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So here it is, Act I of Joss Whedon's

, "your typical Internet musical about a super villain who's trying to make his bones in the super villain community", according to the geek-culture kingpin himself, and all I can think is,

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Damn you, Whedon!"

Because just as feckless and blogging supervillain wannabe Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris in white smock and deco sci-fi goggles) has proved his dorky mettle (he teleports a gold bar only to have it materialize as a powder that "smells like cumin") and meets up with douchebag arch nemesis/superhero Dr. Hammer (Nathon Fillion in a T-shirt with a hammer on it), while also trying to woo darling homeless-shelter worker Penny (Felicia Day), that is, just as it's getting good in that distinctively delirious Whedonesque way, the episode up and ends.

Until . . . well,

until

is the good part.

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

is

in three acts July 15, 17 and 19. Plus, it's available on iTunes at $1.99 a pop. So while the waiting's the hardest part, it isn't for long, unlike that Cylon-related show whose Sci-Fi Network cruelly demands we suffer subjective ages before we're graced with a new episode.

And so yeah--

Doctor Horrible

is that new Net 2.0 paradigm shift thing Whedon dreamed up while doing the strike thing with his fellow writers while also trying to figure out a way to circumvent the whole media-megalith-controlled network thing that prematurely oblivion-ized his godhead great

Firefly

. Of course, it helps to have ridiculously talented friends in front of the camera: The crazy-skilled Fillion was a truly disturbing evil priest on

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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and the adorably blusterous captain on

Firefly

; '30s flower-girl-cute Day played a Slayerette on

Buffy

; to say nothing of the post-

Harold and Kumar

Harris, who effortlessly negotiates Whedon's tongue-tied dialogue

and

has a pretty darned good high-tenor singing voice to boot. (Words and music were co-crafted by Whedon brothers Zack and Jed and Maurissa Tancharoen, also a writer for Whedon's upcoming Eliza Dushku-starring SF-y thriller series

Dollhouse

.) And thanks to an industry-standard crew behind the lens--most of them from

Firefly

's cinema incarnation,

Serenity

--

Dr. Horrible

looks as good as regular TV (and we mean that in a good way).

But is it any good?

ask the sayers of nay, of whom there will be few, as only serious Whedonites will even know this is net-casting. The answer: It's incredibly

silly

, a goofball lark in the best sense, and tuneful in exactly the same off-Broadway, sorta Sondheim way as Whedon's last musical foray, the

Buffy

musical episode "Once More With Feeling." But most of all, it proves that, even when simply fucking around with his friends, Whedon can still create instantly lovable characters out of the most absurd materials. And if episodes II and III are as good as the first, if the site gets enough hits to make the whole thing economically viable while blurring the line between professional and amateur with the product-quality of the former and the passion of the latter, well, that would all be all kinds of terrific.

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