Science Fiction, Television

Further Thoughts on Dollhouse

May 17, 2009

It looks like Dollhouse has been renewed for a second, 13-episode season.  Some will disagree with me, but I think it’s good news!

After watching the pilot, I came away disappointed, but hopeful.  With the first season in the books, I’m still not entirely on board, but it definitely got better as the season went along.  My nutshell impression:  I definitely don’t love the show, but I find it occasionally strong and always conceptually intriguing.  There are still a ton of possibilities to explore with the idea, and I’m intrigued to see how they continue to develop this problematic but interesting premise.

Some random thoughts about season one:

•    I really think the show suffered, especially in the early stages, from being a vehicle for Eliza Dushku — and I say that without regard to her acting, whatever you may think about it.  Dushku just isn’t the star of Dollhouse, to me, or anyway she shouldn’t be; the Dollhouse is the star of Dollhouse.  The premise has its flaws, but it’s the premise that interests me and keeps me coming back.
•    This show has one of the worst theme songs of all time.  Seriously.  I mean, it gives me a bad physical reaction
•    Not a hell of a lot of sympathetic characters on this show, are there?  Only the Actives are sympathetic…and they’re all incapable of “protagging.”  Talk about a writing conundrum…
•    I think I’d rather see Amy Acker take on a new role every week than either Dushku or Dieter Lachman (Sierra).
•    If they ever let me reboot Mission: Impossible as a TV series (and hey, uh, I’m available!) I think Enver Gjokaj (Victor) is my Rollin Hand.  Of the regular cast members, he is by far the stand-out for me — and he’s certainly the Active whose mission-of-the-week play-acting I most looked forward to seeing.
•    Boyd sure got boring, didn’t he?
•    I can’t say I like Topher (Fran Kranz), but I find him kind of fascinating.  At first it seemed he was supposed to be the Xander/Wash figure on the show, but his ethics are so wack…now I find the tonal clash of him kind of compelling.
•    Alan Tudyk is fucking brilliant.  His performance in “Briar Rose” alone made watching the lame-to-mediocre “bottle shows” of the early days worth it.  (Speaking of Tudyk, every time I see him in that commercial with Dule Hill, where they’re both lying on the floor of a bank during a hold-up, I always think to myself:  “Alan Tudyk, Dule Hill — I’d totally watch that show.  What channel is that on?”  OK, this had nothing to do with Dollhouse…)

Anyway Dollhouse definitely hasn’t captured my heart the way Buffy and Angel did, but to be honest the first seasons of those shows weren’t pure gold for me either — and the second seasons really caught fire.  (Oh, if only Firefly had gotten that chance…)  I’m looking forward to season two; hopefully it will continue to improve as it goes along.

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