Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

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Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Promotional image
Approx. run time 43 min. (approx.)
Genre Tragedy
Creator Joss Whedon
Jed Whedon
Zack Whedon
Maurissa Tancharoen
Written by Joss Whedon
Jed Whedon
Zack Whedon
Maurissa Tancharoen
Directed by Joss Whedon
Produced by David Burns
Michael Boretz
Starring Neil Patrick Harris
Felicia Day
Nathan Fillion
Simon Helberg
Editing by Lisa Lassek
Music by Joss Whedon
Jed Whedon
Country United States
Language English
Original run July 15, 2008 – July 20, 2008
No. of episodes 3
Official website IMDb tv.com

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a 43-minute musical film, initially produced exclusively for Internet distribution. It tells the story of Dr. Horrible, the aspiring supervillain alter ego of Billy; Captain Hammer, his nemesis; and Penny, their mutual love interest.

The movie was written by writer/director Joss Whedon, his brothers Zack Whedon (a television writer) and Jed Whedon (a composer), and Jed's fiancée, actress Maurissa Tancharoen. The writing team penned the musical during the WGA writers' strike. The idea was to create something small and inexpensive, yet professionally done, in a way that would circumvent the issues that were being protested during the strike.[1][2] On October 31, 2008, Time magazine named it #15 in Time's Top 50 Inventions of 2008.[3][4] It also won a People's Choice Award for "Favorite Online Sensation", and was nominated for the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.[5]


[edit] Plot

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog consists of three acts of approximately 14 minutes each. They were first released online as individual episodes, with two-day intervals between each release.

[edit] Act I

Dr. Horrible is filming an entry for his video blog, giving updates on his schemes and responding to various emails from his viewers. Asked about the "her" that he often mentions, he launches into song about Penny, the girl he likes from the laundromat ("My Freeze Ray").

The song is cut short by his friend Moist, who delivers a letter from Bad Horse, the leader of the Evil League of Evil. The letter informs Dr. Horrible that his application for entry into the League will be evaluated, and that they will be watching for his next heinous crime ("Bad Horse Chorus").

The following day, Horrible prepares to steal a case of wonderflonium for his time-stopping Freeze Ray by remotely commandeering the courier van. Penny happens to be on the same street ("Caring Hands"), and appears asking him to sign a petition to turn a city building into a homeless shelter. However, Horrible's distraction over configuring the remote control results in him appearing uninterested. As Penny leaves, Horrible is conflicted, but opts to steal the wonderflonium, telling himself that 'A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do' ("A Man's Gotta Do").

When Horrible begins the heist, Captain Hammer appears and destroys the remote control receiver, causing the van to veer towards Penny. Hammer pushes her out of the way (into a pile of garbage) just as Horrible regains control of the van and stops it. The two confront each other, but Penny emerges to thank Hammer, making him forget about attacking Dr. Horrible. As Hammer and Penny serenade each other, Horrible makes off with the wonderflonium.

[edit] Act II

Dr. Horrible stalks Penny and Captain Hammer on their dates; Horrible sings of the misery of the human condition, and Penny sings of hope and the possibility of redemption ("My Eyes"). Penny and Horrible, known to her as Billy, begin to talk openly as friends at the laundromat.

On his blog, Horrible reveals that his Freeze Ray has been completed, and that he plans to use it the next day. The following post reveals that he has failed, as Hammer and the LAPD watch his blog, and they were ready for him. He then receives a phone call from Bad Horse and is reprimanded, saying that the only way to be inducted now is to commit an assassination ("Bad Horse Chorus (Reprise)"). Horrible is conflicted and can't decide on a victim, or even if he wants to commit a murder at all.

While Billy chats with Penny over frozen yogurt about his problems ("Penny's Song"), Penny mentions that Captain Hammer is planning to drop by the laundromat. Billy panics and tries to leave, only to run into Hammer as he walks in. They feign ignorance on recognizing each other, but when Penny leaves them alone, Hammer taunts Horrible about his crush on Penny, happy to be taking the thing that Dr. Horrible wants most. Horrible decides that he will kill Hammer ("Brand New Day").

