Friday, February 13, 2009

Dollhouse, "Ghost": The right woman for the job?

Brief spoilers for the premiere of "Dollhouse" coming up just as soon as I put my hair in a bun...

I expressed most of my reservations about "Dollhouse" in my column on Wednesday, so I want to expand on a couple of points and then get out of the way and hear what you have to say on the subject. Again, my concerns about the show:

The plausibility factor: Eliza Dushku as the world's highest-priced, programmable hooker? Absolutely. Eliza Dushku as the person you want when your daughter has been kidnapped? Not buying it, no matter how much the FBI agent or Topher the programmer tried to argue differently. The fact that the imprinted personality coincidentally featured memories of a woman who was once abducted by this specific kidnapper both caused its own set of problems and helped save the day, but it made the whole thing even tougher to swallow. A weird choice as the opening case for the series.

The Dushku factor: Hey, look! It's Eliza Dushku in a micro-mini! Hey, look, it's Eliza Dushku with her hair in a bun and a skirt-suit! How versatile! I don't want to be too dismissive of her. I think there are certain things she does very, very well, most of which (sass alternated with vulnerability) Joss Whedon showcased nicely in "Buffy" season three. But she's not the chameleon actress that this role requires, and when she puts on the glasses and the skirt-suit, she doesn't seem like a different person, but like Faith trying to bluff her way through a crisis. The other two episodes I've seen have the imprinted roles falling very much in Dushku's wheelhouse, which is better for plausibility's sake but not so helpful for the larger idea that she starts over from scratch as a new person each week.

Beyond that, I don't want to say more until we get to later episodes. Joss said in our interview and lots of others he's done that he feels like the back half of this season is where the show really finds itself and starts to work. I hope he's right, and that the show is around long enough for us to see those episodes without waiting for the DVD. But in the early going, "Dollhouse" feels less like a show that's been a victim of network goonery than a show that had some basic problems in conception that still need to be addressed.

What did everybody else think?

55 comments:

Anthony Strand said...

I really wanted to love it - in college I was one of those Big Joss Whedon Guys, I own all of Buffy and Angel, I read the post-series comics, I've been known to lament the early death of Firefly - and I really didn't. Of course, this is the pilot, and it's the rare pilot that functions as a great episode (although they do exist. Lost, for example. Or Pushing Daisies.)

But the central conceit just doesn't work very well. I'm hardly the first person to point out that it's going to be hard to care about any of the characters on the show. The "Actives" will essentially be new characters every week, and most of the people working behind the scenes at the Dollhouse are essentially playing God. Except for Echo's handler (watcher?), whose name I didn't catch, I don't see how any of them aren't terrible people at heart.

To me, this is the kind of premise where you gain sympathy for the main character when she escapes a situation like this. Maybe that's where they'll go, but that's not a very good set-up for an ongoing series either.

Besides the problems with the premise, some of the writing was just too awkward. "Ms. Penn" repeatedly talking about how she's done this so many times before stuck out to me (although part of me wants to say "It's supposed to seem like intentionally contrived exposition. Joss knows what he's doing!" But I don't think that's the case), as did the asthma thing being way too convenient. If the Dollhouse is a well-oiled machine, why would they give someone a flaw that could botch up an "engagement" like that?

That's not to say that I hated it. It was well-paced, and there were hints that the cracks starting to show were just that - a story-telling device. But I'll tell ya, that "Grr! Argh!" never seemed like a more appropriate reaction.

Here's hoping it improves, but boy, really not a good start.

Pamela Jaye said...

I liked the white dress.

Is it asthma awareness week? (I've never actually heard of such a week, but I *am* already tired of the "stress-induced" thingie (let me give a retroactive cheer for Sam and his corn allergy)

I don't know the names of any of the characters. I was kind of bored and kind of confused, but it was less annoying than Firefly and I think Eliza is pretty. And there might be a mystery, but they really need to jump on that as fast as they did on The Pretender. After two eps of that, I had two big questions that held me in for a long time.

And yes, you need to feel for the lead. It's just curiosity at the moment.

Why would they let her wander to a place where she could see (someone even more annoying than her being "treated"?)

also, I don't like Amy's scar.
How long till we get an ep written by Jane? I miss hearing what she's had for lunch.

akaartorn said...

Maybe I missed it, but why would anyone choose having their memory and personality erased vs anything short of death?Because really? What's the difference?

toonsterwu said...

