Glad to see this thread still going. I think HDR suffers somewhat from being a fad. The tools are very accessible so everybody and their mother is making HDRs without really understanding what the technique can do for their photos. I see this on flickr all the time, particularly in the discussion groups, many people seem to think that HDR just is a highly processed image with no shadows and blotchy sky. Yes, I'm exaggerating although this does seem to be the perception among certain people.
But fad or not, the idea is sound and in the right hands can allow a photographer to capture light and shadow more faithfully than would be possible with a single exposure. And if faithful representation isn't their thing, they can capture light and shadow beyond what is perceptible and create a vision of the scene that is in a sense beyond real, at least if one limits what is real to what one can perceive...which is debatable.
None of this discounts the beauty of a single exposure, which allows the photographer to choose to omit details. That, of course, is an art unto itself and one that has a healthy history.