Whenever a good idea comes along, it doesn't take much time for people to claim they thought it up first. That seems to be the case with Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog, the Joss Whedon-created miniseries that streamed online last weekend and is now available on iTunes. Spout reports that legions of commenters calling themselves the Army of Toy Soldiers have been pummeling the site with complaints that Dr. Horrible is a direct rip-off of Dr. Steel, an online show that's several years the senior of Whedon's program. Wired spoke to Dr. Horrible co-writer Mauria Tancharoen, who said they've never heard of Dr. Steel, but don't mind that it exists. The Toy Soldiers, however, appear to be gearing up for a confrontation, possibly one that will go down this week at Comic Con.
Whatever. Dr. Steel offers plenty of entertainment value in its own right, and it does feature a maniacal supervillain with a catchy singing voice (see above). But it also contains more razzle-dazzle weirdness than plot, and Dr. Horrible is pretty much a straightforward narrative. One Toy Soldier member has argued that if they don't speak out, their silence will imply that Dr. Steel stole its concept from Dr. Horrible. That logic holds up -- but either way, we're dealing with two very separate programs here. If anything, the immediate exposure of Dr. Horrible can only help Dr. Steel gain more attention. Once noticed, people should be able to tell the difference.