The Dollhouse Cometh!

So, regardless of their shaky past Joss Whedon and Fox have successfully (too many letters?) aired Dollhouse!

This new Whedon-created, ex-Buffy-actress-starring show is all about a little lady (Buffy alumnus Eliza Dushku), called Echo, who works for an agency which uses its small number of operatives to perform different kinds of missions for different kinds of people, all of whom have FAR too much money. The operatives have had their minds wiped, and then are implanted with an amalgam of memories and personality traits in order to make them as perfect as possible for the job they must do (be it as an escort (both kinds), an assassin, a deal-broker or someones love of a lifetime). Unfortunately, Echo begins experiencing past memories; after so many mind-wipes and uploads it appears as though her own internal wiring is going haywire. Meanwhile, a suited but definately not marine-booted, Tahmoh Penikett (now driving a car around his FBI beat rather than riding shotgun in a Raptor) is an FBI agent trying to uncover the secrets of the Dollhouse – to date he has harassed a senator and a judge and has annoyed enough people that his superiors have pretty much told him to pack it all in.

The Dollhouse Cast: Tahmoh Penikett, Enver Gjokaj, Eliza Dushku, Dichen Lachman, Fran Kranz, Olivia Williams and Harry J. Lennix

The Dollhouse Cast: Tahmoh Penikett, Enver Gjokaj, Eliza Dushku, Dichen Lachman, Fran Kranz, Olivia Williams and Harry J. Lennix

The series has opened to mixed reviews, some people think it’s exciting, others feel it’s a bit dull. Some say that Echo doesn’t work as the protagonist as we have to follow her through multiple personalities and never really get to see her true self, and others have stated that one of the series’ best points is that it makes us (the viewer) feel something for this person and relate to her regardless of the fact that she is a different person each time we see her.

Well, I’ve seen the first episode and I think it’s pretty good.

It is no Firefly. There is very little humour, the characters aren’t as fun to watch, the plot is a little thin and we are asked to take far too much on faith rather than having had proof that the show is telling us the truth. Dushku is pretty good, but, due to the fact that she is playing so many personalities at once (there are four different personalities in the first episode alone (though two of these are technically the same one, if you see the show you’ll know what I mean)) you really don’t get a sense of who we are supposed to be relating to and feeling for. Tahmoh is brilliant, his performance stood out above all of the others in the show, but there was far too little of him. His character’s frustration with and passion for his job really comes out and I certainly felt more than a little compassion for him during his all-too-brief scenes. The support cast are very good also, but they seem quite 2D – they have no backgrounds, no exposition and they all seem only to serve one purpose. Even Echo’s handler – who, we are possibly supposed to believe, feels something more than he should for Echo and goes beyond the norm when it comes to protecting her and looking after her – is alarmingly bland and single-minded. The grey area beyond good and evil which is such a prominent feature in most of Whedon’s other shows, specials, films and comics is distinctly absent and it’s presence is greatly missed. The characters seem to be either good or evil and, even when the baddies seem as though they are going to turn out with a conscience and do the right thing, someone comes along and blows them away before they really get the chance to show their other face.

However, the story is compelling, the concept is very intriguing and, we must remember, this first episode is only a pilot. It’s a tester. And, while some pilots lead the way for the show and are one of the best examples of no-strings TV show making, some show what is bad about an idea, what improvements must be made and what changes are necessary to make the show a success. Dollhouse was the second.

I’m going to go and watch the second episode now, and, hopefully, the makers will have seen the flaws and improved upon them.

I’ll let you know.

Cheers!

NBM

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~ by ninjabreadmen on February 28, 2009.

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