Bleh. I watched ... and the lack of commericals kept me following it for the hour as I wanted to see what it was, but eh. I think Amy Acker would've been a better fit for the lead role than Dushku. Dushku trying to show different emotions sort of had me as, eh.

Looks like they are going to drag out the whole "why she agreed to join" thing. Honestly, it might've been better to skip through that opening scene.

It also felt like the show was trying to circumvent criticism with the Tahmoh discussion with his bosses, and with Lennix.

Helo and Harry Lennix look fine for their roles. The only intriguing thing from today's episode was Helo sitting around with dead bodies and presumably, a file sent by the mysterious Alpha.

I think this will be one of those things that I follow the next day. That said, considering Friday's aren't that strong, and considering Joss has a strong following, they may be able to survive to season 2. TTSCC? Not so sure.

Btw, I hated how they promo'd this. So stupid.

Beebo said...

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have Eliza Dushku as my prom date. But if I'm spending that much money, there's at least ten Actives I'd go to first:

10 Summer Glau
09 Olivia Williams
08 Mercedes McNab
07 Kali Rocha
06 Emma Caulfield
05 Charisma Carpenter
04 Robia LaMorte
03 Julie Benz
02 Alyson Hannigan
01 Kate Micucci

Rachel said...

I thought it was pretty...lame (for lack of a better word). And for an episode that they reshot, the dialog was still pretty clunky.

Dushku was kind of a disappointment. Hard to say whether it was her or the underwhelming plot for this episode. And I know this is a dark show, but I hope they let her do some humor because I think she's pretty darn good at that. I did like Olivia Williams quite a bit. And if Tahmoh fights shirtless every week, I won't complain.

I'll probably watch a couple more times to see if they get the hang of it, but it's on a short leash.

Andrew said...

Maybe I missed it, but why would anyone choose having their memory and personality erased vs anything short of death?Because really? What's the difference?

They didn't really go into detail on what sort of agreement they make, but I'm guessing it might be promised that they'll have their original memories restored whenever their terms of service expire. That's just pure speculation of course.

How is it that I had no idea that Reed Diamond was on this show until I saw his name in the credits? Alan, he get anything worthwhile to do in the episodes you've seen?

The Rush Blog said...

Wow! Shows like LOST and DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES have really spoiled the likes of you.

Have we really come to the point in which we expect a new show to wow us or be near perfect upon the first episode? Are we really that spoiled? Have we come to the point that we lack the patience to allow a show to iron out its worst faults and eventually come into its own.

Judging from the comments, it seems like it. How disappointing.

Jenn. said...

You know, I wanted to like this, but wasn't crazy about it. Dushku seemed off for me, and there were some lines there that really grated, which I don't recall ever happening with Whedon's stuff before. (Her handler saying that she'd "met the right guy." Huh?)

Chris the TV Sage said...

Even season ONE of "Tru Calling" was better than that.

Anonymous said...

@The Rush Blog:

I'm reading the same comments you are. Most of them say "This was pretty boring but I'll give it another episode or two." How is that being overly judgmental?

The dialog was clunky and the plot was generic. That may entirely be due to the pilot reshoot requests, but that's an explanation not an excuse. And as Alan and many of the commentators point out, the central conceit of the show demands a great deal of suspension of disbelief and rewards that suspension with central characters that are ciphers by design.

Despite all that, god help me, I'm going to give it a couple of episodes.

toonsterwu said...

The Rush Blog - I'm perfectly fine letting a show develop. I've seen ... and even enjoyed ... my fair share of bad shows that had good pilots and vice versa.

The problem is, for me (as I can't speak for others), where's the catch? The thing that makes you go ... okay, there's something here. In a year where a similar show was already done, bringing Dollhouse out now makes it a bit harder, for me.

So ... the catch is a search for perfection, the next upgrade? Okay ... I can somewhat buy that ... but what is the intent? Is it meant to be a discussion on the society's materialism? Or what?

toonsterwu said...

As I was typing the last post, I was wondering what would make me care about this show. I doubt they would go this route, as it changes the show's focus long run a bit, but ... if Tahmoh was Alpha somehow (after all ... I don't think they said Alpha was active) that could be interesting. It'd take a lot of work to build towards that, but that would intrigue me quite a bit - the "doll" that disagreed with the program, somehow managed to leave clues for himself to piece together after his term was up, in an effort to take down the company.

