Dollhouse and Why Matt Keeslar Can Never Play a Bad Guy Ever Again

dollhouseSo, this weekend, I finally sat down and watched the first three episodes of Joss Whedon’s new FOX series, Dollhouse.  Prepare yourselves for a very lengthy review, most of which will be of the ranty and irrationally-upset variety.

Because I’m disappointed, to say the very least.  And kind of cranky, to say the very most.  And also surprised to realize I’m still planning on watching it for at least a few more weeks, despite my disappointment and crankiness.  I am an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in a piece of bacon that’s been crisped to perfection.

Mmmm, bacon.

It’s a miracle I have anything to say about this show to begin with, to be honest.  After the first train-wreck of an episode, I not only almost didn’t continue on, but  was sorely tempted to have all memory of it erased from my brain while I was at it (ha!).  By the end of the third episode, however, I was kinda-sorta glad I’d hung in there (kinda-sorta), and, I confess it, I’m kinda-sorta thinking I’ll hang in there for at least a few more weeks to see where it’s going.

That said, I have a LOT of problems with this show (not the least of which was its casting of ex-Boyfriend Matt Keeslar as a super-duper psycho crazy guy, but more on that in a minute).

And my primary complaint about this series can be summed up thusly:  its entire premise is totally lame.

That’s never a good way to start a show.

For those who haven’t tuned in, the show is about a secret organization that has somehow gotten its hands on a bunch of gorgeous young people (including ex-Buffy actress Eliza Dushku) and turned them into blank slates, devoid of any personality traits whatsoever.  When someone comes to this organization needing a certain type of person, the organization picks one of the “dolls” from the “Dollhouse” and uses a fancy-pants computer thingy straight out of Total Recall to “imprint” a new persona on the doll.  That doll wakes up and actually IS the new person for a finite amount of time, depending on the client’s requirements.

I’m not going to complain (much) that we’re given no idea how this works, where the absolutely vastly ginormous database of personas has come from (since the personalities used to imprint the dolls are all apparently from real people, which, whaaa. . .??),  etc.  We’re only a few episodes in, after all.

Instead, allow me to complain about these things. These VERY BAD THINGS:

1.  Rip-off city!  This series literally doesn’t have an original bone in its body (much like that cliche).  What the heck, Joss?  I already know you’re a genius, so why is every single element of your new series a total and obvious rip-off of something else?  To wit: Total Recall, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Alias, all the Buffy episodes featuring Adam, every episode of Law & Order: SVU that has to do with human trafficking, La Femme Nikita, My Own Worst Enemy, Paycheck, etc. etc. etc., all of which I have enjoyed more than I enjoyed the first three episodes of Dollhouse, I might add.

And yes, you did read that right.  I just said I thought even PAYCHECK was better, and it co-starred Aaron Eckhart in Calvin-on-picture-day hair.

2.  As if it weren’t bad enough that the premise itself is unoriginal, each episode’s storyline so far has also been pretty uninspired.  Take that episode with Matt Keeslar, where he “orders” the perfect outdoorsy girl to sleep her way up a mountain with him (because one of the Dollhouse‘s specialties is high-class prostitution, naturally), and then proceeds to turn her loose in the woods and attempt to hunt her down with a crossbow like she was an elk.  Good lord, how many times have we seen that done? Do not make me count the ways.

And the kidnapping episode?  Where Echo (Dushku) got imprinted to be a master kidnapping negotiator lady?  At one point, she says to the father whose daughter has been snatched that she’s been negotiating with kidnappers, “all her life.”  You gotta be kidding me that he didn’t bust out in mad laughter at that comment, given the fact she looks all of 17 years old.  Besides, he knows she’s a “doll,” so why did he appear to find that statement of any comfort to begin with?  Plus, haven’t I see this movie?  Starring Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan?

So far, to me anyway, the actual “storylines” of each episode seem like afterthoughts, quickly ripped off from somewhere else and tossed into place to fill out the hour, all so Joss can spend 5-10 minutes of each episode fleshing out his primary premise and Eliza Dushku can pretend she’s Jennifer Garner on Alias and play dress-up a lot.  Yawnsville, Illinois.

