Jump to content

Dollhouse


Peter T Chattaway
 Share

Recommended Posts

Thought it was a mess.

But then, i was watching it on my new TV with Antenna Attempt #5, and thus I lost about ten seconds every minute or two, and missed some key exchanges, so I really didnt' know what the heck was going on. That might have been the show's fault, and I think it was, in part.

I saw it without any antenna issues, and also thought it was a mess. There may be something intriguing going on somewhere in there, but there was way too much plot thrown out there, so much that it drowns anyone trying to make sense of it all. The first episode seemed like a strange hybrid of Alias, The Stepford Wives and Law and Order: SVU.

It lacked the humor and the charm of most Whedon stuff. The script was so expository, and they're going to have to work really hard to make this premise even halfway plausible.

Yes, this is a shame. You would never know this was a Joss Whedon show. His strength is writing for an ensemble cast. But it seemed only the memory-wiping geeky guy was written by Whedon, and the rest of the cast was written by someone else.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let's all take a deep breath and think back to what Fox aired as the first episode of Firefly, "The Train Job," which Joss and Tim Minear wrote in a weekend. Pretty good, especially when you see it now as episode 3--or 2, if you consider the 2-hour "Serenity" as one episode, but in real-time, no one would see "Serenity" until the end of the broadcast run. From the ratings, apparently most people thought, "What?!" and turned the channel.

Therefore, I am not making my mind up until I have seen more than one episode. Or maybe even more than four episodes. Also, I wouldn't say it "does not feel like Whedon had any hand in it." I'd say it feels as if he's trying something different, less genre-mixy. The element that is very typical of Whedon is using surface glitter & action as camouflage for serious themes of identity, sexual politics, and the meaning of life, teasing the audience with an intentionally "incoherent text," a term invented by film critic Robin Wood. Gregory Stevenson explains in Televised Morality: The Case of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

One way of understanding the incoherent text is to view it as a narrative in which the text and subtext are at odds, as in action movies that glorify graphic violence on the screen while maintaining an underlying message of peace. Although the focus of Wood's study is on films that are unintentionally incoherent, he also refers to those that use incoherence deliberately as a structuring principle, "resulting in works that reveal themselves as perfectly coherent once one has mastered their rules." (7)

Stevenson demonstrates how Buffy works in just this way, so that once you learn how to read it, "the perceived incoherence gives way to a tightly structured coherence that ultimately brings the text and subtext into a harmony of meaning" (7). And I'm going out on a limb to bet that this is how Dollhouse is meant to work, as well--on the surface, it's "look at shiny Eliza in a minidress!" while all the time the subtext is asking "What makes us who we are? Why is she here? Why are you more interested in the minidress than who she really is? What makes us human? Who makes the rules? What is the nature of power?" and a boatload of other scary questions.

Not everyone likes this approach, or even thinks it works well. And even if it does, one episode is too soon to tell, so I'm officially wait-and-see.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let's all take a deep breath and think back to what Fox aired as the first episode of Firefly, "The Train Job," which Joss and Tim Minear wrote in a weekend. Pretty good, especially when you see it now as episode 3--or 2, if you consider the 2-hour "Serenity" as one episode, but in real-time, no one would see "Serenity" until the end of the broadcast run. From the ratings, apparently most people thought, "What?!" and turned the channel.

But that wasn't the pilot that Joss intended for Firefly. "Ghost" was the pilot for Dollhouse, though.

That said, I'm still going to watch it. I'm too much of a fan to write off something like this with one episode (and an episode that I liked in spots, too).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tonight's episode was much, much better, and I'm starting to see the potential.

Lurid, but better. Felt a little more like Whedon to me, and a couple (but not nearly enough) good lines. "Even a blind dog will find a bone if he digs enough holes."

And by the way, our new RCA 1550 is working really well. At least, tonight it is. Jury's still out on whether it's the one we settle on.

Thanks, by the way, for all of your recommendations and advice.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tonight's episode was much, much better, and I'm starting to see the potential.

Lurid, but better.

I little too DELIVERANCE for me. Although this was more Apollo than Mountain Men.

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I liked the second episode more than the first. This one actually felt like something Joss Whedon was involved in.

The concept is intriguing enough to keep watching, but I wonder if Whedon can actually pull off trying together all these complex storylines in a reasonable number of episodes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let's all take a deep breath and think back to what Fox aired as the first episode of Firefly, "The Train Job," ...

But that wasn't the pilot that Joss intended for Firefly. "Ghost" was the pilot for Dollhouse, though.

Turns out "Ghost" wasn't the original pilot for Dollhouse, either, according to the NPR interview:

Whedon says the Fox network wasn't particularly comfortable with these themes either. The original pilot episode of the series, which included discussion of the actives performing more altruistic deeds, was scrapped in favor of one that amped up the action and conspiracy.Whedon says Fox also asked him to turn down the volume on some of the sexual themes.

