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‘Dr. Horrible' isn't so horrible – he even sings

He's an evildoer who's just not very good at doing evil. Plus, he needs help with his maniacal laugh.

By Jake Coyle
Associated Press

When the Hollywood writers went on strike last winter, some speculated that television and film's loss would be the Internet's gain.

Now there's evidence.

The three-part Web series “Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog” was posted last month at www.drhorrible.com, and it doesn't take a mad genius to realize its quality, its humor and its inventiveness signify a great leap forward for online video.

The series stars Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”) as Dr. Horrible, a wannabe mad scientist who blogs about his unrealized dreams for world domination and his refused entry into the “Evil League of Evil.” For example, he's working with a vocal coach on his maniacal laugh.

He's an evildoer who's just not very good at doing evil. Plus, he sings.

In the first 15-minute installment, Dr. Horrible and other characters occasionally break into song; in one, Dr. Horrible sings of his love with a girl at the local Laundromat. He has a nemesis, too: Captain Hammer, played by Nathan Fillion (“Serenity”).

Says Hammer: “It's curtains for you, Dr. Horrible. Lacy, gently wafting curtains.”

“Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog” is the creation of Joss Whedon, one of the best-known scribes in Hollywood, thanks to his long filmography of genre-bending TV hits: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly” (which inspired the film “Serenity”), “Angel” and the upcoming Fox series “Dollhouse.”

Whedon has a considerable fan base of sci-fi and comedy devotees, and when “Dr. Horrible” went live, the site crashed from the traffic.

The three episodes were available for a short time for free, but now must be purchased on iTunes. Also planned is a DVD of the show with a bevy of extras.

In a letter to fans, Whedon explained the venture was hatched during the writers strike (in which he was a vocal participant, penning an open letter for Variety).

“Frustrated on the lack of movement on that front, I finally decided to do something very ambitious, very exciting, very midlife-crisisy,” wrote Whedon.

He continued, “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.”

The result is not a TV show published online or a dinky YouTube video, but a series suited to the medium and perhaps the best yet. The only thing close is the excellent 10-part “Clark and Michael,” the 2007 comedy series about two aspiring TV writers starring Michael Cera and Clark Duke.

Even though Dr. Horrible might not stand a chance against any of the superheroes currently flying around our movie theaters, the Web is his.

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