Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Glee and Vampire Diaries: Opposite Ends of the Teen Spectrum September 11, 2009

Somewhere in Ohio, high school misfits find a common purpose in a revamped glee club, while somewhere in Virginia, a sad and isolated high school student finds a reason to be gleeful when she hits it off with the “new boy at school” vampire. I had to think really hard to work “vamp” and “glee” into both of those sentences, which just goes to show you how far apart the worlds of these two shows are. One is all inspiration, comedy, and fun; the other is all doom, gloom, and a love that spans centuries. One is more comedy for everyone than teen show; the other is a drama mostly for teens, mostly supernatural, and not funny at all. (Well, I was amused by the cawing blackbird and spontaneous fog, but I’m not sure that’s what was intended.)

I highly anticipated the premiere, post-pilot episode of Glee, and I was cautiously intrigued by the approach of Vampire Diaries. Now that I’ve seen both of these shows, I am prepared to share my initial reactions and opinions.

Overall Impression

  • Glee – While the second episode didn’t have the absolute, joyous perfection of the pilot, I was still thoroughly entertained. Some stand out moments included anything involving the principal, anything involving Jane Lynch’s cheerleading coach, and the glee club’s two performances – Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” and Salt n Pepa’s “Push It.” I am not as interested in Rachel’s pining over Finn, or Terri’s spontaneous decision to fake being pregnant rather than telling Will it was a false positive. But if the show continues to find humor in the high school social strata, and if the glee club continues to grow and improve, I’ll keep tuning in.
  • Vampire Diaries – I was entertained enough by the pilot that I will watch the second episode, but I’m not yet convinced that this is “must see tv.” While I was watching the pilot, I kept thinking to myself, “I’m too old to be watching this.” I was so not interested in the melodrama of what’s his face wanting to get back together with Elena, or of Elena’s brother Jeremy being all wounded when his summer fling Vicki stopped paying attention to him. And the spooky parts weren’t very spooky. I wasn’t scared during the opening scene when the college kids had a bloody encounter with Damon, nor when Vicki was attacked in the woods. Really the only things I did like were Elena’s narration and diary entries, her friendship with possibly psychic Bonnie, Stefan’s mysterious past and desire to finally return home, and Stefan and Damon’s history as brothers, including their involvement with Elena’s Civil War-era look-alike  (Damon mentioned that he vowed to make life difficult for Stefan a long time ago, but we don’t really know why yet.).
Jane Lynch is my favorite thing about Glee.

Jane Lynch is my favorite thing about Glee.

The Acting

  • Glee – Overall, the acting is excellent on this show, which means that the casting was well done, too. The very best thing about Glee is Jane Lynch as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester. Lynch has always been fantastic in any role, but she is so completely hilarious and spot-on here, that every expression, every glare, every word out of her mouth is golden. If she isn’t nominated for supporting actress in a comedy category at all the tv awards shows this year, then something is very, very wrong. Matthew Morrison plays idealistic do-gooder very well, and I also love Jayma Mays as germaphobic guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury. So far the teen cast are too caricaturish to evaluate, but given time I imagine we’ll see some sort of development with them as well.
  • Vampire Diaries – I observed some rather atrocious acting during the pilot. I hate to name names, so instead I’ll just give credit to those who impressed me or seemed well cast. Well, that just leaves me with the three who received top billing: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, and Ian Somerhalder. Dobrev brings a quiet confidence and a no-nonsense air to Elena, Wesley plays “I’m the good one” vampire Stefan as well as one can, and Somerhalder brings some much-needed comic relief (I’m not sure it was supposed to be funny, but I laughed) and passion to the whole proceedings. Somerhalder just has that creepy, evil eye look about him, similar to Cillian Murphy, that makes him well-suited for a role such as this. He will be entertaining as Damon, and will probably be the main reason I’ll keep watching, if I do.