Chris the TV Sage said...

And my post was, admittedly, a knee-jerk slap back at the Whedonite Blog's tonguelashing. I'll give it another ep or two because my God, that woman is hot... but the plot holes are big enough for brainwashed hotties to sleep in.

and I still say S1 of TC was better. (S2 was WAY better.)

A.H. said...

Are we supposed to be rooting for Helo to close down the whole organization as soon as possible?

Because I am.

These Dollhouse people are huge jerks. They screw up, get their client shot, and then keep their fee *and* the $8 million? They're all hateful, except maybe the dopey handler.

jim treacher said...

Watched every episode of every Whedon show so far.

Liked the doily Dusku was barely wearing.

Liked the fact that Whedon is paying his bills by setting up an acting workshop for a broad who can't act. Because as far as he's concerned, screw FOX. Screw FOX in their FOXholes.

But as far as a show that I want to spend part of my one and only life watching? I say thee nay.

Byron said...

I owe Joss a season of any show he ever wants to make, but I just don't see how this will ever be more than an obligation without some sort of game-changing twist. What on earth is Whedon doing starting a show whose CEILING is Alias?

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Lame. That is all.

I had such high hopes. I loved Buffy & Angel. But Dollhouse is a dud. I was bored after the first 15 minutes. I had to fight the urge to turn the channel. I forced myself to watch the entire episode out of loyalty to Josh Whedon but it only served to confirm my initial impression... this show is awful.

This feels like 90210 all over again. Too much hype - that it never lives up to.

I'm sorry Josh but I won't be watching again. I'm out.

Jason said...

As a big fan of Whedon's other work, I've read so much about this show that I really came in with drastically lowered expectations. As a result, I was surprised. I thought it was okay. Not great, but okay. It's got room to grow, and some of the almost Matrix-like questions of identity have the potential to be interesting. But I agree that this seems like an initial premise that was horribly broken and is in the process of being propped up while the writer tries to figure out a newer, better premise.

Whedon's talented enough to find it, but it remains to be seen if he'll have the time. And I am not really convinced about Eliza Dushku, nor have I ever really been.

dez said...

When does the back half of the season hit? I found the pilot pretty boring, but am willing to give it another shot if the show is going to improve.

Daniel Nguyen said...

I had high hopes for Eliza Dushcute. Even if Dollhouse ended as a fail, I'd still watch it for her sake. On another note, I like how they let us countdown between commercial breaks. SUSPENSE!

Anonymous said...

Eliza Dushku as the person you want when your daughter has been kidnapped?

Especially not in those shoes. Those shoes were stupid.
When she first went to the house, the way she read the lines was like she didn't understand what the words meant. I think it was supposed to be short & clipped, but it came across as "someone wrote out the pronunciation and I'm relaying the words"

pgillan said...

Ditto to the general sentiment, but I have no reservations about giving this a solid season. It was better than the Terminator pilot, and I'm still surprised by how much I grew to like that (though I haven't watched tonight's yet.)

Regarding the actual plot... I can think of two possible scenarios that push the idea of pre-progammed automatons into throwing distance of "suspension of disbelief" territory:
1. You can hire the best safecracker in the world, but you wouldn't be able to wipe his memory afterward. The Dollhouse, theoretically, could give you an truly discrete operative.
2. A real person is always changing and growing. Even from one day to the next, you don't necessarily know how someone will react to a an identical situation, if something major occurs to alter their mood. When the operatives wake up, the same personality will always react in exactly the same way. It might not make them better at their jobs, but it would make them more consistent.

Also, her name is Echo, and they introduced another agent named Sierra. This is just a guess, but I'm willing to bet we'll see a Charlie, a Tango or a Foxtrot in the coming episodes... and didn't the paper at the end say "Alpha?"

Brian said...

was Helo sitting around with dead bodies and presumably, a file sent by the mysterious Alpha.

I believe that is actually Alpha and he will be the serial boogieman for the series.

Antid Oto said...

I'm trying to decide how I'd feel about this show if it weren't The Next Great Joss Whedon Project but just some random sci-fi show whose first episode I happened to catch. By that standard, I think it's a solid B, good enough for me to stick around and see where it goes.

Alf said...

