Horrible Is As Horrible Does

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THE PLANK JULY 21, 2008

Horrible Is As Horrible Does

If you tuned in for Acts I and II of the Joss Whedon web-based supervillain musical "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," and are wondering how the story concludes--well, you're pretty much out of luck. As planned, the third and final act went up Saturday and came down Sunday night, though it's still available on iTunes for a couple of bucks (and, in theory will be released on DVD down the road).

Fortunately, you didn't miss too much. With the exception of the very funny Nathan Fillion anthem "Everyone's a Hero (in Their Own Way)," Act III was a bit of a dispiriting downer. It may seem obvious to point out, but ending a musical comedy about a bumbling supervillain on a note of existential despair is something short of entirely satisfying.

Worse, it's tired, at least coming from Whedon. Many fans (and evidently Whedon himself) consider his deep attraction to the tragic to be one of his principal strengths. I take the opposite view: It is his crucial,
perhaps defining flaw. Demonstrating your willingness to kill off your most
decent, innocent characters is one thing; showing a compulsive need to do it
again and again, show after show--hello, Tara, Fred, Wash, sweet character TBD on "Dollhouse"--is another. To paraphrase the week's other big villain: Why so serious, Joss?

--Christopher Orr

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