Off the Shelf: 21 Random Observations from ‘Dr. Horrible’

When was the last time you revisited Dr. Horrible and his evil misdeeds? Being only 42 minutes long, ‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog’ is one of the best short films of our time.

At first, we thought that the Hollywood writer’s strike of 2007 – 2008 would ruin our entertainment. Our favorite television shows stopped shooting new episodes and movie production halted. But then Joss Whedon had an idea. Why not create an inexpensive, yet professionally-done short film with well-known actors, a simple plot, and great music? ‘‘Dr. Horrible‘ was born.

The Details:

Title: ‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog’
Director: Joss Whedon
Blu-ray Release Date: May 25, 2010

The 21 Random Observations:
  1. There isn’t a way to pause the movie before it gets to the menu, at least on my Blu-ray player. I wanted to pause so that I could see the Evil League of Evil (ELE) message that pops up after the FBI warning. I wound up doing the next best thing by finding a screenshot of it online.
  2. Is there any other actor out there right now that has been riding a bigger wave of popularity and good will than Neil Patrick Harris? The man popped back from the obscurity of TV movies into the limelight with ‘How I Met Your Mother’. And it couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time. He’s perfection as Dr. Horrible.
  3. Dr. Horrible’s evil laugh does need work, and it’s a good thing that he’s seeing a vocal coach. Subtle jokes such as this make the film the hilarious piece of entertainment that it is.
  4. Bad Horse is a great name for a villain. It’s even better when we actually find out that Bad Horse is an actual horse.
  5. Using sarcasm to make fun of sarcasm is frustrating. I can think of a couple times I’ve done that unknowingly, and then stopped mid-sentence to realize how stupid I sounded.
  6. The second the song “My Freeze Ray” (the one sung primarily in the laundromat) starts, you realize just how good this is going to be. It sets up the awkward relationship between Dr. Horrible and the love of his life, Penny, with a few well-written lines and two great performances from the leads.
  7. I’ve never paid much attention to the other villains mentioned in the movie. I always forget about Dr. Horrible’s friend Moist, who at his most badass, “make[s] people feel like they want to take a shower.”
  8. It’s a good thing Dr. Horrible created a handy-dandy Van Stealing app for the iPhone.
  9. The first time Nathan Fillion pops up on screen, you can’t help but chuckle. He saves the day in welding gloves and a t-shirt emblazoned with a hammer.
  10. There are so many classic moments in this movie, but the part where Captain Hammer shoves Penny into a pile of trash bags under the guise of saving her is one of the best. Not only does it make us laugh, but it perfectly sets up the douchiness of Captain Hammer and makes us sympathize with Dr. Horrible even more.
  11. At the end of Act One, Whedon has already managed to set up an interesting storyline (superheroes and villains battling it out amidst everyday living), a heart-wrenching would-be romance, characters worth caring about, an attention-grabbing conflict, and the promise of more songs.
  12. I never noticed before, but during the “My Eyes” song where Dr. Horrible stalks Penny and Captain Hammer on their dates, he’s actually serving soup in the soup line and wearing a fake mustache. I know, most of you probably noticed this already, but this was my first time and it made me laugh.
  13. Speaking of the “My Eyes” song, I am always amazed at how emotionally moving it is. It’s easy to go into ‘Dr. Horrible’ set up to laugh for a good 40 minutes, but I seem to always forget how emotionally resonant it is as well, this song in particular.
  14. The same goes for “Penny’s Song.” Man, Whedon and his crew really packed some moving wallops of emotion into these songs.
  15. The line “I don’t go to the gym. I’m naturally like this” works on the ladies every time. Trust me.
  16. Is there a better one-sided exchange out there than when Captain Hammer talks to Dr. Horrible in the laundromat? “The hammer is my penis.” One of the funniest lines in recent memory.
  17. At the bottom of the news report announcing the Captain Hammer speech about the homeless in the final act, there’s a scroll bar which reads, “Captain Hammer: I hope to set an example for, you know, children and stuff.”
  18. Not only is Captain Hammer’s song about the homeless hilarious, but it accurately portrays many of the feelings that the general public has for the homeless, whether or not those feelings are warranted.
  19. What happens when the strongest hero in the city actually gets hurt? He cries for “Someone maternal!”
  20. It’s been 40 minutes, and Dr. Horrible is standing over a dead Penny, realizing the destruction he caused and the irony that he will get into the ELE because he killed the girl he loved. As he stands over her, I had a realization that this movie did in 40 minutes what many full-length dramatic features fail to do in 100-plus minutes. The ending is emotionally wrenching. It’s a cathartic, but unexpected outcome. We spent all that time laughing, and right here at this moment, it’s hard not to shed a tear or two. Well done, Whedons, well done.
  21. When Dr. Horrible finally walks into the ELE conference room, he sees a table surrounded by super villains. According to the end credits, they are: Professor Normal, Fake Thomas Jefferson, Tie-Die, Dead Bowie, Fury Leika, Snake Bite, and Bad Horse. I just wonder what kind of evil hijinks Fake Thomas Jefferson gets into.
Favorite Previously Forgotten Quote

Captain Hammer singing: “So I thank my girlfriend Penny. Yea, we totally had sex. She showed me there’s so many different muscles I can flex. There’s the deltoids of compassion, there’s the abs of being kind. It’s not enough to bash in heads. You’ve got to bash in minds!”

