Guess what, kids? The world of web series has evolved to the point where shows are parodying one another. Well, not exactly parodying. But when Legend of Neil screened the first half of its second season last night in Los Angeles for cast, crew and press, it concluded with an epic 9-minute musical episode. And that musical was kicked off by Dr. Horrible star Felicia Day, playing a naughty fairy in love with the hapless Neil, saying, “Oh, I’m not much for online musicals,” before launching into her first number.
The musical episode is just one of the many delights to be found in the new season’s first three episodes, which begin on Atom.com July 27. The adventures of a schlub transported into the magical land of Hyrule and mistaken for its hero, Neil continues to find its comedy in the mockery of The Legend of Zelda tropes, including Neil’s attempt to earn some money by playing Money-Making Game (a puzzle from the original game reimagined as a crooked gambling ring). Writers Sandeep Parikh and Tony Janning (who also plays Neil) also remain committed to tweaking the world of the game with a hilariously adolescent mindset — watching a man in elf ears curse out his loincloth-wearing opponents is perhaps not the most sophisticated of humor, but it’s downright hilarious.
On a technical level, Neil continues to measure up as one of the web’s more tightly produced shows. And watching the episodes on a big screen meant getting a closer look at the surprisingly detailed and clever production design, which includes many low-fi solutions to recreating the world of the game. (A highlight being a cave door that “magically” opens.)
As for the musical episode, none of the songs are as memorable as the Whedon-crafted score for Dr. Horrible, but what they lack in sophistication they make up for in profane hilarity — I’d posit it’s the filthiest musical this side of Avenue Q. One favorite lyric, from the Old Man (Mike Rose)’s ode to Neil: “Instead of Obi-Wan/You’ve got Obi-Two/But unlike Dumbledore/I’m not gay for you.” Oh, and here’s a fun bit of trivia — the singing voice of still-imprisoned Princess Zelda (Angie Hill) was dubbed by Groupie #1/Dr. Horrible co-writer Maurissa Tancharoen.
What last night’s screening revealed is that while some series can barely sustain more than three episodes, Neil is already well on its way to being a lasting comedy powerhouse, with potential for not just a solid season two, but a season three. (Which is part of Parikh’s plan — at the post-screening party, he explained that he’s aiming for a trilogy approach to the project.) Given the number of one-off hits this medium sees, it’s reassuring to see a real franchise emerge.