Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dollhouse: Joss Whedon’s return to Godhood?

To answer my question: inconclusive...

Perhaps I judge too harshly, when I compare “Dollhouse” pilot episode to the ill fated and well forgotten “Bionic Woman”, which failed to complete a season. The latter had the misfortune to be caught between the punches during the writers’ strike, but still had it been something worth watching “Bionic Woman” would have triumphed. I hope Dollhouse” vastly improve with further episodes.

But I have a good reason for comparison or should I say reasons only after this first taste. First, both shows are more on the sci-fi side with the modified human being trope in the middle. Second, both have a premise, which can arouse interest and perhaps make a decent watch. Third, so far no convincing execution that screams ‘Watch Me’.

For the people with tendency to miss things, such as myself usually, Joss Whedon takes the old “corporation/government [your pick] has super modified units fit to perform any daring task in a kind of mindless way” for a spin. So you get to play Barbie with people, which is like a fetish for so many control freaks. The twist here is that you don’t just slap the clothes for a certain role, but also matching personality and physical attributes. Fun, huh? But of course your secretly created super agents need a super hideout, which is a human dollhouse with all the luxury in the world from yoga/Pilates classes and masseuses.

I like this concept, because it is well founded in society. Nowadays people don’t trust each other. You never know who somebody really is. Identity can be easily faked and every action harbors and ulterior motive. I am positive that “Dollhouse” can make a good comic book series, if it fails as a TV shows and here are the things that make me look with the critical eye.

1. I never thought I would see Eliza Dushku in high heels, a skirt that practically says “I mark the line between the ass and thighs” and dancing to Lady Gaga. This was a joke. However I dare to hypothesize that Echo’s character will be harder to connect or relate to, because in every episode she will be playing a different person. I know Dusku to be an expert on mentally unstable characters way back in Buffy, but playing practically schizophrenic will be a tough role. So far although her face a great sight for me, her performance is not as engaging.

2. Joss Whedon falls into a cliché. For Echo to start and remember her life she needs to witness something unsettling and stumbling in during a brainwashing procedure on a new girl. So she just happens to see the dazzling lights from an all glass room and follows and simply goes in through an unlocked door. Now not to argue with Whedon, but during an incriminating brainwashing procedure doors ought to be locked to prevent something like that or at least the high tech house show that someone is coming. Duh!

3. I am not really sure where this will go… With “Buffy” you knew apocalypses were on the menu. With “Battlestar Gallactica” you also had an idea what was going to be the main vibe. With “Supernatural” you figured two dudes would be killing stuff. So far I have never seen a series that is as ambiguous as this one apart from “Lost”, whose purpose was to make you feel lost.

I am going to keep watching and see whether I will just figure my time is better spent somewhere else or not. So far watchable.


CJ said...

Well, I thought it was a strong first episode myself. I love Whedon and Dusku. But, in fairness, I had a problem with that scene with the woman getting her memory wiped, too. It made no sense not to have things locked... but then, perhaps Echo and her co-actives are usually so passive and submissive that it's never been a problem. It would be a subtle way to suggest that. Then again, maybe I'm grasping at straws.

As for where it's going to go - it's going to be a classic good vs evil thing, don't you think? The faceless, nameless bad guys behind the dollhouse vs. those poor people who've had their memories wiped... even though it seems that Echo agreed to the procedure as a way to escape something she did.

I'm looking forward to more. I just hope Fox doesn't kill it like it has so many other good shows.


Todd Newton said...

Aww, I liked "Bionic Woman"... guess that shows how much TV I watch, huh. I guess it was just marketed well so we gave it a few episodes to hook us and it seemed interesting. Though, I have to admit in retrospect, the story was weak and didn't seem to be going anywhere. Oh well.

If Dollhouse takes off, I guess I will watch an episode or two. So far, no one is saying "it's the next Heroes" but I think that will be the benchmark of popularity for SFF properties from now on.

But, hey, I don't watch Heroes, either (or Lost). Sue me.

ediFanoB said...

I will have a look in case it will be aired in Germany.

I watched HEROES and liked the first season. But the second one was really worse. And therefore I'm not interested in season 3. And to be honest I never watched Lost.

Unknown said...

I have watched Heroes the First Season and it was really good--slipped after that. Don't understand Lost, I get lost too easily in the storyline. Absolutely love Battlestar Galactica, that is the new benchmark. Joss Whedon is great, but Dollhouse isn't getting much press, I even missed the first episode, Dusku is really good--I even liked Tru Calling. I too like the Bionic Woman, oh well, no accounting for taste. I'll check out Dollhouse as soon as I can.

Harry Markov said...

CJ: The same though crossed my mind and yes although I agree, I have to say that we are talking about a corporation that doesn't allow errors. So it didn't work for me. As far as the purpose and direction of the show, I can live with that.

Tod: I had a small time crush on Bionic Woman too, but I dumped it for the same reasons. Dollhouse will take off. Joss Whedon is quite the name to support it and I will watch for for a surprise. Also I don't watch Heroes and Lost.

Michael: Heroes turned into Lost, but in the big city and it is just ultra crappy and confusing and I say don't bother.

Tanya: I liked Tru Calling as well. It was a great idea and I still wonder why was it cancelled. Dusku is a fave of mine just to stare not, not watch perform, but just observe.

Carole McDonnell said...

Don't know if I can get myself to be interested in what some male mast*rbatory fantasy will do in each episode. But then I'm a woman. This kind of show is already alienating from the beginning cause it obviously isn't made for women. Unless, maybe it connects to the woman who wants to be all things to all men. -C

Anonymous said...

I still haven't brought myself to watching it. It comes on the same time that Moonlight does. I missed seeing several of the beginning episodes and still haven't forgiven myself for it. So, I'm catching up. Dollhouse will have to take a backseat until the series is done.

Nothing against Joss Whedon because I LOVE Buffy. But...I'm doing the Moonlight thing right now. I'll catch the reruns of Dollhouse and then decide.

Meredith said...

Somehow, this series makes me think of The Stepford Wives. I'm not a huge sci-fan, nor a huge robot fan, and I certainly had enough of Lindsay Wagner as the Bionic Women in the 70s, so I can't say that I'll be watching this. I'm glad to hear you say you're "inconclusive" about it. Personally, I'd rather be reading than watching some blonde on television.

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