Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dr Horrible has a PHD in Fantasticness!

Quote of the day: “The world is a mess and I just need to rule It.” ~ Dr. Horrible

Song of the day: Brand New Day as sung by Dr. Horrible (aka Neil Patrick Harris)

State of mind: Content. But I’m sure that will pass.

Date: July 23, 2008

It’s been a long couple of days and my eyes are tired, mostly from multiple viewings of Joss Whedon’s (and a few siblings and one sibling’s significant other’s) Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. (NOT Vlog. Blog. With a B.) The three act musical is about a fiendish (yet sweet) super villain wannabe and his arch nemesis the smarmy “corporate tool” Captain Hammer. Caught in the middle of these two over the top characters is Penny, a do-gooder that sees the best in everyone. Written by 3 Whedons and one Tancharoen the story is both whimsical and dark, funny yet gut wrenching. Despite one online article declaring that the fans were “disappointed” by the last act of the webisode, I’d say the majority of fans are far from disappointed based on the 1000+ responses on the Whedonesque thread for Act III. (A record.) And neither was I.

Neil Patrick Harris is near flawless as the oddly loveable Dr. Horrible (with two r’s), aka Billy, buddy. A man who in his real life can’t find the courage to speak to his long time crush Penny, yet spends his days creating gadgets that he plans to use to control everything, because, as he declares in one video blog post, “… the status is not quo!” NPH moves from comedy to drama seamlessly, sometimes while singing, and makes it all seem natural and ordinary. Doesn’t every shy nerd super villain burst into song about how he’s going to use his freeze ray to stop the world?

Felicia Day (also of The Guild and Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series fame) plays Penny, the girl in the middle with the sweet fragile voice and wonky wardrobe. I’m pleased as a puppy that for once it’s the pale girl with the too wide eyes and dorky optimism that is so sought after by both the hot jock and the overly intelligent. Dr Horrible even wanted to give her Australia! Bee-Tea-Double-You, I’d be happy with just New Zealand, if anyone’s wondering.

Nathan Fillion plays Captain Hammer, and quite bravely too. (And not just for singing while on top of a moving van.) Captain Hammer is a dick. He ‘saves the day’ with brute force, sometimes when it probably isn’t even needed, yet has no real awareness of the world around him. It takes chasing after Penny for him to even realize that there are homeless people in the very city he protects. His voice isn’t as strong as NPH, but he makes up for it with gusto and his bulging muscles. The hair doesn’t hurt either. His one key line in the Laundromat is priceless and he delivers it with total and complete conviction. Plus, small touches like giving Dr Horrible the finger when finishing off a song are fun to look for.

Besides the performances, the writing is typically not typical. I’m not sure how to describe what I mean, so I’ll just give an example. Penny is trying to get signatures on a petition to get the city to donate an unused building as a homeless shelter. As she is explaining her cause to Billy, he gives her his own thoughts on the situation:

PENNY: “You’re not really interested in the homeless, are you?”
BILLY: “No, I am. But they’re a symptom. You’re treating a symptom meanwhile the disease rages on…. consuming the human race. The fish rots from the head, as they say, so my thinking is why not remove the head.
PENNY: “Of the human race?”
BILLY: “Well, it’s not a perfect metaphor.”

Billy is a big picture kind of guy. He sees the world and the mess it is in and when you get down to it, just wants to fix things. (By ruling the world himself, but whatever.) He’s a thinker, contemplating the state of our existence and yet he can’t seem to complete a proper metaphor to describe the situation. Which makes him hilarious and real. Where as Captain Hammer, who is upheld as the savior of the city, the one everyone looks to for solving problems, is a clueless narcissist that handles every situation the same. In any given scene the dialog moves from comedy to drama all in a single breath, changing tones like most normal conversations, (except way funnier). Even at just under 45 minutes with Dr. Horrible, Penny, and Captain Hammer, it’s still enough to get a real sense of who they are and long after the last act has played and the credits rolled (followed by the Mutant Enemy’s “grr arrg” zombie- which was bittersweet to see) I was still thinking about the characters and the story, examining all the many layers it had. It's a comedy surrounded by drama. One layer on top that you quickly realize has a deeper layer but under that is a layer just like the top. Ooo, like pie.

