Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Day Two Hundred and Fifty-four - Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, "The Hammer is My Penis."

During the Writer's Strike of '07/'08, an event which forced the shutdown of just about everything entertainment related and, notably, caused the destruction of the very promising comic book television series, Heroes, Joss Whedon and company had the idea to put on a small musical comedy that was inexpensive to produce and would appeal to their particular geek fanbase.

The result was Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Filmed over several days in Los Angeles and featuring a cast of geek notables such as Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day, and Simon Helberg, Dr. Horrible tells the story of tragic anti-hero Billy, who dreams of taking over the world and getting together with his secret crush only to be foiled time and time again by his nemesis, Captain Hammer (Fillion).

I think that Dr. Horrible was a convergence of all the right nerd elements to produce the perfect viral musical. Joss, et al., had already cut their teeth on musicals in Buffy the Vampire Slayer with "Once More, With Feeling," so they had that, but there was also the great cast to go with it. NPH is perfect to play the lonely, disaffected nerd thanks to his work on Doogie Howser and Nathan Fillion was no stranger to the overblown characters that Joss has been known to write, having worked with him on both Buffy and Firefly.

The wildcard for me was Felicia Day. Sure, she had a small role on Buffy, but most her work, while popular on the net, hadn't really broken her out. I think her sweet performance as Penny really did wonders for her geek cred and made her the darling of conventions for years to come.

As a musical, it's amazing how intricate the lyrics can get in terms of meter, rhythm, and rhyme. There's a lot of modern Broadway that's present here and to great effect. Sure, some of the instrumentation is rudimentary, relying a bit too much on the synthesizer, but it's quick and painless for the most part and relays a certain naivete inherent to Billy's character. Standout's for me were "Brand New Day," "Slipping," and "Everything You Ever," which is so hauntingly sweet and depressing at the same time.

The production quality is rough, but extremely forgivable considering the shoestring budget that they were working with... plus it sort of adds to the charm in its own way, lending a bit of subtle surreality necessary for a universe where villains like Bad Horse and Moist coexist with self-righteous heroes like Johnny Snow and Captain Hammer... a sort of vapid, modern-day dystopia.

I also want to give a quick shoutout to the background action during "My Eyes." Seeing Billy show up as a disgruntled Soup Nazi late in the song made me laugh so hard and long that I had to rewind the episode to catch what I'd missed while ROFLing.

Dr. Horrible is a great bit of comic book tomfoolery with a terrific cast and fun songs. My only regret is that there's no sequel as of yet (though speculation and teases from Joss and company have been running rampant for years). It's definitely worth the watch and is one of those films that you can come back to over and over again really rather easily... and, as such, will remain in my queue for easy access until the sad day when it get's pulled... IF it gets pulled.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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