Final Thoughts:

With everything that ‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog’ accomplishes, it’s hard to think that the movie only runs a mere 42 minutes. There’s so much packed in here, but there’s still time to sit back and laugh at all the clever, witty lines. This is a movie that I’ll revisit again and again, because there’s always something new to catch. All reports indicate that a sequel is on the way. I can’t wait.


  1. Seriously, the sequel can’t come soon enough. Just a nitpick, if I remember correctly it wasn’t initially Joss’ idea. I think his brother and his friends were writing it and brought it to his attention, wherein Joss replies presumably , “Not only am I going to take this and run with it, but I’m going to brilliantly stunt cast this sumbitch with awesome buddies of mine and make your potential Youtube video kick more ass than most anything else ever.”

  2. Jared Chamberlain

    I think my favorite part of Dr. Horrible is during the ensemble song towards the end when the three creepers pop up singing “We do the weird stuff.” The disturbed look on Fillion’s face is priceless!

  3. HuskerGuy

    I love everything about this movie. Dr. Horrible is my go-to Netflix movie and I’ve seen it at least 30-40 times by now.

    One thing to point out is the amazing awesomeness that is Commentary The Musical. I’m a bit disappointed you didn’t throw in a reference to that Aaron 🙂 I could listen to the Dr. Horrible and Commentary soundtracks on an endless loop.

    Hoping for a worthwhile sequel sometime soon.

  4. Regarding a sequel, it’s been theorized by many that Penny will return. After her death experience, she might come back as a villianess – Bad Penny, as in alway turning up like a…

  5. DoobieD

    Unpopular opinion time. CAPTAIN HAMMER DID NOTHING WONG.. Seriously, take a look at this movie from Hammer’s point of view.

    Dr Horrible is a known villain. He is most known for thievery, but with all his weapons and the chaos they cause, one can assume there’s been a fair amount of property damage and probably even a few injuries as well. You don’t get a letter of condemnation from the deputy mayor because you’re the good guy.

    When we first see Captain Hammer, what is he doing? Why, he’s attempting to stop a known villain from committing yet another robbery. That’s literally his job and a good thing. Is he full of himself and a massive douche? Sure. But that also describes half the cops I’ve ever met. They are still usually the good guys.

    And he does save Penny. When he recognizes that the van is gonna hit Penny he doesn’t hesitate. He jumps in front of the van, tosses Penny out of harm’s way and steadies himself to stop the van from hurting anyone else. He had no foreknowledge that Dr Horrible would be able to stop the van with his remote. A remote, BTW, the Horrible used to start all this chaos in the first place. Make no mistake. It was Horrible and his remote that almost killed Penny, not Hammer.

    Now, does Hammer make mistakes? Yes, and this is where he makes his first one. Instead of stopping the robbery, his head is turned by the face of a beautiful woman. Look man, we’ve all been there, and if the choice is chasing after Dr Horrible, or getting it on with Felicia Day, I might make the same decision.

    Then he goes on a whirlwind date with Penny where he does things with her that aren’t typically in his nature. Showing a willingness to change and grow, even if it’s to gain the favor of a pretty girl. You might not like his reasons, but I bet the homeless people he helped couldn’t care less.

    His next act is off screen when he once again stops Dr Horrible from disrupting the bridge ceremony. Horrible’s intentions here are left a little vague, and killing is probably not on the menu, but I think the best guess is some sort of kidnapping, or possibly a simple destruction of property. Maybe he wanted to destroy the bridge itself. Either way he was clearly up to no good and Hammer stopped him again.

    Now you might not like Hammer’s words in the laundromat, and Horrible certainly didn’t, but let’s remember. Horrible is the bad guy. Keeping the bad guy from getting what he wants is literally Hammer’s job description. If a cop humiliated a drug dealer by sleeping with his girlfriend, you wouldn’t shed any tears for the drug dealer, would you?

    Now, this is where Horrible crosses the line from lovable antihero to true villain. He makes the conscious decision to kill. Not because Hammer is evil, but because Hammer slept with the girl he wanted. Doesn’t get much more petty than that.

    And there’s literally a montage of all the good things Hammer is doing and how Penny’s influence has pushed him to do things many people have wanted him to do for a while. (Bout time!)

    Finally we get to the point where Horrible tries to kill Hammer. It goes south and this is where we realize exactly how good Hammer has been all these years. Hammer’s response has always been proportional. the punishment has always fit the crime. It’d be really easy for Hammer to turn Horrible’s head into a bowl of spaghetti, but he always maintained proportion. Try to rob a bank, get an atomic wedgie in the alley. Try to kidnap the mayor, get a car thrown at your head.

    But it’s not until he realizes that Horrible has crossed the line and tried to kill that he is willing to do away with this villain once and for all. An act that in any other circumstance, many of us would cheer. Think of your reaction is a cop had shot the Boston Marathon bomber. No tears, right? Maybe even a little cheer. And the cop probably gets a medal.

    It backfires and we’re left with the ending we got. It’s the ending Billy always wanted, even if he didn’t want it. And it’s what happens when bad guys are bad.

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