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REVIEW: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Dr. HorribleDuring 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 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.

7 Comments on REVIEW: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

  1. Right there with you.

    Some people spend near $4 on coffee for crying out loud. Whedon financed the project out of his pocket. I am sure I read an interview with him somewhere saying that monetizing it is the only way he’ll be able to pay the cast & crew.

    I want more of Dr. Horrible and other Whedon created content delivered directly to me with no stupid-firefly-canceling-suits in the middle. I ponied up my $4 and will buy the DVD when it comes out.

    As much as a fanboy I am of Joss Whedon, Neil Patrick Harris is brilliant in this. He really brought this to life IMHO.


    Ph.D. in Horribleness

  2. On top of being a comedic masterpiece, I love how Dr. Horrible so bitterly mocked the institutions of government, mass media, and super heroism… all without getting in the way of a real character-driven story. Go Team Whedon!

  3. First let me say I’ve never seen an episode of Firefly or Buffy. Dr. Horrible was great! I usually don’t even attempt to watch musicals, but the songs were funny and really helped tell the story. I hope there are more.

    ****spoiler alert****

    Speaking if more…anyone thinking re-animation?

  4. @Mike F:

    You’ve never seen Firefly??? Shame on you. 😀

    The entire season is up on for free – if you liked Dr. Horrible go check it out. You won’t be disappointed.


    Ph.D. in Horribleness

  5. Greg L. // July 22, 2008 at 9:23 am //

    My teenagers–big Whedonheads like their old man–loved it. Me…not so much. I didn’t dislike it, it just didn’t grab me. The musical aspect is overrated, in my opinion. NPH was great as always, and perfectly cast. A noble experiment that I grade B-, B at best. I will say I hope the delivery method catches on–it’s a good idea.

  6. @Michael Natale

    Thanks for the tip! No I don’t have to be embarrassed anymore. 😀

  7. Interesting article here on the economics/business model – all speculation but very well thought.

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