Being a huge Whedonverse fan, my hopes were that this series would be more fun than a ship with a Capissen 38 engine filled to the brim with terrifying space monkeys. Sadly I was slightly disappointed during the first few minutes as Dr. Horrible ( Neil Patrick Harris NPH) spoke directly to the camera and later answered emailed questions. I shouldn't admit this, but it took me until the first song to actually 'get it' it's premise is initially set around Dr. Horrible's video blog. Hey, Bob, it even mentions that in the frakkin' title of the show! What can I say? This is what the lack of Joss on the tube or silver screen has done to me! (side note: 'Serenity 2' anyone? Universal? Joss? Captain Tightpants?). How's that for an intro? Anyways

Recaps

Act I

"The world is a mess and I just need to rule it."

We first meet Dr. Horrible/Billy while he is recording his video blog in his apartment/lair. Dressed in a lab coat and wearing goggles (I need a pair of those), he discusses such things as evil laughter as well as answers his viewers', sarcastic emails. Through the course of these questions, we find out that Dr. Horrible has developed a freeze ray and that his nemesis is none other than Captain Hammer ( Nathan Fillion). We also find out that Horrible has a secret crush on Penny ( Felicia Day), a woman he sees frequently in the laundromat. The blog is interrupted when Moist, another evil villain who has the power to moisten things (hahaha), enters the apartment with Horrible's snail mail. To his gleeful surprise, there is a letter from Bad Horse, the leader of the Evil League of Evil. Horrible's application to the League is being considered but he must prove himself. He decides to hijack a shipment of Wonderflonium, the element his freeze ray needs to operate, the next day. While prepping his remote control device on the transport van, Penny pops up asking if he'll sign a petition for a new homeless shelter. Flabbergasted and distracted, he eventually signs her petition but semi-ignores her because of the heist he is about to attempt. She walks off and instead of following after her, he proceeds with his plan. He gains control the van and it drives off with the Wonderflonium inside. Success seems to be at hand when, from out of nowhere, Captain Hammer jumps onto the roof of the van. He damages the remote device, jumps off as the van is now out of control... heading straight towards Penny. As Horrible desperately attempts to gain back remote access, Hammer jumps in front of the van, pushes Penny forcefully out of the way and into a pile of garbage bags. Horrible's device starts working again and he stops the van before Hammer has a chance to act. Horrible leaves his hiding place to chastise Hammer for possibly hurting Penny. Of course, Hammer does what is normal for their superhero/supervillian relationship: he grabs Horrible by the neck. A disorientated Penny climbs out of the garbage to thank Hammer, which distracts him long enough to forget about Dr. Horrible. Disbelieving and jealous of the new found attraction Hammer and Penny have for each other, Horrible takes the Wonderflonium from the van and escapes.

Act II

"I hold a PhD in horribleness."

Still in a state of shock from the events in Act I, Billy roams the streets until he ends up at Penny's homeless shelter, where she and Hammer are on a date. Unbeknownst to Penny, the Captain is uncomfortable being around the shelter's clientèle. Billy spies on them at the shelter, at first through a window, then later by impersonating one of the workers. He ends up stalking them during their other dates. Later that week at the laundromat, Billy inquires about Penny's weekend. She tells him that she had a date and was pleased with the way it turned out. On his video blog, Dr. Horrible boasts about his freeze ray and the Wonderflonium heist of the previous week, then laments over the Captain Hammer/Penny sitch. He proclaims that once he uses his device, he will finally be able to join the Evil League of Evil. Cut to a new blog with a visibly shaken Dr. Horrible speaking. Apparently, Captain Hammer and the authorities are viewers of Horrible's blog so they knew of his plans ahead of time. Horrible receives a phone call from Bad Horse's henchmen telling him that the only way for him to join the League will be to kill someone. Later, he debates the thought of killing a person with Moist. At the laundromat, Billy shares (some) of his job woes with Penny who commiserates with him, attempts to lighten his mood and they almost kiss. Surprisingly, Penny then informs him that Hammer will be coming to the laundromat Unsurprisingly, Billy immediately wants out of there; however, he runs right into Hammer at the entrance, who doesn't seem recognize Billy. The Captain informs an overjoyed Penny that he convinced the mayor to turn over the building to her homeless shelter (the reason for the petitions in Act One). As Penny gathers her laundry, Billy makes a second attempt to leave. This time Hammer prevents his escape on purpose and shares that he knows Billy's true identity. Since Dr. Horrible has a crush on Penny, Hammer gloats that Penny will be his. The debate is over, Dr. Horrible decides to kill... Captain Hammer.

Act III

"Dr. Horrible is here and I won't feel a thing."

