DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-A-LONG BLOG: THE BOOK
by Joss Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, and Zack Whedon
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
During the WGA Strike of 2007-8, Joss Whedon, his brothers Jed, and Zack, and Maurissa Tancharoen, created Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, an internet musical that became something of a sensation, earning them an Emmy Award, an Hugo Award, a People's Choice Award, and seven Streamy Awards. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: The Book contains the full text of not only the film, but also of the musical commentary track created to go on the DVD and sheet music for the songs used in the film.
The scripts for the film and the musical commentary form the majority of the book, providing a clear reading of all the lyrics, which is especially helpful for Commentary: The Musical since those lyrics did not have subtitles available on the DVD (although they could be down-loaded from the Dr. Horrible website). The scripts demonstrate how witty and clever the songs are, especially in the commentary where the songs comment on a variety of topics from the Writer's Strike that sparked the creation of the show to the image musicals have to mocking rumors of inter-actor strife of movie and television sets.
Aside from the scripts, there is plenty, although perhaps not enough, of new material to fill out the pages. Several stills show close-ups of props, actors, or costumes which only receive fleeting screen time, from the group shot of the Evil League of Evil (sans Bad Horse) on page 74 to the close up Dr. Horrible's Remote Control on page 23. At their best, these images are surrounded by text giving some background that couldn't be included in the film or some background information explaining how the props were made or the thoughts behind the costumes. The only real drawback is that there isn't enough of this material in the book and what there is only serves to whet the reader's appetite for more.
The sheet music at the end of the book includes all the songs (including instrumentals) from the film, although not the commentary. They are reproduced on bright, white paper that makes them easy to read and the book is bound in a manner that allows them to be held open easily on a piano or music stand. In addition to providing the piano score, the fingering for guitar is also provided, allowing people with various musical backgrounds to perform the music. Similarly, the lyrics show up well on the paper selected.
The Whedon brothers and Tancharoen have promised a sequel to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and in April 2011 Zack and Jed confirmed they had begun writing it, although it is unclear as yet how they will continue the story or when they will be able to film it. While waiting for the eventual release, fans of the original can watch their DVDs, listen to their downloads of the music, and now will have Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: The Book to tide them over. The book can't match a new experience, but the inclusion of details and essays offers at least a little more insight into the world the Whedons and Tancharoen created.
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