So who the hell is Dr Horrible, and why should you care? Well, he looks to be quite an amusing character and the centre of a story written by someone who writes quite good stories: Joss Whedon. More to the point, for a limited time, Dr Horrible’s story will be online … for free. Oh, and it’s a musical. From the guy who wrote the musical episode of Buffy. And quite a few other bits of Buffy, too.
Dr Horrible is as much an experiment in models of distribution and commerce. From Tuesday July 15th (US time … so some time Wednesday for most in Australia) an episode of Dr Horrible will appear every two days (with three in total), until they all disappear on July 20th. Joss Whedon (and, indeed, quite a few other Whedon’s, it seems) are hoping that they can galvanise their fanbase (as they did so impressively for Serenity) and once everyone has seen it for free, perhaps sell a few full copies later down the track. Apparently Joss thought up the concept during the WGA writer’s strike when other distribution methods were sorely needed. As Joss describes his thoughts in Dr Horrible’s master plan:
1) Why, Joss? Why? Why now, why free, why us?
Once upon a time, all the writers in the forest got very mad with the Forest Kings and declared a work-stoppage. The forest creatures were all sad; the mushrooms did not dance, the elderberries gave no juice for the festival wines, and the Teamsters were kinda pissed. (They were very polite about it, though.) During this work-stoppage, many writers tried to form partnerships for outside funding to create new work that circumvented the Forest King system. Frustrated with the lack of movement on that front, I finally decided to do something very ambitious, very exciting, very mid-life-crisisy. Aided only by everyone I had worked with, was related to or had ever met, I single-handedly created this unique little epic. A supervillain musical, of which, as we all know, there are far too few. The idea was to make it on the fly, on the cheap – but to make it. To turn out a really thrilling, professionalish piece of entertainment specifically for the internet. To show how much could be done with very little. To show the world there is another way. To give the public (and in particular you guys) something for all your support and patience. And to make a lot of silly jokes. Actually, that sentence probably should have come first. […]
3) Joss, you are so kind, and generous, and your forehead is like, huge, like SCARY, like I think I can see Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint hanging off it… what can WE do to help this musical extravanganza?
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. It wouldn’t hurt if this really was an event. Good for the business, good for the community – communitIES: Hollywood, internet, artists around the world, comic-book fans, musical fans (and even the rather vocal community of people who hate both but will still dig on this). Proving we can turn Dr Horrible into a viable economic proposition as well as an awesome goof will only inspire more people to lay themselves out in the same way. It’s time for the dissemination of the artistic process. Create more for less. You are the ones that can make that happen. Wow. I had no idea how important you guys were. I’m a little afraid of you.
So, once more, the success or failure of a Whedon idea is in the hands of fans. If you want to spread the Horrible word, the website has lots of spiffy banners you can use to link to Dr Horrible’s show. It should be an interesting experiment. I’ll certainly be watching! (Early reviews seem very promising!)