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on May 24, 2009
...this show is *actually* GOOD. What I mean is that Dollhouse is not good simply because Whedon fans worship at the shrine of Whedon and therefore cannot be trusted to tell you the real deal. In a lot of ways, it's a shame that this show was so hyped from the beginning, because it didn't get a chance to gradually develop a fanbase in its own right, but was instead touted as a show sustained merely by Whedon fans. While I admit to being a Whedon fan, which compelled me to watch it even through some shaky episodes, here's the scoop:

In the beginning of the show, what we learn is that a woman named Caroline (Eliza Dushku) has agreed (or was coerced) to download her personality into cyber storage, and some shady organization rents her body out to the highest bidder for various "engagements." We see that these engagements can involve sexual fantasy (hence the dubbing "cathouse" by the critics), or perhaps something that requires personality-combo platters in order to complete some sort of high risk, spy-type mission. A lot of negative reviews here refer to the first five episodes. And, yes, the first five establishing "mission of the week" episodes are surfacy and disconnected, but it's really the journey of the series arc (and character growth) that will ultimately make for some passionate tv. (And though these first five episodes were not the highlight of the season, there are some gems of ideas in there. For instance, one episode pays homage to Cornell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game", which is based on quite a chilling concept.)

Now that we've got the darned hype out of the way, let's talk about the show, as it evolves in Episode 6. (Incidentally, the theme of episode 6 is very similar to the unaired pilot episode on the dvd release, which was awesome, and epitomizes Joss's idea of the show - excellent). Now instead of just seeing the sexual fantasy episodes in terms of some hokey emporer's club cathouse (which, let's face it, is something that already exists out there for the kind of money these clients are paying), we start to see the NEEDS that these fantasies fulfill in the clients. And here's the thing: even though we do not approve of what they're doing, we start to sympathize with, and in some cases even begin to care about, these clients. And here is one place where we begin to see the brilliance and fascinating challenge that this show presents, and will continue to present, to its viewers (bring on Neuromancer!).

This is a show that lives and thrives in a very gray area - it's unclear who the heroes might or might not be, and this is shaping up to be a nuanced, character-driven ensemble show (with an extremely talented cast). At its heart, this is a show about the identity of "self" without memory. About science and ethics. About exposing our darkest human fantasies, and exploring the root of the needs that create them. The show is not just about the "dolls," but is also about the clients - WHY do they need a fake person to save them? And what could have possibly compelled these "dolls" to have given away their memories in the first place? And then there's the dollhouse itself...why does it exist? Who are these people that babysit and program the dolls - what's their story?

The extras on this dvd set are worth buying, especially the unaired thirteenth episode, "Epitaph One". Without giving too much away, it's a little like CLOVERFIELD meets THE MATRIX meets SERENITY, Dollhouse style. The commentaries are great - Joss has much to say about episode 6 and a very conspicuous not much to say about episode 1 ("oh, look, people are pretty, and I'm hungry right now"), which is exactly what you'd expect, especially given how amazing the unaired pilot episode was.

All in all, this show is a little bit ALIAS (except replace awesome disguises with personalities), a little bit BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (except replace "Cylon" with "doll"), a little bit LOST (except replace "island" with "dollhouse"), and a lot Whedon (exploring the essence of humanity and individual identity through grandiose metaphor). Assuming that the show is allowed to breathe and grow into its full potential, we're in for even more thought-provoking, heart-breaking, butt-kicking entertainment. Trust me, you don't want to miss out on the ride!

**Addition to review**
While the actors who were less well known (to me) on this show were all outstanding, here are some highlights:
Season 1:
Eliza Dushku (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Tru Calling)
Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica)
Amy Acker (Angel, Alias)
Other guest stars you may recognize from Firefly, Buffy, and Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog

Announced (by Fox press release) for Season 2:
Summer Glau (Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)
Alexis Denisof (Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica)
Keith Kerridine (Dexter)
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on May 23, 2009
Ok, so the series starts off with Joss Whedon, celebrated writer-director-composer, except no-one wants to work with him, then he has a hit web show, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and he catches the attention of the dark and shadowy Fox Corporation. Fox wipe Joss's brain to make him forget that he worked for them before and they became mortal enemies.