The city is agog (just saw Les Miz for the seventh time and had to add that) over the perception of Captain Hammer's new found humanitarianism The mayor plans to honor him with a statue at the dedication of the new homeless shelter. Meanwhile, a very determined Dr. Horrible is working on his plans of defeating and killing Hammer. The dedication day arrives and during the Captain's very pompous, self-serving speech, Dr. Horrible surprises everyone by zapping Hammer with his now-functioning freeze ray. Vaunting his achievement to the audience, Horrible pulls out the death ray he has been working on and approaches the frozen Hammer. Unexpectedly, the freeze ray gun breaks down, freeing Hammer. A quick punch sends Horrible sliding across the floor. Hammer picks up the death ray Horrible dropped, pins him to the floor and points the gun at his head. The gun explodes knocking Hammer back as shrapnel flies everywhere. The Captain is aghast ( Les Miz) as he experiences pain for the first time in his life and end up fleeing from the building. Horrible wins, in more ways than he realizes. He glances around the hall and sees Penny propped up against a wall with an ugly piece of metal sticking out of her gut. He rushes over but it's too late. Her last words are "Captain Hammer will save us." The press reports that Dr. Horrible killed "what's-her-name." Because of his new found infamy (and the fact that Captain Hammer is in therapy), Horrible's star rises. He finally has his dream fulfilled: he joins the Evil League of Evil. Dr. Horrible wins.


Commentary

My, my, my, my! For such a short, one shot, series, I appreciated the twists and turns in the story as well as the storyline coming full circle. In the beginning we are lead on to identify or sympathize with Horrible/Billy; however, his character's name should had made us realize that he is not a likable person at all. Rather, he is an evil character that just experiences some of the same emotions the rest of us, non-super heroes or super-villains experience. One could look at this as a character study of the eventual genesis of a super-villain. Are all the non-Horrible/Billy characters actually singing or is the singing part of the criminal psychosis that he deals with and eventually gives himself to. In the first two acts, Horrible/Billy is presented with choices that mold his eventual criminal career. If he would had made just made the opposite choices, he could (not would) become the quirky character we desperately want to love. In the first act, he could have easily passed on his plan to steal the the van and gone after Penny instead; however, his choice caused Penny to be swooped up by Captain Hammer. He even states this in his blog, but still decides to continue with his evil pans. Penny would have eventually seen through hammer's facade and seen the 'third layer' that Billy mentions. Sadly, for Billy, he doesn't make the attempt to win her heart with his non-evil abilities and this leads to his decision to kill Hammer in the second act. Even with what Hammer has done for Penny, Billy's charm could easily win Penny over (although, I would not be sure if that relationship would work especially if he thinks giving her Australia would impress her). Then again, maybe 'fate' was involved here: his path was already chosen and nothing could sway him from it. At the laundromat, Penny is about to say to him that "everything happens for a reason" but Billy stops her from completing the statement, so she responds, "I'm just saying: everything happens." To Horrible/Billy, everything does happen. Everything happens to get him to his final goal. And in the end, he sings a lyric that is prophetic in his journey to this point: "Its gonna be bloody, head up Billy buddy, there's no time for mercy." He even calls himself, 'Billy buddy' like Penny did (in a song in Act Two as well as she being referenced in the lyric before it) as if it's his fantasy version of Penny urging him to complete his transformation. When the true nature of Dr. Horrible is revealed, we see how it comes full circle: he has mastered his evil laugh, his freeze ray works (to an extent) and he has no issues with killing. Well sort of... if he did not hesitate in pulling the trigger on his death ray, Hammer would be dead. That tiny questioning of his 'purpose' (I was wondering if I could make an Avenue Q reference) is the reason for Penny's death. Although you could think that he has remorse after her death, he is empty and her death served him well. He knows it and embraces it. As he states in song at the very end as Dr. Horrible, "Dr. Horrible is here and I won't feel..." a door visually closes and we see (for the first time in this act) Billy as if he is blogging (as opposed to Dr. Horrible blogging), sing silently to conclude the lyric, "... a thing." His choices have been made, this alternate Billy (not necessarily 'good' Billy) is repressed, is silent, is kept tucked away forever mulling over the heartless and empty decisions of this journey. Dr. Horrible continues on.

To Joss, Mutant Enemy, the entire cast and creative team of Dr. Horrible: if this is what you do during a Hollywood strike, well, I hope there are more strikes in our future! Kudos to all!


Random musings

I didn't really discuss the songs. Umm... I liked them! I did take issue with a review or two that complained about the length of the songs and/or the durations. I'd like to tell those reviewers the following: 1) Each act is approximately 13 minutes long, so what kind of musical numbers were they expecting? 2) the sole purpose of songs in a proper musical is to move the story along. Did the songs here accomplish that? An astounding 'yes' is the correct response here 3) songs in many current Broadway shows have interruptions within the songs themselves. For example, in Legally Blondie: the Musical (a favorite of mine), almost every song has a break/interruption in it. Basically, what I am saying here is that one should not criticize the songs just because they may or may not be as catchy as one would have liked as that's not their true purpose. Also, considering my belief that the songs are all in the main character's psychosis, the structure of the songs make perfect sense.

