Dollhouse Review

Yeah, I am a Joss Whedon fan-boy, but I just finished watching both seasons of Dollhouse.  I will say that my expectations were low -- I was sort of expecting a revamped Alias with various weekly missions, with the highlight of having Eliza Dushku rather than Jennifer Garner.

The first 3-5 episodes were entertaining but really fell right in line with my expectations.  After that, the show got much better.  As a whole, the entire show is like a long essay on the banality of evil.

The pace gets a bit crazed at the very end, but that was because Whedon working in three or four years of planned plot development in half a season when he found out the show was being cancelled.  A couple of other random notes -- Whedon works in a fresh high-tech take on zombies (really, it makes sense in context) in the season-ending episodes.  We also get a couple of guest appearances from the new first lady of sci-fi TV, Summer Glau.



  1. Brian:

    If you read interviews with the cast and crew that came out around the 3rd or 4th episode, you'll see most of them say the first 5 episodes sucked because Fox tried to control the direction too much. It practically became their marketing campaign that everyone should stick around through at least episode 6 when it got better.,24418/

    "Honestly, yes. I understand it from a business perspective, and from Fox’s view, but at the same time, we’ve now done 13 episodes, and people have said that the show took off once they finally realized that Joss is best off left alone to do his thing. That happens around episode six—six through 13 are just extraordinary. I love one, two, three, four, and five, but Joss’ first script that he did after the pilot is number six, which is called “Man On The Street,” and it is just unbelievable. From that point on, the world unfolds in Joss’ way, with Joss’ speed, and it’s really remarkable." -- Eliza Dushku

  2. Josh:

    One of the greatest things, to me, about Dollhouse, was the discovery that Enver Gjokaj is an absolutely phenomenal actor.

  3. Keith Casey:

    If you're a Joss fanboy, you should check out a movie some friends of mine made:

    It's a sequel to the official movie and was blessed by Joss, the studio, and some of the original cast.. Joss, et al have even called it canonical and included it in a timeline/history writeup that is underway now. They even got the composer that wrote the Firefly opening song to write some of their stuff.

    When they presented it at SXSW last month, a guy in the audience got up, introduced himself as the Visual Director for the show & movie and said "What you guys have done here is awesome." The entire room just sat there staring. It was awesome. :)

  4. IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society:

    > One of the greatest things, to me, about Dollhouse, was the discovery that Enver Gjokaj is an absolutely phenomenal actor.

    Indeed. That whole s2 scene where he becomes 'Kiki' is downright awesome. I really wish the nets/studios had sense enough to use him more. I've only seen him in one thing, offhand, since DH ended.

    What impressed me about the show, really, more than anything else, was s1e10, "Haunted", which showed that Whedon really, truly saw and understood many of the secondary and tertiary ramification of this technology. Heinlein was the only author who did this consistently that I know of. But most writers and creators don't really touch on such things at all.

    For those of you who don't know that of which I'm speaking --

    An author writing about automobiles as of 1905 might have predicted that they would replace horses. That's a "primary" effect of automobiles.

    A more subtle, and secondary effect would be that the average person would become divorced from horses, and most people would rarely, if ever, do anything at all connected with horses. Horses are basically insignificant to society these days.

    The tertiary effect, though, would be to realize that automobiles, with their substantially greater range, would have an effect on sexual mores and practices, by allowing individuals to escape the confines of "people they know" -- with autos, you can more easily travel to somewhere else where no one really knows you, and act in a manner that would have had people gossiping about you in your home town. You no longer have to fear the repercussions of that gossip, so your behavior can be different with the auto than without it.

    With Haunted, it was quite clear that Whedon really realized what his postulated tech was fully capable of.

  5. James Bradley:

    Or, the tertiary effect of the automobile is to allow folks to get out from under the local society's characterizations and views of them based on past conduct, family conduct, and status, among others. In effect, one may go where no one really knows him and behave well and do well, without earlier perceptions of others weighing him down.

  6. me:

    Agreement - Dollhouse, like so many other Whedon shows, got cancelled way too early. However, he pulled of a nice crisp finish.

  7. IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society:

    > Agreement – Dollhouse, like so many other Whedon shows, got cancelled way too early. However, he pulled of a nice crisp finish.

    Can't blame Fox for this one, though, DH's numbers stunk for its entire run, even for Friday night. Allowing it a second "half" season was more than reasonable action on their part.

    No, the series failed because there are too many idiots out there who really won't give a show a chance if they can't understand all the characters and pigeon-hole them utterly by early in the second episode.


    I put that question -- "why have you stopped watching?" -- in a DH forum, and that's pretty much the gist of the responses I got.