So now Fox can make Joss do whatever they want, everyday they activate Joss and set him to work making a television series for them called Dollhouse. Everything works out fine for them. The show is flashy, cool, sexy, confusing, humourless, disconnected and unengaging. Without the real Joss to complain Fox don't even have to spend much cash on it. But can the technology Fox has used really remove all of a person's memories, their sense of self, their soul?

As he works from episode to episode it becomes apparent that Joss starts to remember who he is, but knowing he shouldn't draw attention to this fact he keeps it to himself and works slowly to improve Dollhouse from within. From episode 6 `Man on the Street' flashes of brilliance begin to save the show, culminating in the superb episode 9 `A Spy in the House of Love', by now Dollhouse has become gripping, funny, dark and touching with an intelligent and complex storyline that has people thinking. Joss is even able to help other people taken over by Fox and makes Eliza Dushku realise that she is an actress.

By the end of the series we have been taken to a place we little imagined in the beginning. I won't give any spoilers but Dollhouse does end with Joss improbably winning renewal for a second series, this time will he be out to revenge himself on the people who did this to him and turn out a flawless piece of work from the start?
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on May 2, 2009
I am writing this review one week away from the finale and I have to say this show is easily the best new show of this season.

Yes, true that the first half of the season is much slower in terms of action and suspense than the latter half but do we really expect to go into a brand new show with mysteries and action coming at you from all directions? It would have proved to be a little overwhelming.

With that said, I'm one of the rare few that appreciated the time given to adjust to the concept of the show and to understand and develop a care for the characters. Many viewers went into the show with this expectation of what the show should be simply because it is a Joss Whedon creation.

With that level of expectation, it of course resulted in major disappointment and in turn created this whole frenzy about the show's survival which ultimately hurt the enjoyment of the show.

Refused to stress over the fate of the show, I decided to watch the show for what it is and am truly satisfied with it. Both the writing and acting has been nothing short of being superb and like any Joss Whedon show, it is inevitable for you to fall in love with the characters.

Not only do you find yourself falling in love with the lead character - Echo, you soon find that you can't help but care for those around her as well. Like her fellow doll, Sierra played by the incredible Dichen Lachman who has this coolness about her that makes it really enjoyable to watch every time she takes on the character of a under cover agent as well as the "cold hearted boss woman" Adelle played by Olivia Williams. Adelle is easily the most complex character on the show. There are just so many layers to that character and you feel her pain and her loneliness and you care despite of that tough exterior and that is something you look for in a character. Props to Joss Whendon on this one!

Buffy fans like myself would be pleased to know that Eliza Dushku is back kicking butt in this show. In fact there are many moments in which Echo reminded me of Faith.

Yes, it is still uncertain if the show would be back for another season but there's absolutely no doubt as to if you should get this DVD. Go into the show with a open mind that's all the advice I have to give.

I already pre-ordered my copy so get yours today! and let's hope FOX have enough sense to renew them for a 2nd season.
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Warning! Spoilers!

Over the past fifteen years, no one has made more interesting television than Joss Whedon. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER helped revolutionize television, not only making the empowered female hero a staple of television, but popularizing the long story arc and introducing the concept of the body count. ANGEL did little innovation in its own right, but still managed to roll out several seasons of excellent and consistently fascinating television. And FIREFLY not only brought new ground by blending the Western and Sci-fi, but brought a grittiness to the genre that later BATTLESTAR GALACTICA took to new heights. DOLLHOUSE, however, is both a far more challenging and adventurous series than any of these. Is it as consistently successful as these? Absolutely not. Does it represent Joss Whedon's best work? Here the answer gets dicey. Speaking strictly on the basis of what has been shown so far the answer would be "No," but a more honest and accurate answer would be, "Potentially."