My favorite songs:
-'Freeze Ray" song (cannot get this out of my head for some reason)
-the opening song of Act II (virtual duet between Billy & Penny)

Was anyone else reminded of "Standing" from "Once More With Feeling" when Billy froze time in the laundromat? Also, visions of Spike immediately popped into my head during the last song of Act II.

Yes, I thought that the hanging pots and pans in the background was a model of "Serenity." Go ahead... yuck it up!

Besides playing Captain Hammer, my guess is that Captain Tightpants worked out quite a bit during the writer's strike. How classic were Nathan's expressions as he tries to fight off his disgust/fear of the homeless folks touching him and later in the park with the ducks and geese being nearby him. In Act II, he tells Billy that Penny will be "giving it up hard." I swear I heard a little of Captain Reynolds there!

Was surprised at how much I liked NPH's singing as well as the little, unnoticed bits he added. For example: the adjusting his goggles during the blog Act I.

I actually know people like the stalkers... ahem... fans in the third act.

'Happenstance' has been my favorite word from when I first watched the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "11001001." More people should use that word!

Best sidekick/henchman character ever? Moist! They had me at soggy mail and couldn't open the jar! What the... what was... who was... Moist's boxing gloved villain buddy???

In honor of this series, I shall now spell out B-T-W whenever I need to use that expression when speaking. People will love it! Won't they?

If you want to see more of Felicia Day (who was fantastic in this B T W) and like video games, check out: The Guild. She's cute as a button. Hmmm... not sure she'd like that description of herself.

Yay! David Fury, Marti Noxon, Doug Petrie & Drew Goddard!

Finally, Bad Horse was an actual horse!


Quotes

Dr. Horrible: What do you think? Bad Horse didn't work on his whinny? His terrible death whinny.

Dr. Horrible: "Wow, sarcasm. That's original."

Dr. Horrible: "It's not about making money; it's about taking money -destroying the status-quo because the status is not quo."

Dr. Horrible: "Look, I'm just trying to change the world, OK? I don't have time for a grudge match with every poser in a parka."

Moist: "Need anything dampened or made soggy?"

Dr. Horrible: "I wouldn't want to turn my back on a fellow laundry... person."

Captain Hammer: "It's curtains for you, Dr. Horrible. Lacy, gently wafting curtains."

Penny: "Sometimes people are layered like that. There is something totally different underneath than what's on the surface.
Billy: "And sometimes there's a third even deeper level and that one is the same as the top surface one."
Penny: "Huh?"
Billy: "Like with pie."

Penny: "Billy?"
Billy: "Yeah."
Penny: "You're driving a spork into your leg."
Billy: "So I am. Hilarious!"

Dr. Horrible: "I say 'successful' in that I achieved my objective. It was less successful in that I inadvertently introduced my arch nemesis to the girl of my dreams and now he is taking her out on dates and they're probably going to French kiss or something... Called him 'sweet?' How can he be 'sweet?. RIGHT! Freeze ray...'"

Dr. Horrible: "See you at the aftermath, peace! Well not literally..."

Moist: "Look at me, man. I'm moist. I mean at my most bad-ass I make people feel like they want to take a shower."

Dr. Horrible: "I'm Dr. Horrible. I got a PhD in horribleness."
Moist: "Is that the new catch phrase?"

Billy: "I want to be an achiever like Bad Horse."
Penny: "The Thoroughbred of Sin?"
Billy: "I meant, Ghandi."

Billy: "How are things with 'cheesy on the outside'?"

Captain Hammer: "You look horribly familiar."

Captain Hammer: "Apparently, the only signature he needed was my fist...but with a pen in it that I was signing."

News anchor: "It's a good day to be homeless."

Mayor: "Justice has a name and the name that it has, besides 'justice,' is Captain Hammer."

Captain Hammer: "I hate the homeless... ness problem that plagues our city."

Captain Hammer: "You give my regards to Saint Peter... or whoever has his job, but in Hell."

Captain Hammer: "Someone maternal!"


Well, that's it from me. Please post your comments and opinions about this series. What songs did you like? Do you agree with my assessment of Dr. Horrible/Billy? Anyone have a desire to see more of the Dr. Horrible universe or is this glimpse enough? What in-jokes or references did you spot?

Side note: I wish TV Guide would allow me to do a video blog of my own because I have ideas about world domination that I'd like to share...

Muhahahahahaha!

Find videos from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog in our Online Video Guide.

Official website: www.drhorrible.com