Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dr Horrible's Singalong Blog

I'm sure there are people out there who aren't aware that Joss Whedon has written an internet musical alled Dr Horrible's Singalong Blog. I guess it'd be inappropriate to describe these people as living under a rock, since they probably have very fulfilling lives. But I've been very excited about Dr Horrible's Singalong Blog since Joss first started talking about it during the writers strike.*

It was released at on Tuesday, the second part came out today, and the denouement will be available on Saturday.

I'm enjoying it so far. The acting is superb - Nathan Fillion is particularly funny as Captain Hammer the cheesy uphimself hero nemesis of Dr Evil. The dialogue is very clever, and the songs are fun. The superhero as villain and villain as character we empathise with isn't particularly original, but it's well done. I particularly like that Captain Hammer is a corporate whore who is in with the mayor.

But Joss can do better. Penny, Felicia Day's character, is shown entirely through Dr Horrible's eyes. While we're supposed to sympathise him, he is pretty much a textbook nice guy. And it has yet to pass the Bechdel test (in fact there has only been one woman on screen so far). So far the characters don't resonate in any but the most superficial way, because they have no depth. And we all know that the importance of resonance, and rocket launchers.** I'm hoping that the lack of both of these will be compensated for by the last part.

In the meantime watch Dr Horrible's Singalong Blog, but also read Sugarshock, which is stronger short-silly-Joss.

* It was so dreamy when Joss Whedon my favourite writer who I've loved for a decade, became Joss Whedon a militant union activist.

** That's from Joss Whedon's audio commentary on innocence (since I'm not sure that this post can get any geekier I won't worry about revealing that I have an audio commentary pretty much memorised)


  1. Anonymous3:13 pm

    "And it has yet to pass the Bechdel test"

    Yes, well, Whedon is revealing in that way.

    He presents strong female characters. But compare how often you see two blokes in a Whedon show talking about something other than a woman, with how often you see two women talking about something other than a bloke.

    In Buffy, a show about a woman with strong female roles, a the overwhelming vast, vast majority of dialogue is either with or about a bloke.

    Firefly has strong female characters - strong, but passive. Mal, Jane and Simon are the ones with agendas who make decisions and drive things along.

    I don't want to dis Whedon too much as he's vastly better than the average Hollywood hack. But that he's the shining example of a mainstream successful commercial writer including strong roles for women just shows how low the bar is.

  2. Anonymous4:14 am

    Whedon funded the project himself (in the "low six figures" according to NPR), and enjoyed the independence of acting as his own studio. “Freedom is glorious,” he comments. “And the fact is, I’ve had very good relationships with studios, and I’ve worked with a lot of smart executives. But there is a difference when you can just go ahead and do something.” As a web show, there were fewer constraints imposed on the project, and Whedon had the “freedom to just let the dictates of the story say how long it’s gonna be. We didn’t have to cram everything in—there is a lot in there—but we put in the amount of story that we wanted to and let the time work around that. We aimed for thirty minutes, we came out at forty two, and that’s not a problem.” Some of the music was influenced by Sondheim, among others.

    A Captain Hammer (Nemesis of Dr. Horrible) online comic tie-in was also made available. It will be printed later this year in a Dark Horse Presents graphic novel.