Monday, June 29

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)

Because the status was not quo, Joss Whedon, in the middle of the WGA strike last year proved the studio yuppie scum wrong, that, no, money does not make a show brilliant, and that, yes, writers do. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog could very well be the best single episode TV show that wasn't on TV. A 43-minute musical initially produced exclusively for Internet distribution, Joss Whedon self-produced, directed and composed the music with the help of brothers Zack and Jed Whedon and actress Maurissa Tancharoen.

With my freeze ray I will stop the world,
With my freeze ray I will find the time to find the words to
Tell you how how you make make me feel...
- 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.

Rating: 5

Get Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog here.
The commentary is equally sing-alongy.


Thaw your cold hearts with this preview.

11 comments:

Andy Briones said...

The last musical I saw on screen was Hairspray. Prior to that, I saw Rent. The worst I've seen so far is Phantom of the Opera. Ibang level talaga si Joel Schumacher, ehehehe.

dodo dayao said...

Thor may pirata na ba niyang Buffy na yan? At mage-gets ko ba siya kung panoorin ko siya without having seen the rest of the season? Or series for that matter? Want to see that and Hush(tama ba? the "Nuff Said" episode). . .

Thor Bee said...

@Andy: Yeah, The Phantom of the Opera was grrr arrrgh bad. Hahaha! Rent was efficient but cheesy. Chicago was okay but lacked "emotional resonance." Liked the music in Dreamgirls. Hairspray was FUN but tranny Travolta was just bizarre. Les Chansons D'Amour is my current favorite. And the Joss Whedon ones. Also liked the musical moment on Nip/Tuck where the entire cast lipsynched a The Submarines song.

Thor Bee said...

@Dodo: Matagal na atang meron kaso seven-seasons package ata siya. Hehehe! Baka maging fan ka na ni Sarah Michelle Gellar!

Medyo independent naman siya sa storyline; Buffy's back from the dead is all you need to know.

Ganda nga ng Hush, yung silent ep na nominated for best script. Maganda rin mga Drew Goddard episodes, Conversations with Dead People lang naalala ko ngayon sa Season 7. Also, The Body, written and directed by Joss Whedon, the only episode na no scoring, it's about the death of Buffy's mom. Ganda pero ito yung pinakamabigat. Very stark.

dodo dayao said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dodo dayao said...

Yun! Thanks. Text ko yung tulak ko sa MCS kung meron siya. Sawakas,pagkalipas ng ilang dekada(?):), mukhang uumpisahan ko na ang Buffy.

Re:musicals - - - the one I love most at the moment would be Umbrellas of Cherbourg at yung Happiness of the Katakuris ni Miike but the original John Waters' film of Hairspray with Rikki Lake,Debbie Harry and the almighty Divine is a must. The Madison dance number alone is worth it. Also,another by Waters: Crybaby with Johnny Depp. Still haven't seen Les Chanson,though.

Thor Bee said...

Umbrellas of Cherbourg is the musical of all musicals. I think an enhanced edition just came out on DVD. Let's amazon na Do!!!! Hehe.

Monrak Transistor nakalimutan din natin. Saw original Hairspray and Cry Baby on...betamax!

dodo dayao said...

At saka Once.

Amazon! Lapit na din lumabas ang Criterion ng Marienbad.

Downloaded the Dr.Horrible OST,BTW. Playing Penny's Song now. Nice.

Long live betamax! :)

Theo Martin said...

gawd thor, you got me at the PREVIEW. EEEEEE! super geeky love! :)

Thor Bee said...

Hey, Theo! Super kilig na heartbreaking to. Running under 45 mins., no scene or song or words were wasted. Very tight, very funny, very sweet. Very sad. :p

Marnie Dolera said...

Hay. Dr. Horrible. Ang layo from being horrible ng series na to. :)

Re: Buffy DVDs, yung binibilhan ko sa Marikina nagbebenta ng single-dvd collections per season.