Welcome to the DOLLHOUSE - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

Welcome to the DOLLHOUSE

February 13, 2009 by  

It’s finally here.  The long awaited premiere of Joss Whedon’s DOLLHOUSE.  Are you ready?

I’m going to go ahead and encourage and every one of you reading this to check out tonight’s premiere of DOLLHOUSE (9pm on Fox).  It’s definitely worth a first look and I think it will be in your best interest to plan on giving this show a few weeks before you make a decision on whether or not you’re going to stick with it for the long run.  This is Joss Whedon – give the guy a shot to get his legs under him. He deserves the benefit of the doubt.  I don’t think we’ll be disappointed.

Nothing like a little doom and gloom to begin a review, right? I’m telling you this because while I enjoyed the DOLLHOUSE pilot I wasn’t blown out of the water.  I think my expectations were properly set.  When the first reviews started coming out I had heard the same thing – it’s good, not great, but good.  I know that everyone has a different opinion and a different way of viewing things, but my expectations] were so high that personally it was good to hear these reviews if for no other reason than to ground me a little.  And after watching the first episode, I’m going to go ahead and agree with the majority of what I read.  Good, not great.  But (and this is a very important but), I do believe that DOLLHOUSE has the potential to be great.  And that’s a lot more than what I can say for most new TV shows.

The premise of DOLLHOUSE is fascinating to me.  The story follows Echo, a woman whose mind and personality has been wiped clean by an illegal organization that caters to the rich and powerful. With each new client, Echo and the other “dolls” living in The Dollhouse, are implanted with the memories, personality and know with all to essentially become whomever the client dictates.  One day they are an assassin, the next day a lover – they are whatever money can buy.

But when Echo starts to become cognizant of her memories, The Dollhouse is at risk.  Can Echo be kept in the dark or will she be the one to expose the organization for what it is?

Eliza Dushku, who plays Echo, is the right actress for the role. Eliza has proven, both in this show and her role as Faith in BUFFY/ANGEL, that she is a strong woman who is equally as comfortable with her sexuality as she is her brut force.  In the first episode, Eliza is asked to portray two very different people and she flows from one to another with ease.  She was sexy when she needed to be, unapologetically smart when it was called for and all the while she remained vulnerable.

There are problems with DOLLHOUSE.  While I think the premise is strong there are a lot of gaps that need to be filled before the show becomes a bonafide hit.  The biggest problem I had with the first episode was that I had a hard time believing that dolls had truly become these new people.  And it wasn’t the acting; as I said I thought Eliza pulled it off well.  My issue had more to do with the fact that we the audience are supposed to fundamentally believe without reservation that this person is someone we know they are not.  There’s not enough foundation laid for the audience at home to buy into the science behind the Dollhouse before we are asked to buy into the characters the dolls become.

The subplot involves FBI Agent Paul Ballard’s (Tahmoh Penikett) quest to discover and expose The Dollhouse.  He’s pieced enough information together to truly believe it exists, but he’s never been able to find the in he needs to take down the organization.  While I think this plot will play out well over time, it felt a little forced for this first episode.

Plot holes aside, the biggest disappointment for me personally was that it was void of Joss Whedon’s voice.  I’m relatively new to the Whedonverse but I know how to recognize his signature wit and sass and it just wasn’t there.  The story leaves a lot of room for humor, and I’m sure that we will see it play out, but I really didn’t find it in this first episode.

I know, I know…it probably sounds like I’m more down on DOLLHOUSE than I am positive, but it’s not true.  I still believe that given the time this show can be great.  I guess the keyword is time.  They have an order for 13 episodes from FOX.  Let’s hope that Fox airs all 13 and really allows this show to find its way.

As always, my opinion is my own.  You should all check out DOLLHOUSE tonight and let me know what YOU think.  Will it be a hit?  I guess we’ll find out.

Understanding the Dollhouse

Episode 1 Preview

Filed under #1 featured


17 Responses to “Welcome to the DOLLHOUSE”

  1. John on February 13th, 2009 1:19 pm

    I am certainly going to watch.

    And if I can “believe” the Fringe science, I can accept any premise.

  2. Give Me My Remote on February 13th, 2009 1:37 pm

    That’s the right attitude to have. I always say that I don’t know too much about anything so I don’t get caught up in the science and reality of it all. Make the story good and based in the inherent truth of the show and I’m along for the ride.

  3. OldDarth on February 13th, 2009 5:24 pm

    First time I will catch a Whedon series from the getgo. Feeling intrigued.

  4. Kimber on February 13th, 2009 8:51 pm

    Being a fan of Buffy and Angel, I will definitely check this out tonight. I know there have been “issues” around production, and I hope to heck that Joss won’t go and ruin things as I feel he somewhat did with both Buffy and Angel … but I’ll stick to my high hopes of greatness for both Dollhouse, and Eliza. (And I also heard Amy Acker will be joining/has joined the cast … YAY!)

