Dr. Horrible – Yet Another Fan!   3 comments

While I’m sure that another shout of praise and smattering of applause won’t count as more than a drop in the bucket at this point, I wanted to talk about Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along blog (found at www.drhorrible.com for those of you who aren’t already familiar with it.)  I mean, the results speak for themselves: five weeks at the top of the iTunes channel subscription, or whatever you call the thing that means you buy something from iTunes.  Naturally, beware of spoilers.

Now, sure it’s a great story, a hilarious comedy and a beautiful tragedy all at once.  And unlike most of the musical things on the Internet, the music is wonderfully written and presented, right down to the top notch harmonies between the various characters.  Other people are talking about those things, however, and I want to talk about how this fits in with the world of Mad Scientist Stories.

The Mad Scientist has always been one of my favorite sub-archetypes of character in storytelling.  They show up all throughout the history of literature as characters who seek perfection and dream dreams.  The modern mad scientist misses a lot of this.  Nowadays, they’re pretty much just goofy people in exaggerated lab coats, goggles and gloves who can tinker just about any gizmo together, and wind up shouting “Life! Life!” a lot.  This is okay, but fewer and fewer modern mad scientists talk about the loss of one’s dreams due to their work (such as Dr. Frankenstein), the ironic loss as the indirect result of taking one’s art to dizzying heights (such as the death of Icharus, who used one of his father’s inventions to fly too near the Sun and died), or even the occasional acheivement of the dream, but the realization that for all the accomplishments he will ultimately remain mortal and need to identify with the humanity he came from (that was my convoluted attempt to put Willy Wonka into the mad scientist territory.  I have more stable grounds for that classification, but no time to expound upon it just now.)

Dr. Horrible manages to be both, however.  He’s a supervillain mad scientist in the same style as those who populated DC’s Oolong Island not too long ago, and he’s also a classic mad scientist who has to make decisions between his “simple” and “grand” dreams.  He wears a goofy lab coat and works on his freeze ray, while also wishing that he could be courting Penny under different circumstances.

In one respect, you could argue that he’s a classic mad scientist through and through.  However, instead of a specific science to excel in (candy, reanimating dead tissue, or time machiens to look at the classic literary examples), his chosen art is Mad Science Supervillainy itself.  After all, he ultimately must choose between his mad science and his humanity.

And also like a classic mad scientist, he was doomed from just about the start.  The moment he failed with his first test of his freeze ray, he was locked in: either get into the Evil League of Evil, or be killed by Bad Horse and crew.  Imagine if Dr. Frankenstein had reacted differently when reunited with his creature.  If instead of blaming the creature he had hugged it and said, “Oh, thank goodness, I’ve been looking for you for years!  How did you find me?  Hurry, though, there’s someone crawling around trying to kill members of my family, you may be next!”  It would’ve put an entirely different spin on the entire novel (plus Frankenstein’s monster would’ve had a massive guilt issue to work with.)  When mad scientists try to run from their problems, it always catches up to them, just as it did with Dr. Horrible.

In the end, Dr. Horrible just accepts his fate.  Honestly, there’s nothing else he can do.  Might’s well enjoy it, even though it’s clearly tearing him up inside.

Having said that, if you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it.  Yes, I know you just read the spoilers I warned you about.  Doesn’t matter.  There’s still plenty with which to surprise and delight you.

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3 responses to “Dr. Horrible – Yet Another Fan!

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  1. Well, it sounds cool. Unfortunately, it is hosted by Hulu, which will not stream outside of the US. Too bad, because Hulu also has all of the Saturday Night Live skits too.

    Oh, and is that thing over there supposed to be smoking?

  2. Ack! No, no that shouldn’t be smoking, it should be steaming and shaking…lemme fix that…

    Have you checked YouTube? It isn’t as high a quality of a picture, but apart from some difficulty in reading the credits that version seems to be fine.

    Plus you could always buy it via itunes. 😉

  3. I didn’t know it was on YouTube – I’ll check there. Might not get time today, since I leave at noon for a week’s holiday (YAY!)

    Ah, steaming and shaking. That’s better. I’m always nervous about smoke, because, as the saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Just like that little fire over there in the corner. Although, I must admit, that fire isn’t producing much smoke. And, er, the smoke is pink. I assume you do want that fire over there…don’t you?

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