3.  You know what else doesn’t work for me?  That all the clients of the Dollhouse know how it works.   They know the person they encounter after they’ve placed their order is a blank slate with a computer-generated personality, and they know they can make that person be or do anything they want.  It costs them a bazillion dollars to do so, but they’re all rich beyond measure in the first place, so who cares?

Why is this  a problem?  Well, first of all, there’s no way all those clients could keep the Dollhouse a secret — you’re telling me that all those pervs and dorks purchasing “dolls” for sex aren’t going to be bragging about the hot chick they just scored with to all their pals?  None of whom are going to gossip about that with THEIR pals?  None of whom know or come into contact with any reporters?  My ass.

And how about this:  If you were a father whose daughter had been kidnapped, would you hire a REAL kidnapping negotiator expert or would you hire a FAKE kidnapping negotiator expert?  Yeah.  Me too.

What would’ve made this far more intriguing, in my opinion, would’ve been keeping the nature of the Dollhouse a total secret from everyone, ESPECIALLY the clients.  Make the Dollhouse the place you go to find the perfect “agent” for any job, and let the clients think those people are real people; that the Dollhouse is an enormous collective of mad skillz.  Because you can’t keep something like this a SECRET in today’s world.  To me, that is an utterly ludicrous element of this show’s entire premise and, frankly, I am irked by it.

mattkeeslar4.  Also, Matt Keeslar?  As an evil psycho guy?  Sands of Zanzibar, Dubbie!  That just doesn’t work for me after The Middleman, I’m sorry.  (Incidentally, The Middleman got canceled — ABC Family bastages!)

5.  Essentially, the dolls serve primarily as super-duper expensive prostitutes who aren’t even allowed to maintain their own brains.  I’m disturbed.

6.  Also disturbing:  This is a Joss Whedon project?  Where the hell is the snappy banter?  Snappy banter might have a chance in heck of saving this show from its ludicrous-ness.  Worked for Buffy and Firefly, right?  Did we not happily suspend all disbelief for those shows, despite the fact they were about vampires and space cowboys?  Yes, yes we did.  And we were rewarded for it with genius, not hack.  I want genius here.  And so far, I ain’t gettin’ it.

7.  Eliza Dushku gets on my nerves.  The end.

tahmohAnd now a list of the GOOD THINGS (just to balance this out):

1.  Tahmoh Penikett is darned good-looking, gosh darn it, even though I keep waiting for him to call Galactica Actual and deliver his sitrep.

2.  Sure, nothing about it is original (NOTHING AT ALL, PEOPLE!) — nevertheless, it’s all stuff I love, and even though I could get the same effect from a double-feature of Total Recall and seasons 1-4 of Alias, I’d have to get off the couch for that (swapping out the DVDs, etc.).  With Dollhouse, it comes to me.  Weekly.  With Tahmoh Penikett.  Laziness wins again!

Um, yeah, and that’s pretty much it for the good things, I’m sorry to say.

Will this series survive?  It’s highly, highly doubtful.  And I can’t decide if I’m sad or happy about that.  Obviously, I’m sad because I love Joss and want him to be successful in everything he does.  But I confess I’m also kind of happy, because this show is just plain weak and if it got the boot, maybe he’d try something else that would end up being better.

Amore — eet ees so complicated sometimes.

By the way, a couple of quick other TV things:  Reaper came back this week, did you notice?  I confess I burned out on it before the end of last season, but am ready to give it another try now that I’ve had a break.  And I do confess to a massive crush on Sock — who could blame me?

Also, raise your hand if you almost threw up when Katee Sackhoff turned up on Nip/Tuck.  Ugh.  Me too.   Katee!  Start running your offers by ME first — your manager is going to kill your career!!

Discuss.

35 Responses to “Dollhouse and Why Matt Keeslar Can Never Play a Bad Guy Ever Again”

  1. Mimi Says:

    Well put. I agree with everything you said, plus I have at least two other complaints:

    1) Topher really irritates me. He’s like the Nerd Trio from “Buffy,” but sucked of all charm and amplified in annoyingness. Joss isn’t just ripping off Total Recall, “Alias,” etc., he’s ripping off of himself.