The Soundtrack

  • Glee – The music is probably the main reason I watch this show. I enjoy hearing choral interpretations of popular songs, plus I like the quirky, Bobby McPherrinish harmonies that provide atmosphere for many of the scenes.
  • Vampire Diaries – In the tradition of many CW shows that have come before it, this vampire love saga is chock full of barely known music from current bands. At least, it’s barely known to me. But I am all for promoting the little guys. In fact, I like how the CW often advertises the music at the end of its shows: “Tonight’s episode featured music from…” That being said, I didn’t absolutely love any of the music in the pilot episode enough to go download it. Maybe next week. Click here for a list of the songs from the pilot.
Vampire Diaries is the land of lost teens, with almost no adults to be found.

Vampire Diaries is the land of lost teens, with almost no adults to be found.

Where Have All the Grown-Ups Gone?

  • Glee – Well, all the grown-ups are hanging out in the halls of the high school, because most of them are teachers and faculty. The only parent we’ve seen is Finn’s mom, when he flashed back to their fun times on the front lawn with the lawn care guy. And the only spouse we’ve seen is Will’s crazy, self-centered wife Terri (played very well by Jessalyn Gilsig. And for a show about a high school, this is as it should be. Since most of the action takes place at school, there’s no reason to develop the parents at this point.
  • Vampire Diaries – Now that is a good question for this show – where are all the grown-ups? We saw one older teacher, who was put in his place by Stefan when he gave the class some misinformation about Mystic Falls’ civil war civilian casualties. And then there was that secretary who Stefan glamored into enrolling him at the school without proper paperwork. But Elena and Jeremy live with their grad student aunt, who doesn’t look much older than 25, and none of the other kids seem to have any sort of parental guidance. (Am I forgetting anyone?) I haven’t figured out the relationship between Stefan and his “uncle.” I’m guessing that’s just a living descendant of the family who is aware of his family’s bloodsucking past. It seems awkward to just ignore all the parents. I mean, a simple mention would do, or a wave goodbye as Bonnie and the gang head to their coffee shop hangout. I am surprised that we aren’t seeing more parents since this show is from Mr. Dawson’s Creek himself, Kevin Williamson. I always enjoyed the parents’ subplots on that show, since real teenagers’ lives are usually mixed up, rather than totally separate from, their moms and dads, grandparents, guardians… Maybe the show will introduce more adult characters in the coming weeks. If not, I’m calling this out as a flaw.
Vampire Diaries reminds me of Roswell, specifically Max and Lizs relationship.

Vampire Diaries reminds me of Roswell, specifically Max and Liz's relationship.

Reminds me of…

  • Glee – It’s hard to think of any shows like this one. It reminds me more of Christopher Guest movies, such as Best in Show or A Mighty Wind. Unlike most of what comes on tv these days (lots of revivals, remakes, and spin-offs), this one seems very original.
  • Vampire Diaries – This show has nothing in common with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, except that a vampire falls in love with a teenage girl. But I don’t see Elena picking up a sword and vanquishing Damon in the season finale. No, Vampire Diaries is more reminiscent of Roswell. On that show, alien Max Evans fell in love with Liz Parker, and Liz wrote in her diary about how her world was turned upside down the moment she got involved with him. Like Elena, Liz had a friend with psychic connections – as I recall, Maria was somehow in touch with that kind of thing. Aliens, vampires… while there are many differences, both Liz and Elena are drawn to Max and Stefan because they aren’t like the other boys.

In the Great Scheme of Things

  • Glee – I am thrilled to have a musical comedy on tv. Amidst all the melodrama of teen romance, the mystery of criminal investigations, and the depressing cases of medical shows, Glee is a breath of fresh air. I just hope the showrunners and cast can keep up with audience expectation for a long time to come.
  • Vampire Diaries – This, my friends, is no Joss Whedon show. Buffy or Angel it will never be. The love triangle was always just a part of the story on those shows, with a more epic story arc taking center stage. I’m not sure this show will ever rise above the Stefan-Elena-Damon love triangle and the mayhem that Stefan will try to prevent Damon from inflicting on Mystic Falls. Do I sound skeptical? Well, I am. Perhaps if I continue watching, then after several episodes I will compare Vampire Diaries to other vampire shows of the past, to see how it stacks up. I should at least give it a chance.

