I think one of the things good about being an atheistic Whedon fan (which means Joss is NOT my god) is that when he disappoints me, I’m not that broken up about it. I’m very meh about the third act of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog.
Perhaps part of it is that now in my post-Whedon fannish existence, I’ve been exposed to showrunners with distinctively different approaches that I enjoy a heck of a lot more than Joss’s storytelling tropes. Because I had sorta stayed quiet about my mild annoyance with Joss Whedon’s fallback humor and little quirky moments because hey, it’s “classic Whedon” and it’s what he likes, so I put it to a sort of befuddled amusement. Oh Joss, back to your old tricks, are you? That’s pretty much my initial reaction and I enjoyed enough of Neil Patrick Harris as the villain and the kooky little world he existed in to push aside my grievances and figured it’s just me.
And I very nearly loved the first two acts. So much that I dragged my sister Johnny over to watch them for me. We looked forward to the final act of the story.
However the complete tonal shift of the last part of the third act was just ridiculous in my opinion.
I am not opposed to death and bleak endings. Hell, one of my favorite musical is Sweeney Todd. I don’t mind it when there’s dark unpleasantness in a musical. I love Chicago and that glamorizes killing and getting away with murder and in the end our villain/protagonists are celebrating getting away with it all. So I figured that Dr. Horrible's story wasn't going to end in fluff and rainbows. Dark musicals? Yes please.
It’s when the darkness/bleakness feels out of place that I start having a problem and honestly? Once the last song began, I was completely checked out of the story whereas I was totally there for the other songs. I had absolutely no desire to rewatch it or the previous acts and that really sucks just from me as the detached viewer and not me-as-the-fannish-fan.
I don’t want to watch Penny die like that because honestly if she had to die (and for Joss, oh, someone HAS to die), it should have been better than that.
My reaction wasn’t, “oh no! Penny’s dead! What a tragedy and oh, Billy gets everything he wants at the cost of what he needs!” (sound familiar?) it was more along the lines of, “Oh. A surprise impaling. *sigh* Wait, is this still supposed to be funny? What the hell? THOSE are her dying words? For the love of…dude. Get a new act.”
Neil Patrick Harris sold the fuck out of his role and I’m sad that I have no desire to ever watch him playing Dr. Horrible. Thanks, Joss.
(FYI if it’s still on youtube, Neil Patrick Harris did a turn as Toby in the Sweeney Todd concert. He’s awesome and the conclusion to his character’s story is so much more fucked up than Dr. Horrible’s.)
The off-putting tone in the last act was just way too jarring. I enjoy a good sucker-punch but that just did not fit. Maybe it was a matter of the story needing to be told in a longer time period but it didn’t feel fleshed out at all.
Dammit, having Billy freeze her with his freeze ray (that can stop the pain, remember, dude?) the second before she died and having him do a twisted “freezing her with plans to one day resurrect her but while she’s frozen, he’s going on an evil rampage” would have been the messed up ending that I’d cheer for. (Or him trying to do that and having it fail miserably. Pro-active characters are always a plus in my book.)
Having her die and lamely say Captain Hammer would save them (even though at that point, she’d already made the choice to LEAVE him—at least in the NON-dialogue scene we had to close out her story, thank you ever so much) was just not a natural conclusion. In my allegedly humble opinion.
It was sort of embarrassing to be sitting there Friday night, after being shut out of seeing The Dark Knight, with my sister Johnny and we were kind of excited to watch it since we'd gotten home in time to watch Psych and we were both, well, at least we can watch Dr. Horrible! And then the ending happened and Johnny--who FYI, has seen maaaaybe two episodes of BtVS, none of ATS or Firefly--comments "I didn't think it was going to end like that."
I didn't either, kid. I shoulda known better.
Well. I can scratch The Dollhouse off my must-see list. If it winds up being good, I'll marathon the first season, maybe. But I should lay down bets about who's gonna get killed off first.
Seriously. So glad I am invested in other shows. Must post Psych & Burn Notice squee later.