Watchable Singable Enjoyable Laughable Horrible

By Phil Plait | July 18, 2008 3:30 pm

I’m late talking about this (it’s all over the web now), but if you read this blog then I suspect you’ll like Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, a three-part online superhero and supervillain tale created by Joss Whedon — the guy who made Firefly, and is therefore a genius.

It stars Neil Patrick Harris (whom I may have to add to my mancrush list; he is awesome), Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day. It’s incredibly funny, with brilliant writing, acting, and directing.

Oh– did I mention it’s a musical?

Seriously. You might think that would blow out the cheese factor, or make it squirmy to watch, but in fact the songs are catchy, well-done, and add a huge amount to the humor of this satirical look into the mind of a supervillain who just wants to find acceptance, even if it’s among other supervillains.

Part I and II are up now, and Part III goes up at midnight Eastern time tonight. They’ll be watchable for 24 hours, and then go to DVD. I might buy that disc; I can imagine the extras would be worth the price alone.

Once you’ve watched at least one part, take a look at the Captain Hammer comic they’ve created, and make sure you read The Master Plan behind the making of this lunacy.

Seriously. Stop reading what I’m writing and go watch this. You’ll thank me.

Added note: please don’t discuss Part III (or any Part) spoilers in the comments. Thanks.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Humor, SciFi
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Comments (51)

  1. Greg Vande Krol

    Thanks SO much for telling those of us who still didn’t know about this! Joss Whedon’s work is more delicious than warm gooey chocolate chip brownies with ice cream!

  2. Kevin

    “I have a PhD in horribleness!”

    Yes, it’s shiny! :)

  3. I believe Neil Patrick Harris is gay, so your mancrush has a chance of totally working out!

  4. elgarak

    If you don’t want to wait for the DVD, iTunes has it as download’n’keep! $3.99 for all three episodes (or $1.99, but, seriously, who wants to keep just a third of shiny Doogie-Joss-Captainy horribleness?).

    Also, at http://starsprinkles.net/lj/phdhorribleness.html you can download a kit for your own PhD certificate in Horribleness.

  5. elgarak

    Ah, bummer, hit submit to fast. That should read “$1.99 per episode”.

  6. Lawrence

    Absolutely – a great little short. A superhero send-up with a real sense of humor (and not taking itself seriously at all).

    Can’t wait until the last installment tomorrow!!!!

  7. Jim

    I’ve had Dr. H on infinite loop for the last three days straight. Can’t wait for Act III tomorrow!

  8. Flip

    It is only $4.99 for the whole set in iTunes… Well worth it for the higher quality download.

    It is silly and it totally rocks!!!

  9. Fedaykin

    Still no love for (IMHO) Whedon’s best work, Buffy, eh? This is especially odd when one of the best episodes of said show is a musical as well (as an aside, Whedon so far is the only artist whose musicals I like).

    Seriously, if you like Firefly and call it genius (which I agree with 100% ), and now you are saying you like Dr. Horrible, then you really must give Buffy a legit chance. I can all but guarantee that you will like it. Plus in a few years the little astronomer will probably appreciate it to, with its themes of female empowerment and all. =)

  10. LMR

    I’m not usually a fan of musicals. But I’ve been replaying these for the last few days.

    Not only is it funny. But all three main characters are superb. I never knew NPH had such a good voice.

    The songs that open and close Act II are worth the price of admission alone.

  11. Illucian

    I am completely in love with the entire thing. It’s just genius. I’ve already purchased the “season pass” from iTunes and will certainly be getting the DVD too, as it’s promised to be chock-full of extra goodies. Already I’m slipping quotes from it into my normal conversation. But then again, among my family and friends, conversation based around movie quotes IS normal conversation. 😉

  12. Fedaykin, I tried. I watched several episodes. I just don’t like Buffy. Angel made me laugh a few times, but that’s it.

  13. Andre Vienne

    It is excellent, and I am waiting anxiously for the final installment. I intend to buy the DVD, of course.

    Joss Whedon has his moments of excellence, when it comes to TV, he’s quite good at it. I only take issues with some of the tropes that he uses often and creative choices, but nobody bats a perfect game, I suppose.

  14. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this. I couldn’t get to the site the other day so I made myself be patient. Ahhhh…so worth the extra wait!

    I only like musicals when they’re Joss Whedon musicals and this one is brilliant!

  15. dre

    I am entertained by Doctor Horrible, to be sure. Neil Patrick Harris has a natural funny to him.

    Before anybody starts going on about the wonderful singing (somebody will, it’s inevitable), I would state the following: the singing is too wonderful.

