Monday, March 09, 2009

Dollhouse: In Which Joss Whedon Lives Down to the Hype

I finally got around to watching Dollhouse, the new TV series by Joss Whedon. Normally I would be all over a new show by Whedon since I really enjoyed "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel" and especially "Firefly," But "Dollhouse" got off to a rough start due to it's sketchy scheduling on Friday night and some mixed reviews that led me to be a little bit lax on watching the first episode-- something I kind of regret now. "Dollhouse" stars Eliza Dushku," who is mostly known as Faith from "Buffy." She plays Echo, an agent or "active" of the Dollhouse. Actives are people who have agreed to have their memories completely wiped so that they can be imprinted with false memories that enable them to be the perfect agent for any job. The Dollhouse is run by a mysterious agency and it isn't legal. FBI agent Paul Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett) has somehow discovered the existence of the Dollhouse and, despite the derision of his fellow agents, pursues anything leading toward proof of the Dollhouse with a single-minded determination. Actives can be hired for virtually any job as long as the client is willing to pay. The jobs can vary from a girlfriend for hire to a hostage negotiator; the actives can be programmed at need. Before I saw the show I was kind of expecting a Whedonesque version of "Alias." I should have known better. In fact, I went into the show with a lot of low expectations and that could be why I liked the show more than I expected. I thought Dushku would come across as a softer version of Faith and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I didn't see any Faith coming through. I have read some reviews of the show that stated that Dushku wasn't believable in the role, but I found myself willing to go along. I will say this though; if I had only seen the first episode I would be as critical as the other reviewers. The first episode has so many gaping holes that you spend more time questioning the feasibility of the show rather than just enjoying the ride-- which is the result of some episode shuffling done prior to the show's premier. But if you hang in until the second episode most of the stranger plot points are given some sort of explanation-- like why the actives shower together. Okay, that one still doesn't make complete sense. At any rate, "Dollhouse" is in many respects what you'd expect from Joss Whedon; an unusual show with a very dark, twisted side. Whedon jumps right into the deep end of the moral pond by immediately addressing the ethical aspects of overriding someone's free will. We're shown how the Dollhouse keeps the actives malleable and compliant and it is disturbing. There is also the twist of a rouge active who appears to be obsessed with Echo. Dushku is as gorgeous as I've ever seen her and very likable and the rest of the cast, including Amy Acker from "Angel," shows hope of gelling into a solid group. Time will tell. I plan on giving it a chance and hopefully Fox will too. I always like to see what Whedon comes up with.

6 comments:

Anna said...

I was a bit confused with the first episode, but I'm enjoying it now. It's great seeing the Mutant Enemy/GRR ARG at the end of each ep. LOL!

SQT said...

Anna

I agree. I'm glad I watched more than one episode. I'm already getting sucked in.

Charles Gramlich said...

I wondered how this was. I haven't watched it but it looked intriguing.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

It looks good. Hope it comes to Britain.

Carl V. said...

By and large the group I hang out with is really disappointed with the show. I have yet to watch an episode, which makes me a bad Whedon fan. I guess I cannot get too excited yet about a show that seems destined to be canceled before its time. I hope I'm wrong and that each episode gets better and better, but I'm not crossing my fingers.

SQT said...

Carl

I've only watched 3 episodes so I can't say for sure where I think the show is going. It's very uneven so far. The first one was okay but full of holes, the second was good and filled in some of the gaps, the third one was kind of ridiculous. I wrote the review before watching the third episode so I was more pro on the show than I am now. But if the next few shows are better the show might have a decent chance. It isn't as good as "Firefly" by a long shot though, so odds are it'll be cancelled.