‘Commentary!: The Musical’: The Commentary
And while we're on the subject of Joss Whedon ...
I'd never seen the DVD of Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog, so I'd never heard "Commentary!: The Musical," the show's musical commentary track. Basically, it's a whole overlapping musical of its own, parodying both musicals and commentary tracks. It was just released on iTunes, so I downloaded it, and it's as crazy-cool as I'd imagined. Now I have to buy copies of the DVD to hand out to everyone at the New York Times.
There's Nathan Fillion's groovy number about how much better he is than Neil Patrick Harris. There are three oddly poignant numbers by extras and a ballad about how the online video game Ninja Ropes bonded the cast. My personal favorite is younger brother Zach Whedon's hip-hop rap about hating musicals, something so insiderish it should logically only be funny during Christmas at the Whedons, but which cracked me up nonetheless.
Whedon called "Commentary!" "the most painstaking and exhausting piece of whimsy I have ever mistaken for a good idea," and it is indeed extremely silly — but there are also interestingly analytical bits about the current TV environment, including a musical history of the writer's strike that ends with a bitter zinger that reminded me of the end of Sondheim's "We Had A Good Thing Going" ("We had a good thing going / going / gone").
And in fact, while the songs written by the other two Whedon brothers and sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen are pop grooves, the Joss numbers are packed with Sondheim references, especially to Sunday in the Park. The best of these is actually the least Sondheimy of the bunch, "Heart, Broken," a weirdly powerful ballad in which Joss sings — self-mocking and sincere at once — about his frustration with TV-making in the age of the Internet:
HOMER'S ODYSSEY WAS SWELL /
A BUNCH OF GUYS THAT WENT THROUGH HELL /
HE TOLD THE TALE BUT DIDN'T TELL /
THE AUDIENCE WHY /
HE DIDN'T SAY, HERE'S WHAT IT MEANS /
AND HERE'S A FEW DELETED SCENES /
CHARYBDIS TESTED WELL WITH TEENS
(A chorus informs him that "WITHOUT THESE THINGS YOU SPIT UPON /
YOU'D FIND YOUR FAME AND FAN BASE GONE / YOU'D BE IGNORED AT COMIC-CON.")
Now that Dollhouse is ending (maddeningly, with a series of excellent episodes), I look forward to the cult's next project. In the meanwhile, I'm just happy to have something geeky to put on auto-repeat.