    Autotuners (hard- or software that can sharpen up the in-tune-ness of a voice) have come a very long way since the early “Cher Effect” days. Some, generally called vocoders, can be guided by keyboards (ie, fading-young-actress-desiring-singing-career provides the vowels and consonants, experienced producer taps out the melody on the keys, remarkable singing ability results) and others ’round’ the singer’s pitch up or down to the nearest in-tune note, thereby correcting minor mistakes. I would bet it all that a liberal application of autotuner is the real reason the singing is so pitch-perfect here. Note also the consistent and always-perfect vibrato on every sustained note.

    I’m not knockin’ the show. I think it’s great. Don’t start a grassroots NPH musical career campaign just yet, though.

  16. I never watched Buffy or Angel while they were on the air. However, Firefly caught me. Loved it loved it loved it! so, after awhile I decided to give Buffy and Angel a try. Liked them both. Firefly is still the first love, though. Joss is brilliant!

  17. Moose

    Oh man, that’s slick. Thanks for the plug, Phil.

  18. Philip

    soo coool. I have to buy the DVD. And that little hint at Pat Condell in part II.

    Peace.

  19. Paul

    Neil Patrick Harris has sung on Broadway more than once. He’s performed Sondheim. He IS that good. Felicia Day also has musical training and experience.

    They did record the songs for two days in studio before filming, but you can tell that Nathan Fillion doesn’t have the same level of training and experience as the other two. Whedon said he didn’t worry about that; he knew that he could act the part perfectly.

  20. C

    You were right – I thank you!

  21. Seriously brilliant. I can’t wait until it’s out on DVD with all the extras.

  22. BethK

    Thank you for mentioning this. My 13yo son and I are really enjoying it. This is just right for his sense of humor (Far Side, Calvin & Hobbes, Dilbert). And it’s more on his level than Heinlein’s ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ that we just finished reading. I don’t see when the DVD will come out, so I bought the Season Pass from iTunes for $4. That will help encourage such creativity. Now my son wants to know if he can put the songs into his iTunes rotation. Not yet …

  23. duffytvs

    Phil,

    I just want to echo what Fedaykin has already said. It pains me to know that you gave up on Buffy, but I’m assuming that you watched episodes from the first season of both Buffy and Angel. In both cases, the first season is the weakest season. Maybe you’d enjoy it more if you jumped into the fourth season. The stories are a little bit older, as Buffy’s at university. Also, it contains two of the best episodes of television ever made (‘Hush’ – the silent episode that was nominated for an Emmy — this shows Whedon’s true genius, I mean, imagine an episode of television, the medium of talking heads, that is about 80% talk-free; and ‘Restless’ – the only dream episode ever to actually play like a real dream). Also, Felicia Day and Nathon Fillion are both in the final season of Buffy.

  24. I just watched Act III. Great!!!! 😀

    I want morrrre!!!!!!!!!!!!! >-(

  25. Lledowyn

    Just finshed watching Act III, and it was very unexpected. Loved the ending, but won’t say more since I don’t want to ruin it for everyone. :-)

  26. Wayne

    Someone told my wife about Dr. Horrible on Thursday and she told me and I knew that I would have to check it out at some point. Having it plugged on BA was the kicker, though, and I just finished watching all 3 acts and will definitely be buying it on DVD whenever it may be offered. Joss Whedon truly is a genius and Dr. Horrible was just fantastic in so many ways. If you’ve seen the Buffy musical episode Once More With Feeling, you can hear a lot of similarities between the two and can tell what Joss likes to do with music (multiple voices at once, singing different lines, for example). I was hearing a lot of Spike in Neil Patrick Harris and even though Nathan’s singing may not have been as polished as the others’, I thought it fit the character. Love the David Fury/Marti Noxon cameos, too :)

  27. Autumn

    I once saw “Les Miserables” on Broadway, and Dr. Horrible is as entertaining as the best forty-five minutes of that.

  28. Andre Vienne

    Just finished watching Act 3. Standard Whedon ending. I’ll still be buying the DVD, but it’s still irritating.

  29. Supernova

    Fun! I was impressed by the songwriting, and loved seeing Fillion ham it up.

  30. Lledowyn

    Andre Vienne said:

    Standard Whedon ending. I’ll still be buying the DVD, but it’s still irritating.

    Yeah I and my fiancé felt the same way about the ending. Still, the music was awesome, and overall we enjoyed it. It was definitely worth the wait for the middle of the night. :-)

  31. Arlo

    Wow! Just watched the first episode! So great… it all just “works”. +1 for Neil Patrick. Just like a +1 for Timberlake for Dick in a Box. :)

  32. The episode “Hush” is the “Blink” of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Make sure you watch the uncut version, though: I remember seeing both on the BBC, one late at night and uncut, and one at seven in the evening with all the good bits left out.

