Monday, January 4, 2010

Could Dr. Horrible survive as a TV show?

With Dollhouse ending later this month, television wunderkind Joss Whedon will once again be out of the television business, allowing him to devote time to other projects including Dr. Horrible 2.

The original, which debuted in 2008, was a complete success with millions of views on Hulu and Youtube. The sales from iTunes and DVDs covered the costs of the crew and other expenses mere months after the release. Dr. Horrible continues to sell well on Amazon, making it to the top of several categories. The popularity of social networking and the internet created buzz for the musical that found a suitable niche.

Certainly the internet does not rival television or movie theaters yet, but the growing acceptance of internet-based creations is going in the direction where Dr. Horrible in its current state of low budget production could stand on its own. Dollhouse barely maintains more than 2 million viewers per week which is less than the number of people who've watched Dr. Horrible, and NBC struggles to get more than 7 million viewers for most of its shows.

Glee is very similar to Dr. Horrible with the musical numbers and quirky, off-beat humor, and excels in the coveted 18-49 demo. It's been one a bright spot among the multitude of failures this season. If made in a TV show, Dr. Horrible would have a built-in fan base, and a legitimate chance to bring in new fans.

The new show wouldn't have Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible) or Nathan Fillion (Captain Hammer) as they are occupied with other shows, but with the number of talented people out there, I'm sure there are lookalikes that can fill the roles. The popularity of Glee shows the willingness of the television audience to watch unique shows that don't fit the tradition mold.

Part of the success of Dr. Horrible was due to the total lack of network executives meddling, and Joss had to deal with that greatly with Firefly and Dollhouse. I concede that Joss and the rest of the people involved would be hampered by this, and Dr. Horrible would lose the homemade-professional feel. Nevertheless, I'm sure Joss and his cadre could keep the fans and bring in new fans. Anyone who's watched Dr. Horrible or the Buffy episodes "Once More With Feeling" knows there is precedent for Joss's accomplishments.

No network would currently entertain the idea of turning an internet creation into a show, investing millions of dollars into something unproven in the mainstream media, but as the internet grows, there is a shift what people are going to for entertainment. Radio once dominated household, but now the television rules supreme. If one day, the computer and streaming content becomes the dominant form of entertainment, I will not be surprised. How the networks integrate web content with conventional programming will be a huge part of this century. Maybe Dr. Horrible will reach your television sets eventually.


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