Each act starts with Neil Patrick Harris' puppy-eye face. In th first act, he answer questions to supposed readers of his blog. The first half establishes the story of Dr. Horrible being a regular guy Billy who wanted to be part of a villain league and the leader is so horse guy (Bad Horse--could be a cowboy). His sidekick is a sweaty guy played by comedian Simon Helberg. The story is pretty cut and dry, heroes vs. villain and boy likes girl (Felicia Day) and other guy gets girl. His plan is to make a freeze ray to conquer the world and win the heart of a girl he is in love with and hasn't ever spoke to her. Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) is Dr. Horrible's rival superhero, who is stuck-up one-dimensional dense guy. When you think the songs won't come, they do, 3 minutes into the first act. Whedon hasn't let go his musical M.O. from "Once More With Feeling" of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." The lyrics are still witty and thoughtful, there are overlapping codas and characters sing their songs together with similar music but not the same lyrics. The songs aren't very sing-along-y because we don't know the songs and sometimes the lyrics aren't so audible. I guess if he wanted to have people singing-along to the songs, he would have added lyric subtitles. But I think that would be garish and annoying.
Quotes: "How is cheesy on the outside?" "Oh goodness, would you look at my wrist?"
[Cast and Crew (from L to R): Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Joss Whedon, Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day, Zack Whedon]
In Act Two, Billy/Horrible contemplates killing Mr. Horrible and doesn't he can do it. But, when Captain Hammer discovers that Penny's friend Billy is really Dr. Horrible and that he loves Penny, so Hammer threatens that he will have sex with Penny because she is in love with him. This opens up a great song "It's a Brand New Day." As for the performances, Niel has a great singing voice and he is just plain adorable, very cute in many scenes. Those eyes, swoon. He makes you feel for this pathetic, delusional and complicated schlub. He has good timing but sometimes when being 'romantic' with Penny, it comes up more disinterested. Nathan Fillion is just hamming it up, he is a formidable opponent in Act 2, personally, more than fighting-wise--which is classic Whedon, hit them where it hurts. Felicia Day as Penny has a great wardrobe and enforces her place as cute and sweet leading lady. I have loved her since she was Vi in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." At least one song of each act is memorable and catchy. The directing and cinematography are good. Some shots are victim of bad daylighting and seem to be doctored digitally.
Act 3 has cameos from Marti Noxon and David Fury, who sung in "Once More With a Feeling." Fury was the Mustard Guy and Noxon was the Parking Meter Lady, which they reprise in the episode "Selfless" in voice-over when Anya sang. They cameoed as newcasters here. Act 3 is much more hilarious, with plenty of what I call good gay jokes, positive I mean. Captain Hammer does a speech that slowly transforms from a speech to a poem to a song, real cool. Do you get the feeling that the Dr. Horrible will win? Not really. But there is a good twist. When the good guy doesn't turn out to be so good. It's not about the win. And of course, Whedon always goes for the hurt. And hurt is good. It is expected but it's good, it's Whedon.
Each Act is approx. 13 minutes long, the last one is almost 16 minutes. The entire 42-minute show will stay up through July 20. The first act got so many visits, that the server crashed and they had to get a new one. It was written with Maurissa Tanchareon, Jed and Zack Whedon; Joss wrote and directed.