Dollhouse: Season One


On DVD: 
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Joss meets Lost.  Got the money? Then get the doll of your dreams. The Dollhouse takes volunteers, wipes their minds, and then imprints any ability or memory to custom tailor a doll for you. Need a trained FBI agent to track down a mole? The Dollhouse can deliver that.  Need a dingbat gum chewing sex bot? The Dollhouse can deliver that.  Need a hostage negotiator that won’t get your little girl killed? The Dollhouse can deliver that.

It’s a creative fresh idea for a tv show and makes a nice canvas for creator Joss Whedon to paint a new story each week. He has a great cast to use as paint; Eliza Dushku as the ever changing Echo, the main doll of the show; Harry Lennix as her handler Boyd Langton; Fran Kranz as the “science guy” Topher Brink; Tahmoh Penikett (mmmmm hunky Tahmoh – lots of shots of him shirtless for the ladies) as the white knight Paul Ballard; Enver Gjokaj as Victor (doll #2); Dichen Lachman as Sierra (doll #3); Olivia Williams as the oh so very subtle and oh so VERY twisted Adelle DeWitt, overseer of the Dollhouse; Amy Acker as the sweet huge-hearted Dr. Claire Saunders; Reed Diamond as Laurence Dominic, head of Dollhouse security; and last but not least Miracle Laurie as Mellie, Agent Ballard’s less than perfect love interest neighbor.

Each episode we get just a little bit deeper into the twisted corridors of the Dollhouse. Each episode we learn a little bit more about Echo and the other dolls. Each episode we learn that those in charge of the Dollhouse aren’t the tightest wrapped cookies in the jar. And in each episode we struggle with the concepts of who’s right and who’s wrong. All this doesn’t happen till we get past the crap that is the first 5 episodes. When is Joss going to be able to just write his shows the way he wants? When are the networks going to just back off and let the man create?!?! Here’s the skinny (according to the commentary), Joss created a pilot, simply called Echo, the network wasn’t pleased with it so Joss reshot and created the first 5 episodes. He added a bunch of action and cheesey boat shots in order to please the network. You can really tell that there is something just not right with these episodes. The timing is off. And it all just seems like fluff.  Episode 6, “Man on the Street,” is where you can see the true Joss shining through. Here is where the intricate story twists start to happen. Nothing (and nobody) is as it seems. This is where the fun begins. This is where the painting starts to take shape and change. And it’s a very fun ride all the way to the end of the season. At times it can get a bit heavy or preachy but that just forces you to stop and think. Are the dolls being exploited? Or are they being given a chance to live a life they’ve always wanted to live?

Drawbacks – the actors take a long time to get comfortable with their characters. Fran Kranz (Topher) annoys the ever living frak out of me till about episode 7. He just out right sucks in the first 3 episodes. Whedon has a very unique way of writing quick jabs and Kranz just can’t seem to get the timing right. Eventually he’s able to get it going and once he does he’s a pretty decent character. Another drawback, the storyline is a lot like Lost. It gets ever more elaborate as the season progresses. You can’t just jump in the middle and know what’s going on. There’s a lot going on with each character. They are a small piece in a larger picture. Sometimes this is a good thing (ala Lost) but in this case the story isn’t as crazy bizarre so it’s not as entertaining to try and figure things out. You just end up lost. This is going to lose a lot of people and I’m not sure those that are interested are going to commit the time to keep watching if they happen to miss an episode. We are fickle creatures after all.

So as a whole it’s a great show. Not nearly as good as Whedon’s other ventures (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly) but it’s a whole lot better than some of the drivel that’s on tv these days. Granted his other shows took some time to gel so let’s hope the network gives this show time as well. At least we have a second season to look forward to (scheduled to begin on September 25, 2009). If you haven’t seen it then I highly recommend you grab a copy of the first season (available July 28 in the US) and watch it from beginning to end.

Review by Sheree Cobernus