‘Dollhouse’: "Ghost"

14Feb09
Dollhouse

Some initial thoughts about the pilot:

  • It didn’t seem very piloty. I tend to think a pilot’s purpose is to establish the characters and the environment that make up the core of the show. This episode was mainly client-based and took place outside of the Dollhouse for the most part.
  • The kidnapping plot functioned well in revealing the boundaries and limitations of the actives’ programming. I like that the actives seem to have free will to an extent: they choose how to act based on their imprint. The only command that seemed to override the imprint was the suggestion that they need a treatment, and Echo’s motorcycle-riding, tiny-dress-wearing persona seemed to be aware of a time limit to her assignment.
  • The quirky dialogue that I’ve come to expect from Joss was not present, but that’s not to say that the dialogue was bad, merely straightforward.
  • I was happy to see that the show had credits, but they were disappointingly generic as was the theme song. They also contained an inordinate amount of shots of naked or mostly naked ladies. Based on the credits and the promos broadcast during the show, including one featuring Eliza Dushku and Summer Glau from The Sarah Connor Chronicles, FOX is using sex to market the show, which concerns me for several reasons. First, Joss managed to create on Buffy some of the unsexiest, unsettling sex scenes ever so I don’t relish the thought of Dollhouse featuring a lot of them. Second, clients hiring actives to fulfill sexual fantasies is just so banal and obvious. Third…
  • Eliza Dushku in 'Dollhouse'

  • In the Eliza/Summer promo, they talked about how the FOX shows on Friday night had girls who could be whatever you wanted them to be, reinforcing sexist ideas of the interchangeability and malleability of women by men. While male actives are seen walking around in the background of the Dollhouse, the only two actives who are, um, active in this episode are female. Enver Gjokaj’s character was originally written as another active but seems to have been changed to a Russian mobster, which causes me to wonder if there will be any prominent, recurring male actives, besides Alpha who seems to have escaped the Dollhouse. I really do not want the show to be about female actives controlled by male programmers and handlers, thereby reinforcing those sexist ideas, unless Joss plans to make a point about it.
  • I mean no disparagement to Harry Lennix, in fact I quite liked his performance, but I wish that Echo had a female handler.
  • I recognized more of the cast than I thought. Olivia Williams played Rosemary in Rushmore and Reed Diamond played Stuart Collins on Judging Amy. I really liked Williams as DeWitt.
  • Amy Acker played Dr. Saunders as very much not Fred, which was both pleasing and reassuring. (I couldn’t stand Fred.) She was good.
  • I’m worried about Dichen Lachman, who plays Sierra. She only had two lines and they were…not delivered well.
  • Tahmoh Penikett’s character was very separated from the Dollhouse, which could be problematic given that he is recurring. I hope that they manage to make his storyline feel integrated into the series because when he was watching and threatening Enver Gjokaj, I was wondering why I should care, which is not a good sign. I also hope that they clarify how the intelligence agency he works for became aware of the Dollhouse and why he’s being so dogged about a case for which he isn’t receiving much support from his supervisors.
  • I’m still curious to see how Eliza will handle the multiple roles she will have to play in one episode. There was definitely a difference between Echo and Miss Penn, but Caroline and Echo’s motorcycle/dress persona were almost indistinguishable. However, that lack of distinction may have been purposeful to make viewers think that they were the same person. I hope to see Eliza playing with her physicality more to distinguish various personas in future episodes.

I think I might try writing a little something about the Dollhouse episodes as they air, but I’ll see. I’m very bad about catching episodes when they air these days. TV on the Internet and DVD box sets have spoiled me.

More Dollhouse reviews/thoughts:

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