    2) As a woman, I find this show offensive. I can’t really pinpoint exactly why … oh right, it’s about women being used basically as prostitutes and they don’t even know it. Oy, Joss, oy.

  2. Firedrake Says:

    Ripping off The Most Dangerous Game is something that most long-running shows do eventually, but doing it in episode 2 doesn’t bode well.

    I think the core narrative problem is that a character who is having memories wiped doesn’t grow or develop in any way – and so is fundamentally uninteresting. Why should we care about Hostage Negotiator Barbie or Wilderness Adventure Barbie or Pop Star Barbie when at the end of the episode it’ll all be gone? (And the blank baseline personality is even more boring.)

    Is it just me, or does Dichen Lachman look increasingly like Jewell Staite?

    If they want to tell a story about Echo recovering her memory, I think it would have worked much better as a four-hour mini-series – so that instead of this filler up front we could go straight to the actual premise of the actual show. Is that so much to ask? Everything we’re seeing now is basically going to be thrown away when Echo wakes up…

    Mimi: even the title sequence invites us to drool over Dushku’s body, and a lot of the show is the same. (“Male Gaze” taken to extremes.)

  3. Lorraine Says:

    I can’t believe you could write so much about this show. I wanted to give it up after the first episode but since it is Joss Whedon I tried to watch the second episode. But I lasted 10 minutes and had to shut it off.

    I agree, as a woman I find this show offensive. From what I’ve heard, eventually Echo will start taking back control of her life but until then it’s icky. Maybe it’s Dushku, but Echo seems like a sex kitten no matter what she is doing.

    I’ve read that there was much network interference so I’m hoping that caused this mess, not Joss Whedon. This show has not an ounce of charm.

    If you want to watch an attractive woman kicking some butt, watch La Femme Nikita instead.

  4. Firedrake Says:

    It’s easy to say “network interference”, but Fox cut the advert timeslice in half for this show – not something that one would expect them to do for anyone, and surely something that could have been bargained away in return for less interference if that had been wanted.

    But then I’m not a fan of Whedon’s other work – I found Firefly OK, Buffy and Angel unwatchable – so I’m not experiencing the same disappointment that many fans are.

  5. ragincajun67 Says:

    I disagree with you about Matt Keeslar. I thought he was a good villian in this. Check him out in the Perfect Couple episode of The Inside (Tim Minear’s lost FBI show.) He was unbelievably creepy in that. I saw that before I saw Middleman, so I think that kid can play anything.

  6. alisaj29 Says:

    I also tried watching this show, 3 episodes to be extact. I left it to my husband to watch the rest of the season.

    You can’t state during the 1st episode that this “secret organization” was started to HELP high profile clients on the DL, and THEN let one your agents be used as a shooting target, hello…a complete rip-off of Surviving the Game, w/Ice T, and Gary Busey.

    AND, this organization is the WORST, kept secret. EVERYONE knows about it!

    Bring back My Own Worst Enemy, at least that show was entertaining.

  7. megwood Says:

    Oh yeah, ragincajun67 — Matt Keeslar can PLAY the bad guy very well. I’ve seen him do it! It’s just that I don’t LIKE it when he’s the bad guy. Because he was The Middleman! So sweet! So nice! I’m still grieving over the loss of that series, so it was too soon for me to see him being such an incredibly creepy bastard! It was like when Due South ended and the next thing I saw Paul Gross in was some lame TV movie where he was a wife abuser. I needed more time! I’m complicated that way. I don’t like letting go.

    I agree, Alisa — My Own Worst Enemy was much better than this series. A way more intriguing premise. I’m just kind of squicked out by the whole prostitution angle, and I think Firedrake hit the nail on the head with the comment that a character whose memory is constantly erased just doesn’t grow at all. Yes, she’s retaining memory and by the third episode, we could see she was becoming more “sentient” even after her “treatment,” but we’re three episodes in and there’s still only barely the slightest hint of that. That needs to become the primary focus of the series for it to work for me, and it doesn’t seem to be headed that way with any great haste.

    Fooey.