  5. Lisa on February 13th, 2009 10:08 pm

    I almost didn’t watch Dollhouse because of your review and others that I’ve read. I’m glad I decided to try it DESPITE everyone being so negative. I’m hooked. I hope Fox (and the audience) gives the show a chance because it’s GOOD. Don’t listen to the critics. Watch it and decide for yourself.

  6. Kimber on February 13th, 2009 10:39 pm

    You are right, Lisa. I really enjoyed Dollhouse! I found it intriguing, and was hooked within the first few minutes.

  7. Lisa on February 14th, 2009 12:31 am

    @Kimber: eh, what do I know? I’ve also loved Bryan Fuller’s shows (Wonderfalls/Dead Like Me/Pushing Daisies) and those were all canceled. So I’ll enjoy Dollhouse until Fox cancels it. Still, it’s nice to have Joss’ work back on TV.

  8. Jenn on February 14th, 2009 2:01 am

    I definitely enjoyed it, but ITA with GMMR’s statement about it missing the voice of Joss. All the other shows had characters with such a distinct was of speaking and communicating between themselves which was established right from the get-go. On this show not so much with the dolls basically being emotionless until they’re engaged and then they’re different people every time so I’m interested to see if it’s the other characters that show some quirkiness and even team work. I know it’s the Eliza show, but I feel that the group on Joss’ shows have always had their place and offered great characters and I’m not sure I see the potential for that here. There seems to be cracks within the organization with Echo’s handler and the boss lady already so I think that’ll be interesting but I’m not sure I really like the other supporting characters yet.

    All in all I actually really liked the ep and hope that the show gets a fair shot. I especially loved the BSG shout out that people like old men or fatherly figures like Edward James Olmos to make them feel comfortable. Love my Admiral Adama!

  9. OldDarth on February 14th, 2009 7:58 am

    Intrigued enough to watch more. The episode seemed muted compared to other Whedon works. Where is the snappy dialogue? The biggest sin – no humour.

    As easy as Eliza is on the eyes her acting chops to handle the assumed vast array of personalities afforded must be questioned.

  10. Kimber on February 14th, 2009 1:12 pm

    @Lisa … sounds like we share a similar love for shows screwed by Fox. I’ll add to the list a little ditty that aired in the late 90s, called Dark Angel., about a bunch of hot transgenics the government created in secret. Fox wasn’t too kind to it either. So while I have high hopes for Dollhouse as a show, knowing it’s a Fox show makes me a bit paranoid about its future.

  11. P D Yerf on February 14th, 2009 5:59 pm

    I am a firm believer in everything Joss Whedon, and the premise of this show excites me as well but it also worries me. I enjoyed the pilot but also grew very iffy when being presented with some questionable displays by Dushku (I do sincerely doubt, though long to be proven wrong, that she is up to the task). Also, having already read the original pilot script which is floating around on the internet I was struck by the fact that this pilot was honestly nowhere near up to par with what was presented last night. Sometimes Whedon does need to be edited, or censured–season 4 of Angel, anybody?–but never never NEVER by Fox, as I am relearning. I will stick with it because of the faith I have for Whedon and the premise, but I will keep by my concern as well.

  12. Miri on February 14th, 2009 9:17 pm

    Wow… Im impressed people liked this show… To me it was just really bad TV. I thought the editing was off, the dialogue was bad, I could acare less about any of the characters… It seemed like a missed attempt at an Alias or Nikita copy… Even the premise, which I though was interesting at first, seemed really dull. I really didnt like this show. But I am glad some other people like it, if it gets decent ratings, than maybe it will have the chance to improve.

  13. John on February 14th, 2009 10:28 pm

    I liked the episode. The premise is one you either will accept for the purposes of the show or not. I am used to accepting unlikely premises for Sci-Fi shows.

    Once you acept the premise, the rest followed logically.

    I assume we will get more backstory spread out over the series.

    I am looking forward to the next episode.

  14. Lisa on February 16th, 2009 4:17 pm

    What I don’t like is the way that Fox is trying to market the show. They assume that only fan-boy geeks will like it and so they have Eliza and Summer doing stupid pseudo-sexy promos. I suspect that Dollhouse will have a strong following among women. I find it strange that this show is even on Fox, it seems tailor-made for the Sci-Fi channel.

  15. kari on February 16th, 2009 5:57 pm

    I wanted to love this, but I’m not convinced yet. As a pilot, it felt pretty flat, and I don’t think it was even a great intro to the concept — knowing nothing about Caroline, why would we care who she is as Echo? I don’t need a huge backstory or a ton of exposition, it just felt like it started five beats too late or something, and never came together. And I don’t mind ambiguous storytelling, or open-ended questions, either, I just didn’t connect with anybody. (Except Helo, of course 🙂 The rest of the casting felt blah to me, including Eliza Dushku. No chemistry going on anywhere.

  16. Give Me My Remote on February 16th, 2009 6:07 pm

    Yes, I agree. We didn’t learn enough about Caroline (I didn’t even remember that we knew her name) to make me care about her.

    What I forgot to mention in the review above was how off-putting I found the down time at the Dollhouse. When Echo was just wandering around…it was awkward and not in a good way.

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