Reportedly, when Nathan Fillion’s phone rang and he saw on his caller-id that it was Joss Whedon on the other end of the line, he picked up and said: ”the answer is YES”. This was during the writers strike of 2007-early 2008 and Whedon was calling because, with all the regular programmes shut down, he and a couple of friends/relatives had come up with a pet project: an internet musical in three acts, viewable for free and since then released on dvd and blu-ray.
Dr. Horrible is about an aspiring evil genius, reporting to us via his weblog. Dr. Horrible and his alter ego Billy try to balance ‘normal’ life (with problems such as working up the courage to talk to the girl of your dreams) with achieving world domination (with problems such as batling one’s nemesis and getting into the Evil League of Evil by doing enough bad deeds to impress its leader Bad Horse). Not to mention having to practice your evil laugh….
As mentioned, this project came to life during the writers strike, and it is a real labour of love. Joss Whedon, togehter with his brothers Zack and Jed and the fabulous Marissa Tancharoen, whipped up a delightful tale, which is perfectly executed by everybody involved. Not just by the three leads, Neil Patrick Harris (that boy can sing!), Felicia Day and Nathan Fillion, but all the others as well: the hilarious groupies (they do the weird stuff!), Buffy alumni Marti Noxon and Doug Petrie as the news readers, all the way down to a bunch of fairly famous actors appearing as members of the Evil League of Evil. See if you can spot them all.
This 45 minute romp, originally broadcast as three 15 minute videoblogs, is so verry funny but at the same time it has all the staples Whedonites have come to expect of a universe created by Joss the Great. The hero might be evil, the Bad guy might be good. Victory may taste suspiciously like defeat, everything is as dark as it is funny, and the writing and punning is superb. And just wait untill you see Evil League of Evil’s leader Bad Horse (he’s the thouroughbread of sin, you know). Best. Casting. Ever!
This pet project gone big (and I mean BIG: the first time it aired, the servers crashed) is well made, wel acted and well sung. The reason Dr. Horrible works, is that it does not try to please anybody but itself. Everybody involved is clearly having a great time and that makes for a great end-result. Which is not to say that this is an amateur effort. The songs are lovely (you’ll be humming them for weeks), the acting (particularly NPH) is very good. Fillion finally gets to be his most cheesy and the detail (in both the acting and the surroundings) is astonishing. There is always something going on in the background.
As for the dvd: there are tons of extras here. Starting from the very beginning where there is fun to be had with the “do not copy” fbi-logo, to the commentaries, one of which is a musical in it’s own right and absolutely hysterical. Plus there are a whole bunch of audition tapes from aspiring supervillans applying for the Evil League of Evil. Particularly the first one just screams: spin-off.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing A Long Blog proves what happens when truly creative minds are freed from the limitations that ‘the industry’ imposes on them. It goes to show that the desire to make money instead of movies disrupts the creative process. True creativity, when left to roam, will make money almost effortlessly, as this project (which lead to t-shirts, cd’s, books and lots of other merchandise) makes abundantly clear. Personally, I believe Joss Whedon should get a Nobel prize (or at least a whole bunch of awards) for his contribution to Film and TV in the past two decades. But at the very least he should be alowed to create more things like this.