  8. Corey Says:

    *sigh*

    not to rock the boat, but i have a differing opinion from those i’ve seen here.

    i *heart* ‘dollhouse.’

    i find the premise and the episodes incredibly interesting. it takes a leap of faith to buy the premise of the show, but this is sci-fi. apparently in this world everyone knows that memory transfer is possible — just illegal and unproven in human beings (much like cloning is in our world). so, accepting that, i don’t find it all that hard to swallow.

    to the point of hiring a doll our a real hostage negotiator… he wanted the BEST hostage negotiator. the doll version was based on a real memory/personality, but tweaked with extra skills and knowledge. therefore, hiring the doll makes sense — she’s better and more skilled than any real hostage negotiator could ever be.

    to alisaj29’s comment — the dollhouse did not hire out echo to be used as target practice. she was hired out as a weekend adventurous girlfriend.

    as for echo’s character development (or the lack of possibly thereof) — i completely disagree. i find echo absolutely fascinating BECAUSE she has no memory. you’re forced to examine and identify the character by HOW she thinks, not WHAT she thinks. she approaches problems and issues far differently than the other dolls, which makes her unique… despite having no unique memories of her own. to me, that’s the genius of the show and why i can’t wait for another episode…

  9. megwood Says:

    Hey, Corey! Rock away, my friend. We can take it!

    But I disagree with you on a few points. First, I don’t think you’re correct when you say “Apparently in this world everyone knows that memory transfer is possible,” because Tahmoh’s colleagues seem to think he’s a total nutjob for believing something like the Dollhouse could exist.

    Which is why I found the hostage negotiator thing a bit odd. If this is sort of a secret technology and not at all something recognized as possible by the majority of the populace (as I believe the show has set it up to be), and your kid had been kidnapped, would you risk hiring a doll, not really knowing whether that technology was going to be as successful/legitimate as you’d been told it was? I could see hiring a doll for your weekend getaway, but to save your daughter’s life? That still doesn’t make any sense to me. It requires taking a lot on faith that I don’t think a father would take on faith in that situation. Maybe if it really were a world where this technology was widely-known and accepted as fully functional, but again, I don’t think that’s the case here.

    Also, as for the “weekend adventurous girlfriend” thing, that phrasing kind of cleans up a bit the fact she was ACTUALLY hired to be that dude’s extremely expensive prostitute for a weekend. I think that angle is something that’s bothering a few of us rather a lot. Not to mention the fact all three episodes so far have had completely unoriginal stories driving them — I forgot to mention the Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner third episode, but seriously? Where is Joss’s brain on this show? The jobs the dolls go on actually have the potential to be really weird and cool — or at least more exciting (like Garner’s tasks on Alias, for example).

    But aside from the doll who has clearly been assigned to sort of monkey with Tahmoh’s character, they’re just . . . not. And why not?

    For me, that’s been the most disappointing aspect of the whole series so far. If every week, the show is just going to rip off something we’ve already seen done 86 million times, the larger frame story about Echo’s uniqueness and growing sentience is not going to get a chance to play itself out. Because, honestly, this show will not survive unless the writing and stories get a whole heck of a lot sharper. Firefly was twice as well-done as this series, and it didn’t last a full season.

    But, like I said, yo, I’m hanging in there. And have high hopes that it just got off to a bit of a rocky start and that the next few episodes are going to take it in a more interesting direction. Fingers crossed!

  10. megwood Says:

    p.s. For those who don’t know him, Corey is one of the dudes behind http://www.evilontwolegs.com/, which, along with Final Girl’s blog, is one of my favorite horror movie review sites OF ALL TIME. (His “ten-second review” of the uncut version of the original Friday the 13th is totally hilarious and is on the front page of the site right now, so check it out.)