So obviously, if I were forced to choose between these two shows, I would immediately select Glee. Vampire Diaries pales (pun intended) in comparison to the more magical, zingier Glee. What did you think of these two shows?

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Welcome to Dollhouse February 24, 2009

Filed under: Television — Emily @ 4:22 pm
Tags: , , ,

“Nothing is what it appears to be.” Let’s hope these words, which were the first ones uttered on the new series Dollhouse, are true. I’ll lose interest in this show if all it ever amounts to is a weekly costume change for Eliza Dushku as she takes on a new persona then climbs back into the doctor’s chair for her treatment before doing it all again a week later. Thankfully, we all know that Joss Whedon can take a show much further than our initial impression of it. So, I like to think of the “imprint of the week” as a launching point for a greater mythology, more indepth character development, and more complex relationships.

I am a little late and backwards with the way I’ve been introduced to Dollhouse. Honestly, I forgot to watch the pilot when it first aired. I did manage to catch the second episode, and I liked it enough to go watch the pilot on Hulu. Now I am all caught up and ready to share my opinion of Joss Whedon’s latest creation. My initial reaction: I am intrigued but find the show’s pacing a bit cumbersome.

“Actions have consequences.” “What if they didn’t?” This exchange early in the pilot episode gets to the heart of one of the show’s themes. The truth is, there are always consequences. The powers that be at the Dollhouse would like to think that they are making loads of money; their clients’ wildest dreams or deepest wishes are met; their “employees” are living a good life full of dips in the pool, massages, and no worries; and that no one is getting hurt along the way. I am sure that as the show develops, this perfect setup will begin to unravel. It should be interesting to watch it unfold.

“Did I fall asleep?” “For a little while.” This is the repetitious exchange of words between Echo and Topher every time she finishes a treatment. When she goes in, she is one person. When she leaves, she is Echo the blank slate. Such is the result of what is called a “wipe” and an “imprint.” Topher wipes away the personality for hire, and the next time around he imprints a new personality onto Echo. This basic premise is quite familiar, since My Own Worst Enemy had similar technology. But aside from the manipulation of personality and identity, the two shows take mostly different paths.

