Here at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, the assembled media types are supposed to be covering television, which we’re dutifully trying to do.
But on many of the laptops in the room - and across the land - a revolution has been taking place. While we sat in a stuffy ballroom, Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly”) helped reinvent TV for the digital age.
Whedon’s Internet musical, “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” which was released in three installments last week, is one of the freshest and most delightful projects I’ve seen in ages. Apparently many others agree: The 45-minute film, which Whedon filmed during the writers strike, was so popular that drhorrible.com crashed July 15, the day the first installment was released. The traffic problems have since been smoothed out, and it was the No. 1 TV download on iTunes.
“I got an e-mail from Joss that said, ‘Gang, we broke the Internet.’ That’s all it said. Which is awesome,” said “Dr. Horrible” star Neil Patrick Harris, whom I talked to at a CBS party Friday.
Even Whedon was surprised by “Dr. Horrible’s” runaway success, which he created with his brothers Jed and Zack, and Maurissa Tancharoen. “We were just hoping it would build over time, people would start to spread the word and people would enjoy it,” Jed Whedon said in an interview with the fan site DoctorHorrible.net. “We didn’t expect everybody to try and see it at once.”
“Dr. Horrible” chronicles the life of an aspiring supervillain, Dr. Horrible, and his desire to join the Evil League of Evil (a fearsome body populated by the likes of Fake Thomas Jefferson, Professor Normal, Dead Bowie and Bad Horse). Dr. Horrible is diverted by his unrequited love for a beautiful do-gooder (Felicia Day) he meets in a laundry, and he does battle with his nemesis, arrogant superhero Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion of “Desperate Housewives”). Whedon, who’s working on the midseason Fox show “Dollhouse,” has a lot of plans for future “Dr. Horrible” projects. An online comic has already been released, a graphic novel is planned, and the commentary track on the DVD release will all be sung by the cast and creators. There could be a sequel as well, Harris said.
“Joss has some strange, giant master plan that includes much more than a sequel,” Harris said. But Harris, who returns to work on the CBS comedy “How I Met Your Mother” in two weeks, added that there were no concrete plans to film another “Dr. Horrible” episode.
“I think we’re all giggling like little schoolgirls for about a week or so, then he’ll figure out what he wants to do next,” Harris said. But before I let Harris go, I had to ask him some critical questions: If his “HIMYM” character, Barney Stinson, and Dr. Horrible met, what would happen, and if they fought who would win?
“Well, I would suspect that Barney would be very dismissive of Dr. Horrible,” Harris said. “He’s a bit nerdy ... but I think Dr. Horrible would probably win the fight just because Barney probably represents all the guys that laughed at him when he was younger. And he’s got a freeze ray gun, so that probably gives him a leg up on his foes.”
Finally, who is more awesome, Barney or Dr. Horrible? “Dr. Horrible on a scale of 1 to 10 is a 10, and Barney’s, like, 27.”