Caught the last episode of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog last night. It didn’t quite deliver on the promise of the first two episodes, though there were some great bits in it, and the resolutions for Dr. Horrible and Captain Hammer were fitting. There was a twist that Katie had predicted that I thought would have been really cool, but it turned out to be wrong.

I think I liked the middle act best.

Anyway, I checked the site again right after midnight, when the free streams were supposed to come down, and they’d already gone to iTunes at $1.99 an episode. (Personally I think that’s a bit high, when they add up to the same length as an “hourlong” i.e. ~40-minute TV show, which you can usually get for $1.99 total)

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

For those who hadn’t already heard about it: Written by Joss Whedon, his brothers, and his future sister-in-law. Starring Neil Patrick Harris as the mad scientist villain Dr. Horrible, Nathan Fillion (Firefly) as his nemesis Captain Hammer, and Felicia Day as the girl at the laundromat on whom Dr. Horrible has a crush. Campy take on the super-hero genre, from the point of view of a D-list villain trying to make it to the big leagues. Structured partly as a video blog and partly as narrative. The songs remind me of a cross between the Buffy musical (naturally) and Moulin Rouge. (Stylistically, I mean.)

Apparently the movie industry is trying to come up with an ad campaign to get people back into theaters. The LA Times doesn’t seem to take the idea terribly seriously, as they’ve suggested the slogan, “Movies: Just like DVDs, but Larger.” Meanwhile, theaters and studios are blaming each other for the decline in attendance:

Theater owners blamed Hollywood for making inferior (and overly long) movies, studios worried that theaters were turning the multiplex (with its barrage of pre-show commercials) into as much of an ordeal as an escape.

How do you figure out who’s right? Oh, wait, that’s easy: Both of them.

Make better movies, and more people will brave the long lines, high prices, 20 minutes of annoying big-screen commercials, 15 minutes of previews for movies that aren’t terribly interesting, people yakking on cell phones, people narrating the entire @%!# movie for their friends 30 seconds ahead of the action, etc.

Clean up the theater experience, and people will be willing to go for movies that look kinda interesting instead of really interesting.

It’s not just the big screen and immersive sound. Watching Serenity at home lacked the intensity of watching it in a theater full of fans (even the second time, when we knew what to expect). Neither canned laughter nor a studio audience can compare to dozens or hundreds of people laughing together in the same room. And it’s hard to match the collective “Oh, $#!7” that swept the theater in each showing of Return of the King when Shelob showed up again after Frodo thought he had escaped. The communal experience strikes a chord that you just can’t reach with a couple of people and a TV set.

People who talk through the entire movie aren’t just distracting you from the movie, they’re interfering with that communal experience. There’s only so much theater staff can do, short of kicking people out, but at least we know in the future they’ll get to inhabit a special level of Hell. 😈

OK, so we know Serenity didn’t do that well at the box office (despite being an excellent movie), but the DVD sales seem to be doing great. Last Thursday, just two days after release, Best Buy not only had it on its Best Seller shelf, they were actually sold out of the widescreen version. And Amazon.com’s DVD rankings show Serenity at #2 and Firefly at #3. Considering that the Firefly DVDs have been out for something like two years, and everything else on the 25-item list is either a new release or a new special edition, the obvious conclusion is that Amazon’s “Buy this DVD with Firefly” ploy is working—or that people are (again) watching the movie and then coming back for more.

Is Fox TV eligible for the “Turning down the Beatles” award yet?

Yesterday our copy of Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Chosen Collection—all seven seasons—arrived. (It’s supposedly a limited edition, but I don’t see anything to that effect on our box.) Since we’d been listening to the soundtrack of “Once More With Feeling” on the drive home last night, we immediately put on the episode.

I’ve been slowly working my way through the Comic Cavalcade Archives. I’m determined to read the whole thing, but I have to take it in small doses. Partly the target audience is much younger than me, partly the storytelling (and art) I’m used to is much different, and of course partly it’s a very different time. It was the middle of World War II, and half the stories involved fighting Nazi spies or, in some cases, wreaking havoc in Germany itself. (The Ghost Patrol should have been able to take Hitler out on their own, but they seemed more interested in sabotage and practical jokes.) The original setup for Wonder Woman was that she left Paradise Island to help America defeat the Axis!

The Golden-Age Flash hunt continues. I’m now up to three issues of All-Flash with an issue of Flash Comics on its way. So far I’ve discovered that the Turtle didn’t have a costume the first time he appeared. He was just a guy in a green suit who used slowness against a guy who was used to moving fast. Next up: the original Thorn. I’ve bid on a lot of eBay auctions, expecting to win only a fraction of them. Everywhere else I look online, people are selling collector-grade books at much higher prices. I just want to read the original stories, write down who appears, and scan the occasional panel that I’m going to clean up anyway.

Amazon has finally put a discount on the Golden Age Flash Archives vol.2, so I’ve pre-ordered it. While there I looked around on my wish list and noticed that the Mirrormask DVD page (which still shows the wrong date) is recommending, “Buy this DVD with Serenity (Widescreen Edition) DVD ~ Joss Whedon today!” That seems like an appropriate pairing!