October 9th, 2012
02:45 PM ET
Let's travel back to the year 2008, when the idea of watching TV on the Internet was still a relatively new concept and online "Webisodes" were in their infancy. (And when "Iron Man" was in one of the biggest movies of the year - by himself.)
That was the year "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly" creator Joss Whedon unleashed on the public a free three-part mini-series called "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog." The fact that it starred Neil Patrick Harris was an added bonus.
So why is it that, four years later, The CW will air "Dr. Horrible" in its entirety during the network's premiere week? (That would be tonight at 9 p.m., by the way.) And why are Whedon fans overjoyed at the chance to see it for the first time on television?
Here are some things you should know before Tuesday night's broadcast:
1. It's possibly the best thing to come out of the 2007 writer's strike
While TV turned to reality shows, game shows and talk shows to fill in time during the months-long strike, Whedon turned to, well, writing. Creating content for the Web was completely allowed during the strike.
So he went to his friends, Harris, Nathan Fillion ("Firefly") and Felicia Day ("Buffy"), to work on his passion project - a project that went on to make $3 million. (Who knows? It may very well have given Marvel Studios confidence in what he could do with a much, much larger budget for "The Avengers.")
2. It spun off a soundtrack, DVD (with musical commentary) and comic book
Not too shabby for a 42-minute Web video with a shoestring budget.
3. It was a turning point for entertainment online
Felicia Day, for one, had already taken the idea and run with it one year earlier. Her Web series, "The Guild," is now in its sixth season. And Whedon's fellow "Buffy" writer Jane Espenson has her own Web series, "Husbands," another example of how the format has exploded over the past four years.
4. An Emmy first
"Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" was the second winner of the Emmy award for Outstanding Special Class – Short-format Live Action Entertainment Program, but it was the first to win based on a completely original concept for the web. The most recent winner of that award? "Childrens Hospital," which was a Web series before being picked up by Adult Swim.
5. Neil Patrick Harris singing (and hosting)
After the world was reminded of Harris' remarkable singing voice as Dr. Horrible, suddenly he was singing everywhere.
The actor hosted the Emmy Awards, the Tony Awards and the TV Land Awards a year later – and he sang in all three (he has of course, returned to host the Tonys since then with musical numbers, naturally). He finally got to display the full range of his musical talents on "How I Met Your Mother" in 2009 and 2010.
6. Nathan Fillion is now a bona fide TV star (just like Harris)
Fillion's most memorable role is still that of Mal Reynolds on "Firefly," but his cheesy take on Dr. Horrible's nemesis, Captain Hammer, really got him noticed (along with roles on "Desperate Housewives" and the movie "Waitress").
ABC then took a chance on him in 2009 with "Castle." Five seasons later, it's paid off.
7. Is that "Howard Wolowitz" playing Dr. Horrible's sidekick, Moist?
What a crazy random happenstance! Yes, yes it is – an early Simon Helberg appearance before "The Big Bang Theory" had attained cultural phenomenon status.
See what all the fuss is about Tuesday night at 9 ET/PT on The CW.
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