Dr. Horrible Fan-made Prequel!

Fan fiction has been around almost as long as there’s been fiction at all. People who don’t necessarily have their own original characters or settings try to build their own stories with someone else’s properties. Most of the time, fans are stuck with self-insert stories that simply play into the desires of the writer or maybe just empty, boring tales where the characters are so far from their canonical personalities that you wonder why the author didn’t just create their own. But every so often, you end up with some real gems that don’t just rip off the canon, but take it and make something wildly different, fun and truly respectful of the original. That’s the case with Horrible Turn, a Dr. Horrible prequel made by some die-hard fans and scheduled to be released November 10th, 2009.

Not only was it clearly made with love for the source material, but was endorsed and called ‘cool’ over on Dr Horrible’s OFFICIAL Twitter With that kind of press, it can’t fail! For excited viewers, Horrible Turn is an hour-long musical that, along with that Horrible interruption at this year’s Emmys, might help tide fans over until the promised Dr. Horrible sequel finally comes to fruition. And how’s that going, anyway?

The answer is in an article recently posted over at TV Over Mind, where Nathan Fillion (Captain Hammer) was quoted as saying:

“There are plans. The media for the sequel has not yet been decided, but there is a title.” Naturally Fillion wasn’t about to reveal that title, but he did also confirm that along with the writing of the script, at least a song or two had also been written.

“Joss, I was talking to him right before we won the Emmy,” said Fillion. “He said that he’s finished writing a song or two. He told me a couple of verses to the song.”

There’s still no date set for the production of the sequel, but I personally can’t wait to see it. I’ve still got the original and its soundtrack on my iPod and still loving it.

For those who haven’t joined the club, head over to Amazon.com to grab your copy of Dr. Horrible.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog DVD
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Soundtrack
Dr. Horrible 2010 Wall Calendar

Dr. Horrible: A Sequel and a New Look!

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was a massive success when it premiered online last year and it continues to delight as it does the rounds at convention sing-alongs and parties across the world. But now there’s some great OFFICIAL news on what’s next for Billy, Penny and Captain Hammer. Newsarama‘s got the details…

Joss Whedon may have a lot of projects in the works, but the writer said no matter how busy he gets, he intends to do a sequel to Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, the Emmy-nominated musical about a wannabe supervillain.

“We’re looking at Dr. Horrible and how we can put it together,” Whedon told Newsarama, adding that he could easily use the excuse that he’s too busy. “But ‘too busy’ is not really a concept in my world. I’ve never not been ‘too busy.’ And believe me, I’m going to burn out in the next two months, and then it will all be over. But until then, nothing can stop me. Nothing can possibly stop me.”

The writer is currently working with co-writer and director Drew Goddard on the 2010 movie Cabin in the Woods, a horror film for MGM, as well as the second season of his Fox television show Dollhouse. He’s also got comic book projects brewing at publisher Dark Horse Comics, including plans for a Cabin in the Woods tie-in series and a Season 9 volume of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, once the Season 8 series finishes.

There will also be a Dr. Horrible one-shot comic book for Dark Horse, with a targeted fall release.

The writer’s self-produced, self-funded, Dr. Horrible musical was released in three parts in July 2008 as web-only streaming episodes. The musical was free for a limited time before being offered on iTunes, where Dr. Horrible topped the charts. The series was later released on DVD, and a 14-track soundtrack became available on iTunes and CD.

Not only has the series made a profit, according to Whedon, but it received critical acclaim, including an Emmy nomination for best short-form live-action entertainment program.

Starring Neil Patrick Harris as the title character, Dr. Horrible tells the story of an inexperienced supervillain who is hoping to get into the Evil League of Evil while also pining for a girl at the laundromat named Penny, played by Felicia Day. His efforts on both fronts aren’t helped by his nemesis, the self-important Captain Hammer, played by Nathan Fillion.

When asked if he already knows the entire story that will be featured in the next chapter of Dr. Horrible, Whedon said, “Of course I do!”

The show was produced for internet distribution only, something that was almost unheard of for a project with such recognizable names involved. Whedon said he was hoping the success he experienced with the “webisode” concept would inspire others to explore the market.

“I’m kind of waiting for other people to do the same thing. Sitting here waiting. Still waiting,” he joked. “I thought there would be more more than there is. There seems to be less more. So I’m hopeful, but it’s true that I haven’t really seen anything comparable. And that makes me sad.”

Whedon said his time constraints aren’t as big of a problem with Dr. Horrible because it’s a small commitment when compared to much larger projects, and he wishes others would view webisodes the same way.

“Nobody seems to be willing to make a really small commitment, at least not people in the business with the wherewithal to make something that’s on a bigger scale than just anybody could,” Whedon said. “Very few people seem to be willing to do it. They either want to find a way to create a series that helps something that already exists or is a springboard to something else. Nobody seems to want to spend the time to do something that will inevitably be, no matter how profitable it is, kind of small, which is too bad, because the artistic freedom and the joy of making that thing is unparalleled, and the return has been profitable. So you’d think that somebody would jump on. But so far, not so many people.”

Another of Whedon’s favorite projects, the “Epitaph 1” episode of his Fox series Dollhouse, was also something Hollywood didn’t embrace. Although Dollhouse was renewed for a second season, the innovative “Epitaph 1” episode wasn’t part of the studio’s initial order for Season 1, so it was never aired.

Whedon shared the entire unaired episode with fans at San Diego Comic-Con, as well as including it on the Season 1 DVD. But he was still hoping to convince Fox to air it.