So the dolls really believe they are these people, who were real people, right? Will they go into shock if they see themselves in a mirror? I guess I am confused about the fact that the imprints are of real (former?) people.

Alap said...

Really? No positives, comment-section-round? Reading most of your guys' responses made it sound like you witnessed the most horrible abortion on the face of the earth. Or at least a deadly boring one. I mean, it was simplistic and proceduralish, yeah, but I still thought it was pretty entertaining. Also, I read in a few reviews that the episode was devoid of the trademark Whedon funny. But I don’t view Whedon’s dialogue as “funny” so much as witty and syntactically inventive, and for its relatively sober tone, this episode had plenty of that.

Plus, no one can find it in their heart to admit that scene where Sierra guns-ablazed through the doors was pretty cool as hell?

And chalk it up to different strokes if you want, but I didn’t think Dushku’s acting was all that awful. I bought her as a blank slate, I bought her as a hostage negotiator, and I kinda liked how you could see a thread of the same person through each of her personas. But hey, I could just be an easy sell. I’m one of those people who think Toni Collette on “The United States of Tara” makes the differences between her alters a little too drastic.

What irritates me most is that so many are dismissing the show as near-irredeemable just because it's got an unconventionally structured premise. But isn't that exactly what we value new television for: challenging narrative conventions and telling us stories in a way we doubted possible? Maybe it is an actual flaw of the show that because the actives are wiped clean each episode, it’s impossible for the viewer to form any connection to the characters besides sympathy. But maybe that emotional distance is exactly the theme Whedon’s trying to explore, the big question he’s trying to make this show ask: “Are memory and personality all that unites human beings, or is there something greater?”

Which I find doubly interesting since all of Whedon’s previous shows relied so heavily on the accessibility of their characters to engage their viewers—the savvy dialogue, the inner pathos, the emotional arcs that allowed us to relate. But here’s a premise bent on severing that viewer-character link, or at least its traditional mode—the Dolls aren’t supposed to form attachments and aren’t supposed to emotionally develop. It’s like he’s challenging himself to make “Dollhouse” lovable for reasons other than the ones that made us love his previous stories. No more quirky Willow to put you at ease. No more cocksure Mal to pump your fist to. Just a bunch of naked, blank faces showering silently next to one another. And you’re gonna enjoy it anyway.

A thousand sorries for the longness of this post. I know it sounds like I’m hailing Whedon as some kind of TV messiah and I admit I’m watching this show pretty acolytely. Still, I watch a loooot of TV, and I really, honestly think he’s one of a handful of TV writers whom you can feel confident putting your thinking caps on with. Hence, the hilarious amount of time I put into writing all this.

belinda said...

Well. It's hard to say. I didn't like the premiere epiosde of Buffy or Angel (and Firefly, but to a much lesser degree.) And of course, I've grown to love all of them.

So, in that respect, I'm not sure how relevant my feelings are on the show. But the things you've pointed out are definitely things I have problems with, most notably the versatility of Dushku.

Though, as with most Whedon shows and characters, I almost always eat my words. So, we'll see.

I just hope FOX will run the entire run of at least the first season.

Hillary said...

But isn't that exactly what we value new television for: challenging narrative conventions and telling us stories in a way we doubted possible?
If it's well done, entertaining, and makes me want to come back for more. Just being "different" isn't enough. And, honestly, I don't think this story is being told in a way I "doubted possible" - it's the same structural convention as almost any other hour long drama out there. Other than the central concept (which is the plot, not the manner in which that plot is conveyed), it could have been an episode of "Charlie's Angels."

The type of TV you are talking about, which take narrative convention and turn them around, are shows like "Lost" with its flashbacks/forwards/wherevers and "Arrested Development" with its narration and punchlines that could take weeks or seasons to play out, "Family Guy" with its quick flashes, and even "How I Met Your Mother" with its constantly changing structure (flashbacks, forwards, retelling of the same story in different POVs, etc.) Or the backwards story on "Seinfeld" - now that was someone telling me a compelling story in a way I thought impossible.

OldDarth said...

Intrigued enough to watch more. The episode seemed muted compared to other Whedon works. Where is the snappy dialogue? The biggest sin - no humour.

As easy as Eliza is on the eyes her acting chops to handle the assumed vast array of personalities afforded must be questioned.

toonsterwu said...