It is no secrete that DOLLHOUSE is considered a long shot to be renewed. The fault largely has to be laid at the feet of the executives of FOX. This show, unlike virtually every other show that FOX has ever done, is cutting edge and adventurous, taking risks unlike anything else you'll find on commercial TV. Had the show been placed on any night of the week other than Friday it unquestionably would have attracted a healthy viewership. After all, there is no question that a large number of people are actually watching it. Between live viewers on the "death night" of Friday, the large number of people who DVR the show, the huge number of people who download it via Torrents, and those who buy it on iTunes or Amazon's Unbox, a whole lot of people watch this show. But FOX shoved the show into the least promising time slot of the entire week, Friday nights. And what was the result? What anyone would imagine it would be: no one watched it live. DVR? Yes. Download? Yes. But live? No. The problem with Friday nights is that everyone in the 18-49 age group that advertisers desire is that they are all out doing stuff. The shows that have good ratings that night, like GHOST WHISPERER, attracts primarily viewers over the age of 49. FOX is responsible for the low ratings of DOLLHOUSE by not putting it on a better night. But despite that it has a show that plenty of people are watching, only not live.

DOLLHOUSE is built around an extremely difficult concept: people voluntarily (though not uncoerced) agreeing to become more or less indentured servants (which also involves nothing short of prostitution). Imprinted with the personalities who anyone needed for their jobs, the "Actives" who populate the Dollhouse can undertake virtually any job imaginable, for a fee. The first several episodes were somewhat slow and dragged a bit, a series of standalone episodes strongly encouraged by FOX. But once the show moved away from the "assignment of the week" it became the most bracing and exciting hour on television. The second half of the season featured one absolutely breathtaking episode after another, culminating in the final two, where the mysterious "Alpha" finally put in an appearance (played by the wonderful Alan Tudyk) makes his appearance. The show featured one startling twist and shock after another, some that could be anticipated (like many, I had guessed something crucial about Amy Acker's character)) and others that could not. It became a show that was the least predictable on TV.

The question now is whether FOX will allow us to find out what happens next. Due to their terrible decision to put the show on Friday nights the ratings bombed (the original plan was to put the show on Mondays just before 24), which is unfortunately still the only came in town for the networks and advertisers, despite the otherwise large number of people who watch the series. I do have one hope for the continuance of DOLLHOUSE as we know it. Kevin Reilly, the head of FOX since the summer of 2007, has not been out-of-control in canceling shows. Unlike the FOX of the past, the Kevin Reilly FOX has been far more sober in canceling shows (though he has inexplicably renewed what is arguably the most hated show on TV, `TIL DEATH, which has the lowest viewer rating of any active show on TV). While head of NBC, Reilly made a habit of renewing critically acclaimed but low-rated series, like 30 ROCK, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, and THE OFFICE. Two of those three later became hits. My hope with DOLLHOUSE is that Reilly will remember that great shows have a potential of growing an audience, if you put them on the right night.

DOLLHOUSE is one of many shows of recent years that focuses extensively or even primarily on the question of what makes a person. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, for instance, dealt at length about who could be said to be a person. In the first three seasons of that show Sharon Agathon (who was, interestingly, involved with Karl Agathon, who was played by Tahmoh Penikett, who plays FBI agent Paul Ballard on DOLLHOUSE) is at the center of whether or not she is a person, despite being a cybernetic machine. Living in a world where our self-identities are often the construct of the things that we identify with and purchase, products of the consumer society in which we live. Questions of authenticity are at the heart of our society. If you know many of the thinkers and writers with whom Joss Whedon is familiar there is no question that he is familiar with these kinds of issues. Many are not comfortable with this. Whedon made his mark as one of the great feminists on television (and interestingly DOLLHOUSE stars Eliza Dushku, whose mother, like Whedon's, is a well known feminist). He has taken a lot of flak for the prostitution that the "Dolls" on the show engage in. The women are very much victims and there are few images of empowered women, completely unlike BUFFY with Buffy and Willow, ANGEL with Fred and Cordelia, and FIREFLY with River and Zoe. But the world is messy and complex and heavily nuanced. This show interacts and dialogues with that complexity. We are having a crisis of identity. We allow too many influences in society dictate who we are. How can we be authentic human beings when we do not have control over our own personhood? These questions transcend issues of feminism and penetrate to the question of what it means to be a person.