“I begged them to air it. I begged them. I called the executives at the studio, at the network, and begged. They just didn’t want it,” he said. “You know what? I don’t even want to talk about it anymore because it makes me sad. I just made one of my favorite episodes of a TV show that I ever made and they didn’t air it.”

And until the sequel sees the light of day, we’ve got the aforementioned Dark Horse one-shot to look forward to! Illustrated by Joëlle Jones, here’s a peek at the art you can expect to see when it hits shelves in November! Check Superpouvoir (French), for more, or take look at Dr. Horrible himself right here!

Gotham Sings! Batman Musical at Comic Con

Dr. Horrible brought Neil Patrick back to the world of Geek following his appearance in the Harold & Kumar franchise, but it seems that he’s definitely here to stay as he takes on the role of Gotham City’s Music Meister on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. In a show that captures not only the coolness of Batman but the fun and retro whimsy, it seems like there can finally be a musical outing for the caped crusader that won’t seem awkward or misplaced. We hope.

John Burlingame has the info:

Ready for a superhero musical? Usually the answer is, no, no we’re not. There’s been only one superhero musical of note: “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman,” which didn’t last four months on Broadway in 1966.

Admittedly, $40 million is being spent on “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” coming to Broadway next year. But even with Bono and the Edge doing the music, that’s a creative crapshoot, as conventional Music Meister in the grips of Batman wisdom has always been that it’s enough trouble persuading audiences to believe in flying crime-fighters wearing colorful tights, much less breaking into song.

Still, the producers of “Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” the animated series that airs Friday nights on the Cartoon Network, are confident enough in the first Batman musical — titled “Mayhem of the Music Meister!” — which they’re unveiling to fans Friday at Comic-Con International in San Diego before its airing when the series returns for its second season in the fall.

In this most lighthearted take on the Caped Crusader since the Adam West series of the 1960s, “How I Met Your Mother” star (and upcoming Emmy host) Neil Patrick Harris voices the villain the Music Meister.

“It was always in the back of my mind that a musical would be a fun thing to do,” says James Tucker, producer of the series. A musical theater fan, he enlisted his co-producer Michael Jelenic to collaborate. Together, they came up with what Tucker calls “a bare-bones framework of a plot to hang the songs on. We didn’t want to do ‘Les Miserables’ or ‘Sweeney Todd.’”

Batman, along with fellow heroes Green Arrow, Aquaman and Black Canary, and villains Gorilla Grodd, Black Manta and Clock King are powerless to resist the voice of the Music Meister, who naturally plans to control the world. Over five songs that occupy 18 of the show’s 22 minutes, the plot is revealed and foiled, along with a love-story subplot that fans of the DC comics will recognize and maybe even find touching.

This all started in July of last year, when Tucker and Jelenic met with “Batman” composers Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion and Kristopher Carter (all of whom won 2001 Emmys for scoring an earlier animated series, “Batman Beyond”). It would be up to the trio — who together have scored hundreds of Warner Bros. superhero cartoons dating to 1991 — to make it all work musically.

Ritmanis, who had the most experience working on musicals, acknowledges that she was “a little gun-shy,” knowing Music Meister belting that they had only three months to do what often takes a year of writing and rewriting. Yet, she says, “for us to be in on the beginning phase was thrilling, because usually we come in at the very end,” providing underscore that punches up the action dramatically or quietly supports the dialogue.

“They knew what they wanted the songs to do,” McCuistion adds. All three composers were impressed that the producers were following musical theater tradition in using songs to move the story forward. Tucker and Jelenic — neither of whom had any songwriting experience — went off to write lyrics, which the composers later set to music within specific musical styles.

Says Jelenic, “When we conceived a musical, we didn’t necessarily want to wink at the audience. We wanted it to stand on its own — yet some of the lyrics are really absurd.” He hopes it works for audiences on multiple levels.

The opening song, which introduces the Music Meister, needed to be part “Guys and Dolls,” part Stephen Sondheim, McCuistion said. Ritmanis got to write the big ballad “If Only,” in which several characters yearn for their imagined soul mates.

The biggest challenge was the finale, which Tucker says demanded “a big, over-the-top, Busby Berkeley feel,” yet at the same time, Carter adds, needed to function as a grand “tango of death.” There is also a rock number and a funny patter song in which all the villains complain about Batman.

Harris was everyone’s first choice as the villain, since he had done voices for “Justice League” and “Spider-Man,” and proved his musical mettle onstage in such productions as “Rent” and “Assassins.” Tucker saw him in “Sweeney Todd” at the Ahmanson Theatre in 1999 and remembered how good he was.

“Eighty-five percent of this episode is music,” says casting and voice director Andrea Romano, “so we Music Meister jumpsuited needed somebody who was going to be able to handle this quickly and easily. Neil just flew through his session. It really was a perfect marriage of role and actor.”

Luckily, most of the other regulars were talented singers, notably Grey DeLisle (Black Canary) and James Arnold Taylor (Green Arrow). Diedrich Bader, who regularly voices Batman, stepped aside for Jeff Bennett to sing in the final number.

Tucker thinks this concept would never have worked on the earlier Warner Bros. comic book shows, many of which he worked on as designer, storyboard artist and director. All were too serious in tone. “Brave and the Bold” was just different enough.

“We wanted to free up Batman to be fun again,” he says. “This show has been so wild and out of the box that we can do a musical and no one will question it at all.” The studio even agreed to hire a 28-piece orchestra, similar to that granted to the composers of “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” but nowadays considered a luxury in children’s animation, which is usually scored with synthesizers and samplers.

Could the Music Meister return in another Batman musical? Ritmanis answers with a smile: “I have an idea that maybe he could return on Broadway.”