Considering Moving Out of the DOLLHOUSE - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

Considering Moving Out of the DOLLHOUSE

March 1, 2009 by  

Here’s a sad truth.  If DOLLHOUSE weren’t on Friday night I don’t think I would be watching anymore. The show isn’t working for me.  I gave the pilot the benefit of the doubt.  I didn’t love, but didn’t hate it.  It was just ok.  Parts of the second episode were better than the premiere and I was encouraged by that.  But here we are with the third episode of the season and the missteps with this show are not only glaring but they are erasing all my good will for the show.

Hokey plot lines aside, I personally am having a big issue with the acting.  It’s weak.  It’s false. It’s distracting.  I could understand if maybe one of the actors was having trouble finding his or her footing, but when it’s three or four then I think it’s a big problem.  And when the lead actress, the one carrying the show is one of the weak spots, then you’ve got a disaster on your hands.

I’m starting to realize that I enjoyed last week’s episode because it was mainly focused on Eliza Dushku/Action Star and didn’t rely on Eliza Dushku/Serious Actress. With all respect to Eliza, whom I’ve enjoyed in the roles I’ve seen her in thus far, I just don’t think she is in the zone. Something is off.  There’s a desperation in her scenes that seems to result in her overacting. Maybe it’s the pressure of carrying a show.  I don’t know.  But I do know that for me, it’s blatant.

As I’ve mentioned in every DOLLHOUSE review to date, Fran Kranz’s Topher is still the weakest link.  Off the charts overacting on his part.  And this week we finally got a little more from Sierra.  I was left wanting even less from Sierra. Thank God for Harry Lennix (Echo’s handler Boyd Langdon) who seems to save many scenes just by showing up.

Honestly, I don’t want to be down on DOLLHOUSE.  I truly want to love it!  And I don’t think at this point I’m swayed by false expectations or the fact that it’s a Joss Whedon show and I want something extraordinary.  The show is just not doing it for me.

What I’m not getting is how the writers, producers and directors who have keener eyes than I and more talent in evaluating TV than I could ever have are letting this go on.  Do they not see the weak storylines?  The holes in the dialogue? The falseness of the acting?  Why?

That’s a whole lot of conjecture before we even talk about this week’s episode itself.  But as you can guess I didn’t like it.  The ripoff of “The Bodyguard” plot was weak.  And the casting of the psycho fan who just happened to look like the psycho fan from the movie? If the show were better I’d say it was perhaps paying homage, but it came off as unoriginal. And there were so many holes in the storytelling. Was there really a point in having Sierra on the mission to begin with?  What was with Echo switching into robot mode when she was reminded of her mission? And then there was the convenient and anti-climactic ending when the Diva decided that, yes, she wanted to live. Come on.

And while I’m ranting, I must say, for what it’s worth, I think Eliza Dushku is hot as hell, but trying to force sexiness into the show by having her stand there in her bra is just lazy. She was far more sexy last week running through the woods trying  to save her life.

Those of you who have been reading GMMR for a while know that I try to use this site to celebrate TV.  I don’t mind being critical when it’s deserved, but with the limited hours that I have to spend on GMMR I like to focus of celebrating the best of TV. The enjoyment we all get from the shared experience.   Some bloggers intentionally write negative things about TV shows as a desperate attempt to gain the attention of the vocal TV audience. That isn’t the case here.  I respect that there will be a large contingent of people that love DOLLHOUSE and find great enjoyment in it.  That’s the beauty of it all – we all have the right to our own opinions.  For me, I’m not erasing my season pass just yet.  Like I said, if it were on another night it would probably be gone by now.  But I’ll stick with despite my woes.  I’m still holding out hope that those associated with DOLLHOUSE have stepped it up for the next few episodes. Right now if feels to me like they are mailing it in.

And with that, I’m done with my exhaustive rant.  Feel free to continue the discussion in the comments.  Share your love (or less than love) of DOLLHOUSE.

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15 Responses to “Considering Moving Out of the DOLLHOUSE”

  1. P D Yerf on March 1st, 2009 10:16 am

    The sad thing about Dollhouse is that according to most things I’ve read, it doesn’t even get decent until the seventh episode. Or was it the eighth? And who wants to sit through six (seven) episodes of bad television on the slight possibility that the show is going to get better as promised?
    As for me, the show should be really really happy it leaked who was playing Alpha. Because he’s the only reason I’m willing to stick around. The actor who plays Echo’s handler is (Boyd something? is it bad that after three episodes I still struggle with names?) will hold me over to then. Plus Sierra, who I have liked so far. Much better than Dushku anyway.

