With my freeze ray I will stop the world,
- Dr. Horrible
Dr. Horrible, played with geek-buckling precision by Neil Patrick Harris, is a wannabe super villain who video blogs, replies to sent-in emails, and reveals his master plan to rule the world and win over laundromat girl of his dreams Penny (Felicia Day who played the potential and later on slayer Vi in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) through songs. When he receives a response to his application from the Evil League of Evil, he sets to motion his plan to steal the final ingredient to make his freeze ray work---a freeze ray that would freeze time and stop the pain so he could finally confess his love. Aww.
Much like everything else in the Whedonverse, things don't go according to plan. Horrible was successful in stealing the wonderflonium but he also accidentally introduced Captain Hammer (wonderfully hammy Nathan Fillon), his nemesis, the Superman to his Brainiac, to Penny.
The Buffy musical Once More, with Feeling, episode six of the gloomy sixth season is arguably the show's finest hour; I am obviously biased since I named this blog after Buffy's confessional number. A demon descends upon Sunnydale and binds the town and its inhabitants to a spell that made everyone sing and dance...to death. Best kept secrets were sung out loud, silly, oftentimes funny, and ultimately existential. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a more typical musical with songs for soliloquy. The songs this time around are catchier (but shorter, damn!) and the counterpoint vocals of Harris and Day in the exceptional My Eyes---which chronicles a downfall and a falling for someone, helplessly getting smitten beside helplessly fulfilling an evil destiny---packs a contrasting emotional punch that celebrated musical-movies Dreamgirls, Rent or Chicago can only dream of, err, packing.
The musical format keeps things whimsical, a sonic bubble that seemingly contained the plot in comic booky fantasy fulfillment territory. But this is no doubt a Joss Whedon story and if there's one thing that he is a genius at it's the slap-in-the-face, punch-in-the-nose, kick-in-the-shin, drive-a-stake-through-the-heart ending; Whedon cruelly reveals his last card just when you feel the worst has happened.
The last 3 seconds of Dr. Horrible has rightfully earned a degree in Horribleness; a silence and a blank stare that continues to haunt me.
I cannot believe my eyes
How the world’s filled with filth and lies
but it’s plain to see evil inside of me
is on the rise.
- Dr. Horrible
Fate versus free will seems to be a constant in the Whedonverse. Buffy accepted hers (fate) even if it meant a short lifespan; Angel went against his monstrous nature (free will) but only because he rebelled against his vampire fate.
Dr. Horrible at the start was obviously not meant for supervillainy. He declined a grudge match with Johnny Snow because there were children at a park and his ultimate secret weapon's main purpose was to stop time for confession's sake. Even when he was one click away from killing Captain Hammer, he hesitated.
It was crazy random happenstance.
It seems like no matter what he did, Horrible was destined to join the Evil League of Evil. It was his fate to be a villain. Whedon's characters continue to be caught in situations that dictate their roles in the world. He seems to be saying that there is no real good or evil; it's the circumstances that make us, that ultimately define us.
Hero. Villain. Sidekick. Victim. We are everyone at one point in our lives. It's beyond our hands.
Get Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog here.
The commentary is equally sing-alongy.
Thaw your cold hearts with this preview.