Although there may not be a Season Two of DOLLHOUSE, Joss Whedon has produced a wonderfully self-contained series even if it doesn't continue. Unliked the vast majority of TV creators and writers, Whedon has always felt that each season of a series should end in a way so that if it is the last episode, fans aren't left unnecessarily suffering. The final episode of ever season of every show he has done has not ended on a cliffhanger unless the show had already been renewed before production on the finale had begun. Seasons One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven of BUFFY as well as Seasons One, Two, Four, and Five of ANGEL could all serve as series ends. They already knew that ANGEL had been renewed when the finale of Season Three was filming. FIREFLY was cancelled right in the middle of filming, so it never had the opportunity of any kind of ending.

The DVDs will feature an episode that FOX currently has no plan on broadcasting. It guest stars Felicia Day (one of the Potentials from Season Seven of BUFFY and the love female lead in DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-ALONG BLOG) and purportedly does some exceptionally over-the-top things. Kristin of Eonline has reported that if FOX does not renew DOLLHOUSE, Joss Whedon is interested in developing a new show out of that final though unbroadcast episode of DOLLHOUSE. Hopefully, this time he will try to do something on one of the cable networks. Instead of FOX, I would like to see him on the Sci Fi channel (or as it is soon to be known, SyFy) or HBO or Showtime or even AMC. Because we haven't seen this episode yet, we have no idea what direction a new Joss Whedon series based on this would look like. But if it is even a fraction as interesting as DOLLHOUSE, I am game. The truth is, this show should never have been on FOX to begin with. That it did was a result of Eliza Dushku having a contract with FOX to develop a new show. She immediately asked Joss Whedon to create that show. I think she has done a great job as Echo in the series, but I hope that we'll continue to see her either on FOX in this show or on a cable channel in the same role on a new show.

Will this be the end of DOLLHOUSE? I hope not. I had grown to have almost no interest in FOX and hadn't been watching any FOX shows in several seasons, but first with TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES and then with DOLLHOUSE and FRINGE, I thought it was finally becoming a network that was interested in exciting and complex programming. And maybe it will be. Time will tell. But here is what confuses me. There is no shortage of great series on TV. But so many of those shows are lightly watched. Some are on cable and as a result are sheltered by lowered expectations. MAD MEN, BREAKING BAD, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, and TRUE BLOOD are all interesting or even great shows that get very few viewers, far less than even failing shows on CBS or NBC or ABC. Then there are more heavily watched shows like PUSHING DAISIES, ELI STONE, TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, CHUCK, and DOLLHOUSE that either get cancelled or are in danger of cancellation because they are on one of the broadcast networks. There is no question that the television industry is broken. Viewership is in decline for all the networks for all evenings. There is little to indicate that this is going to reverse. But the networks have not managed to come up with any kind of functional model to deal with lessened viewership. FOX can't figure out what to do with shows like TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES and DOLLHOUSE that are heavily watched but have few live viewers. If FOX cancels them, in their place will go two other shows with perhaps even fewer viewers and far less critical buzz.

Whatever happens, we at least got one splendid season of the always-fascinating Joss Whedon. Hopefully we'll get more seasons of DOLLHOUSE. If not, more seasons of some new Joss Whedon series.

May 15, 2009 -- Awesome news!!!! Against hope FOX has renewed DOLLHOUSE for a second season! The Hollywood Reporter broke the story but it has since been confirmed by some writers on the show. It has been renewed for only 13 episodes, which is similar to what has happened to CHUCK and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. But unless one wants to quibble with the number of episodes, this is great news. The one fly in the ointment is that FOX is apparently keeping the show on Friday night. It seems that they have decided to keep a show going that a core group of people care passionately about rather than a show that might get slightly more viewers, but who don't care that much one way or another.
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on August 12, 2009
If you don't want spoilers, do not watch this episode until you've seen "Man on the Street", "A Spy in the House of Love", "Briar Rose" and "Omega" at the very least. Set 10 years in the future in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, this episode is like nothing that you've seen before on Dollhouse. This episode is loaded with spoilers for a long time to come. A group of "actuals" as those who have not been imprinted are referred to discover the Dollhouse while searching for a place to hide from individuals who have been imprinted with the desire to kill all who are not and to avoid the "tech" that has led to the destruction of humanity.

