Sunday, September 04, 2011

Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog

Just so no one is confused, this is my narrative post. I joined the class late, hence the awkwardly delayed post.

The above is part one of Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog, which I highly recommend watching now if you haven't already, because there are spoilers galore to come. According to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, this isn't a short film, as they define "short film" as under 40 minutes counting credits, and this film is 42.* But I happen to respectfully disagree with this arbitrary numerical assignment. Dr. Horrible was designed and created to refute the necessity of major motion picture, blockbuster, box office hits that cost tons of money. For more on how and why Dr. Horrible came to be, check out this post by Joss Whedon, who wrote and directed the third act (as well as a million other things). It's really amusing, and provides a great description of the writers strike two years ago:

Now, for the narrative! The film begins with NPH playing Dr. Horrible himself, a supervillian with a "PhD in horribleness". We quickly learn the three relationships that will propell the plot of the movie:
  • Penny, played by Felicia Day, knows Dr. Horrible better as Billy. Billy goes to the same laundromat as Penny (in fact, he has memorized her laundromat schedule "Wednesdays and Saturdays except last month when you skipped a week...") and goes week after week with the intent of finally talking to the girl of his dreams. If you're not going to watch the whole movie, here's a song (just 2 mins!) illustrating the relationship:
  • Captain Hammer, played by Nathan Fillion (Firefly, anybody?) is Dr. Horrible's arch-nemesis. As the audience, we have the unique experience of thinking he, the "superhero" is sort of a jerk, which makes it all the more unfortunate when Penny falls for him, further tormenting Billy. Here's an explanatory song for this love triangle:
  • Finally, Bad Horse, (the thoroughbred of evil) is an undeveloped character who runs the Evil League of Evil, an organization Billy keeps applying to in an effort to validate himself.
This character driven narrative ends rather surprisingly, making it both unsatisfying and awesome, a hard balance to maintain. If the story weren't so carefully thought out, it would be easy to feel like the narrative was underdeveloped, but instead it all feels very intentional. Dr. Horrible isn't likable just because he's NPH, but because he's supposed to be likable. Captain Hammer isn't a jerk because he's the bad guy, but because he's the good guy. The story doesn't end the way it does because they ran out of film or shooting time, but because they were trying to create an anti-movie: something different, something with loose ends, something outside the box. 

-Fiona Erickson

*Oscar Award Rules

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