The last installment in the amazingly brilliant Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog will be released at midnight tonight, and all three installments will be free to watch for a further 24 hours. After that, if you want to watch it, you’ll have to buy it from iTunes (and at a grand total of $3.99 for the whole ‘season’, let’s not hear any whining about corporate-overlord-price-inflation as a justification for piracy), or wait for the DVD which promises to be jam packed with extras, such as a musical commentary track.
For those who haven’t yet seen it, Dr. Horrible is a musical starring Neil Patrick Harris in the title role as a struggling-but-likeable mad-scientist supervillian. (If you’d told me, pre-Harris’s role in Harold and Kumar Go To Whitecastle, that that description was a recipe for filmmaking genius I would have thought you were mad, but there it is.) Directed by Joss Whedon of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly fame, Dr. Horrible was dreamt up during the recent Hollywood writer’s strike as a way to do something inexpensive but “professionalish” (to quote Whedon) outside the normal studio system.
It’s not the first show to try to drum up a paying audience by going direct to the web — Sanctuary, a show created by a lot of people behind the Stargate franchise, sold high resolution installments of of its pilot episode online, for example (Sanctuary has since been picked up by the Sci-Fi channel, and the Sanctuary website no longer sells downloads). But Dr. Horrible is certainly the most successful, shooting to the top of the iTunes bestseller list, and may represent the tipping point for a new breed of original and clever programming.