"I have a Ph.D in horribleness"
Written by: Joss Whedon, Zac Whedon, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day
My rating: 10/10
Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog came from the bored, genius mind of Joss Whedon during the recent Writer's Strike. Because he was not allowed to do any work, his mind wandered on to a non-union side project available to watch for free online. This project was to be shown in three acts, each almost 15 minutes long. It was to be strictly internet only (although there is talk of an imminent DVD release, fingers crossed).
The story is about a wanna be evil genius, Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris), a nerdy loser with a flair for flamboyant science. He is in love with Penny, a girl he meets at the laundromat but doesn't have the nerve to talk to her. He must prove his worth by being accepted into the Evil League of Evil so he can find the confidence to ask her out. The only problem is, "cheesy on the outside" Captain Hammer also has eyes for her. Dr Horrible must battle Captain Hammer for both evil staus and Penny's heart.
First off, this work is not only revolutionary in its use of the internet medium, but it is also brilliant! Brilliantly funny, brilliantly tragic, brilliantly acted, brilliantly sung. The script is spot-on, the tone is spot-on and the songs are spot-on. The only variable here is your tolerance for the style of Joss Whedon. His ultra-hip turns of phrase and too witty to be believed banter can grate on some. But to others, it just helps to make the Buffyverse, and all it encapsulates, all the richer.
The first act starts with about 5 minutes of straight to camera video blog monologue from Dr. Horrible. Neil Patrick Harris absolutely nails the tone necessary to pull off this character. As with most of Whedon's characters they only work in the hands of the right people. Luckily he has a knack for casting and that explains his casting of Nathan Fillion as Captain Hammer. Joss knew a good thing when he found Fillion for the role of Captain Mal Reynolds in Firefly. He uses him to tremendous comic effect here. Nathan Fillion's asshole super hero is the perfect foil to our hero, the villainous Dr. Horrible.
The second act sees Dr. Horrible crumble as he sees Penny's relationship with Captain Hammer deepen. The third act takes as darker tone and the comedy fades and gives way to a tragic moral tale. Joss Whedon isn't just fancy one-liners folks. He's all about the heartbreak too. However disconcerting the final act was, in relation to the first two, it certainly proved that Joss is a daring storyteller and just an all-round genius who can do no wrong....hold your breath for his new show Dollhouse. Woo-hoo!
I know 10 out of 10 seems dramatic. But seriously, it's too silly to be called flawed and too joyous to criticise. It's about as perfect as silliness can be, but with a tragic punch to knock your socks off.
Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog is no longer available to watch for free online. It can be downloaded on i-Tunes, or if you're feeling naughty it can probably be You-Tubed :)
- Charlene Lydon 21/07/08