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Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

"Dr. Horrible Sing Along Blog" Web Series - Thelondonpaper.com Review

Tuesday 26 August 2008, by Webmaster

It’s been the internet ­sensation of the summer. At its height, 1,000 people a second were trying to ­download it. It’s become the No1 iTunes download for TV – and it’s all down to the US writers’ strike.

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but for Buffy creator Joss Whedon, it was boredom.

He created Dr ­Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog – a three-part 44-minute ­musical extravaganza about a bumbling super villain, starring Malcolm in the Middle’s Neil Patrick Harris – because he had ­nothing else to do. Almost ­accidentally, he’s changed the way we view ­internet TV.

Each episode was initially released for free in the US over two-day intervals in late July, but 48 hours after the third episode went up, it was pulled. You then either had to buy it on US iTunes or wait for the forthcoming DVD release in November.

Whedon says: “We wanted to make an event out of it.

“Like an old TV event, ­something you have to be in a certain place at a ­certain time to see.”

It’s not simply an internet oddity – the musical boasts the quality of a TV show too. It’s not yet available on UK iTunes, though if you Google around you should be able to find it. If you do, you’ll find the jokes are actually funny, there are big-name stars, and the quality – though lo-fi – has the glossy look of a ­network TV show rather than grainy YouTube footage.

As Harris says: ‘‘We had the freedom to be like ­professional amateurs.’’ That sensibility was ‘‘worked into the vibe of the film’’.

Whedon says: “I tried to make internet deals. But they took forever.’’

Having shot Dr Horrible in just over seven days in March, they decided to release it for free straight away. It was only a couple of weeks before it streamed that the iTunes deal was made.

Whedon says: “There were two sides to releasing it for free. One was very idealistic, one was mercenary. The ­idealistic one was that we wanted to do this event, we wanted it to be about the ­internet as much as it was about Dr Horrible. We wanted to say there was another way, not just to the studios, but to the people doing the internet.” The more ­mercenary one, he says, was to simply create buzz.

For now, Whedon is back making network TV – ­specifically, a new TV series for Fox called Dollhouse. But worryingly, he’s already had to change the opening ­episode – echoing the ­network meddling that doomed the aborted Buffy follow-up Firefly. You never know, he may be back on the net before you know it.