One of the best things to come out of last year's Hollywood writers strike was a most unexpected delight called Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.
During the strike, Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse, was prohibited from writing or developing anything for the small screen, so he started to play with the Internet. Dr. Horrible was a three-part, free-streaming musical miniseries that became an instant success.
Starring Neil Patrick Harris (the roguish Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother), Nathan Fillion (the Castle cutie), Simon Helberg (Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory) and Felicia Day (Vi from Buffy), Dr. Horrible was No. 4 on Time magazine's top 10 TV shows of 2008 — despite never having been on television. On Tuesday, Dr. Horrible was released on DVD ($14.99).
The plot of the 43-minute sci-fi musical concerns attempts by would-be supervillain Billy (Harris), aka Dr. Horrible, to achieve his goals: to rule the world and to win the heart of his coin-laundry crush, Penny (Day). Standing between Billy and Penny and Billy's goal of joining the Evil League of Evil is his archnemesis, Captain Hammer (Fillion). Always trying to help is Billy's supervillain friend Moist (Helberg) — "Need anything dampened?"
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Dr. Horrible was written by Whedon, his brothers Zack and Jed, and Jed's fiancée, Maurissa Tancharoen. The songs were written by Joss and Jed Whedon, with some lyrics by Tancharoen. The offbeat humor is sly and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. The one time Billy could really use his freeze ray, for example, the gun takes too long to warm up.
The ending is abrupt and the production budget minuscule, but Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is sensational.
Among the extras (which run way longer than the main attraction) is Commentary! The Musical in which Whedon savages — musically — the obligatory "making of" documentaries that go with DVD releases.