Last night marked the first broadcast TV airing of the web sensation Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. I didn't watch it. Sorry CW network, but I've already got the whole thing memorized from watching it repeatedly online and on DVD. But I loved seeing everybody from Felicia Day to my geeky friends tweeting about it — that made me want to watch it again. On my computer.
If the weak ratings are any indication, a lot of other people were doing the same thing. But this was Dr. Horrible! Created by Joss Whedon, the guy whose movie Avengers broke every box office record in the history of boxes and records! How could it have bad ratings, when it's already become a so influential that it's practically a pop culture legend?
I think the answer is that Dr. Horrible is one of the first examples of what pop culture will look like 50 years from now, in a post-TV era. The series didn't need TV to be successful. The CW airing Dr. Horrible was kind of like when a book gets a fancy, expensive edition, or a movie is released in a box set with all those extras. Watching it on TV is like listening to The Decemberists on vinyl. Sure, it gave a few die-hard fans a thrill, but it wasn't the moment when the show reached its broadest audience.
I love TV, and the medium is so ubiquitous now that it's hard to accept that it will one day go the way of the record player. Like paper books, TV shows are going to become a dying art. Dr. Horrible is just the thin end of the wedge.