The cast of this episode is very regular light due to a limited budget, however it does not harm this episode at all. It features Felicia Day (The Guild, Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog), Zack Ward (A Christmas Story, Titus), Adair Tishler (Heroes), and the return of Reed Diamond. Amy Acker is the most present regular. The rest of the cast regulars are featured in numerous flashbacks and flashforwards. I don't want to give anything away so I'll wrap this up, but it is worth purchasing the dvds just for this episode alone or downloading the whole season, as this episode improves upon all the previous episodes.

Although it is shot in video rather than on film, it really adds depth to the episode. It ends with the song "Remains" written and performed by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen (who also wrote this episode) which can be found here: [...]

If I had been able to give it more than five stars I would've. It is my hope that either Fox airs this episode before the season 2 premier, or that everyone who doesn't purchase the dvds comes here to watch this episode.
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Intriguing, original and cool! Joss Whedon's "dollhouse" Season 1 is an enjoyable series that manages to captivates your attention form beginning to end.

In 2009, Joss Whedon returned to television with his fourth television show (since "Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Angel" and "Firefly") known as "dollhouse".

The series received quite a bit of promotion for FOX and also became a series that featured less commercials (television spots were sold at a premium) and generated hype among many fans online who preferred to watch the series on [...].

Needless to say, it was a series that didn't have the greatest of ratings but as of right now, FOX has greenlighted a second season.

Here is a spoiler-free synopsis of what to find on "dollhouse" season 1:

DISC 1:

* Episode 1 - Ghost - We are introduced to "Echo" who is imprinted as a hostage negotiator and must save a child who has been kidnapped. We are introduced to Topher Brink (Fran Kranz) who is the intelligent hacker responsible for imprinting the dolls and other key players who work for dollhouse and the various dolls that Echo interacts with.
* Episode 2 - The Target - Echo has been imprinted as a date for a wealthy businessman. What she doesn't know is that the businessman is a killer. Meanwhile, an active named Alpha has somehow gone crazy and murdered many staff and dolls inside the facility. Also, Echo meets her new handler Body Langton (Harry J. Lennix).
* Episode 3 - Stage Fright - Echo has been imprinted as a backup singer for a pop diva who has been having problems with an obsessed fan.
* Episode 4 - Gray Hour - Echo has been imprinted as a high tech thief.
* Episode 5 -True Believer - Echo has been imprinted as a member of a religious cult but her goal is to infiltrate the area.

Disc 2:

* Episode 6 - Man on the Street - Something has gone wrong with active Sierra (Dichen Lachman) which leads Boyd to do an investigation. Meanwhile, Echo comes into contact with Agent Ballard.
* Episode 7 - Echoes - A psychotropic drug is released in a college research lab and all actives must work together to find out who stole the drug.
* Episode 8 - Needs - Actives Echo, Sierra, Victor and November are somehow freed from their pods and try to escape the Dollhouse.
* Episode 9 - Spy in the House of Love - DeWitt is away on business travel and Topher finds a chip and alerts Head of Security, Lawrence Dominic that there is a spy within the Dollhouse.
* Episode 10 - Haunted - A wealthy woman named Margaret has been uploading her personality to the dollhouse every month because she feels that she may be murdered one day. When that day comes, Echo is imprinted with her memories and now must find the person who is responsible Margaret's death.

Disc 3:

* Episode 11 - Briar Rose - Agent Ballard and a hacker named Stephen Kepler sneak into the Dollhouse to free Echo.
* Episode 12 - Omega - Stephen Kepler turns out to be Alpha and has kidnapped Echo. Now Agent Ballard has no choice but to team up DeWitt and Boyd in order to find Echo.

Also, included on Disc 3 are two episodes. The first is a pilot which was created and not aired on television. The pilot features storyline elements that were featured as flashbacks in other episodes and thus was not aired on television. As for episode 13, the following was created in order for Joss Whedon to meet the 13-episode on a DVD release quota and was not aired on television (but was aired at San Diego Comic-Con 2009). Also, in case if the series was canceled, episode 13 offered insight to the future of the Dollhouse and an ending for fans. If not, then the episode would tease of a future to come.