The Players: Here’s a closer look at the people who bring Dollhouse to life

  • Eliza Dushku as Echo – Echo is the main “doll” on which the show focuses. I look forward to learning more about Caroline, the girl Echo was before she agreed to have her personality wiped and to serve a five-year term at the Dollhouse. So far the details on what the alternative was are vague, but I’d guess she is avoiding a prison term.
  • Harry Lennix as Boyd Langdon, Echo’s Handler – Langdon and Echo’s relationship is shaping up to be one of the more interesting aspects of the show. He has moral qualms about his job as a handler, but he takes his responsibility for Echo seriously. In the second episode, he was willing to risk his own life to protect her from the crazy human hunter guy.
  • Fran Kranz as Topher Brink – The minute we were introduced to the Dollhouse’s resident geek, I immediately thought of Andrew from Buffy. Like Andrew, Topher seems to be having so much fun with his high tech gadgetry, that he forgets to think about the negative implications and potential destructiveness of his role. It would be nice to eventually have more insight into his character, but for now he is only around to explain the wipe and imprint process. The writers need to give his character something that makes him likable, though, because so far he just isn’t.
  • Tahmoh Penikett as Paul Ballard – Ballard is an FBI agent who was assigned to the Dollhouse case. He’s the only one who takes it seriously. He has a problem with people’s personalities being wiped out so that they can be imprinted with new ones. So far we don’t really know why he is taking this case so personally. But I am just happy that Penikett found a new role so quickly after wrapping up Battlestar Galactica, on which he plays fiery and loyal Helo.
  • Olivia Williams as Adelle DeWitt – I know Williams best as Bruce Willis’ wife in The Sixth Sense. She plays a more nefarious role on Dollhouse. She seems to be the one in charge, and has little to no qualms about the morally questionable nature of her business.
  • Reed Diamond as Laurence Dominic – Diamond most recent tv gig was on the short-lived Journeyman. And while I hope this show lasts longer, his character is not one of the main reasons to watch. He seems to be DeWitt’s right-hand man, sometimes her henchman. In the second episode he taunts Echo, knowing that her “blank slate” personality won’t put up a fight, or even know what he’s talking about. For that reason and many others, he is definitely a villain that you want to hate and do.
  • Amy Acker as Dr. Claire Saunders – It’s nice to see Amy Acker’s familiar face. She played Fred on Angel, a character who, once she grew on me, was one of my favorites. I hope her role as Dr. Saunders becomes more than just a guest starring appearance. Like Echo’s handler, Dr. Saunders seems to have mixed feelings about her involvement with the Dollhouse. If the show lasts long enough, I could see a team of rebels form, including Langdon, Saunders, Ballard, and Echo, who would work together to bring down The Dollhouse or uncover its secrets. For now, though, we’ll just have to wonder how Saunders survived her attack by Alpha.

The Structure:

  • Since there have only been two episodes so far, it’s too soon to say for sure what the structure will be. However, so far we’ve had an “imprint of the week” interspersed by flashbacks to events in the past.
  • Most notably, we’ve seen glimpses of Alpha’s escape and the damage he did. (Alpha was a “doll” who was apparently imprinted with violent tendencies and fighting abilities, and he used those to his advantage when he escaped, leaving a bloody mess and a pile of bodies behind. He seems bent on exposing the Dollhouse, but we don’t know who he is or what his motivations are yet.)
  • My guess is we will continue to see flashbacks a bit at a time to slowly piece together the mystery of Echo’s past, Agent Ballard’s motivation for discovering the Dollhouse, and Alpha’s path of destruction on his way to leaving a trail of bread crumbs for Ballard.

Along the way to seeing how the main storylines will connect, we’ll continue to see Echo experience life from the perspective of many different personas. At the end of the first episode, we see her former self, Caroline, say, “I want to do everything. Is that too much to ask?” We’ll get the answer to that question and many more over the course of this season. Assuming Fox lets it finish out the season. Like any Joss Whedon show, I’ll most likely watch it as long as it lasts.

 

Best Scifi/Fantasy TV Series on Hulu January 27, 2009

A vampire with a soul turns private investigator to make amends for his past evil deeds… A fleet of humans search for a home and form shaky alliances with the Cylons who were once their sworn enemy… A cheerleader turned vampire slayer saves the world time and again with help from her enthusiastic gang of Scoobies… A ragtag band of space cowboys stays one step ahead of the Alliance while also welcoming others who are on the run into their family… An FBI agent, a genius, and a mad scientist work together to investigate strange occurrences with the ultimate goal of unraveling the mystery of The Pattern.

Angel, Battlestar Galactica, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Fringe. These are the nominees for Best Scifi/Fantasy TV Series on Hulu. For me, choosing one of these shows as the proposed winner is a nearly impossible task. I’ve seen every episode of these shows at least once (and have seen many episodes of Buffy and Angel multiple times), and consider myself a loyal fan of Angel, Battlestar Galactica, and Buffy. While I enjoyed Firefly, I never became attached to it in the same way as Joss Whedon’s previous shows, yet there’s no denying that it was a unique and well-executed concept. And Fringe is my favorite new show this year. It is consistently fascinating and entertaining. All five of these nominees are worthy of winning in this category. Deciding on one will require me to break it down a bit:

