Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Equal parts sitcom, Broadway musical, and Shakespearean tragedy, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a short musical film produced for the Internet by the Whedon brothers (Joss Whedon being the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and co-writer of Pixar's Toy Story). It stars the multi-talented Neil Patrick Harris as the eponymous villain (aspiring villain, at least) who talks in his video blog about applying for membership in the Evil League of Evil, as well as his long-time crush from the laundromat, Penny. While committing a robbery as part of the Evil League of Evil's screening process, Dr. Horrible runs into Penny, but brushes her aside to focus on his heist. Unfortunately, his archnemesis Captain Hammer shows up and not only foils his criminal plot, but also ends up "saving" Penny, who falls for the superhero. Dr. Horrible now has to deal with the torture of seeing the girl of his dreams swooning over a conceited, two-faced musclehead, as well as the challenge of proving himself horrible enough for acceptance into the Evil League of Evil.

The storyline is simple enough, but it's given a fresh twist by making the archetypal comic book villain a sympathetic, likable protagonist. The writing is smart and funny and not at all cheesy, even with the actors bursting into song every few minutes. And undoubtedly, the fabulous Neil Patrick Harris is the heart and soul of this production. Just as he won over audiences and critics alike as the incorrigible Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother, he makes Dr. Horrible's awkward dorkiness and earnest attempts at evilness incongruously charming. The nuances in what is ostensibly a comic performance reveal both the depth of Dr. Horrible's personal conflict as well as the range of NPH's talent as an actor. It also helps he has a wonderful singing voice, which more than makes up for the somewhat flat vocals of the girl playing Penny (Felicia Day, a Buffy alum).

I wouldn't be surprised (I'd be delighted actually) if Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is made into a full-blown Broadway musical, or if sequels and spin-offs are created. And as long as NPH is somehow involved, they'll have at least one fan raving about it in her own blog.

You can watch the entirety of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog at my friend Mishy's Multiply video page. Thanks Mishy!


At Sunday, December 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful review! Really enjoyed the read. :)

Though, I'd have to disagree about Felicia Day's vocals being "flat". I mean, sure, she's not overly impressive but as much as I adore the music from this show, it actually does not give a singer much to work with. I'm a big fan of NPH and his vocals can be quite amazing with soaring material, but even I felt he was not showing the best of his talents in this series. A fellow Broadway fan I know was even talking to me about how she wasn't as impressed as she usually is with Neil. The Whedon gang are amateur composers [albeit mighty impressive for amateurs], and while they give fitting songs for their actors and again, create impressive compositions, they don't really create anything that can make a performer really show off like other composers can. (Sondheim, Porter, and Herman to name a few.)

Anyway, my initial point was that Day actually has quite a lovely voice that is well-controlled. She's probably not gonna be belting anything from Aida or some pop musical like that [as far as we can tell from this web-series anyway], but she certainly has an ear for music and that's more than a lot of people can say. :)

At Monday, December 22, 2008, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Thanks for taking the time to read my review! :)

Your comments about Felicia Day's vocals are very much appreciated. You obviously know music better than I do, and until you pointed it out, it never occurred to me that the musical arrangements didn't really give the actors much to work with. I do concede that Ms. Day's voice is lovely, and perhaps given more "professional" compositions she could have shown off her talent to fuller effect.

That being said, I really did enjoy Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and I'm glad to know I have a fellow fan who knows her stuff when it comes to musicals. :)

At Monday, December 22, 2008, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

By the way, you may want to check out my review of other musicals, such as Jersey Boys or the film adaptations of Sweeney Todd and Hairspray. You can find them all at :)


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