A Dr. Horrible Movie? Say It Ain’t So, Joss!

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Image copyright © Mutant Enemy ProductionsImage copyright © Mutant Enemy Productions

Image copyright © Mutant Enemy Productions

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was easily the best forty-two minutes I spent in front of a computer in July of 2008. Not only was it a heck of a lot of fun to watch, but it also demonstrated to those unfamiliar with his work on Broadway that Neil Patrick Harris has a great singing voice, and made Felicia Day a household name (in geek households, at least).

So of course I, along with every other geek who loved the original and the commentary musical on the DVD release, was thrilled to hear that a sequel was in the works. I even got the chance to ask Nathan Fillion about it directly two months ago, which (despite my success in staving off an attack of fanboyitis) got me even more excited about the sequel, believe me. And then there was this past Friday, when news hit the web that Harris had told MTV News that the sequel was going to be a feature film instead of a web-based video like the original.

This, to me at least, is a classic case of a bad idea masquerading as a good idea. On the one hand, a movie would have a real budget for set design, costume design, and special effects. But, on the other hand, a movie would have a real budget for set design, costume design, and special effects. A significant part of the charm of the original was that it was unashamedly low-budget. It worked so well precisely because it didn’t have the bells and whistles of a feature film production.

And what about the length? A movie would have to be at least twice the length of the original, and likely longer than that. I don’t see the video blog format the original was built around working well on the big screen, though if anyone can make it work, Joss Whedon can. More importantly, I don’t know that the central characters have enough depth to work well on the big screen. I mean, take Captain Hammer: he’s a self-centered… well, this is a family blog, so I shouldn’t write the word, but suffice it to say it’s something you might accidentally do to your finger with a sharp pin. I don’t want to know more about him, really, because he works so wonderfully well as he is — sometimes, especially in a parody, characters work best if they remain shallow. That’s one of the reasons the best parodies are often the shortest ones: shallow characters may work well, but they get dull after too much screen time.

It all boils down to this question: Why? If you produce for the web, you don’t have a studio watching over your shoulder making you change things. So is it the potential for a huge payday that’s leading the Whedon clan to go the movie route? Because if it is, they should be aware that there are an awful lot of geeks who won’t go to see it in the theaters because they will feel that if the original was free, so should the sequel be. And I have a feeling that, despite Harris lately being very much in the public consciousness, the movie will draw very little in the way of mainstream crowds. That would, alas, be very much in keeping with Whedon’s history as a feature film director.

So, what do you think?

In what format would you most like to see the Dr. Horrible sequel?answers

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