  11. Corey Says:

    by the ‘weekend adventurous girlfriend’ thing, i just meant that she was NOT hired to be his murder victim. the guy actually had to hire someone else to take out the dollhouse’s handler’s to hunt her… the dollhouse did not know he was going to do that, and were very unhappy about it.

    as for the possibility of memory transfer — i took it as a given that everyone knew about it when the FBI agent talks to the italian gangster guy and he says ‘sure, in monkeys. but no one’s done it in people.’ if a low-level hood (not usually the type of people subscribing to cutting edge neuroscience journals) knows that memory transfer has happened in primates, i’m pretty sure it’s been on the cover of newsweek a few times.

    therefore, people know the dollhouse is possible in theory — but can’t believe something that big has happened without anyone knowing. the same way we’d be shocked to learn that there was a huge organization cloning people for their organs to be harvested or something… we all know it’s technically possible, but it’d still be hard to believe if it actually happened.

    anyway — i’m digging the show. it’s much better than the first couple of episodes of either Buffy or Angel (and please don’t jump on me about that… Buffy is my favorite show of all-time). all shows take a little while to find their stride. i’ll agree it hasn’t started out as great as Firefly — but how many shows have? i can’t think of any. regardless, the premise of this show is probably something the general public can grab onto better than Firefly… because as much as i loved Firefly, a western space opera doesn’t exactly appeal to everyone. hopefully Dollhouse can be the same boat as Buffy and find a decently sized audience.

  12. megwood Says:

    Ooh, see? I’d forgotten about that scene with the hood and the Feebie — good point.

    And I definitely won’t jump all over you about your Buffy comment — to be honest, season 1 is actually fourth in my list of favorite Buffy seasons (3, 4, 2, 1, 5, 6, in case you were wondering). 🙂

  13. Corey Says:

    ps. your ‘ps’ made me blush. 🙂 i’m going to have to get my eo2l business cards changed so instead of ‘writer’ it says ‘one of the dudes’

  14. Corey Says:

    oh no! another point of contest! i don’t understand the hate for season 6 of buffy (altho even SMG shares the sentiment). on the chance i haven’t already revealed my joss fan-boi-ism, here’s my list of favorite buffy seasons in order.

    6,3,7,2,1,5,4

    i love the over-arching theme of season 6 (buffy trying to find her place in the world as an adult) and it has two of my all-time favorite episodes (‘once more with feeling’ and ‘tabula rasa’). and it has the evil trio! and evil willow! what’s not to love?

    i know that’s an unpopular opinion though… i guess between that and my love of ‘dollhouse,’ i may end up condemned to live on the outskirts of the general whedon-verse fan population. woe, is me.

  15. megwood Says:

    Okay, I will grant you the awesomeness of “Tabula Rasa,” which is in my list of top five favorite episodes of all time. But, in that case, you must grant me the awesomeness of “Hush” in season 4, which you ranked as your least favorite season even though “Hush” was TOTALLY AWESOME.

    I did love the geeks (AKA Buffy’s “nemesiseses”). And, of course, there’s no denying the other reason to watch season six, which is the fact Spike hardly ever put a shirt on the entire year.

    Season 7 is your third favorite, though?? Were you on crack at the time, or do you just have the hots for Nathan Fillion?

  16. Corey Says:

    there’s no denying the hots i have for captain tight-pants.

    regardless, i just ranked them as best i could… truth be told, 6 and 3 are my favs, 4 is my least favorite. the others are kind of all tied.

    i HATE season 4 because of adam, the initiative and potato (our nickname for riley). that said, there are some fabulous episodes in that season… ‘hush’ (which you mentioned) ‘superstar,’ and ‘restless’… just to name a few (all of which are probably in my top 10 episodes of all time). but that’s one of the great things about that show… even the parts you hate the most are still damn good.

    i just have a really hard time re-watching season 4 in its entirety though due to the ridiculousness of the ‘big bad’ and the horror that is potato.

    sorry for derailing your comment section into buffy-land… i’m done now, i think. 🙂

  17. megwood Says:

    “Potato” just made me cackle. Awesome.