Ah ... you may be right Brian. For some reason, I thought that was Helo sitting around with the dead bodies, but Alpha makes more sense ... looked like Helo to me for some reason ...unless Helo and Alpha are one and the same!

Karen said...

My motto is always "In Joss We Trust," but I have to say that creed was put sorely to the test last night.

I didn't mind Dushku so much. But the structure of the episode was confusing--especially in the opening 15-20 minutes--and the pace was incredibly slow and uncompelling. I enjoy being challenged, but the work can't be all on my side.

I, too, missed the trademark snap of Whedon's dialogue. I didn't need it to be snarky and funny; I just wanted it to pop. The closest it came was in Penikett's scene with the Russian in the bathroom, but otherwise it was pretty flat and uninspiring.

None of the characters really stepped up and grabbed me. Topher had a spark of interest but he, too, was mostly generic. As was--as so many people have pointed out--the plot itself.

Because it's Joss, I will continue to watch and hope it grows on me. But I am not impressed with the claim that it really gets going in the back half--that's irresponsible teevision, if you ask me. And that's not a phrase I associate with Joss Whedon.

Teev said...

I agree with Alan - it was a weird first job. There are hostage negotiators available in the regular world, why would the dad have to go to the secret organization (whose number he probably got from a business associate who said they have the best hookers ever) to get one? I'm willing to buy the whole she can be an assassin or a fake girlfriend thing (although it seems a bit like going to a resaurant that has Chinese and Italian food and does neither well) but the hostage negotiator thing seemed off - even though I'm totally able to suspend my disbelief for the whole brain wipey thing.

I love Joss Whedon but this doesn't have that Whedon
flavor I've come to expect. Of course I'll stick with it, even though I find Eliza Dushku annoying (note to Joss, shirtless Tamhoh more than makes up for the Dushku).

p.s. Actors, shake the damn inhaler before you use it! I have asthma and this is a total pet peeve of mine - no one on TV or in movies ever shakes the inhaler.

jim treacher said...

Wow! Shows like LOST and DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES have really spoiled the likes of you.

Have we really come to the point in which we expect a new show to wow us or be near perfect upon the first episode?


I'd settle for somewhat compelling. This was pretty boring, I didn't care about any of the characters, and I couldn't quote you a single line of dialogue (which has to be a first for an episode of a Whedon show). Plus, it's kind of ridiculous to set up an acting showcase for somebody who can't act. But I guess that's just the likes of me.

Maura said...

I'll give a shot to anything that comes from Whedon's brain. Also, I have a huge girl crush on Dushku, so I'll watch her in pretty much anything.

I didn't love this, and I'm a little fuzzy on how the Actives operate. Are they always aware that they're eventually heading for a treatment, or does a switch turn on when a mission is over? Also, it seems improbable that this was the first time a personality trait backfired the way it did in this episode. And how do they transfer those personas, especially the persona of some who's dead? I don't usually get that caught up in nitpicky stuff, but some of it was kind of glaring.

I agree there could be a problem connecting with a character who is either a robot/zombie or a different persona every week. Some back story on Echo might help, but I would hate to see the show get mired in too many flashbacks in order to accomplish that.

Eh. Whatever. As has already been pointed out, the first season of Buffy wasn't great either, and Angel also had a spotty first season. I liked it enough to stick with it.

Also, Jim Treacher, it's completely disrespectful to call Eliza Dushku a "broad". "Dame" or "tomato" is much more fitting.

DonBoy said...

Also, her name is Echo, and they introduced another agent named Sierra. This is just a guess, but I'm willing to bet we'll see a Charlie, a Tango or a Foxtrot in the coming episodes... and didn't the paper at the end say "Alpha?

Given that we saw five people in those bed/container things, I presumed that the others are Bravo, Charlie, and Delta. But someone was called "Sierra"? I missed that.

The Rush Blog said...

I'd settle for somewhat compelling. This was pretty boring, I didn't care about any of the characters, and I couldn't quote you a single line of dialogue (which has to be a first for an episode of a Whedon show). Plus, it's kind of ridiculous to set up an acting showcase for somebody who can't act.


Have you ever seen the first episode of FRIENDS? Even after fourteen years, I find it self-conscious and very boring. If I had judged the entire series on that episode alone, I would have ended up missing something special . . . at least for me.

If you're not interested in the series' premise, that's one thing. I would even question why you had bothered to watch it in the first place. But if the premise had sparked your interest, why judged the entire series on one episode?

