Joss Whedon’s Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Act II review

The second part of Joss Whedon's musical web serial has been published ... and so far Internet gremlins haven't eaten it

After I published my review of the first part of Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, I watched it a few more hundred times until the website crashed. And then I found some mirror sites and watched it some more. I stand by my earlier judgement that it’s really, really good; the laundry day song, in particular, gets in my head and refuses to vacate. This morning, I missed my train to work because I was trying to watch Act II enough times to fully commit it to memory in case it crashed again. The irony there, of course, is that by watching it over and over I’m contributing to the strain on the site and thus possibly helping cause it to crash. Doh! Anyway, let’s assume all the technical wrinkles have been worked out and Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog will be available for everyone to enjoy all day.

Act II picks up more or less where Act I left off – during Dr Horrible’s semi-successful heist, he inadvertantly introduced the love of his life to his arch-enemy, and now he’s deeply traumatised. Which, given that he’s an evil supervillain, is fairly appropriate. The first song is a brilliant duet between Dr Horrible and Penny; for him, the world is falling apart, but she’s falling in love and the crossover parts are great (think Giles and Tara’s duet in Once More With Feeling, maybe).

When the newly determined Dr Horrible sets out to use his freeze ray to disrupt the dedication of a superhero memorial bridge, though, he’s thwarted by Captain Hammer again – seems he didn’t take into account the fact that by publicising his plans on his blog, he might be jeopardising them. The episode ends on another cliffhanger as Dr Horrible vows to assassinate Captain Hammer. It’s a bit more plot-tastic, this episode, but there are still tons of great character moments and tiny background details that betray just how professional this production is. The songs aren’t quite so catchy – or maybe I’ve just not listened to them as many times as I have the ones from Act I – but this episode has made the world of Dr Horrible feel a lot bigger; somehow, I suspect these characters will be loved just as much as the ones from Buffy, Angel or Firefly. It’s recognisably set in the Whedonverse, but it also has its own identity; it’s very comic-booky, as exemplified by most of Penny’s outfits, and Dr Horrible and Captain Hammer’s costumes. Except you don’t usually get musical comics.

It’ll be interesting to see how successful Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is at generating cash money – it’s all very well getting people to watch your web content, but getting them to pay for it is another story. There’s already merchandise available, and ready-made fan communities set up all over the Internet, from MySpace to Facebook to Twitter, and the fanbase was virtually built-in, but that’s never any guarantee of actual income. If Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog succeeds, maybe we’ll see more like this… fingers crossed, eh? No matter what, respect is definitely due to Whedon and everyone else involved in the production for trying something like this. If nothing else, they’ve made this Buffy geek very, very happy.

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Watch Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog at Dr, or download the episodes from iTunes. Or, for more Whedon-related reviews, check out our reviews of Buffy season 7.