[edit] Act III

Los Angeles is abuzz with Captain Hammer's crusade to help the homeless; Penny ponders her relationship with Captain Hammer, waiting at the laundromat to share frozen yogurt with an absent Billy; and Dr. Horrible goes into self-imposed exile while constructing a Death Ray ("So They Say"). At the opening for the new shelter, Captain Hammer begins a speech praising the homeless but it degenerates into a praise of his own excellence and relationship with Penny ("Everyone's a Hero"). Penny tries to leave, but is interrupted by the appearance of Dr. Horrible, whom she recognizes as the man she knows as Billy. Captain Hammer is frozen by the Freeze Ray ("Slipping"), but Dr. Horrible hesitates before slaying the hero with his new death ray. Unfortunately, during that one moment, the Freeze Ray unexpectedly fails and a no-longer-incapacitated Hammer knocks him across the room, damaging the death ray. Hammer then turns the death ray on Horrible, despite the villain's warnings that it has been damaged beyond repair; indeed, the weapon explodes in Hammer's hands, injuring him and causing him to feel pain for the first time in his life. He flees, a weeping wreck. Dr. Horrible has succeeded in vanquishing his nemesis, without harming any bystanders at all... Except Penny, who was hit by death-ray shrapnel. She dies in Horrible's arms, deliriously reassuring him that Captain Hammer will save them.

Dr. Horrible becomes a member of the League, Penny's death counting as the murder he needed to achieve. Afterwards, Billy posts on his blog ("Everything You Ever") that he "won't feel a thing," despite achieving his goal.

[edit] Cast

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog cast members
  • Neil Patrick Harris as Billy / Dr. Horrible: A supervillain of the mad scientist variety with "a Ph.D in Horribleness". He desires to become a member of Bad Horse's Evil League of Evil and use his inventions to take over the world and enact social change for the betterment of humanity, whom he sees as ignorant to the problems of the world. As Billy, he struggles to make a romantic connection with Penny.
  • Felicia Day as Penny: Dr. Horrible's love interest, whom he sees at the coin laundromat. She is idealistic and generous and volunteers at a homeless shelter. Her optimism clashes vividly with Billy's cynicism and misanthropy, and her benevolence with Captain Hammer's narcissism.
  • Nathan Fillion as Captain Hammer: Dr. Horrible's arch-nemesis. Hammer is a self-centered superhero possessing super-human strength and near-invulnerability. He enjoys harassing Dr. Horrible even when the situation does not warrant it.
  • Simon Helberg as Moist: Dr. Horrible's friend, who has the underwhelming ability to dampen things. Dr. Horrible calls him "my evil moisture buddy." It's implied that he's in the Henchmen's Union, and he can be seen henching with Horrible on a robbery.

Colleagues of Joss Whedon have cameo roles in the series. Marti Noxon, a co-executive producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, portrays a newsreader alongside Buffy and Angel writer David Fury. Buffy writers Doug Petrie and Drew Goddard cameo as supervillains Professor Normal and Fake Thomas Jefferson. Jed Whedon cameos both as a member of Bad Horse's chorus, and as the supervillain Dead Bowie, while Maurissa Tancharoen plays a superhero/supervillain groupie as well as the background voice on "Everything You Ever". Jed, Joss, and Zack Whedon all provide the singing voices of Bad Horse's chorus. Zack also plays the man who rolls the gurney with Penny on it. Members of the Dr. Horrible crew also play small roles.

[edit] Production

Whedon funded the project himself (at just over $200,000[6]) and enjoyed the independence of acting as his own studio. “Freedom is glorious,” he comments. “And the fact is, I’ve had very good relationships with studios, and I’ve worked with a lot of smart executives. But there is a difference when you can just go ahead and do something.” As a web show, there were fewer constraints imposed on the project, and Whedon had the “freedom to just let the dictates of the story say how long it’s gonna be. We didn’t have to cram everything in—there is a lot in there—but we put in the amount of story that we wanted to and let the time work around that. We aimed for thirty minutes, we came out at forty two, and that’s not a problem.”[7] Some of the music was influenced by Stephen Sondheim.[8]

A Captain Hammer (Nemesis of Dr. Horrible) online comic tie-in was also made available. It will be printed later this year in a Dark Horse Presents graphic novel.[9] An online comic detailing the origin of Moist (entitled Moist: Humidity Rising) debuted online as part of Myspace Dark Horse Presents #17 on 3 December 2008.[10]

The production of the DVD included a contest announced at Comic-Con for one aspect of its content - The production team would be accepting short videos from fans, given 3 minutes to explain why they should be inducted into the Evil League of Evil. The 10 best submissions have been added to the DVD release.

