on September 7, 2010
I was first introduced to the existence of Dr. Horrible a couple of years ago during the summer of '08 when the writer's strike was still in effect. I was instant messaging with a friend of mine in California when she mentioned something called "Dr. Horrible," and she wouldn't leave me alone because I had no idea what she was talking about. So she found me some streaming links of the show, I watched them, and found them thoroughly amusing. A year later, I finally discovered Joss Whedon's masterpiece in Firefly and its man-child Serenity, developing a new respect that is probably more prevalent in the rampant fandom out there than anything else. And another year after that, in only my second viewing of Dr. Horrible I think I'm starting to see why Joss has so many fans. Dr. Horrible is an oddity, to say the least. Its short running time, low-budget roots, Internet crowd, and yet addicting quirkiness have come to entertain millions of people. But with star power like Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day, is it any surprise? While only running a mere 42 minutes (the equivalent of a single TV series episode), I find it amazing how so much comedy, drama, and tragedy were crammed in. And to top it all of, it's a musical, but not just any musical, a supervillain musical! Such subtle emotions like love, hope, and a greater calling to do good (or horrible) things is just one of the many characteristics I think any person goes through, be they regular Joe's or aspiring super people. NPH, in all of his natural charisma, plays the role of Dr. Horrible flawlessly. I never watched Doogie Howser growing up, but the "cool guy" image he's had ever since Harold & Kumar has been a joy to watch. Nathan Fillion is essentially an egomaniac superhero that, if you're any familiar with his work in the Firefly universe, makes for some great comedy relief. And finally, Felicia Day plays the cute damsel and love interest of the two with great, uh.. cuteness. Props to her for a beautiful singing voice, too. If you've yet to see this, Dr. Horrible is an over-the-top, silly, and wacky musical satire concoction that's short in length, but certainly a winner.
Video - 4.0
Being a made-for-Internet production and filmed in a total of two weeks, you'd think something low-budget like Dr. Horrible wouldn't translate well to BD. But in fact, it actually looks pretty good. The color scheme doesn't amount itself to much outside of Dr. Horrible's lab coat, Captain Hammer's black t-shirt, and various amounts of street clothes, but image detail is still quite good. Skin textures are relatively tight, and contrast levels give the overall picture a kind of cartoony look. On the flip side, there's also a lot of noise in the darker or more dimly-lit scenes, and a few instances of artifacts/debris pop up every now and then. There's also the issue of contrast getting blown out of proportion during the "special effects" sequences, like when a giant Dr. Horrible is wreaking havoc on the city. But given that the budget was probably half the cost of some sports cars, I think it looks great.
Audio - 4.5
Dr. Horrible is presented with a very excellent DTS-HD 5.1 track that better captures the true essence of the show. Dialogue is clean-cut from the center channel with what few, if any, sound effects coming mainly from the front sound stage. But the real star of the show (the music) is phenomenally delivered and dispersed throughout every speaker. Accompaniment itself actually has a decent amount of separation from the vocals resulting in a fine representation of the show's soundtrack. High and low ends of the music/vocals never waver and almost make you think it should just be an audio BD. Integration of the pre-recorded songs to the video are flawless as well, and the BD as a whole really does justice to the musical numbers. The only downside, really, is the lack of LFEs. There is one point in the show where something blows up making for a quick little rumble, but that's it. Certainly, the music sounds as good as it ever will, though.
Extras - 5.0
Comes with 2 commentaries, making-of, Evil League of Evil application videos, outtakes, and a brief interview with the ELE itself. Probably the funniest and most innovative special I've experienced yet, though, is the musical commentary. Whedon and gang actually went through the trouble of composing and constructing songs and dialogue in a semi-Broadway fashion to fill in pretty much every single second of the feature's run time. Dialogue is high-pitched and fast just like you'd hear on stage, and a lot of the songs are quite entertaining, yet perfectly comprehensible as potential standalone commentaries themselves. It's just as strange, quirky, and fun as the show itself. Also of high entertainment value are the ELE applications. Much of the applicants are very creative considering these are low-budget and fan-made, and I think it's awesome that Whedon was cool enough to actually put them on the disc. The making-of is only about 20 minutes, but provides quite a bit of insight to the composition of the idea, the music, and the casting. Rounding it all out is a painfully short ELE interview, which is funny in its own right, but I would've loved more Fake Thomas Jefferson and Dead (David) Bowie screen time. All in all, the extras are a joy to watch and compliment the feature very well.
Overall - 4.5
In the last couple of years, Joss Whedon has really managed to capture my attention with his brilliant attention to quirkiness. First was Firefly and Serenity, and now now Dr. Horrible. The comedy is subtle, snarky, and genuinely funny all at the same time. With outstanding performances by the main three cast and a very catchy soundtrack, Dr. Horrible became an Internet sensation, and rightfully so. Presented by New Video with adequate video, excellent audio, and all the goofy extras that were on the DVD, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog comes highly recommended an is a must-have for Whedonites.