  2. Ben Barren - Confessions of a Mad Man » Mommybloggers kickn Goal$ + Dollhouse Fanboyz in Denial. on March 1st, 2009 11:19 am

    […] been getting caned online and it is fun to watch the Joss Whedon fanboyz scream but not be able to fake support for the show if it doesnt have the right nerdcore factor which it doesnt. Lets face it – there is no humour and […]

  3. Melissa on March 1st, 2009 12:08 pm

    I’m actually really enjoying the show. Maybe because by the time I get to watch it on a Saturday morning, I want something slightly less complex? Topher isn’t bothering me nearly as much as he does you and I’m looking forward to more Sierra. The A-story in this week’s episode wasn’t great, but it’s been so long since I watched The Bodyguard that I completely missed that connection. I’m more hooked on the idea that the Dollhouse is playing Agent Ballard by sending various Actives into his path to feed him false information. Or lasagna (seriously, the woman across the hall has to be an Active). I’m also intrigued by that tiny head shake Echo gave Sierra at the end of the episode. For me it begs the question: was Echo really working the hostage situation to save Rayna, or to save Sierra?

  4. Kimber on March 1st, 2009 12:17 pm

    I’m like you, GMMR. I’m not really enjoying Dollhouse, and finding it almost a chore to watch. Although I have to say that I haven’t been hating the entire episode. I usually find a bit of it that I enjoy. I’m finding that I really “float off” during the FBI plots, with that guy who’s trying to prove the Dollhouse exists. I don’t know if it’s his acting, his face, or what, but I’m bored and I could care less. He does not seem like a threat at all, so I’m not worried, and find myself bored and annoyed when he comes on.

    I do like Eliza, and am enjoying her as Echo, but you’re right … something is just “off” about her performance. Which is sad, because I really enjoy her, and I really enjoy Joss as well. Amy Acker as the doctor with the weird scars is good, too, and I’m liking the “Far From Fred” character she’s portraying. I’m hating Topher, he seems good and nerdy, and then evil and manipulative in the next scene, so I’m confused. Her handler, Boyd, is about the only good thing. He does seem to save each scene he’s in. And I found in this last episode, I actually enjoyed Sierra, which is odd because I hadn’t liked her before this.

    I’ll probably keep my residence in the Dollhouse, just to see if it does get better, as one poster above said it did. But at the same time, I won’t be too bitterly disappointed if it gets canceled in the near future.

  5. Melissa on March 1st, 2009 12:19 pm

    You know what? I’m working my column for (goes up tomorrow) on this very topic and it suddenly occurred to me why this all seems so familiar: Moonlight! Remember how shaky that was at the beginning? Yet strangely addictive? Episode 4 was the turning point and from there, it just got better and better. Until CBS killed it.

  6. Jaime on March 1st, 2009 12:28 pm

    You know, Topher doesn’t bother me so much. I mean, he seems to be trying so hard to sell that he’s quirky and loveable!, but it’s just not there. That’s annoying, but it’s not really that distracting.

    I think my two problems with the show are Eliza Dushku, and how everyone is kind of forced into a character type of another Joss Whedon show (mostly Buffy, really). Echo’s the Buffy. Topher’s Xander. Boyd is Giles. It’s those characters in a world without vampires. It just seems too…pushed, for me.

    Then there’s Eliza, who I’ve never been a big fan of. She kind of tries to push earnesty with every line she delivers, and it just…doesn’t work. The entire show seems like a love letter to her. Did you see that interview with her before the show started, where she said the show basically just shows all the different sides of her personality, and that’s really why it was created? I don’t know. I have that comment in the back of my head as I watch, and it gets distracting.

    But I am enjoying the show, although it’s definitely not even close to the caliber of Joss’ previous shows. But as an earlier poster said, I am *definitely* watching at least until the introduction of Alpha, and who knows, maybe by then, my problems with the show will have disappeared.

  7. Ryan on March 1st, 2009 2:12 pm

    I just watched all three episodes on hulu yesterday and thought it was a fun little show. It has pretty good action and some mystery.

    Is Elisha the best actor in the world? No, but I think she mostly gets the job done and the fact she oozes sexiness makes up for what’s lacking in the acting department–at least for me.

    The lastest episode was for sure the worst of the 3, but I still found myself entertained until the credits rolled. I think it’s the type of show you can’t take too seriously. Enjoy the hotness, action, and small brain teasers and call it an hour.

    On a sidenote, I’ve watched maybe 5 episodes of buffy in my lifetime and it’s pretty much in the top 5 of my most hated shows of all time (maybe this whole post is just revealing my brunette preference). I’m no Joss Whedon apologist.

  8. Jen (HIMYM) on March 1st, 2009 4:32 pm

    Another problem that is not mentioned in your terrific assessment of the show thus far (sorry, I haven’t read your other two because I just didn’t have anything nice to say and I didn’t want to be the downer when I know the site is, as you just said, a celebration of TV) is that Echo and probably many other actives, are sex slaves. Over on the WWK boards, that’s a big contention we’re having with this show.