  • AngelMy favorite things about this Buffy spin-off were its fantastical story arcs and the evolution of its characters. Cordelia, once a shallow actress wannabe, transformed into a warrior of the people and, literally, a higher being. Wesley went from being a prissy bookworm to a smooth talking, motorcycle riding, James Bond type of hero. (I miss him most of all.) All the main characters faced great crises at some point, and things were rarely resolved in a nice and neat way. (I still am deeply saddened when I think about Fred’s horrible fate, and the way it affected all of her friends.) As for the story arcs, one of the best ones was at the end of season two when the gang found themselves in Lorne’s home world of Pylea. I loved everything about these episodes, from Angel’s true demon appearance being unleashed, to the Pyleans calling humans “cows” and enslaving them. Angel was one of those rare shows that got better with age. The final season was my favorite one. It was sad to see it go when it was at the top of its game.

  • Battlestar GalacticaI love the scifi aspects of this epic show, but it is the human drama that makes it truly memorable. President Roslin was thrust into the role of leader of the human race, fresh off of the news that she was battling cancer. Admiral Adama struggles to maintain his military authority while also trying to make up for lost time with his son Lee. Gaius Baltar may be insane, he may be brilliant, or he may be somewhere in between, but he is definitely guilt-ridden over his part in the near-extinction of the human race. Every character has a well-developed personality and believable struggles. And no one can say that the story is predictable or formulaic. So much has happened, and there’s so much time between seasons, that I feel like I need a refresher course just to keep up with the mythology. Once the series comes to an end, I plan to rewatch it from start to finish, in a relatively short amount of time, so that I can fully appreciate the connections and the ongoing trials and triumphs of the characters. I should also mention that the special effects are always impressive – this is an important aspect to a scifi/fantasy show.

  • Buffy the Vampire SlayerThis is a show that grew on me over time. My initial impression of it didn’t amount to much more than a “those demon costumes look silly and fake.” Of course, I came in late in the game – in the middle of season five. Once I started from the beginning (which was easy to do when FX was showing two episodes a day), I quickly grew to appreciate the fast-paced dialogue, the unusual happenings on the Hellmouth, and the way that the show combined fantasy with real life issues. The show had its ups and downs over the years (Once More with Feeling and the season with Glory = up, Slayers in Training and the Adam story arc = down), but once I got to know the characters, it didn’t really matter where they went or what they did. I was happy to be along for the ride.

  • FireflyA Western in space. As far as I know, this idea had never been made into a tv show before this little scifi western that could came alone. Well, it only kind of could, since it didn’t last a full season on Fox. But it has had a healthy and successful afterlife on DVD. Like all of Joss Whedon’s shows, this one features distinctive characters that we either love, or hate to love. There was fearless Mal, loyal Zoe, comical Wash, opportunistic Jayne, enigmatic River, etc. In addition to the crew’s ongoing run-ins with The Alliance, Whedon created another truly frightening enemy in the Reavers, a group of cannibalistic nomads that wander the outer reaches of space. This show barely had time to get its footing before it was canceled, but it managed to create a loyal (and well-deserved) following in that time.

  • Fringe – I started singing this show’s praises right after the pilot aired. It’s smartly written, well-acted, has interesting special effects, and seems to have unlimited possibilities with where the story could go. I actually like Joshua Jackson more in his role as Peter Bishop than I liked him as Pacey on Dawson’s Creek (pause for the customary “gasp!” from all the Joey/Pacey ‘shippers). Lance Reddick is appropriately mysterious as Agent Broyles, Anna Torv plays Olivia Dunham as a determined but slightly stressed young agent, and the rest of the cast rounds out very well. John Noble is the stand-out as Walter Bishop. He has so many great moments on the show, and I love his basement lab at Harvard, complete with a dairy cow and plenty of gadgets and gizmos. The search for The Pattern is a mythology-in-the-making worthy of the X-Files, and perhaps we will even receive more answers than the X-Files ever gave us. I hope this show is given at least a few seasons to take us to new places.

