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Joss Whedon Sings With ‘Dr. Horrible’

July 11, 2008 7:30 PM

On Thursday night, CAA hosted a screening of Joss Whedon’s Internet musical “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” and the Daily Blink was one of the few members of the press invited.

In attendance were writer/director Joss Whedon and co-writers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, as well as all three lead actors.

Whedon’s Web musical about a hapless, wannabe supervillian (a non-suited up Neil Patrick Harris) who keeps getting thwarted by arrogant hero Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) while trying to get up the nerve to ask out the girl he likes (Felicia Day) looked wonderful on the big theater screen.

That in no small part is thanks to the work of cinematographer Ryan Green, who worked alongside his father Jack Green on Whedon’s “Serenity.” Not a distorted pixel in sight!

The songs were catchy and beautifully sung by the cast, in particular Harris and Day, whose lovely singing voice made the Daily Blink flashback to Amber Benson in the “Buffy” musical episode “Once More With Feeling.” The trademark witty, instantaneously quotable Whedon dialogue was there, as were cameos by David Fury and Marti Noxon, who once again get a chance to show off their pipes after making memorable singing cameos in “Once More With Feeling.”

Check out the Daily Blink's teaser trailer post to get a look for yourself.

All in all, “Dr. Horrible” could be a TV show. Think “Heroes” meets “Flight of the Conchords.”

So would Whedon consider bringing it to TV?

“I’m not against anything,” he said. (Whedon gave a very similar answer about the possibility of a musical episode for his upcoming Fox series “Dollhouse.”)

But first, “Dr. Horrible,” which was born during the writers strike and filmed in 6 or 7 days after the strike's end, needs to prove itself as a viable business model for Internet production.

The musical will be streamed for free on DrHorrible.com in three installments. Act one will debut July 15, with acts two and three premiering July 17 and July 19, respectively. Whedon reassured us that the Web site has a couple of potential servers with crazy bandwidth to deal with what will no doubt be a stampede of fans.

The whole thing will then disappear at midnight on July 20 to return at a later date as a paid download and eventually a DVD, which will feature “Commentary!,” an original musical commentary sung by the cast and writers.

“We want to make an event out of it for one week, like an old TV event,” Whedon said, explaining the streaming schedule. “You have to be in a certain place at a certain time.”

“Dr. Horrible” will live on at a Comic-Con screening and panel, as well as in the form of T-shirts, a soundtrack, more comic books (prequel comic “Captain Hammer: Be Like Me!” can be found on Darkhorse's MySpace page) and possibly a sequel (“Have I thought up the sequel? Yeah, sort of,” Whedon admitted).

It's unclear at this point if the DVD will be released independently or with the backing of a studio. Either way, Whedon just wants to be able to pay his cast and crew, who eagerly jumped on board for the self-funded, “mid-life crisis” project. He revealed that the project cost in the low six figures and was completed with the help of a lot of favors from folks at the studios.

Even if “Dr. Horrible” doesn't prove to be a viable business model, Whedon said he'd do it again in a heartbeat. The freedom felt by the writers and actors no doubt has something to do with that.

“There was no one to answer to,” Tancharoen said. “We felt like kids in a playground a lot of the time.”

“It was completely new, completely fresh,” Whedon added, comparing the experience to working on the “Buffy” musical.

Whedon also gave his blessing to fans who might want to stage “Dr. Horrible” sing-alongs. (“Buffy” lovers have previously staged “Once More With Feeling” sing-alongs across the country, but had to stop due to the threat of legal action from Fox.)

“If people happen to think this is wonderful and want to sing it, who am I to judge?” Whedon said.

—Vlada Gelman

(Edited 7/12/08 at 2:07 p.m. ET to fix second paragraph.)

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Comments (3)

Eolivet:

Fascinating...sounds like Whedon is planning on making the money back through DVDs and paid DLs, but not selling ads on the Web site.

Then again, the comic book culture has proved quite profitable (and loyal) lately.

If anyone can succeed at this, Whedon can.

Oh, this sounds just as wonderful as I have been expecting. The Whedonverse fandom is gearing up and I don't think there will be any disappointment. Joss can't seem to stop his brilliant ideas from coming, and I say - bring 'em on! (Sequels? Yea, yea!)

Caillou:

Thank You!

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