Like I had asked before, is everyone that impatient these days?

Anthony Foglia said...

I think we both feel the same way, Alan. I like Whedon's previous stuff, but this idea sounded terrible. The star is a different character every week, and she isn't exactly known for her versatility, and a premise that doesn't make much sense.

Yet, it almost worked. Whedon didn't silence my complaints, but the premise was interesting. Whedon did seem to think this out. The rules for the imprinting make enough sense to work dramatically.

(The convenient coincidences between Echo, her character and the kidnapping was almost too much.)

There are still a few issues: How could Echo just wander into someone else's imprinting? Where does Sierra think Echo has gone when Echo's on a mission, and vice versa? But I can buy the inner workings of the Dollhouse.

I still don't understand why anyone would hire them though.

PS: Did anyone else find this exchange funny:

"The only way to imprint a human being with a personality--"
"--which we've yet to prove possible."
"is to remove their own."

Really? You're arguing your case about requirements for a process you don't even know is possible? Why can't you imagine temporary imprinting?

I find bad logic funny.
that when the detective was getting chewed out,

jim treacher said...

Have you ever seen the first episode of FRIENDS?

No, nor any of the episodes after that.

If you're not interested in the series' premise, that's one thing. I would even question why you had bothered to watch it in the first place.

Because I've liked almost everything else Whedon has ever done, and I was curious about him returning to FOX after the way they treated Firefly.

And it's not the premise I'm uninterested in; it's the execution of that premise. I could put up with the dialogue if the acting were better, or vice versa. But not both.

Like I had asked before, is everyone that impatient these days?

How about instead of blaming us for not liking it, you tell us why you did?

Pamela Jaye said...

I agree with Chris the TV Sage
Tru Calling was better. It was good enough till the evil leaper... i mean Jason Priestly showed up. and now i get creeped out whenever I see him.

Mica said...

I liked the episode. Oh, it wasn't great, but it was good. Hum...decent enough. Of course I would watch it even if I hadn't liked it, because it has Eliza (and I love her) and Amy, but I liked so it's better for me.
But I'm not blind. I see the problems. Even though I love Eliza I don't think she's versatile enough for this role. I also thought it was difficult to conect with the characters in the first episode, but I'm sure things will get better later.
I'm waiting for the little things aside the 'engagements'. The Alpha thing. Echo's previous life. Paul (is it Tahmoh character's name?) investigation.
I think it's too soon to say it won't work.

Anonymous said...

The only show I liked that Whedon created was the movie "Serenity," which prompted me to backtrack watch "Firefly."

Both movie and series had a special charm with a cast that related and interacted on a sophisticated must-watch level IMO.

"Dollhouse" was simply derivative and lacked chemistry on every level. Not very interesting.

Sorry but you asked.

Maura said...

@The Rush Blog. I think why someone immediately dislikes a television show can be too subjective to put into words that can satisfy someone else. I think it's true that we can sometimes be too impatient, but I know that I have to find something to hold my attention in order to not write it off after the first episode.

In the case of Dollhouse, I want to see if Whedon can make me care about a character who changes her personality every week. (Also, Eliza and my aforementioned girl crush.) If it turns out to be a plot driven show, as opposed to being character driven, I can be OK with that. But the plots have to be damned good.

We all want different things from the shows we watch. There are a lot of things wrong with Dollhouse. That's really obvious when die hard Whedon fans are criticizing it. For a lot of people, the problems far outweigh the positives. It shouldn't be too hard to understand.

dark tyler said...

Whedon's pilots were always among the lesser episodes of his series, and going into this one knowing that there were massive birth pains, with Whedon himself asking to give it some time (the back half of the season is where the show supposedly kicks into gear), I don't know that it should matter too much if I wasn't blown away.

I expected the worst, I hoped for the best, it came down somewhere in the middle. I would never even entertain the thought of judging a Whedon show from the first batch of episodes, even if they were disastrous. Which this one wasn't.

Pamela Jaye said...

Helo, Alpha? I didn't get most of the names (and this is a problem I frequently had with The West Wing) but i feel at least two guys look too much alike. And Davina (one of the few names I caught) at first I tfought she was a flashback of Echo

Bride in Exile said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ariadne said...

It was okay but nothing special. The only part I thought was truly original was the intercutting of the fight scene with Helo being interviewed by his bosses, and how the fight was a metaphor for how the interview was going.

