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How did I miss this?? Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog!

January 14th, 2009
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I cannot believe this has been in existence since the summer and I only just saw it a few days ago!!!

What am I talking about?  It’s the incomparable Joss Whedon’s 3-part web-series Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which has just been released on DVD.  

Some back-story: Conceived during the writers strike, Joss Whedon (Firefly, Serenity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), along with a gaggle of his friends, created a 3-part web series (each installment totaling approx. 15 minutes in length) that was released, for free, on the web this past summer.  It was quite a success, crashing various web-servers and garnering a lot of acclaim in the mainstream media.  

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a super-villain musical.  Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) turns in quite possibly the best performance of his career (certainly the best performance of his that I’ve ever seen) as the titular sad-sack super-villain, Dr. Horrible.  His nemesis: the handsome and super-strong hero Captain Hammer, played by Nathan Fillion (Captain Tightpants himself — Mal Reynolds from Firefly and Serenity).  In addition to their repeated conflicts over all of Dr. Horrible’s nefarious schemes (undertaken in an attempt to join the League of Evil), the two quickly fall for the same girl:  the beguiling Penny, played by Felicia Day.  And did I mention this was a musical?

All of the actors (the three leads and a variety of other talented folk) all turn in magnificent performances, but Neil Patrick Harris’ Dr. Horrible is one of the great creations of recent memory.  The story opens with a lengthy monologue straight into camera by Harris, delivered without cuts — this is our introduction to his video blog.  The sequence is astounding — a magical combination of a talented actor and a sharp, hilarious script by Whedon.  If you’re not hooked by its end, then I really don’t think we have anything in common.

Great actors and a hysterical, poignant script — that would be enough, no?  But I was blown away by the quality of the songs.  There are 14 songs in total, and they are really astounding.  Judging music is not my forte, but I found all of the songs to be catchy, witty, and well incorporated into the overall story.  I was humming quite a few of them after my first viewing.

Although I am astounded that I let something of such high quality go un-watched by me for so many months, I don’t regret too strongly holding out for the DVD release.  That’s because in addition to a high-quality image and some terrific special features (an in-depth “making-of” and a fun, insightful commentary) there is a also second commentary track — a little something called “Commentary!  The Musical.”  This is a full-length commentary track that is, itself, a musical about commentary tracks.  You with me?  I turned it on, not knowing quite what to expect, and was rewarded with what is, in essence, an entirely new musical by Joss and the entire cast.  It is genius.  (My favorite part:  Nathan Fillion’s song “I’m better than Neil.”)

I remember seeing an interview with Joss Whedon (it was on the DVDs of either Firefly: The Complete Series or Serenity, I can’t quite recall) in which he discussed how his goal, when creating something new, is never to make something that people will like.  His goal is to make something people will LOVE.  Well, in this case: mission accomplished.  I am head-over-heels for Dr. Horrible… and if you haven’t seen it yet, then what the heck are you waiting for???

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