"My problem has always been, what happens is that you get the corporations basically enjoying the titillation of the thing instead of wanting to baldly talk about it," he says. "We really wanted to hit it in the face and say, well, what does it mean? Is it wrong to pay somebody to have sex? How wrong is it to try to create your own perfect experience? When is it appalling? And when is it a part of people becoming increasingly incapable of dealing with other people and living these incredibly insular lives?"

(emphasis added)

I also liked the second episode better, mainly because it started adding layers to the mystery of what the "Dollhouse" is, who Echo is/was, and who besides the FBI agent might be trying to infiltrate or take it apart.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm. I may be the only person around here who *didn't* like the second episode better. That's not to say that I was in love with the first episode. But then again, I may also be the only person around here who struggled through the entire series of Firefly and never was able to understand what people liked so much about it.

Hadn't this episode's storyline been done like a dozen times in other movies and tv shows before?

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just watched the first two episodes on Hulu and find myself having trouble with the whole concept. The idea that the Dollhouse is a secret that the FBI can't find out about seems a bit farfetched. How many people work at the Dollhouse and how many clients have they serviced? The best way to keep a secret is to keep it between as few people as possible. The more people know the greater chances somebody's going to tell.

I am waiting for more backstory on Echo's handler but he seems to be shaping up as the moral voice amongst the immoral corporation. But how could anyone with any sort of moral compass go to work for this outfit to begin with...very hard to swallow.

And lastly I miss Josh Whedon's sense of humor. Maybe I missed it but I didn't find anything funny in the first two episodes, not like in Buffy or Firefly.

I'll keep watching but at this point I am not optimistic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyone watch this week's episode? I just caught it on Hulu.

I thought the main story itself was weak, but some of the nuances during the actual episode kept me attentive.

Seems like some in the Dollhouse trust what Echo is capable of, others don't. And was the mob informant always part of Dollhouse? Is Echo remembering more and more

Plus, Ballard's subplot was very interesting too.

And who is Alpha? Whedon hinted that it was someone already on the show. It could be anyone

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyone watch this week's episode? I just caught it on Hulu.

I thought the main story itself was weak, but some of the nuances during the actual episode kept me attentive.

Seems like some in the Dollhouse trust what Echo is capable of, others don't. And was the mob informant always part of Dollhouse? Is Echo remembering more and more

Plus, Ballard's subplot was very interesting too.

And who is Alpha? Whedon hinted that it was someone already on the show. It could be anyone

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I recorded it and just watched it this evening.

I believe the mob informant was always part of Dollhouse. For one thing, his name (both as "doll" and mobster), Victor, is an "alphabet" name like Alpha, Echo, Sierra.

I don't know whether

Echo is remembering more, or if all the dolls remember from their missions than "genius" Topher and the rest of the admins think they do. After this outing, the supposedly "wiped" Sierra veered toward Echo as if to greet her, and Echo gave her a tiny head-shake "no"

I have no clue about Alpha's identity, but I'm pretty sure he's not

Boyd

. Of course, I could be wrong!

Makes sense on Victor. And I think you're right regarding Boyd, but I feel like Whedon might try to be crafty.

That said, I'm definitely liking the show.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does anyone else have a problem with the fact that Alpha's identity is being kept a secret from the audience? If Alpha was one of the "dolls," wouldn't everyone there (presumably including Boyd, who most certainly would have asked for a picture) know exactly who Alpha is, or at least what Alpha looks like? Then why do they all act like it's a mystery? Am I missing something - is there some reason that the characters on the show actually *don't* know who Alpha is? If they all know, and it's just being kept from the audience, that's not intriguing to me, it's just frustrating.

Well, my initial vote for

Boyd

is out, if only because it just doesn't make any sense. But maybe people don't know because Alpha, like, changed appearance? Or just looks different?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have some patience. It's only a 13 episode run. All will be revealed soon enough, I expect.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have some patience. It's only a 13 episode run. All will be revealed soon enough, I expect.

I'm not worried about it not being revealed. I'm worried about it not making sense.

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

It's getting along surprisingly well for a show whose major protagonist has no fixed identity.

I like the last episode all right, but there seemed to be some dearth of character development on Echo's end. That is, most episodes, her character finds a way to grow and change. She does that here, too, but the change wasn't set up as well; after the "miracle" she just kind of turned off until the plot necessitated she

save the cultists

.

The heist was good, though.

Everything that matters is invisible.

-- Robert Bresson

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The media pundits are all saying Dollhouse ep. 6 is indeed the "game changer"--several links to reviews & interviews, some more spoilery than others, at Whedonesque.com March archives. Click at your own discretion.

Edited by BethR

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Atlantic chimes in--obviously before actually seeing episode 6--but still with some interesting points.

Unlike his best work, Dollhouse hasn’t yet escaped the constraints of its genre. But if Whedon manages to use its risky combination of human trafficking, memory loss, and science to move into head-on explorations of consent and identity, Dollhouse could succeed as his most ambitious attempt to tackle the problem of what makes us who we are.

I think the series is now on the way to that success, but the genre trappings may yet overwhelm the themes for many viewers. All I can say is, it's working for me.

Edited by BethR

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...