Stop what you are doing. No, wait. Finish this, then go over to “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” and watch the first and second installments of Joss Whedon’s latest project. Hurry. Time is running out.
Whedon, the man behind the TV shows “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” and “Firefly,” has produced one of the most unique Web shows to date and, in the process, is conducting his own experiment regarding online distribution.
Instead of producing another “LonelyGirl 15,” “Kate Modern,” or “Prom Queen,” Whedon and friends developed a three “act” “show” that plays this week only. It’s not a three-minute episode, available once a day, for a month or two.
ACT ONE became available for streaming on Tuesday, July 15.
ACT TWO will be available for streaming Thursday, July 17.
ACT THREE will go up Saturday, July 19.
Each act lasts about 15 minutes, with the whole “show” clocking in at just over 42 minutes. The show uses the Hulu video player and the quality is excellent.
All acts will be available until midnight, Sunday, July 20, after which they will “vanish into the night, like a phantom (but not THE phantom — that’s still playing, Like, everywhere,” Whedon said in his letter, “A Letter from Joss Whedon.”
“Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Acts 1,2 3” is also available from iTunes for $3.99, or a $1.99 a show. We assume this is a limited-time offer because . . .
. . . the next stage of Whedon’s master plan is to make “Dr. Horrible” available on DVD with all the usual extras, including not one but two commentary tracks. Who will distribute the disc and what it will cost remains to be seen, as does the number of discs needed to be sold for the project to turn a profit. The whole effort is said to have cost in the “low six figures.”
But profit may not be what Whedon is after. He might have other — shall we say — evil plans afoot. “It is time for us to change the face of Show Business as we know it,” Whedon said in his letter.
There’s the whole DVD-for-sale thing. Sales from iTunes. A few T-shirts (available from Jinx Clothing Company). Who knows: Maybe this is a clever way to sell a major network on a show about an aspiring supervillain who sings and has his own video blog.
“Dr. Horrible” was born out of last year’s writer’s strike, when everyone was saying “Let’s do something for the Internet” and “My feet hurt,” Whedon said in a NewTeeVee post. “But the musical part was purely ours.”
And it’s genius. ACT ONE features Neil Patrick Harris (“Doogie Howser” and “How I Met Your Mother”) as Dr. Horrible, an evil-doer to be, who aspires to be a part of the Evil League of Evil. Dr. Horrible, who is working with a vocal coach on his maniacal laugh, is looking to steal the final ingredient for his freeze ray gun, which will stop time and allow him to rule the world.
Meanwhile, Dr. Horrible is pining after the love of his life, Penny (Felicia Day), whom he is a few weeks away from an audible connection. Spoiling Dr. Horrible’s plans is Captain Hammer (“Firefly’s” Nathan Fillion), a roughish superhero who is Dr. Horrible’s true nemesis.
“Captain Hammer is here, hair blowing in the breeze,” Fillion sings riding atop a driverless van that Dr. Horrible has commandeered for his evil purpose. Surprisingly, Fillion’s, Harris’s, and Day’s singing is more than adequate, as are the hilarious song lyrics.
“What can WE do to help this musical extravaganza?” Whedon wrote in the letter. “What you always do, peeps! What you’re already doing. Spread the word. Rock some banners, widgets, diggs . . . let people know who wouldn’t ordinarily know.”
OK. There you have it. Now go and watch “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.”