The magic of Netflix is that every now and then you are flicking through all the crap that is presented side by side and you come across something pretty interesting. One such example is when I came across Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. So first off you see the cover, Neil Patrick Harris (Barney from HIMYM) in a white over coat and massive goggles. Good start. Also it is 40 mins long so not too much time to invest. Right, its got my interest, little bit more persuasion needed through. I scroll down the info and see “Directed by – Joss Wheaten”. HOLD THE PHONE. This was made in 2008 and I missed it how? (The reason being it was distributed on-line only) So this is a one-off special by the great Geek Messiah and I was not aware of its existence. OK I’m on board now, but wait there is more, “staring – Nathan Fillion”. Capitan Reynolds is a main character. Sweet baby Jesus! Nothing, and I mean NOTHING can put me off watching this. “This musical adventure”……wait, it’s a musical, really? Eh….ok well lets give it a try.
So the basic premise is that we have Dr Horrible (Patrick Harris) who is an aspiring evil genius looking to break his way into the bad guy elite club known as the “Evil League of Evil” who is headed by the mysterious “Bad Horse”. So Dr Horrible video blogs (as any self-respecting wannabe tyrant would) and lets slip about “her”. This being his long-term “I stalk you in the laundromat when I’m not being evil” crush Penny (Felicia Day). So the dream is to change society, rule the world and get the girl. A straight forward and entertaining storyline mainly expressed through the media of song. The only thing standing in Dr Horrible’s way is the dashing superhero Caption Hammer (Fillion) who is Dr Horrible’s arch-enemy . So Dr H develops a gun to freeze time so that he can put Penny in suspended animation giving him the opportunity tell her how he feels without falling over his awkward words (who said romance was dead). But just as things are coming together a spanner is thrown into the works as “Bad Horse” summons his singing cowboy messengers (oh yes) to inform Dr H that he has a chance to impress the League and gain entry. So what will he do? How will it all pan out? I’m not going to tell you! You will need to watch it.
In all honesty this is one of the best 40 of TV I have seen in a long time. I will be perfectly honest and say that musicals are definitely not my thing. When a musical number crops up in something like HIMYM then I tend to cringe and feel there is no point to them other than to make me uncomfortable. Put it this way, even short adds for Glee make me want to end it all, as that 20 seconds of guff makes me lose hope for humanity. BUT…. the songs in this are excellent, more a vehicle to get the inner thoughts of the characters across than big showy musical tunes for entertainments sake, personally how I think musical numbers should be used. I am reminded of another Wheaton creation, “Buffy” and their OTT musical vampire slaying special “Once More, With Feeling” which must have been a good 10 years ago? (after research 2001, so 12 years ago!)
The story itself has a bit of the anti-superhero vibe that The Boys series has, portraying superhero’s as obnoxious bullies and fairly air headed where as the villains of the piece are introduced as people who will go all out to try to change the way things are, to battle against their bullying adversaries. There is a fairly massive unmistakable undertone of the high school “Jock vs Nerd” conflict but making the Nerd (i.e. the apparently weaker of the two) the stereotypical bad guys make the average Wheaton fan, who is your quintessential nerd/geek, warm to Dr H. It makes him an anti-hero you really get behind and route for. This is summed up in a montage song by Capitan Hammer where he toys with Dr H as he gives him a wedgy and poses for tourists while battering the daylights out of his Nemesis. Also making Fillion the air headed jock is a stroke of genius. Anyone who has seen Firefly will have a massive soft spot from him and during this story you start to route against his character but I found that I still really like the character simply because it was Fillion. I think this made the story more enjoyable.
To be honest this show was made to be entertaining. Its got a great story with loads going on. Almost like the second season of Dollhouse where a smorgasbord of ideas were crammed in where perhaps a quarter of them would have sufficed. Despite this Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is never confusing, it never really has a lull either. The story is simple but has many layers and undertones which make it so much more than just a collection of songs about love and revenge on the world. This is well worth a watch and any fan of Joss Wheaten will not be disappointed, even if you hate Glee as much as I do.
Until next time