  18. Rochelle Says:

    meg, you totally summed up my feelings on dollhouse. but my main issue is one that I think someone already mentioned: it just doesn’t have that Jossiness that we love. I am basically continuing to watch out of guilt for not watching firefly when it aired. I just couldn’t get into it and couldn’t seem to remember when it was on. of course, at the time I didn’t know FOX was airing it all out of order and stuff. Then my sister bought the DVDs and we watched it over and over. in fact i just watched several eps this past weekend. but back to dollhouse. i am forgiving, for now, due to my firefly guilt and the fact that it wasn’t Joss’s premise, Eliza was attached to the show and wanted Joss to work on it from what I remember. I thought that if anyone could make the idea cool, it would be him. so far not so much. the prostitution angle is especially icky given Joss calls himself a feminist. I wasn’t crazy about the companion angle in firefly either.

    on the buffy side note, seasons in order of preference: 4 (hated riley at first, but he grew on me. also spike became a regular), 5 (hated dawn at first but she grew on me, little sisters are like that. hi, tif.), 3, 2, 6, 7 & my five fave eps in order of appearance (too many honorable mentions to mention):
    school hard – “you were my yoda!”
    bewitched, bothered an bewildered. – “who died an made you elvis?”
    something blue – “can i be blind too?”
    once more with feeling – “they got the mustard out!”
    tabula rasa – “stay away from randy!”

  19. Rochelle Says:

    I just realized i left season 1 off my list. I go back and forth on how much I like it. it’s either 4,5,3,2,6,1,7 or 4,5,3,2,1,6,7.

  20. megwood Says:

    I like your Buffy order, Rochelle! Your “hi, tif” made me laugh out loud, by the way. Hee.

  21. alisa Says:

    IF we’re going by the premise that the dollhouse didn’t know that their client was going to use Echo as a shooting target (which I still think they did think that could be a possibility, BECAUSE the charged him more $ , and made him sign an extra clause in their contract for any damage that Echo might get.) anywho…..again, according the Doll House higher-ups, their organization is there to help high profile people, with “problems” that would draw to much media attention if the wrong group of people got involved, IE police and Feds. When they took $ from Matt Keeslar’s character, and “lent” Echo as his Weekend Adventure Girlfriend” that is prostitution, and I’m sure that a very good lawyer could also argue kidnapping. 🙂

  22. Corey Says:

    i think the damage clause was because they were going free-climbing and rapids rafting. i seem to remember a scene at the end where the dollhouse lady (CEO?) is yelling at someone, asking how a psychopath could have gotten through their ridiculously thorough screening procedures. and then she’s told that all of the client’s information was fake (leaving the question open as to how such an elaborate false persona could have been constructed and who helped him do it… i’m guessing Alpha or a rival organization).

    and i completely agree it’s prostitution. the dollhouse doesn’t pretend otherwise (e.g., in the last episode the CEO lady offers two of the dolls to the singer’s manager to ‘relax’ him). the dollhouse seems to be a financial venture, and nothing more — they’ll provide anything you need, as long as you can pay for it. however, they’re not monsters either (as shown by sending Echo back out in the 1st episode to save the little girl, although there was nothing in it for them).

    while i agree it’s prostitution, i can see how someone would argue it’s not. how can it be prostitution if the prostitute doesn’t know money is being exchanged and is doing it because, for all intents and purposes, they’re in love with the client? if the dollhouse ever gets raided by the FBI, it’s going to take the courts a while to sort out the legal definitions of exactly what crimes have been committed… maybe they’ll do that in a future season. if it makes it past the first one.

  23. megwood Says:

    Corey’s right about the wilderness episode — they made Keeslar’s character pay extra specifically because of the rapids and climbing stuff and were extremely angry when they found out what happened.

    But I disagree with your theory on how some could argue it’s NOT prostitution, Corey. We actually have pretty clear laws about that, I’d say. Which is why you can be charged with rape if you have sex with someone who was under the influence of drugs, for example. Or if you have sex with someone who is mentally disabled. Or if you have sex with a 12 year old who thinks they are in love with you even though you’re their 45 year old soccer coach. I think the crime here is clear — not to mention extremely disturbing!

    I’d also argue that they sent Echo back out to save the little girl more for PR reasons than anything else. They kinda are monsters, actually. They weren’t grieving for the murders of all those Dolls by that one guy who freaked out (forgot his name), for example, so much as they were bummed they were going to have to start all over again with new ones. They don’t see the Dolls as people at all, really (although, I’m starting to wonder if maybe the lady in charge sees Echo as a person, considering her unwillingness to send her to the “Attic” despite the fact she knows something is not working quite right with her Dollness). That’s pretty monstrous if you ask me.