But that might be too symbolic for TV audiences these days. I'm very leery about TV shows lately, and especially shows on Fox. Anything intelligent seems headed straight for the dump. They dropped New Amsterdam (which I really liked) as well as Firefly and while House remains, it's turned into The O.C. and dropped down about two decades in maturity and IQ points.

I'll give Dollhouse a couple more chances and see if Whedon finds his footing. At the least, it's a chance to see Tahmoh Penikett again.

Anonymous said...

Alan, I was wondering if you interview Joss Whedon sometime in the future, could you ask him about the inspiration for Dollhouse? I'm a big fan of Mamoru Oshii's "Ghost in the Shell" series. The plot for the the sequel to this anime is called "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence." The plot involves androids used as sex dolls for the pleasure of powerful men. Androids in this series have faint memories, echoes, if you will, that they call a "ghost." Just wanted to see if anyone else noticed the similarities.

Waterland said...

First of all, I will live and die a Browncoat. I love BSG and Tahmoh Penikett. But...I took into account that any new show deserves the first few episodes to get it's footing and I still can't see past Eliza Dushku's (VERY) limited acting range.
I am afraid Joss Whedon has created a vanity project for a friend, one who really can't act.
Give me re-runs of Firefly any day.

Geri said...

I watched this show because of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately I couldn´t even make it through the first episode. Normally I try to at least watch the first three episodes just to give the show a chance but I was so bored and irritated by the first half that I decided to give up on it instantly.

There´s no humor of any kind, I was distracted by all the characters as I wasn´t able find anything that could make them likeable a bit. Really sorry, but this show is just bad. This show won´t make it through the first season. It will probably just a couple of episodes until it gets axed.

Joseph said...

I have the exact same problems you had Alan - I believe Dushku will be the series' biggest liability. She is like a Caucasian Michelle Rodriguez - does one thing very well (vulnerable bad ass) but that's about it.

Having said that, I enjoyed the pilot enough to keep watching. Joss hasn't created a bad TV series yet, and I think he certainly deserves the benefit of the doubt.

simbo said...

I dunno, the abuse Dushku seems to be getting seems pretty undeserved - I thought she pulled off all three personalities she was required to quite successfully (the opening one, which seemed like a stealth tribute to the "faith-on-a-motorcyle" spinoff that never was (yeah, that was bowling right down the middle of her range); the "neuter" personality which has a wonderful tone of just-slightly-off; and the hostage negotiator (who came across as in turn professional AND vulnerable as required).

It is true that this is quite an experimental series in some ways - the lead is not really an identification figure, and it's basically designed to genre-shift constantly. And ... yeah, the ratings probably suggest this is DOA, really...

But it's still a very worthwhile experiment and I think it pays off just fine.

tabernacle said...

Alan, thanks for all this _Dollhouse_ material. The pilot didn't fill me with confidence (about the show's commercial prospects) or leave me too eager to invest in it emotionally, but after reading the three pieces you posted, I'm a little more hopeful. It puts me at ease to see that the the issues are known [how to invest in the character of Echo if she is either (1) imprinted with a personality that will soon disappear OR (2) in her blank-slate mode; the pointlessness of having an FBI agent always _almost_ find the Dollhouse--even if he's played with much badassery by a Fightin' Agathon; the amount of disbelief that we are required to suspend re demand for Actives; and so on]. Next thing we know, it's five seasons later--or a single season and a movie--and we love all these characters, so it pays to give the whole thing a chance.

jenmoon said...

I think I'm reserving final judgment until the series goes into the back set of episodes. The pilot is...weirdly set up and awkward and I also thought, "That's not how you use an inhaler." But on the other hand, the show was so obviously monkeyed with by Fox, I don't feel like I can judge where it's gonna go later after the paws come off at the moment.

The Rush Blog said...

The problem is, for me (as I can't speak for others), where's the catch? The thing that makes you go ... okay, there's something here. In a year where a similar show was already done, bringing Dollhouse out now makes it a bit harder, for me.

So ... the catch is a search for perfection, the next upgrade? Okay ... I can somewhat buy that ... but what is the intent? Is it meant to be a discussion on the society's materialism? Or what?



Why don't you just be patient and find out . . . instead of asking me for quick answers?

God, this is such an impatient society!