    In this episode the doctor (Angel’s Fred) told Topher she only cleared Echo for “romantic trysts”. From what we’ve seen in the first two episodes, “romantic trysts” have not meant dinner and a movie, a date for a regal ball or a pretend girlfriend to impress family and friends. She slept with Timmy from OTH in E1 and The Middleman in E2. And it seems like this has been ongoing since she’s a very popular active.

    Since it’s TV, I guess we’re supposed to suspend belief that Echo would get an STD or pregnant due to having sex with these complete strangers. But I just can’t. They are prostitutes and don’t even know it.

    I agree that there are just too many weak links to overlook and I don’t think they’ve fleshed out the FBI guy (BSG’s Helo). The fact that I can’t remember anyone of their names is just sad. Per the Russian guy that we just found out is a doll, the FBI dude never actually solves anything. All he has to do is follow the Russian guy who he thinks has the answers he needs and BAM! He would be at the Dollhouse. Isn’t that basic training?

  9. Mary on March 1st, 2009 5:57 pm

    I think that what you see as bad acting on the part of Echo and Sierra is actually the actresses way of portraying the aloof, disconnected nature of their characters. I think the weakest part of the show is the business aspect of the Dollhouse and I don’t find the investigation intriguing at all. I find it disappointing because this is a show I was really looking forward too, but I am encouraging everyone to hang in there a few more episodes because I hear it is going to get better (fingers crossed)

  10. Laila on March 1st, 2009 6:46 pm

    “I’m hating Topher, he seems good and nerdy, and then evil and manipulative in the next scene, so I’m confused.”

    That’s exactly why I like him (as a character, not a person). His casual immorality mirrors exactly what the Dollhouse is, and I find it fascinating. His acting bothered me at first in the sneak peeks that were floating around the web late in 2008, but by the time I finished watching the premiere episode I’ve decided I like it. On the other hand, I think Boyd is the most boring character on the show. I get why he needs to be there, as the one who questions the Dollhouse and its morality. I get that he’s the viewer’s surrogate for exploring the questions the show wants to explore. But the actor is making very very very boring.

    “Echo and probably many other actives, are sex slaves. Over on the WWK boards, that’s a big contention we’re having with this show.”
    I see that as part of what the show is trying to comment on. But I read something on io9 the other day that sums up the problem nicely: “it’s not enough to continually show the sexism and everyday abuse that surrounds us, week after week – Surely, at some point of doing only that, the show stops being an ironic commenter on that and simply complicit in it?”

  11. GMMR on March 1st, 2009 7:40 pm

    Catching up on all the comments – ah the beauty of different interpretations. I love how we can all watch the same thing and take different things away from it. Again, it’s all about the shared experience. Thanks for your comments!

    As for the “sex slave” issue. It’s something I’ve thought about, but decided to see how it plays out. I think that if the writers were trying to sell us on the Dollhouse being a positive experience I might have a problem with it. But to me they are sending the message that what’s happening to these “dolls” is morally wrong. The message is being sent that this type of behavior in not condoned. So as long as they are not celebrating the fact that the dolls are sex slaves I am ok with it. Does that make sense?

  12. Billiam on March 1st, 2009 9:04 pm

    Elisha Dushku has said in interviews that the season really kicks into gear with episode 6. And critics who got sent eps in advance say that number 4 (next week) is the weakest, so I would understand people skipping the next two weeks and then checking back in.

    I thought the general premise was kind of bland, but I liked the direction that things took towards the end, when Echo tweaked the mission parameters in a way that both went and above and beyond and also rattled a few cages.

  13. JP on March 2nd, 2009 12:55 am

    I went in to Dollhouse with high hopes. Wow! I’m going to get in on a Joss Whedon masterpiece from the ground floor this time instead of having to pour through volumes of DVDs years after everyone else jumped ship! But having barely made it through episode I of Dollhouse, I haven’t been interested enough to go back. 🙁

  14. me on March 2nd, 2009 6:28 am

    It is funny that you complain about “overacting” when one yout favourite actors is none other then Joshua Jackson, did you watch the first episodes of Fringe, that was some fine overacting compared to the rest of the cast.

    But the complaint is true: Television in general is suffering, this is the first season I can remember where all new shoes suck big time and even the old ones are mostly subpar written and executed (with the notable exception of BSG). Maybe I am getting old, but someone needs to find a cure quick or else…


  15. Lauren on March 2nd, 2009 3:30 pm

    I really think that the problem with Eliza’s acting is that she has no character to develop since she’s playing a different character every week except when she’s playing a character that is completely without character.

    And I agree that Topher is soooooo overacted that it’s annoying, and I usually love the “loveable geek.”