So, I decided today to start watching Dollhouse. As I recall, I’ve done this before. I remember thinking that it lacked Whedoness. It felt like Joss Whedon’s attempt at becoming J.J. Abrams. And since he’s now heading the ultimate project in movie synergy I guess it worked. You now, that superhero movie we’ve seen so many commercials for (commercials like Iron Man 2, Captain American, Thor). Now, despite what I might think about Whedon’s public persona[i], the guy can write.[ii] Perhaps his greatest talent, best displayed on Buffy, is the ability to seamlessly move from eliciting one emotional reaction from his audience to another. His characters always feel like real people. Their relationships with each other always seem genuine. But, as far as I can see, none of that talent made it to Dollhouse. But then again, it seems like Whedon wasn’t involved in the day to day. The show, so far, seems to be an attempt to give people what they want rather than create what they want. It looks like a lot of network TV. It looks too polished. It is too dramatic. It is full of plot holes. I don’t know why it was cancelled.
Dushku plays Echo, a woman who is promised a new start from some ambiguous past by enrolling in some covert program called the Dollhouse whose agents routinely have their memory wiped and reprogrammed to be the perfect agent for whatever mission they are on. Despite being an illegal covert program everyone seems to know about it. So, maybe I’m not supposed to think it’s covert. One guy even calls the Dollhouse “world famous” so I guess it’s not so covert. Quick sidebar, casting Eliza Dushku as a character specifically required to play different personas may not have been five by five. I suppose since she’s the one who brought the project to Whedon firing her from her own show would be a low blow. As well, this show is now one of many that depict women in their late twenties saving the world. The pilot, for instance, has Dushku playing Miss Penn, a near sighted hostage negotiator with asthma. She wears glasses, cause she thinks she’s nearsighted, and a business suit. She plays a character that is always pretending and I always feel like Dushku is pretending. She looks like she’s wearing her mother’s clothes. Her faking an asthma attack is amazing. She even falls to the ground. I thought everyone who didn’t have asthma at least knew someone with asthma. Anyway, I can’t ever see her not as Faith. Now, in her defense, I haven’t seen her in many things. In True Lies she’s too young for me to connect her to her adult self. I haven’t seen Tru calling. And I only vaguely recall her in Jay and Silent Bob. So, maybe if I was fully versed in her oeuvre I might see the nuance in what she is doing.
Other things I thought about: looking at a computer imaging of a blue brain, someone actually says, “See the blue areas. That’s fear.” Other than Riley, I can’t see anyone in the Whedonverse actually saying this. Wow, that’s fear. In the second episode we are told what tabula rasa means. The second episode reminds me of J.C.V.D.’s Hard Target.[iii] Echo tells her stalker, “You poisoned me and tried to shoot me with arrows.” It is definetly the arrows part that would get me riled up. Everyone on the show is TV good looking which, I have never found good looking.
[i] Try listening to the commentary track on the last episode of Buffy when Whedon thanks people for watching his show.
[ii] I am not including the Firefly theme song.
[iii] Q: “How does it feel to be hunted.” A: “You tell me.”