So now comes the hard part. Separating the great from the… great:

  • I will eliminate Fringe first, because with as new as it is, it hasn’t had a chance to prove that it is as deserving of the award as some of the heavyweights in this category.
  • For a similar reason, I will take Firefly out of consideration, because it’s hard to value one season of it as much as the many seasons of Angel, Buffy, or BSG.
  • This is where it gets really hard. I have trouble deciding whether I liked Buffy or Angel better, but in the end I guess I would go with Buffy – if I had to choose one or the other. Angel was a great show, but when I go back and watch it now, it doesn’t feel like as much of a classic as Buffy still does.
  • So, that leaves me with two super worthy contenders: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Battlestar Galactica. I am leaning toward Battlestar Galactica, as its production values are slicker (I’m sure it has a bigger budget), and it tackles slightly more grandiose themes concerning the human condition, questions of what makes life worth living, etc. (Buffy held its own in the thematic arena, though, but on a smaller scale.)

As of this moment, I stand ready to cast my vote for Battlestar Galactica as the best Scifi/Fantasy tv show on Hulu. If you believe one of the other four nominees is more deserving, please make an argument on its behalf. I just may change my mind!

 

Ten Reasons to Love Dr. Horrible December 18, 2008

I recently watched Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog for the first time. Now I’m wondering why I waited so long! Here are ten reasons to love this surprisingly good, wildly popular, web original. It is in the running for the Hulu Award for Best Web Original, so if you agree with my assessment of Dr. Horrible, go to The Hulu Review and vote for it! I’ve done my best to write a spoiler-free analysis, so it should be safe for Dr. Horrible newcomers to proceed.