Although initially released for free to anyone with an Internet connection, it is now available on iTunes until July 29th and then will be released on DVD along with a singing commentary, and the soundtrack will be released as well. (Hopefully soon.) T-shirts are available on They sold out once but have since been restocked.

Show quote of the day: “Oooo. Sarcasm. That’s original.”


wa11z said...

Will have to check out this "Dr. Horrible" thing 'cause I've never heard of it. So its good then?

NYPinTA said...

Yeah, it's alright.

LL said...

Meh... It wasn't as good as TDK... :P I just wish I could'a seen it without my slow internet connection. It was a bit... latent.

btw P, I believe its NPH, not NPR... not that it matters, but...

NYPinTA said...

I have no idea what you are talking about. It says NPH. You think maybe you need glasses...?

fermicat said...

I sent this to a couple of friends at work because it is such a good description of the work, and without spoiling it! Of course I had to add a sentence at the end of the email to deny that I was obsessed with Dr. Horrible... I think they believed me.

LL said...

*sigh* *shakes head... AGAIN*

LL said...

And it was a VLOG!!!

ctheokas said...

I have to agree about the fantasticness of Dr. Horrible's Blog. I would certainly tune in to more, but without Penny, it's missing that certain - as the French would say - I don't know what.

Cali said...

I saw Act I when it went up and enjoyed it - I also liked the imperfect metaphor line. Seems Acts II and III aren't live anymore, guess I'll have to spring for iTunes.
Btw, I'm going to Comic-Con (its in town) on Sunday (tickets for the other days were sold out) - anything you'd like for me to check out for you?
Btw2, I just noticed that some of the people that post comments here also post at a book forum I sometimes visit. (Except they don't often post about books). Small world!

NYPinTA said...

Cool, fermi. Hope my review didn't scare them. ;)

Not sure what's going on Sunday. I'll look at the schedule and get back to you, cali. Thanks!

Penny is still there... in Dr. Horrible's heart. Awwwww.

NYPinTA said...

Sunday stuff you might want to check out:

4:00-5:00 Buffy the Musical— Let's end this show with a bang! The powers that be behind host a screening of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode "Once More With Feeling" as Comic Con 2008's big closing event! Many say this is the finest, funniest, most ingenious episode ever to come out of the Buffy-verse. But remember, the best part of the show is up to you! These eps were made for talkin'—back, that is—and singing and shouting and dancing in the aisles—with or without your dry cleaning! Audience participation: it isn't just for Rocky Horror and mob riots anymore. For more details on the screening visit, then show up for music, singing, and dancing crazy! Ballroom 20

That ends the Con. It's being run by who are good peeps.

12:00-2:00 Browncoats Fan Group— Calling all Browncoats! Fans of Firefly and Serenity are welcome to join the California Browncoats to hear about upcoming events and products that you'll really love. Stop by and listen to some quality storytelling by ’verse-related and ’verse-friendly authors. And last but not least, come to meet and hang out with all the great Browncoats at Comic-Con! Room 24A

Also good peeps. Tell 'em what a fan wank KNTR is...


11:15-12:15 Supernatural Screening and Q&A— Supernatural stars Jensen Ackles (Smallville) and Jared Padalecki (House of Wax)—along with creator/executive producer Eric Kripke (Boogeyman), co-executive producers Ben Edlund (Angel) and Peter Johnson (Supernatural: Origins comic book series), and supervising producer Sera Gamble (Eyes)—present exclusive sneak peek footage from the highly anticipated fourth season premiere of this thrill-ride series, answer questions, and show a portion of the special features from the upcoming third season DVD release. Produced by Wonderland Sound and Vision in association with Warner Bros. Television, Supernatural airs Thursdays at 9:00 PM ET/PT on The CW. Room 6CDEF

Have fun, cali! :D