Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible: Legendary with a side of Shiny

Nathan Fillion is Shiny (Photo by RavenU)
Nathan Fillion is Shiny (Photo by RavenU)

If you are a true fangirl or fanboy, then news of “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” will be old hat by now. Bear with us, we’re excited: Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly) is about to release what he’s calling an “Internet Miniseries Event.” You can watch a trailer via vimeo, or you can read his comments on the Whedonesque blog.

The premise looks hysterical: Neil Patrick Harris is a supervillain, Nathan Fillion is a superhero. They sing, and potentially fight over a girl. What more could you want? The answer is, of course, to watch it free, streaming through your interwebs starting July 15th.

The format looks gosh darn revolutionary: 3 episodes, staggered throughout 1 week in July, free to watch. After that, they’ll be sold online for a “nominal fee,” then they’ll potentially go to DVD.

According to Whedon (or Joss as he likes to call himself), this all started during the writers’ strike, when he and other writer/producers started looking around for alternates to creating studio fare. Joss Whedon has a history of working in mixed media: Buffy was originally a film (a flop), then a TV show (a success), then a comic (wildly praised by pretty much everyone) [Editor’s Note: We’ve even seen the musical episode produced for the stage]. Science fiction in general seems to be ahead of the curve on this yes-people-watch-the-internet thing: Battlestar Galactica has released web-exclusive content, as has Heroes. But no one has ever tried to launch a potential brand from the internet, using known actors who are creating original characters specifically for the web. What’s more, Whedon’s “make it on the fly, on the cheap” concept makes it better matched to the bulk of current web content.

I’m sure this is not the last post we’ll do for Dr. Horrible, since (a) Teague is eventually going to get jealous [Editor’s Note: So jealous…]that I got to post about Joss Whedon and he didn’t and (b) This is pretty much the content we’ve been waiting to cover: Big names with big ideas experimenting in free web formats, rather than running around trying to shut them down.

Why should writers have all the fun?

Writer's Strike
Image by hereinvannuys
The SAG is looking at extending or renegotiating their contract with the studios, and no doubt weighing their options in light of the most recent WGA strike. Even though it looks like a strike from Hollywood actors is unlikely at this point, it’s interesting to reflect on this extremely bizarre year for studio-produced media. . .

Looking back on the writers’ strike, I have to wonder if it actually changed the landscape of media consumption at all. Did we spend more time watching YouTube? Probably, but I’m guessing that the only careers launched were those of a few adorable kittens. Did we suffer without our regularly scheduled network programming? Possibly, but I was too busy watching Sex and the City reruns. Unless Ben Stiller plans to go around unplugging everyone’s TV’s and trashing their iTunes folders, it’s really going to be tough to make every screen in America go dark.

In the years since the 1988 writers’ strike, regular Americans have become accustomed to consuming media multiple times a day. And while that means we are able to consume more studio-made media (due to DVDs, video streaming services and bittorrent), it also means that it’s harder for the loss of any one type of media (new television dramas, blockbuster films) to make an impact on our daily lives. There’s simply too much good stuff being produced for us to consume all of it. And too much bad stuff that we’re willing to watch anyway.