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July 24 2008

Singing in the Pane. Philadelphia Weekly columnist asks the musical question, why aren't there more shows on TV like Dr. Horrible?

Time to dust off that old spec script you've got laying around for Cop Rock?

You have to be careful when an artist starts to find their niche after writing music for so long without stopping. A rut forms. Sparse musicals is a good thing. Constantly churning out a thing a week turns out some flounders (though sometimes it's good to work out those experimental artistic muscles... but too much ends in a doctor's bill and possibly surgery).
I love musicals, so the more musicals the better as far as I'm concerned. But they'd have to be good musicals. A bad musical is very bad indeed.

Wait - A Dr. Horrible graphic novel is coming soon?

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2008-07-24 21:53 ]
I didn't watch it, but wasn't Viva Laughlin a musical? I think after a failure so spectacular, the networks will probably be edgy about trying something like that again.

Read somewhere that Ben Edlund was going to help write Dr. Horrible before he dropped out. Personally I'd love to watch a musical TV show with Edlund in charge. "Smile Time" is probably my favorite Angel episode, and I haven't seen anything written by him which I haven't liked.
*points to Flight of the Conchords*

Sure, it's not a musical in the traditional sense, but it's definitely a musical TV show. It's also entirely brilliant.
I just had a horrible flashback to when they "forgot" to list Joss' OMWF in the musical category.

Sorry, those wounds heal slowly. I'm hoping that the success of "Dr. Horrible" may begin to change this. Glass half-full!
I didn't watch it, but wasn't Viva Laughlin a musical?


Technically.
Yes "Viva Laughlin" exactly fit the format the columnist is asking for. I think it only aired one single episode before being cancelled, I also seem to believe that the network had also spent money on completely reshooting the pilot, So i agree with Dym, it's going to be a long, long time before a musical type show makes it onto network television again.(also I'm not sure a 22 ep. per season format would suit the musical format, even with "Flight Of The Conchords" they seemed to burn through most of the "A" material song wise, in the first half of the season.)
The only problem I see with a weekly musical is trying to come up with a whole seasons worth of songs that are catchy and move the story along. But I'd love to see more Dr. Horrible.
Doesn't the recently renewed ABC series Eli Stone regularly feature musical numbers? (albeit in visionary form, ala former pop icon George Michael).

I'm wondering if the issue with "musicals" on TV isn't so much a problem with the music itself, but the stories that go around it. As in the case of Viva Laughlin, the writers/producers seem to have spent all their time getting the songs right, but forgot to make the connective fibre interesting enough to keep people watching.
I would be very happy if they did just one song per episode. It's like the songs that they did for Pushing Daisies last year, which is the best show EVER!!! Every time they got to a new song I was so excited to hear it because it was an infrequent occurance, and it only happened when it suited the story. This is the best way to do it in my opinion because it gets the fans and the audience excited, and it doesn't exhaust us with music overkill.
" It's like the songs that they did for Pushing Daisies last year, which is the best show EVER!!!"

Yeah, Pushing Daisies was good. :) Can't really remember the songs though. I actually own the DVD set (for some reason it was released in the UK before the US?! crazy times), but I haven't had chance to watch it again yet.
'Viva Laughlin' was just plugging in commercial pop songs into a plot, which is really not why people love 'Doctor Horrible', OMWF, or any other musical where the lyrics actually further the plot. I don't think anyone could crank out a weekly show with great music and lyrics. Would unrelated musicals by different composers work? I'm guessing it would be pretty uneven, so that the better episodes would be lost in the mediocrity of the rest. In my opinion really good musicals always stand alone as something special and can never be churned out on assembly line/mass produced.
'Viva Laughlin' was a pale, pale imitation of it's British forerunner. It was based on 'Blackpool' starring David Tennant, and had characters burst into song when appropriate to the plot - not as a replacement to the plot. They weren't original songs (an example is 'Boy with a thorn in his side' by The Smiths) but they acted as a soundtrack (just as they would do in a regular show/movie) with the characters singing behind the original songs... just enough to hear them. 'Viva Loughlin' took an excellent technique and made it crap.

'Blackpool' also only had 6 episodes, so the format didn't get old and worn out. I doubt it could have sustained viewer interest if the format had gone for 20+ weeks.
Doesn't anyone remember "Cop Rock"? It was short-lived and uneven, but it had a couple of really memorable numbers. Then there was the series version of "Fame". (Perhaps neither was as song-intense as Dr. Horrible or OMWF, though.)
When I first saw the article title I thought it was a mistake, since 'Singing in the Pain' seemed somehow more apropos to Dr. Horrible.;)
Bleh to Viva Laughlin and love to Pushing Daisies. Seeing more musicals on TV would make me quite happy but they have a big hurdle to overcome, so many immediately turn up the nose when they hear the word musical. Which is one of the reasons I loved Pushing Daisies just sneaking a musical number in all unexpected like. I think any show that billed itself as nothing but a musical would face serious challenges gaining mainstream acceptance.

Speaking of musicals did anyone see Mamma Mia? Cause the casting of Pierce Brosnan just had me shaking my head - I hear being able to sing helps with you know being in a musical...
Great article, but why are so many people calling him Mr. Hammer instead of Capt Hammer?

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