Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible Could Conceive Profitable New Model for Online Serials
If you were a fan of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer or its slightly traumatizing spin-off Angel, you might get teary with glee over Acts I and II of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, an effort by creator Joss Whedon to raise crowdsourced funding for a web-only show.
Dr. Horrible, played by Neil Patrick Harris, is a singing supervillain. He uses the blog to share his dreams of dominating the world and joining an elite frat, the Evil League of Evil, whose membership he'll probably never earn unless he defects for a series that takes itself more seriously, like True Blood.
"If you're gonna get into the Evil League of Evil you have to have a memorable laugh," insists Dr. Horrible, who looks like a cross between Doogie Howser, MD and Butters masquerading as Professor Chaos.
Whedon, whose Buffy musical episode still stirs zealous emotions, says the "very midlife-crisisy" Dr. Horrible idea hatched during the WGA writers strike. The idea was to create a "really thrilling, professionalish piece of entertainment specifically for the Internet."
The Globe and Mail thinks Dr. Horrible's quality, humor and inventiveness "signify a great leap forward for online video." More importantly, it's generated a low-key buzz. One of my more disgruntled chums swears he's been sent to Dr. Horrible's blog "12 times just this morning!" from a passel of evangelistic geeks.
The videos are available free on sites like Hulu until midnight this Sunday. After that, devotees (of which I might be one, I haven't yet decided) must purchase episodes on iTunes -- where, two days ago, Act I was rated the most-downloaded TV clip.
Whedon knows damn well how to build a cult following. And the 'net may just prove his biggest cash cow yet.