The Genius behind Evil Dr. Horrible

A boy and a girl break into the school late at night. The girl is hesitant but the boy is insistent. It is clear that he is up to no good and you begin to worry that the petite, pretty blond will come to a horrible end. But it is the boy that is in for a sticky end as the girl is a vampire. The boy was surprised and so are we.

This is why I am a Joss Whedon fan. He is always taking our jaded expectations and turning them on their heads. The obvious story line becomes a roller coaster ride of the unexpected. This makes his stories so refreshingly different. He is always trying things that appear to be foolish but he makes it work. He can scare us, excite us, make us laugh and make us cry, all within a few minutes of amazing writing.

The scene described above comes from the TV series, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in which Whedon does a mix of teenage angst and the horror genre. Big nasty vampire baddies get there ass-kicked by a petite Buffy Summers who really just wants to survive school and be popular. The most popular episode of the series was a musical “Once more, with Feeling“. A musical. Can you believe it? But it worked. And, if you can have a musical episode, how about the episode “Hush” which was done with almost no dialogue (cause everyone lost their voice due to supernatural reasons). This creativity was rewarded with an Emmy nomination.

The cult success of that series led to the spin-off series, Angel. Again confounding stereotypes, the hero, Angel, is a vampire while nemesis is a firm of lawyers who had sold their souls to evil. Okay, maybe evil lawyers is not such a surprising concept but a hero vampire private eye is.

Then, came Firefly. The Firefly universe is a world of spaceships and space ports but whose outer planets look and feel like the old wild west. The hero is an ex-rebel space smuggler and again the most lethal person in his crew is a young girl, River Tam. This also became a big cult hit. So even though the networks pulling the plug on the show, fans drove the push for a movie which resulted in “Serenity”.

After this came Dollhouse, but I never got the chance to see this as it did not reach Malaysian shores. But what came next from Joss Whedon’s fertile mind is again a masterpiece of creativity and the unexpected. Kicking his heels during the Writer’s Guild strike in 2008, Joss came up with the idea of “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog“, a 2008 musical tragicomedy miniseries in three acts, produced exclusively for Internet distribution where there is a villian that we like and who runs a blog and there is a hero that is obnoxious and distasteful and where everybody sings. Sounds like a ridiculous, disastrous concept?

On October 31, 2008, Time magazine named it #15 in Time’s Top 50 Inventions of 2008. It also won the People’s Choice Award for “Favorite Online Sensation”, and the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. In the inaugural 2009 Streamy Awards for web television, Dr. Horrible won seven awards: Audience Choice Award for Best Web Series, Best Directing for a Comedy Web Series, Best Writing for a Comedy Web Series, Best Male Actor in a Comedy Web Series (Harris), Best Editing, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Music. It also won a 2009 Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class – Short-format Live-Action Entertainment Programs.

Joss, keep it coming.

This alarming video records Dr. Horrible’s takeover of the Emmy Awards Broadcast in 2009
Vodpod videos no longer available.


10 thoughts on “The Genius behind Evil Dr. Horrible”

  1. Would you believe my kids have been hounding me forever watch Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog…which I actually DID, just this past week. I loved the music!!! It was totally hilarious, tongue in cheek and I would have watched more…seriously!

  2. Oh, this is FUNNY! Thanks for sharing.

    The only thing of Joss Whedon we’ve watched is Firefly & Serenity, but i’ve sure loved those. We did watch Dollhouse some, but it didn’t pull us like Firefly.

  3. Sorry but I don’t watch any of those shows you mentioned but I did watch the award show and thought that bit was great.

  4. Sweet Cheeks,
    Don’t you want to just give the evil Doctor a hug?

    Firefly is so well written but the network played with the sequence of the episodes which made it a bit harder to follow. But the characters in it have impressed on us even though there were so few episodes.

    I suspect this genre is not what you might normally watch but if you give it a try, I think you would appreciate the richness of the characters that Joss Whedon creates and which gives him such a fanatical fan base.

  5. Thanks for reminding me! The Buffy disc with “Once more with feeling” resides permanently in the dvd player in here. I’m going to watch it right now.
    But first, I must mention that it’s great that Nathan Fillion – Joss Whedon’s greatest discovery – is doing a kickass job on “Castle.”
    And also, the Buffy episode where her mother dies was done without any score whatsoever (the background music) and it was intense and groundbreaking for that very reason. Most TV shows or movies would try to control your emotions with evocative violin or other emotional music during such a dramatic turn of events, but Joss went the other way and it was fantastic.

  6. Amazing how far great imaginations can take people… like Tim Burton, and Joss; wow, what intellects out there !

    For example, just the other day I was in an internet café in Helsinki, and heard some people talking about squirrels, and a young lady said, “You’ve got to check out this blog in Malaysia, this guy thinks he IS a squirrel, it’s so cool”…

  7. geewits,
    I was hoping that you, a fellow fan, would comment and thanks for reminding me about that Buffy episode where her mom dies. You are absolutely right. It was done with no background music whatsoever and yet it was so powerfully evocative and emotional. That is one episode where the writing and story telling was just phenomenal. All of Fillion’s roles have been great including Castle but I was truly amazed at his portrayal of Caleb – the evil priest in Buffy. I did not get to see Dollhouse. Was it any good?

    Don’t toy with this poor squirrel. You didn’t really overhear that at an Internet cafe in Helsinki, did you? But if you did, why didn’t you get me their email addresses? I mean, I need all the help I can get…..

  8. Dr horrible must be horri oh eh must be fantastic getting so much awards. It is not my genre though but I’ll check with my kids They love this stuff. Have a good week LGS

  9. I can neither confirm nor deny the veracity of any information advanced, nor as to whether or not anything written is the entire truth, a half truth, or a total fabrication…

    But you are right, I haven’t been to Finland lately… but have visited a Finnish blog…

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