[edit] Recording Locations

Dr. Horrible was recorded at a number of Los Angeles area locations:

  • Songs were recorded in a small studio set up in Joss Whedon’s loft.[11]
  • There are a number of photos posted in numerous places on the Web of the cast and crew taken at DC Stages, 1360 East 6th Street (E. 6th at Mateo St.) in Los Angeles.
  • The outdoor scenes featuring the Dr. Horrible “groupies” were recorded on East 6th Street near the northeast corner of E. 6th and S. Central Ave. in Los Angeles. (Location is within walking distance of DC Stages).
  • The Laundry Mart where they filmed is located around 1370 Sunset Blvd. between Douglas Street and Allison Avenue in Echo Park.
  • The lake with the paddleboat is Echo Park Lake.
  • Dr. Horrible's home, used for blogging scenes as well as the final party scene is the house featured in the 'Mad Scientist' episode of Monster House.

[edit] Distribution

Whedon has said that the plan was to find a venue for the series that would enable it to earn its money back and pay the crew. This plan was to release the show onto the Internet, with an iTunes[12] release to follow. If successful enough, an official DVD would be greenlighted, which Whedon planned to have some "amazing extras".[13]

The musical's fansite launched in March 2008 (despite the official site containing nothing more than a poster at the time) and was the first place to publicly release the teaser trailer three months later on June 25, 2008.[14]

[edit] Online

The episodes first aired at the Official Dr. Horrible website, hosted on Hulu, accessible internationally (unusual for the US-based service) and free to watch (ad-supported). Act I premiered on Tuesday July 15, 2008 - Act II followed two days later on July 17, and Act III surfaced on July 19. On July 20 the episodes were taken offline as planned, but on July 28 the show became available for free viewing again internationally. It was again restricted to the United States only[15] and is no longer available.

On October 10 all three acts were made available via iTunes for the UK and Australia. The film is also available from Amazon Video on Demand.

[edit] DVD

On November 28, 2008 the Official Dr. Horrible website announced that pre-orders were being taken for the DVD. The following day Tubefilter reported that pre-orders of the Dr. Horrible DVD were "booming".[16] As of January 5, 2009 the DVD had become the number 2 overall bestseller in the Movies & TV category at Amazon.com, and number 1 in musicals.

The DVD was released exclusively at Amazon.com on December 19, 2008 in the United States and on January 13, 2009 in Canada at Amazon.ca. Extras include Commentary! The Musical, a musical commentary track with entirely new numbers performed by the cast and crew;[17] a regular commentary with cast and crew; the top 10 video entries from fans applying to join the Evil League of Evil;[18] featurettes on the making of the production; and three easter eggs.

The DVD is region free. During pre-ordering the Amazon page stated the discs would be manufactured on demand using recordable media. Although some customers report receiving DVD-R discs (identified by a purple data-side), most are receiving pressed discs.[19]

[edit] Profits

All proceeds from iTunes and DVD sales will go toward paying the cast and crew of Dr. Horrible, who were not compensated at the time.[20]

On November 29, 2008, Joss Whedon blogged about Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and stated that, "We've been able to pay our crew and all our bills".[21]

[edit] Soundtrack

The musical contains 14 songs, including credits and reprises, but at the time of broadcast the song titles were not identified. The soundtrack was released through the iTunes Store on September 1, 2008[22] and was released on CD in the US on December 15th.

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog Soundtrack made the top 40 Album list on release, despite being a digital exclusive only available on iTunes.[23]

[edit] Events

On August 29, 2008, the first authorized sing-along version of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog was hosted at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Georgia, with showings reaching standing-room-only capacity.[24]

