'Dr. Horrible' DVD simply divine

Written by Sharon Eberson on .

Dr. Horrible DVDIt's fabulous in its horribleness.

Just as you'd expect from "Buffy" and "Firefly" creator Joss Whedon. Only better. Really, you'll like it. Even if you don't like musicals. You may be fascinated but horrified by the fact that you're fascinated - and that's all right, too.

"Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," created by the Whedon Gang of Talented People as a free three-part Web series, was so popular from the second of its July launch, it immediately crashed the Dr. Horrible site. We who belong to the Cult of Joss Whedon would have been there no matter what, but it seems like everyone with access to the Internet caught on quickly. And there's not a year-end list that doesn't include "Dr. Horrible" among its "best-ofs," for the viral videos, for TV (Entertainment Weekly put this No. 1 among it's TV bests, even though it was entirely on the Web), for soundtrack ... the list goes on.

I could have watched the DVD extras online, too, but I wanted to give the folks who worked so hard to make me smile some of my hard-earned cash. Joss and his brothers, Zack and Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen, and the rest of the volunteer cast and crew, created this piece of art to fill the horrible hours of the writers' strike. They deserve a buck or two, if for nothing else, then just for being so wonderfully warped.

From the Evil League of Evil taking over the usual DVD "FBI Warning" to "Commentary: The Musical" (there's also a spoken commentary, but how ambitious is a second soundtrack?) to Neil Patrick Harris, a TV and Broadway veteran but new to the Loyal Cast & Crew of Whedon, mastering a speed-up, tongue-twist song to why, oh why do they kill . . . no, I won't do it. In case there's anyone out there who hasn't seen "Dr. Horrible" - really, just do it already - I won't give anything away.

As the title character, it's Harris' fabulous horribleness (something Dr. Horrible would say) that makes it all work. He's a singer and a ham and a professional and, well, he's the man. Nathan Fillion ("Buffy," "Firefly") is a loyal Whedonite who has the time of his life hamming it up as Captain Hammer, the most insincere superhero ever to be seen on screen. Felicia Day does innocence without a note of insincerity.

They create a triangle that only this bunch could have come up with: Dr. Horrible is a mad scientist desparate to be given a place in the Evil League of Evil or to rule the world, whichever comes first. He's also dying to get up the nerve to talk to the object of his affections Penny (Day), a sweet girl who he stalks at the laundromat. Captain Hammer is Horrible's nemesis, thwarting his attempts to do bad stuff and winning Penny's heart, much to Horrible's dismay. Watch for "The Big Bang Theory's" Simon Helberg as Horrible's friend in crime, Moist.

It gets more demented from there, and it's all done to music that would be up for a Tony if it were on Broadway - hey, there's a idea I hope catches on ...

One of the Whedons brothers says that all you can aspire to is to create a character that people want to dress up as. At Comic-Con in San Diego, the Captain Hammer shirts (sold at the Browncoats fan club booth) were sold out from the moment they were in stock. So he's already reached a milestone.

Also in the extras, they talk about rushing to get "Dr. Horrible" up on the Web "in time to rock Comic-Con." As someone who was in the audience during the panel, let me tell you that they did that and more, causing a flurry of activity to add room for the thousands who wanted in. Fillion was at his most charismatic and Harris seemed stunned at the attention. He'll learn that when you're around Joss Whedon, adoration seems to follow.

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