I can't really call this a TV review because this program was never broadcast on television. That fact, however, didn't stop the Emmy Awards from nominating it for one of its prime-time prizes. Up until now, for the year in question, the only requirement for Emmy nomination is that the program must be broadcast on TV. Apparently, not anymore!
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a series of three acts, each about 13 minutes in length. They were written and produced during the WGA strike in late 2007 and early 2008. It was first made available on the Internet via a Web site, hosted by Hulu.
Obviously, it's going to get Emmy consideration. The man who wrote and produced it is Joss Whedon, a very popular television writer. The two actors who star in it are Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) and Nathan Fillion (Castle), two very popular television actors. Hulu hosted the web show. Hulu is a Web site that distributes commercial programming from most television networks, except CBS. This thing, therefore, has TV written all over it, except it hasn't seen a single second of TV airtime.
With all the networks making their programming available online and with advertising revenues for off-air broadcasts going down, the Emmys may need to honor more online series come very soon. Hopefully, those future online series will take their queue from this innovative one and improve upon and entertain us better than what we normally get on TV.
Joss Whedon knows a little something about being innovative and improving upon and entertaining us better. The Oscar-nominated writer redefined the teen-drama genre and certainly laid the groundwork for the popular wave of walking dead, supernatural love stories we have today with his hit series Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.
Whedon brings the same spirited, campy fun that made Buffy a success and infuses it in this quick comedy. While you think the ridiculousness would only be amplified when Neil Patrick Harris' Dr. Horrible bursts into song, Whedon ensures that it doesn't. Whedon instead warms us to a character that is trying to stop the world with his freeze ray.
There are no big, Broadway-style, musical numbers. Not that the budget nor the manpower would have allowed it, but Whedon makes his songs simpler, smaller and more personal, revealing good, strong, emotional insight into his characters. The songs for the most part are where the heart is.
Harris' Dr. Billy Horrible is a failed, mad scientist who wants a membership into the Evil League of Evil. In order to do so, he needs to pull off a huge, heinous heist. The problem is he is distracted by Penny, a cute and charitable redhead whom he stalks at the laundromat. He's in love with her but can't tell her so.
Also, running interference is Captain Hammer, played by Nathan Fillion. Captain Hammer is like the superhero parody on Comedy Central's Drawn Together. He's an arrogant, chauvinistic pig with superpowers. He's only slightly removed from Will Smith's Hancock. He's not a drunk, but he's a hero who's a jerk.
But, it just shows Whedon's brilliance. Where else will you get a well-produced story that has the hero who is unlikable and the villain as the character for whom the audience cheers? Whedon makes a man named horrible actually quite humane.
Five Stars out of Five
Unrated but Suitable for General Audiences
Running Time: 42 mins. (total)