Doctor Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) urges a stunned man to "get a pic, do a blog!" as his plan falls into place.

Doctor Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) urges a stunned spectator to "get a pic, do a blog!" as his plan falls into place.

For eons, the Internet and copyrighted material have been bitter enemies – but a new, made-for-the-tubes movie might be about to change that.

Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, an idea cooked up by Joss Whedon during the ’07-08 writer’s strike, decides not to fight the Internet, but use it.

“The idea was to make it on the fly, on the cheap – but to make it,” Whedon writes under the not-exactly-secret Master Plan portion of the Doctor Horrible site. “To turn out a really thrilling, professionalish piece of entertainment specifically for the internet.”

Doctor Horrible relied on the inventiveness of the Internet to gain popularity. The site’s front page has four buttons that link to MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Digg – four sites that can let a link spread like wildfire, if you’ve got the right people spreading it.

Getting Doctor Horrible known throughout the Intertubes has worked magnificently – almost to a fault. By the time Act III was up (midnight June 19 EST) the company that hosts the website was starting to get a little nervous. In one second, the site received 1,000 hits from viewers. The site went down temporarily to get moved to a larger server that could handle the pressure. Jed Whedon said July 19th “was a frustrating, long day”, and his fiancé, Maurissa Tancharoen, added “We were very very very sorry” about the downtime in an interview by the official fan site.

Doctor Horrible

Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) grabs Horrible by the neck as the object of Horrible's affection, Penny (Felicia Day) climbs out of the trash.

Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) grabs Horrible by the neck as the object of Horrible's affection, Penny (Felicia Day) climbs out of the trash she was thrown into.

The movie itself is a bit odd, but then again, most revolutionary ideas are. It’s a 42-minute film about a mad scientist, Doctor Horrible (“with a PhD in horribleness”) trying to achieve his dream of getting into the Evil League of Evil. Along the way, he has several encounters with his nemesis, Captain Hammer, and his crush, Penny from the laundromat.

The interesting bit about the movie is that it’s a musical, and a damn good musical at that. All of the tunes are catchy and stick in your head for hours. The delivery is spot-on for every single line, even the trickiest ones that could be rendered totally stupid were it not for the way it was said. (I’m thinking of one line in particular. Guess which one it is?)

In Act III, Doctor Horrible finds himself preaching to a crowd of people, Death Ray in hand and firing. Yet he seems to be talking beyond the fourth wall, to the audience watching, as he says,

So, go ahead, run away, say it was horrible
Spread the word, tell a friend, tell them the tale
Get a pic, do a blog…

Both the character and the movie itself are wise to the power of the Internet. The question remains, however, how successful will the movie be?

The (Near) Future

Doctor Horrible has set out to demonstrate how the movie industry can use the Internet instead of pretending it doesn’t exist, and letting pirates get the upper hand. Horrible has already been wildly successful in gaining popularity, but the real challenge will come when it is pulled from the Internet on midnight EST, Sunday, July 20th.

Horrible will be on sale through iTunes for $2 an episode, or $4 for the season. It will undoubtedly be pirated. It’s the Internet, you can’t stop that from happening. But, Horrible may just be beating the pirates, because of the Golden Rule of the Internet: “However I Get It The Fastest Is Fine With Me.” For ages, piracy has been more convenient than paying; but, for only $4, what’s more convenient – sitting and waiting for a torrent to download, or spending a few bucks for the same thing, virus-free, faster, and legal?

Honestly, only time will tell whether Horrible is successful or not. If it is, it opens up a whole new realm of entertainment for the movie industry to explore, if they actually take notice. It it’s not, well, the media vs. Internet battle is bound to continue until someone else comes up with a good idea.

You haven't seen a made-for-Internet supervillain musical until you've seen Doctor Horrible. Actually, that sounds pretty accurate...

You haven't seen a made-for-Internet supervillain musical until you've seen Doctor Horrible.

The Clock is Ticking

Exactly twenty-six hours from the time of this post, Doctor Horrible will disappear off of its official website for good. If you haven’t seen it, get on it already! It’s under an hour and more entertaining than browsing YouTube.

Reviews collected on the official fansite: (1) (2) (3) (4)

Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, I wish you the best of luck. This could just be the event that changes the movie industry as we know it.

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