During the TV/movie writers strike a few months back, Joss Whedon (creator of such hits as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly) and his friends decided to do something different. They felt they wanted to give this new-fangled internet a try and use it to produce content they could actually make money on without involving traditional producers. The result, is Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, a 3-part web-series that was released for free on drhorrible.com for a short few hours.
JP commented on it last week, and unfortunately at the time the first act went up the server was overloaded. Unfortunately, it slipped out of my mind at that point. But thanks to one of the SFSignal crew (props Kevin!) I was reminded of it late Saturday and watched the entire 45min yesterday.
The show stars “TV’s Doogie Houser” Neil Patrick Harris as Dr. Horrible, Nathan Fillion as his arch-nemesis Captain Hammer, and Felicia Day as the love-interest Penny. My guess is these folks that Joss has worked with before were willing to give his alternate business model a try and that’s who is on the project (witness the crew contains his 2 brothers as well.) I applaud their attempt and I hope it works out for them because I have to see more.
Simply put, the show was fantastic. Neil Patrick Harris is stunning in how good an actor he is. He can deliver comic lines, seriously evil lines, and even sing with timing and perfection. Every line of dialog, every line of every song has to be listened to intently – there is something important in every word and phrase. I felt I was watching the video equivalent to an O’Henry short story – every word hand-crafted to contribute to advancing the story. Nathan looks awesome as the shallow Captain Hammer and also delivers lines with aplomb. There is a scene where he describes what the hammer is in act 2 that had me laughing out loud. He also does a great job belting out the songs.
The songs are driving and compelling and very often intertwined between characters. Each one has their agenda and point of view on the song making it very interesting to listen to. I watched the whole series twice just to listen to different vocal parts of the songs. For example, in the first act there is a 3-part song from each character’s point of view that is expertly woven together to hit phrases and words together. The same is true with a two-part song at the beginning of act 2 with Penny singing about hope and Dr Horrible singing about evil. Captain Hammer even takes over one of Dr Horrible’s songs while foiling his plot. It was amazing work and impressive on many levels.
My only real regret is that it ended. I wanted 45 more minutes of it! While the free event is over, you can get it via iTunes for $4 for all 3. They are also working on a DVD which Joss claims will contain several extras. And there is a companion comic authored by Zack Whedon that gives us more on Captain Hammer. I’m not sure what the DVD will cost, but $4 is a small price to pay for such high-quality content.