Joss Whedon | Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog: The Book (Titan Books)

Want to know what happens when creative people get in a room, leverage their connections to other creative people and make something? It’s in there.

 

160 pages, $19.99 paperback
By Joss Whedon, with Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon and Zack Whedon
 
Once upon a time, there was this guy named Joss Whedon. He made a name for himself by telling stores lots of people like to hear. One day, when he found himself with nothing much to do because the Writers Guild of America was on strike, he got together with a bunch of his friends and said "Let’s make a silly movie and put it on the internet. Let’s find some cool people we like to work with and see if they want to help out." It was like a bunch of neighborhood kids deciding to put on a play instead of run a lemonade stand one day. Only instead of neighborhood kids, it was a group of talented professionals with the means to take the idea beyond an amateur production and a ready-made audience eager for their latest production.
 
The movie was called Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and it became an Internet sensation. When the three 15-minute acts launched over the course of a week, they crashed websites. A few months later the whole thing was available for download off of iTunes and that’s when the sensation really gained momentum. Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog spawned a top 40 album, CDs, DVDs, comic books, a full-length musical commentary (with its own downloadable album) and, recently, a companion book called Doctor Horrible’s Sing-along Blog: The Book (naturally).
 
The companion book is 160 glossy pages of content that will satisfy any fanboy and fangirl who picks it up. The book is primarily the script and score of the original production and the script of the commentary, but it has a few contributions from the cast as well as articles related to the making of the movie. Everything, save the score, is peppered with clips from the three shorts, candid "behind the scenes" shots and bits of hand-written notes. It is a collector’s item full of items fans aren’t lucky enough to collect.
 
Nothing disappoints, except perhaps the sheet music, which takes up over a third of the book. Sheet music isn’t exactly something you "read" like a script or an essay, and because it’s bound to the rest of the book, it’s not something you can place on a music stand either. And really, who does that anymore? Calling up the video for some karaoke on your computer? Absolutely. Gathering around a piano? Less so. Even if that was your thing (and more power to you), unless you photo copy the pages, a large portion of the book doesn’t serve much purpose past existing.
 
That being said, the rest of the book is so content-rich that the only time the volume of sheet music stands out is when you’re looking at the side of the closed book. All of the personal insights and content nuggets were great, but my personal favorites were Captain Hammer’s forward (warning: there are spoilers if you haven’t watched the film yet) and the costuming article. The Captain is always hilarious and the original costume sketches were a nice treat. 
 
But what about people who aren’t already fans? There’s less to love, but it’s still a worthy borrow from a friend. The biggest non-script section is a lengthy "Origin Story" introduction where the four primary creators/book authors (Joss Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon and Zack Whedon) discuss how they went from a few random ideas to a cohesive musical script and score. They take you right up to the first reading of the script with the cast. Anyone who is curious about how films are produced, interested in the creative process or researching reactions to the Writers Guild strike will enjoy reading their banter. Want to know what happens when creative people get in a room, leverage their connections to other creative people and make something? It’s in there. I would have liked more documentation about what happened between the first upload and the publication of this book. Maybe a trendy infographic or something?
 
What is there is plenty pleasing. There’s never been a question that Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was a labor of love produced by people who love working together, and the book is a great way for a fan to explore another piece of that. Reading the crew’s commentaries and skimming the script while looking at the production photos all gave me warm fuzzies. It’s one more way "the Whedon crew" demonstrates how much they value their fan base. | Kelly Stephenson
 
Click here for a preview of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog: The Book, courtesy of Titan Books.

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