Review: Joss Whedon’s Sing Along Blog

July 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

dr-horrible.jpg“One week only! An internet miniseries event!? Reads a line from Joss Whedon’s master plan for Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog.

The man behind cult hit shows Buffy, Angel and Firefly has a significant cult following. ‘Cult’ in the sense that the fans are hugely, wildly, passionate about his shows as opposed to ‘cult’: a small niche audience. Justifiably, too.

I first came across Joss Whedon’s work in Buffy. The idea hadn’t appealed to me at first.  It seemed kind of, well, stupid. Blonde cheerleader saves teens from vampires. Also, I’d seen the 1992 film, and if you’ve seen it you’ll understand the hesitation.

Only, it turns out Whedon is a little bit of a genius. A genre genius, if you will. He blended elements of satire, comedy, drama and horror and packaged them up into this strange, absorbing and somehow mythically cool show about a vampire slayer.

He followed this up with the spin off Angel, which was also pretty good, if a bit bumpy. Where Josh Whedon really earned my respect though was with Firefly. This sci-fi show, as he put it, is a ‘western in space’. Er, what? Not exactly two genres you expect to go together. Yet it makes a weird kind of sense- space is so massive, maybe the frontiers would be like the Old West- wild and unpoliced.

This is a man who has made episodes in which his main characters are turned into puppets (Angel), in which they don’t speak at all for the entire episode (Buffy), that have turned into musicals (also Buffy). He’s killed off much loved characters, twisted stories and challenged genres and all in a consistently hilarious, dramatic and generally intriguing way.

That’s why I was very interested when I heard of this ‘internet miniseries event’ Dr Horrible. Joss has been noticeably absent the last little while, working on his new show The Dollhouse. However, he’s taken a break to make three 13 minute episodes of a web TV show.

Dr Horrible tells us the story of a loveable, slightly inept, super-villain. And it is a musical. I was a bit worried about this, not being a huge fan of musicals. It stars Neil Patrick Harris who you may remember as Doogie from Doogie Howser. It also stars Nathan Fillion from Firefly and Felicia Day who did a turn in Buffy. She has that fragile, geekly quality that Whedon loves so much and makes her endlessly endearing.

The mini-series event has indeed been an event. Where most web series’ have struggled to find main stream audiences it is perhaps no surprise that Joss Whedon has managed to completely detonate the potential of the medium. When the first episode went  online on Tuesday, audiences went nuts. Hulu, the very cool player which is used to screen the show, did not work overseas. People trying to download it from iTunes were impeded by numbers. By Wednesday, the site had crashed completely, and the makers had to urgently find more bandwidth to cover the requests.

You can see why. The thirteen minute first episode is funny, endearing and unique. Neil Patrick Harris is a loveably villainous super villain. The songs are hilarious and strangely catchy and the story hooks you straight in. It appeals to more than just net geeks, it is a love story with a comic twist.

We can only hope this leads to more great web TV.

To watch Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, go to the site here.

By McGee Noble