  1. The Title – I would have loved to be in the brainstorming session in which Whedon and his team tried to come up with an appropriate name for this odd, genre-defying show. They could have gone with something standard like “Dr. Horrible vs. Captain Hammer.” Or something epic sounding like Dr. Horrible: Evil Mastermind. I think their ultimate choice was brilliant! When you first hear the name “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” you’re not sure what to make of it. In fact, after watching it, I’m still not sure what to make of it, but it certainly has a nice ring to it. This title is befitting of a show that is both offbeat and epic in scope.
  2. Joss Whedon as writer, director, and producer – Has he ever gone wrong? I’ve loved just about everything he’s ever worked on (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly… even the 1992 Buffy movie with Kristy Swanson!). I know some people don’t like his writing style, particularly the clever, fast-paced, often sarcastic dialogue, but that is one of my favorite things about his shows. There’s certainly a lot of sarcasm and low key humor in Dr. Horrible. Thanks for another little gem to hold us over until Dollhouse premieres, Joss!
  3. Neil Patrick Harris – He has come so far since Doogie! I love him as Barney on How I Met Your Mother, and now he has won me over once again, this time as a lovesick, self-doubting, evil genius wannabe. He plays the dual role of Billy/Dr. Horrible with gusto! I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing it as well as he does. Some of my favorite moments are these: when he “just so happens” to have two ice creams at the laundromat (“what a crazy, random happenstance!”) and proceeds to have a shy and awkward conversation with Penny, when he appears very haggard and explains to viewers on his video blog that his heist didn’t go exactly as planned, and when he finally has enough of Captain Hammer and angrily plots his revenge during the song “Brand New Day.”
  4. Nathan Fillion – Fillion was perfect for the role of the completely self-centered, grand-standing, not-so-golden-hearted super hero. He is quite the go-to for Whedon, now having appeared in three very different roles in the Whedonverse: loyal captain Mal on Firefly, evil preacher Caleb on Buffy, and now, the arrogant and comical hero. I loved his grandiose entrance with the song “A Man’s Gotta Do,” along with every Captain Hammer moment after that. Captain Hammer standing on top of a moving van, his hair blowing in the wind. Captain Hammer saying egotistical things to the media. Captain Hammer stating the obvious to Dr. Horrible.
  5. The Supporting Cast – Felicia Day deserves a mention here for her turn as Penny. She plays the idealistic, soft spoken, and often clueless optimist very well. I must say, though, that I was slightly annoyed by her sing-song, airy vocals on her songs. But, I suppose that was in keeping with the character. My favorite supporting character was Moist, played by Simon Helberg of “The Big Bang Theory.” What a hilarious character! An evil henchman whose only “superpower” is the ability to produce lots of sweat. “Do you need anything moistened?” I loved how Helberg plays Moist as a very low key guy. Also worth mentioning are the Bad Horse Chorus and the members of the Evil League of Evil. Neither of these groups had much dialogue or screen time, but they are further proof of the unending creative juices in Whedon’s mind.
  6. Dr. Horrible’s lair and gadgets – These aspects of the show are very reminiscent of Buffy’s evil trio – Jonathan, Andrew, and Warren. Those guys were much more geeky and wimpy than the typical super villains, but they had a pretty impressive basement lair, and lots of interesting gadgets and gizmos. Same here, as Dr. Horrible, a.k.a. Billy, is more lovable than loathesome, so we find ourselves wanting him to succeed in his dastardly deeds, which involve a freeze ray and other mad scientist type gadgets. The scenes in his “evil” den/lab give us a different perspective on Dr. Horrible. Plus, they are just really fun.
  7. Captain Hammer’s speech – “Home is where the heart is, so your real home’s in your chest.” That’s just one of the absurd lines delivered by Captain Hammer during his speech at the dedication of the new homeless shelter. The song is called “Everyone’s a Hero,” and includes some other memorable lines: “Everyone’s a hero in their own way, you and you and mostly me and you,” “Don’t worry if it’s hard, If you’re not a friggin’ ‘tard you will prevail,” etc…
  8. Penny and Billy’s duet – One of the earliest songs is also one of my favorites. In “My Eyes,” Penny and Billy (Dr. Horrible) sing a surprisingly beautiful duet, and the editing is well done to show the contrast and commonalities in their respective, overlapping lyrics. While Billy sings “I cannot believe my eyes / How the world’s filled with filth and lies / But it’s plain to see / Evil inside of me is on the rise,” Penny sings quite the opposite about the same situations: “I cannot believe my eyes / Is the world finally growing wise / ‘Cause it seems to me / Some kind of harmony / Is on the rise.” The music, the lyrics, and the performances come together to make this one of the most memorable moments of Dr. Horrible.
  9. The Mix – Like every other Joss Whedon show, Dr. Horrible is an odd mix of comedy, tragedy, the mundane, and the grandiose. In this case, we have a guy falling in love with a girl at a laundromat while at the same time trying to prove himself worthy to join the Evil League of Evil. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the show) was, in my opinion, Whedon’s finest achievement. It dealt with serious themes while also entertaining us with action, suspense, horror, and comedy. Dr. Horrible gives us a small dose of the same thing. While on its surface this web original is more about quirky characters and silly songs, it also deals with love, loss, and ambition. I love this about it.
  10. The Songs – The music, the lyrics, and the performances are all top notch. If you are looking for trained voices, you’ll be disappointed. Like the Buffy episode “Once More, with Feeling,” most of the performers here lack impressive voices (Neil Patrick Harris is the best). That doesn’t matter, though, because part of the point is for these characters to seem pretty average, in the case of Penny and Billy, and buffoonish, in the case of Captain Hammer. Their singing voices match their characters well. The witty lyrics are perhaps the best thing about the whole show, but the music isn’t too shabby either. From the upbeat piano chords in “My Freeze Ray,” to the edgy sound of “Brand New Day,” to the mockingly regal trumpets of “Everyone’s a Hero,” the music constantly readjusts the tone and keeps viewers wondering what will happen next.

If you haven’t seen Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, I encourage you to take 45 minutes of your time to do so. You won’t regret it!

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