  24. Corey Says:

    megwood —

    i agree it’s prostitution. i just meant i could see how someone could approach it from the other side… like the tech guy when he says ‘what we just did was give two people a wonderful, romantic weekend together. we’re humanitarians.’ i disagree with him, but i can comprehend how he’s justifying it to himself.

    and good point on the dollhouse — they kinda are monsters. i believe the in-charge lady (shall we just call her ‘the doll collector’?) genuinely decided to send Echo back out b/c she wanted to save that child’s life, but that doesn’t mean she’s a good person overall. just that she’s not Mrs. Evil McEvilPants. like all of joss’ villains, she’s complex and honestly believes she’s justified and in the right. i’m interested in seeing where her character goes.

  25. jo Says:

    I’m on the Dollhouse fence. It’s been disappointing so far, mostly due to the Josslessness of it all. I see flashes of what he’s going for, but it just hasn’t come together yet. For now, I’m chalking it up to network interference (apparently the original pilot was much better than the one that got aired) and hoping it gets better. Supposedly ep 6 is when it hits its stride.

    The prostitution angle doesn’t bother me. It’s not like the folks running the dollhouse are the good guys. We’re not supposed to like them, or root for them.

    The biggest problem I have with the premise is so what if Echo starts getting her memory back? She volunteered to be a doll in the first place, so surely she knew what she was getting into. I’m hoping that once we get more of her backstory we’ll have a reason to care.

    The biggest problem I have with the show overall is Eliza. Girl can’t act.

  26. megwood Says:

    Did Echo actually volunteer to be a doll? I got the impression it was less voluntary than that — more like La Femme Nikita, who was given the choice between life in jail or agreeing to participate in the spy/assassin program thingy.

    And I don’t remember seeing them tell Echo exactly what she’d be doing as a doll either. I remember that she was reluctantly agreeing to participate and was unhappy about it, but I’d be surprised if they actually said, “We’ll be wiping your memory with a fancy computer thing while you serve as a high-class whore to rich dweebs!” They wouldn’t have to tell her anything, really, as the assumption would be that she wouldn’t remember any of it anyway.

    Corey, I agree — I think the Doll Collector lady is more complicated than just straight Evil McEvilpants. Definitely. I’m curious to see how that plays out too, especially if she is the first one to figure out that Echo is starting to retain some memory between gigs.

    Jo, I totally agree with you about Eliza. I wish they’d cast somebody else in her role. She’s just too much the same in every part to me — I don’t find her very interesting as an actress. But we’ll see what she does with Echo — maybe she’ll surprise us. As early as tonight, perhaps?

  27. Lizzie Says:

    I have a good idea (No, really, I think I do!). What would you say, Meg, to having a page on your blog called “WELCOME TO THE WHEDON-VERSE”? It seems like many of us have a partiality to at least one of Joss’s shows. I glommed on to “‘Buffy” part way through the 1st season, and have been a devoted fan ever since. I also followed “Angel,” even though it ultimately wasn’t as good as “Buffy.”

    But I, too, suffer from “Firefly guilt.” I purposely didn’t watch it, because of some misguided thought that I would be being disloyal to Buffy and Angel! Well, now I’ve rented all the discs, and taped the “Serenity” movie from the Sci-Fi Network, and I can say that it really was a great show, and it was criminal how short-lived it was.

    My introduction to Nathan Fillion was as “Caleb,” the evil preacher on “Buffy,” and it took me a long time not to be creeped out by him. There were so many great people on that show – not the least of which was DAVID BOREANAZ as Angel. I like Eliza Dushku, and thought “Faith” was intriguing. I’m not sure I can rate all the seasons of the show, but I thought #3 was phenomenal, because I thought the Mayor was the BEST BIG BAD. #2 was an under-rated year, because it was a “make or break” year – and guess what: it made it! I initially hated #4, primarily because of “The Initiative,” but on watching reruns, I began to see it as an important turning point in the story-arc. And “Hush” was such a phenomenal episode. #5 was really good, once we got used to “Dawn,” because “Glory” was so interesting, and the overall concept was so good. I thought #6 was the weakest, but “Once More With Feeling” was GREAT, and so was the 2-part finale. I also really liked the finale of the show, and although #7 had some sluggish stuff in it, it pulled together quite well!

