Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog



Airdate: Premiered Tuesday, July 15, with two more acts on Thursday and Saturday (DrHorrible.com, Hulu.com, iTunes)

If "Fantastic Four's" Victor Von Doom was real, he'd have a YouTube account. That's where he'd record videos of himself shaking his fist as he described his plans to defeat that cursed Reed Richards and rule the world as Dr. Doom. It would be a lot like P. Diddy's blog, but slightly less egomaniacal.

That's the cultural departure point for "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," the online-only (for now), three-part, 45-minute-long musical from Joss Whedon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") that stars Neil Patrick Harris as a nebbish supervillain.

Aspiring to join the Evil League of Evil through feats of dastardly derring-do (and mailed application), Dr. Horrible must prove his villainous chops while also striving to win the heart of Penny (Felicia Day), the geeky-cute girl at the laundromat he's afraid to even speak to.

It's a fantastic plot rooted in our odd cultural moment -- the mushroomlike blooming of celebrity video blogs, or vlogs, and our collective fascination with superheroes -- and it's very good.

Episode 1 opens in a vlog format featuring Dr. Horrible, attired in lab coat and goggles resting on his forehead, attempting to laugh evily. But instead of detailing some plan for world domination, Dr. Horrible instead explains that a proper villain must have a proper evil laugh to gain entrance to the Evil League of Evil.

Dr. Horrible also has a musical side. He breaks into song about using his freeze ray to stop time and meet Penny. But evil guy that he is, Dr. Horrible also finds time to rob a courier van. His plan goes awry when Penny recognizes him, and his arch nemesis, Capt. Hammer (Nathan Fillion), spoils the robbery.

This is well-produced, low-rent fun. And Dr. Horrible speaks to our strange modern moment when both celebrities and superheroes are becoming more accessible -- the former through the barrier-collapsing public therapy of celebrity blogs and vlogs (Miley Cyrus, P. Diddy, Kanye, etc.) and the latter through blockbuster films. Given this context, a vlog from a second-rate supervillain seems not only plausible but inevitable. Doesn't hurt that he can sing to boot.