Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog
Aka yet another reason why Joss Whedon should be given carte blanche to do whatever the hell he wants. For non-Whedonists--or, like myself, fans who simply were too lazy to tune in during its original July 2008 online run--Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog was a three-act, online-only musical, running roughly 43 minutes in length, that Joss Whedon wrote and directed along with his brother Zack Whedon and multi-talented singer/actress/dancer/lyricist Maurissa Tanchereon, during the 2007-'08 Writers Guild of America writers' strike. The project was an attempt to produce professional-grade entertainment inexpensively and on a small-scale, outside the usual studio production and distribution methods that were, in part, issues of the then-ongoing strike. Dr. Horrible was obscenely successful--both in terms of its critical and audience response and the sales of its iTunes, Amazon video on demand, and initial DVD run, which paid the cast and crew and recouped the production costs--so much so that a sequel is in the works.
The movie--web series, whateverthehell it's called--follows the romantic misadventures of the titular Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris), an applicant to the Evil League of Evil who, like any hopeful, only wants to rule the world and commit mayhem. He also carries a torch for the girl he always sees at the laundromat, Penny (Felicia Day)--who knows Dr. Horrible only as Billy, a young man who can't seem to get the confidence to talk to her. Billy is who Penny runs into on the street with her petition to help the homeless, not knowing that Dr. Horrible is trying to steal a batch of wonderflonium for some nefarious plan. He's foiled, as always, by Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion), who not only thwarts the wonderflonium theft, but saves Penny's life, winning her heart.
Jaunty and silly Stephen Sondheimesque songs dot the tale, and everybody on board gamely goes with the series' winningly insouciant spirit--somebody needs to put Team Whedon on Broadway already--but the real treats here are the scores of extras. This DVD is technically an official reissue of the December 2008/January 2009 DVD that Amazon released, with slicked up packaging from New Video. But the ample featurettes--and fan-submitted Evil League of Evil audition videos--remain the same.
So does the DVD's best extra, the "Commentary: The Musical" track where the cast and creative team have truckloads of fun with sung meta-commentary about the production, the strike, and working in Hollywood in general. Basically, an extra on this DVD is more entertaining than many comedies spit out by network TV or studios. And as with everything Team Whedon touches, the humor is always spiced with a febrile intelligence. Consider "Strike!" from the musical commentary, an almost Brechtian piece of poppy agit-prop that quickly sketches the reasons for the 2007-'08 WGA strike and concludes: "I'm proud I walked the line/ with writers, fans, and friends of mine/ but now I ask what was it finally about/ and years from now I'll tell my tyke/ just what it feels like to strike/ out."