    Now – “Dollhouse:” I must admit to being naive enough not to pick up on the prostitution angle of the organization. I guess I thought that if some clients wanted to make use of that, it would be hard to dissuade or stop them. I liked the concept, and thought it had more promise than “My Own Worst Enemy.” But I do agree that the secrecy issue doesn’t make much sense. I also think the FBI guy is kind of lame (oh! sacrilege!). BTW, did anyone pick up the line in the 1st ep, where the father said he thought a hostage negotiator should be more of a fatherly type – like Edward James Olmos! It had to be a bow to “Battlestar!”

    Also, I thought it was interesting that Echo had her meltdown due to memories FROM SOMEONE ELSE with which she had been imprinted – about the child molester. Also, it was determined that the original victim, whose memories had been “harvested’ had committed suicide because she couldn’t deal with what had happened to her. But Echo, with the same “memories,” went out and faced down the molester, and saved the child. I think that’s supposed to give us a hint of what kind of person she is – or used to be. I also think we were given a clue to her background in the last scene of that 1st show: the video of her right after college, and the sight of her dead parents. Did she kill them, or was she framed?

    One more thing – does anyone think that the computer geek who’s sort of the engineer of the “treatments” was trying too hard to remind us of “Wash” from “Firefly?’ Okay, one MORE thing: I was convinced the “CEO” of the Dollhouse was played by the same actress who played Faith’s fake watcher, Gwen, on “Buffy.” I was wrong, but wouldn’t it have been a cute idea?

  28. Brie Says:

    Sheesh! I read your post this morning, and came back to reply to it now that I have time, but don’t have anything to add. Pretty much every little opinion that has crossed my mind about the show has already been pointed out here.

    That said, I have issues with it, but I am definitely still watching.

    And Meg, I so thought of you when I saw Matt Keesler in that episode! I read that they are releasing Middleman on DVD, small confort.

  29. Alisa Says:

    I tried giving Dollhouse one more chance, but this time Echo was not only a another hooker, but also a art thief. I give up, no more. This show is just plain ole T & A.

  30. Lisa Says:

    Dear Megan,
    Awesome review. I just found myself staring in wonder at my TV screen going WTF after watching Dollhouse? Your review is way more articulate! 🙂
    The only thing I have to add is a drinking game should be started where every time Eliza Dushku shows up half-clothed, take a swig!

  31. megwood Says:

    Great idea about the drinking game, Lisa! Though if all it took per swig was a shot of a half-clothed Dushku, we wouldn’t make it to the opening credits without being totally blitzed! 🙂

  32. Lizzie Says:

    It WOULD make a good drinking game. And it would work on “Tru Calling” too – only I think she was a little heavier then, and sometimes looked like she was falling out of her clothes! (I should talk! I’ve always had a weight problem.) And remember, she got it on with “Principal Wood” on “Buffy,” so that sex-kitten image is sure following her around.

  33. Nai Says:

    As far as ED being a bit heavier in Buffy, am I alone in thinking she’s far to skinny now? I don’t mean that as a sort of actor-bashing-weight-thing. I’m actually concerned over this trend we have for insisting that actresses be stick-thin. It’s unrealistic, unhealthy, and unattractive. And why, for the love of all that’s holy, do we keep going on about Kate Winslet being a sturdy woman and not ashamed to have her normal body and let it show?! The woman is almost 5’7″ and she’s only a size six, yet the media keep acting like she’s rotund. Gah! We really need to reassess our paradigms and ideals.

  34. Nai Says:

    I want to edit! I missed an O in too. Gah! I hate grammaros.

  35. Amy Says:

    I had to smile when you wrote: “Essentially, the dolls serve primarily as super-duper expensive prostitutes who aren’t even allowed to maintain their own brains. I’m disturbed.”

    My son turned to me after the 1st episode and said : “So, basically shes a sex doll who kills people.”

    That about sums it up in a nutshell.:)

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