The problem with most punditry is that commentators are rarely held accountable to their predictions. By the time events pan out, everyone's lost interest and moved on to new predictions. So, when I make predictions, I try to keep accurate score. (Warning: spoilers follow).
With Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, I correctly predicted that Dr. Horrible would win a compromised victory, one that left him in pain. That one was pretty easy â€“ as I said before, Joss' whole philosophy of story-telling is that pain is the basis for sympathy and human connection. If the main character isn't in pain, we lose interest pretty quickly.
Where I went totally off the rails was in predicting a greater role for Penny in the unfolding of events. I thought she would have some kind of agency in the way things turn out . . . but nope, she was just cannon-fodder. In my defense, a lot of other people had exactly the same critique of Act III: couldn't we have the girl do a little more than just be the passive motivator for the macho-men? But I will let that go . . . for writing seven years of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss deserves an automatic bye on any feminist critiques. Once in a while, a guy deserves to be allowed to write a passive female role.
What also surprised me, but I didn't articulate very clearly in my predictions, was how much Hope got overshadowed by Pain in the conclusion. The structure of the songs and the story suggested a dynamic tension between Penny's world-view (do-gooding is good, what matters is human connection) and Billy's (do-gooding is for saps, what matters is who has the power). The third act doesn't do much to contradict Billy's position; Penny's reward for her do-gooding is to be publically humiliated shortly before she gets killed. I had expected at least one more song from Penny to stake out Hope's position: "All your Power and Domination is bereft of meaning, so who's the sap?" Rather than just falling in love with Penny the object-of-desire, Dr. Horrible could have fallen in love with Penny's virtue, and wished from afar that he could be that way. That would have made the tragedy of Billy's fall more complete, and also perhaps have indicated a path for his eventual redemption in a sequel. Instead, everything about Penny's behavior, right up to her dying words ("Captain Hammer will save us!") confirm that she really is a deluded sap. I think Joss' absurdist philosophy got the better of him, here.
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At the risk of appearing like a raving fanboy with no life, there's a few more random items I wanted to point out, simply because the begged for someone to notice them:
In the newscast in Act III, the anchor says, "Next up: who's gay?" This is almost certainly an in-joke referencing Neil Patrick Harris, the actor portraying Dr. Horrible. In 2006, a report circulated in the media that Harris was gay. Harris' response was, essentially: "Yeah . . . so?" He was widely lauded, not so much for coming out (he had been openly gay for years among friends and co-workers) as for refusing to act like it was a big deal. I guess Joss & company thought it deserved to be cataloged among the sins of a media world obsessed with celebrity non-stories.
In the background of Dr. Horrible's lab, there's a model of Serenity, the spaceship from Joss Whedon's earlier TV series Firefly. I'm sure if spent more time watching I would find lots of other in-jokes . . . I'm told there are lots of cameos by friends-of-Joss. Not that I would ever do such a geeky thing, myself . . . I'm just sayin' . . .