Written by: Ryan S. on August 19th, 2009
Web Release Date: Act 1: 7/15/08, Act 2: 7/17/08 Act 3 7/19/08
Director: Joss Whedon
Writers: Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon
Cast: Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day, Simon Helberg, Nick Towne, Jed Whedon, Rob Reinis, Otto Michael Penzato, Lance Lanfear
DVD released: December 19th, 2008
Approximate running time: 42 Min.
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese and Japanese
DVD Release: New Video NYC
Region Coding: ALL
Retail Price: $14.99
Originally presented as a strictly web based anthology, Dr. Horrible began as a pet project for Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly) during the Writer’s strike that held fresh entertainment hostage while Hollywood scribes and executives ironed out their differences. It was offered, believe it or not, entirely free to the public. Even the actors performed free of charge, opting to be paid only if and when the venture turned a profit. Even with a heavyweight like Whedon behind the camera this could have been considered quite the gamble. Why? Because when it comes to musicals, in broad terms, people can be placed into two categories: those who get excited by the idea and those whose eyes begin to roll at the very thought of hearing the plot sang to them. This could have cut down their perspective audience significantly.
If you find your feet are firmly planted in category number two, note that we aren’t talking about a feature length film here but a three part short film with a total running time of just over forty minutes. So, even if musicals aren’t your cup of tea it’s not nearly long enough cause a musical overload.
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) plays the instantly likable underdog DR. Horrible. His character, contrasted by Nathan Fillion’s (Firefly, Waitress) hysterically egotistical Captain Hammer, generates some great comedic moments. The addition of Felicia Day (Creator and star of the web series, The Guild) provides a sympathetic/dramatic touch to what would otherwise be strictly funny business.
The songs are completely original and damn near impossible to get out of your head. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing “My Freeze Ray” for days. ? . . . I will stop. The world. With my Freeze Ray . . . ? no, no, stop it!
With its shoe string budget, in lesser hands Dr. Horrible would be just that . . . horrible. But as usual, Joss has a very specific vision in mind and with a solid concept and an incredibly loyal and talented crew behind him; he is able to make something truly original, not to mention thoroughly entertaining but maybe only for those willing to embrace its overall silliness. Be forewarned however, that the finale takes a decidedly darker turn.
For those who remember the‘07/’08 Writer’s Guild Strike for the excruciating experience it was, it may be upsetting to know only now that there was in fact, some truly original entertainment available at the time. As little consolation as this may be, the good news is that this little joyride is now available on DVD.
New Video NYC’s DVD, is presented in 1:78 Anamorphic Widescreen in 5.1 surround sound. The colors for the outdoor shots are occasionally a little soft but considering the budget, this could be expected. The sound mix is excellent, clear and well balanced.
The Doctor’s threat is clearly international, since the subtitles are offered in English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese and Japanese.
For Extras, we get much more than just the typical Teaser Trailer. For instance, if by chance you need more Dr. Horrible musical mayhem, you may want to try Commentary: The Musical! And yes, it is exactly what it sounds like, a musical commentary track performed by the cast and crew (the songs are lyrically more complex but less catchy compared to the songs in the series). On the other hand, if you’ve had your fill of diabolical show tunes but would still like to hear what the film makers have to say, there is also a standard commentary track. Also included are three behind-the-scenes featurettes Dr. Horrible: “The Movie”, “The Music” and “What Just Happened”. If you doubt in any way the kind of fanatical fan base Joss Whedon has, watch “What Just Happened” and prepare to be amazed.
If you find yourself a diehard fan, you may want to sneak a peek at the “E.L.E. Applications”. Ten, fan made, Evil League of Evil audition tapes. These are the creator’s top choices from a competition where applicants were asked to create their own character and audition as though they were applying to be a member of The Evil League of Evil. As you would expect, some are genius, others are . . . not. The choicest of the lot are the auditions of “Princess Zombie” and “The Reverend”.
If you do choose to give Dr. Horrible a spin, be sure to do some digging for the Easter Eggs. You will not be disappointed.