Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dollhouse - So Far...

So, perhaps I am being presumptuous (ok, make that 'probably'), but I'm guessing you might be wondering my thoughts on Dollhouse. I followed the development and progress of this show since the very first whiff of it hit the Internet breeze. I, along with everyone else, know of its interesting origin story and its subsequent pre-production and production mishaps. Because there has been so much buzz on the show, its problems, its creators and its freaked-out fans, I've avoided writing too much about it. Also, via the stockpile of reviews for the first couple episodes, it's been reported time and again that the episodes slowly get better and I wanted the chance to watch at least a couple before committing my opinion to the World Wide Web. Since the first two have aired, I suppose it's time to do just that...

As stated in many other reviews, the second episode, "Target", was much improved from the pilot, "Ghost". The pilot was still good and it definitely left me wanting to watch more, but it really did seem to lack Joss' unique voice. There were tid-bits, here and there, and the morally vague and slightly creepy Topher is without a doubt a Joss original creation but the episode had a "pilot template" feel that overpowered Joss' distinct touch. That aspect of the episode was disappointing, but it had the network's grimy hands all over it and the result wasn't exactly unexpected. However, again I must press, the pilot was capturing (or was that just Eliza's shockingly short shirt-turned-dress?) and if Joss' intention with the last scene was to totally creep the audience out, then he succeed with ten gold stars. I had to keep myself from whispering throughout both episodes, "Who is that masked man?" and I certainly didn't expect such a mystery starting from the very first episode.

Speaking of the devil and taking a quick side-road: Who IS that masked man, er....naked man who left two dead bodies in his creepy, Indian-style wake? Luckily, the very next episode hands us a suspect on a lovely silver platter. Who's all for the naked, liking-of-the-Indian-style man being the dead-but-not-really-dead Alpha? I'm totally into that but there's one problem with my theory. If, when Alpha went rogue, he left Echo alive whilst carving up everyone else, why would he then hire the creepy boyscout to hunt down and kill Echo? Perhaps as a test, to see what Echo is capable of? To see if she's maybe something more than just another ordinary doll? Maybe.

Ok, back to the main road: If the pilot episode left me with a slight interest to see more, last week's episode left me with an raging desire to speed up time so that I can get to this Friday and see more. "Target" had a much more Joss-like feel and we were once again reminded why Joss is our Master. I love how we weren't made to wait long before we got some Dollhouse back-story and also the reason why the beautiful Amy Acker (love those hat-tricks!), aka Claire Saunders, has scars across her face. A rogue, serial-killer doll is an interesting twist to the show that I wasn't expecting at all. Another great part was the unexpected relationship between Echo and her handler, Boyd. Before that moment, I hadn't realized that I was fearful that Dollhouse would lack those intense, morally gray, complex and passionate relationships that I have long associated with Joss Whedon. "Target" soothed those subconscious fears by giving us a tiny glimpse of how Echo had changed Boyd's original impression of the "empty" dolls and how he'd come to feel about her since that first, indescribably innocent first meeting where Echo was programmed to trust him with her life. It had such a father/daughter feel to it and with myself being a daughter who loves and trusts her father above anyone else, it really hit a heart-chord.

Watching the second episode, I got the feeling that this show is going to be less about the sci-fi, doll-engagements and more about the morally gray practices and people of the Dollhouse and the relationships between them and the outside world. This, of course, was a stupid conclusion to come to, since I should have realized that already. Joss' shows have always been centered on the relationships between the characters and the characters themselves. They are always the best part of his shows and as far as I'm concerned, the reason why he has such a cult following. Joss' characters have always caused me to feel things deeper than any other characters on television. They have made me laugh harder, cry harder, scream harder and think harder than any other characters I have come across in my many years of watching television. I am very much looking forward to that again with Dollhouse.

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