[edit] References

  1. ^ Joss Whedon (2008-06-28). "Comment on "Doctor Horrible website is live"". Whedonesque.com. http://whedonesque.com/comments/16734#236716. Retrieved on 2008-06-28. 
  2. ^ Roush, Matt (2008-06-30). "Exclusive: First Look at Joss Whedon's "Dr. Horrible"". Roush Dispatch. TV Guide. http://community.tvguide.com/blog-entry/TVGuide-Editors-Blog/Roush-Dispatch/Joss-Whedon-Dr/800042425. Retrieved on 2008-06-30. 
  3. ^ "TIME's Best Inventions of 2008". TIME. http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1852747_1854195_1854133,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-12-07. 
  4. ^ "TIME's Top 10 TV Series of 2008". TIME. http://www.time.com/time/specials/2008/top10/article/0,30583,1855948_1863395_1863399,00.html. Retrieved on 2009-02-17. 
  5. ^ "The Hugo Awards : 2009 Hugo Award Nominations". http://www.thehugoawards.org/?p=260. Retrieved on 2009-03-20. 
  6. ^ "Meet Joss Whedon the Web Slayer.". Written By Magazine. http://www.wga.org/writtenby/writtenbysub.aspx?id=3438. Retrieved on 2009-01-06. 
  7. ^ Baldwin, Drew (2008-07-14). "Joss Whedon Interview: The Web Has Been Wonderful For “Horrible”". Tubefilter. http://news.tubefilter.tv/2008/07/14/joss-whedon-interview-the-web-has-been-wonderful-for-horrible/. Retrieved on 2008-07-14. 
  8. ^ Nussbaum, Emily (2008-07-21). "Joss Whedon on ‘Dr. Horrible,’ Stephen Sondheim, and Bad Horse". NY Magazine. http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2008/07/joss_whedon_on_dr_horrible_ste.html. Retrieved on 2008-07-23. 
  9. ^ "Captain Hammer". Dark Horse Comics. http://www.myspace.com/darkhorsepresents?issuenum=12&storynum=2. Retrieved on 2008-08-06. 
  10. ^ "Moist". Dark Horse Comics. http://myspace.com/darkhorsepresents?issuenum=17&storynum=1. Retrieved on 2008-12-03. 
  11. ^ http://www.drhorrible.com/linernotes.html
  12. ^ Spelling, Ian (2008-05-19). "Whedon's Dr. Horrible Almost Done". SCI FI Wire. SCI FI. http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index.php?category=4&id=54390. Retrieved on 2008-06-27. 
  13. ^ Spelling, Ian (2008-06-02). "Joss Whedon offers a sneak peak at his brand-new Dollhouse". SCI FI Wire. SCI FI. http://www.scifi.com/sfw/interviews/sfw18953.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-27. 
  14. ^ Gelman, Vlada (2008-06-25). "Whedon’s 'Horrible' Trailer". Television Week: Blink. http://www.tvweek.com/blogs/blink/2008/06/whedons_horrible_trailer.php. Retrieved on 2008-07-18. 
  15. ^ Sharma, Arjun (2008-07-29). "‘Dr. Horrible’ Free Again on Hulu, Shortly After Fourth Part Confirmed". Tubefilter. http://news.tubefilter.tv/2008/07/29/dr-horrible-free-again-on-hulu-shortly-after-fourth-part-confirmed/. Retrieved on 2008-07-29. 
  16. ^ http://news.tubefilter.tv/2008/11/29/dr-horrible-dvd-ships-december-19th-pre-orders-booming/
  17. ^ Davis, Erick (2008-07-01). "Joss Whedon To Record First Ever Musical DVD Commentary". Cinematical. Weblogs Inc.. http://www.cinematical.com/2008/07/01/joss-whedon-to-record-first-ever-musical-dvd-commentary/. Retrieved on 2008-07-01. 
  18. ^ "Dr. Horrible Writers, Hot Zombie Love, ARG Mania". Epic Fu. 2008-07-31. http://epicfu.com/2008/07/dr-horrible-writers-hot-zombie.html. Retrieved on 2008-08-06. 
  19. ^ "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (Amazon.com Exclusive)". Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001M5UDGS. Retrieved on 2008-12-20. 
  20. ^ "It's Dr. Horrible ... It's (Dr.) Gone!". iNews 880 AM. 07-20-2008. http://www.inews880.com/Channels/Reg/iReports/Story.aspx?ID=1017368. Retrieved on 2008-11-13. 
  21. ^ http://whedonesque.com/comments/18243#270186
  22. ^ "Lyrics and liner notes coming soon on our site. For now, let your ears enjoy the soundtrack on iTunes.". Dr. Horrible Twitter. http://twitter.com/drhorrible/statuses/906450423. Retrieved on 2008-09-02. 
  23. ^ Billboard 200 chart Issue Date: 2008-09-20
  24. ^ Jackson, Josh (31 August 2008). "Dr. Horrible & The Buffy Horror Picture Show". Paste Magazine. http://www.pastemagazine.com/high_gravity/2008/08/dr-horrible-the-buffy-horror-picture-show.html. Retrieved on 4 March 2009. 

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