertaining.

Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog is a three-part, 43 minute Internet Series musical comedy drama created by Joss Whedon during the writers strike and stars Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day. It's best described as "a villain's tragedy with a 'happy' ending."

Warning:  The review can be deemed story spoilers!

The episode opens with Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) practicing his evil laugh. He admits to working with a vocal coach to help improve said evil laugh. He's trying to become a member of the Evil League Of Evil, led by Bad Horse, the leader of the gang who rules with an "iron hoof".

Horrible's application to the evil gang comes under consideration, but he has to do something evil enough for them to consider his admittance. The problem is he wants to be evil, but there's a good side deep down that the viewers get a drift of early on.

But Dr. Horrible wants to be evil, which is fine, except for two little things: Penny (Felicia Day), the girl he's head over heels about, and Capt Hammer (Nathan Fillion), who always shows up to thwart his evil deeds.

Horrible's attraction to Penny keeps him stuck on the bubble between good and evil, and her influence could ultimately bring him to the good side-that is, if he ever attempted to talk to her. That all changes when one of his evil deeds brings "his" Penny and the self absorbed Capt. Hammer together. Penny and Hammer start dating, and that union sets the stage for Horrible to dive deep into his own deluded form of semi-darkness.

One slight flaw of Dr. Horrible is that he keeps a video blog, where he tends to forecast his evil plans. Sadly, the first escapade he planned to get him into the Evil League of Evil got trounced because, well, the police and Capt Hammer watched his blog and were waiting for him.

As the show comes to a close, Dr. Horrible finally gets Capt Hammer where he wants him, freezing him with his freeze ray. Yet, as Horrible sings on to his blog to rant about his soon-to-be victory, the freeze ray battery dies; Horrible sees this and says, "That's not a good sound," just as Hammer breaks free and pops him. Hammer grabs Horrible's death ray gun, but it backfires, blowing Hammer across the room, while Penny takes shrapnel to the chest and dies. (Whedon kills off another female character!)

Everything changes for Horrible as he's pinned for the murder of Penny; Hammer is devastated by his own loss (of the fight with Horrible, not his girlfriend,) and, with a murder beef to flesh out his rap-sheet, Horrible gets into the Evil League Of Evil.

THE END.  Now read on for my opinions!

Face it, what network would finance a musical about good and evil? Who cares. Joss Whedon went ahead with his plan and judging from the resounding success it has had with his followers, this was a great move in the Joss-Verse.

My first take on this Internet show brings me back to the days when I used to go see The Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight. (I won't tell you what I wore.) However, with Rocky Horror, you needed a theater full of crazy people to have fun, while Dr. Horrible is just fun and engaging. It stays entertaining throughout, and if you were ever a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes like the musical episode, Once More, with Feeling, this is either on par with or much better than that. I can see Dr Horrible having a heck of a fan following as a new kind of cult classic that could replace The Rocky Horror Picture Show, if it ever makes it off the Web and into theaters.

Each actor portrayed their role convincingly and I believe they had fun doing it. (Actually, I heard them say they had fun doing it when I attended the Dr. Horrible panel at the San Diego 2008 Comic-Con. ) At the panel, Joss said the future is rolling on with entertainment branching onto the Internet, and that you can’t ignore it. He said there’s a new way to put out media that involves all of us, the fans, and not so much some ‘other people.’ He pointed out that he’s not trying to bring down the studios, but things are changing and they need to look at that evolution and not ignore it.

IF you're wondering, there will be more Dr. Horrible coming, including a DVD and a soundtrack.

For now, you can catch Dr. Horrible on Hulu with limited commercial interruption. It's worth it. Check it out before it goes away and becomes a purchase-only commodity.

If I were to rate this: though I don't like stand-alone type single episodes, and am not really a musical fan, I'd give it a 4.5 out of 5, and that's only because I'd be nervous to say 5 out of 5!

The other disclaimer is that I am sure this is a shoe-in with Joss Whedon fans, and it's good enough to draw an audience from amongst those who aren't on that band wagon. If you're one of those that don't quite get where Whedon is coming from with his work, I still think you might enjoy Dr. Horrible, so give it a try.

Source: Dr. Horrible Official Site

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