  33. madge

    LOVE IT! madge goes off to practice her evil laugh AaaaHaaHaaHaaHaaHaa…Cough Cough splutter 😀

  34. Lawrence

    Buffy is definitely on my top 20 TV shows of all time. Despite the major plot-holes (and disappointments in the last seasion – I could have written better dialogue) I really did enjoy the characters & most of the show.

    There are some real epic episodes – like Hush, the season 4 finale, the musical episode, and the original Angelus story-arc.

    I hope people give Whedon’s new show “Dollhouse” a chance – it looks like it could be pretty good, though maybe a little obtuse for the average viewer.

    Been dealing with a sick baby this morning, but will be watching episode 3 here shortly.

  35. Hawsome link! Thanks BA.

  36. duffytvs

    Wayne,

    I noticed a lot of similarities between the two musicals as well. I don’t know if I’d say it’s unique, but I’d have known it was Whedon without knowing it was Whedon, if that makes sense?

    Adrienne, you’re right, it is a standard Joss ending. There’s a great commentary (I’m gonna’ say the ballet episode of Angel from the third season, but it may be from the introduction of Illyria in the fifth season) where Joss talks about his endings and relationships; it’s worth a listen.

    I enjoyed the third episode and, in hindsight, I didn’t mind the ending.

  37. Katrina

    Thanks for letting us know about this, BA. Glad something really cool came out of the writers strike.

    That was sooooooo worth spending an hour of my Saturday morning watching. LOVE the acting and the quirkyness we’ve come to expect from JW. Nathan Fillion is great (and seriously cute even though he is playing a total D*$#), Felicia Day is wonderful, but of course it is Neil Patrick Harris’s show. Didn’t know he could sing!

    Bwa ha ha ha ha

  38. MattGS

    I love it. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a man crush on Nathan Fillion. There needs to be much more Joss Whedon/Nathan Fillion cooperation.

  39. Ted H.

    Thanks Phil, for pointing this out. Somehow in all my time on the intertoobs I missed this. It’s just too bad I already registered for DragonCon. I so want ‘Bad Horse’ or ‘Dr. Horrible’ on my name tag.

  40. Of course Dr. Horrible was so good that a group quickly formed and is now going to do the thing LIVE at Dragon*Con on the Podcasting Track. Which will be right next door to the Skeptrack for reference. :)

  41. Gary Ansorge

    Of Joss Whedons credits, those I liked best are:

    1)Firefly
    2)Angel
    3) Buffy

    Will be eagerly awaiting the Dr. H. DVD release,,,

    Go Joss.

    GAry 7

  42. Andy Beaton

    I want to be an evil villain now! That was awesome!

  43. Irishman

    The cheesy blog start is a little slow (mostly because it’s supposed to be a cheesy blog and does a great job of being that), but the show takes off and is superb after that. The music is great, and the dual overlay lyrics. Yes, there is a similarity of feel to the Buffy musical episode.

    Great stuff.

  44. Somebody in the original Twilight Zone – I don’t remember whether it was Rod Serling or Richard Matheson – remarked that if you could follow a tv show without looking at the screen, it had failed. They produced an episode – The Invaders – which had one line of dialog in it (unnecessary, in point of fact) – back in 1961. Don’t get me wrong, I too adore Joss, but he didn’t invent the notion.

  45. dang. That was in reference to this from duffytvs:

    ’Hush’ – the silent episode that was nominated for an Emmy — this shows Whedon’s true genius, I mean, imagine an episode of television, the medium of talking heads, that is about 80% talk-free;

  46. Ginger Yellow

    Not quite as good as Buffy the Musical, but what is? Great fun.

  47. MyersInVA

    I don’t know if someone already posted this. Jinx.com has Dr. Horrible tee shirts: http://www.jinx.com/drhorrible/

  48. Irishman

    The Ridger, that’s interesting. I would point out that “The Twilight Zone” was never conventional episodic TV. It was a lot of one-off concept pieces in an anthology. While Whedon didn’t invent silent TV shows, it was still creative for him to write for a more conventional serial show, especially a show known for it’s witty dialog, and make an episode where the majority of the plot has no talking at all.

  49. CortxVortx

    Hmm…

    You’ve plugged Dr. Horrible (Bad Horse).

    And Dr. Who (Bad Wolf).

    Here on Bad Astronomy. I spot a trend.

  50. Kevin

    Dr. Horrible DVD is now available for pre-order at Amazon!!!

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001M5UDGS

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