* Pilot Episode - Echo - The introduction to Echo and her joining the Dollhouse.
* Episode 13 - Epitaph One - In 2019, something terrible has happened and it seems the technology from the Dollhouse has been misused by the Rossum Corporation and used by another country on its citizens and eventually leading to an apocalyptic storyline where mankind and those who have been imprinted are at war.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

"Dollhouse" receives its High Definition transfer and is featured in 1080p (Widescreen 1:78:1). As with many television series on DVD or Blu-ray, one thing that becomes evident is digital artifacting due to compression. Some series on Blu-ray have been quite exceptional but those series are typically highly popular series with a tremendous budget. The good news is that "Dollhouse" does look very good compared to how it looked on television and even on HD via online. Outdoor scenes are quite vibrant, detail can be seen onscreen quite easily from closeups of the talents faces, wounds and even the Dollhouse living area. Blacks are solid and skin tones are natural.

The bad news is that for a television series, there is a sign of softness (which probably comes from use of DNR - digital noise reduction). There is also compression artifacts that show up on video with red backgrounds and for a Blu-ray release, while it does look very good, it doesn't look great. But its hard to tell if this was because there are five episodes on one disc (other series on Blu-ray try to have four episodes and utilize the entire disc for picture and audio quality). Granted, I may be a bit nitpicky when it comes to this but by the series does look very good, but somehow I felt it could have been much better and less soft and waxy at times.

As for audio, the series is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The series is dialogue and musical driven, thus the majority of the series is mostly utilized on front and center channels. Surround channels are utilized in certain action scenes with gunshots or even the sound made at the end of the episode, really sound good on HD. But for the most part, although there are action sequences when it comes to people fighting, this is not a series that utilizes many explosions or intense action sequences.

Also, its important to let people know that for a series that does utilize quite a bit of music, especially in the first episode, the music from the series is kept and not changed for the Blu-ray or DVD release. Dialogue and music are crystal clear and understandable.

Subtitles are presented in English SDH, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

"dollhouse" features quite a few special features. Included are:

* Audio Commentaries - Certain episodes on each disc contain audio commentary. Personally, I didn't like how the audio commentary section was prepared on the menus because you have to select an individual episode and by a click of the button, it will either start the episode or give you an option of audio commentary. So, it would have been nice if there was a way to find out which episode had audio commentary via an insert or even on back of the cover. With that being said, the following episodes have commentary: "Ghost" features director Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku, "Man on the Street" and "Epitaph One" featuring Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. First, let me say that the commentary for each of these are hilarious and enjoyable to listen to. For "Ghost", Joss and Eliza tend to have fun and really do not get to technical on how scenes were created and are more like buddies. On the other hand, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen are quite interesting. The two real-life married couple discuss certain scenes and informative behind-the-scenes information but also tell a lot of jokes. And for a first in commentary, it's the first time I have ever heard a couple ask for sex for later in the night. For the most part, the commentary is just fun to listen to and for a episode like "Epitaph One", you hear how that episode had to be made on a short budget and who knows where it would lead to in the second season.

* Making Dollhouse - (20:47) Featured in High Definition. Although the commentary is not technical, Joss Whedon definitely gets technical with this featurette. You learn everything in regards tot he creation of "dollhouse". From pre-production, casting, disagreements with the studio and the whole mess with the pilot episode. Very informative featurette!
* Deleted Scenes - (29:46) A total of 23 deleted scenes that can be watched via "play all" or separately. Featured in HD.
* Coming Home - (7:10) Director Joss Whedon talks about working with his staff of writers. People he has worked with from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", "Angel" and "Firefly". The writers talk about how they love working with Joss and Eliza Dushku enjoying the company of people she worked with before. Featured in HD.
* Finding Echo - (5:07) A featurette in High Definition featuring Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku. Both talk about what they enjoy about working with each other and both compliment each other.
* Designing the Perfect Dollhouse - (5:59) Featured in HD, director Joss Whedon takes us on a tour of the Dollhouse. Showing us the creation of the set and comparing the concept art to the finalized set.
* A Private Engagement - (5:44) Featured in HD is a humorous featurette in which the crew and talent discuss what they feel about the concept of Dollhouse and would they take advantage of it if it was real and what would they do if they came across the technology.
* Original Unaired Pilot Episode - Echo - The introduction to Echo and her joining the Dollhouse. Featured in HD.
* Episode 13 (Bonus Episode) - Epitaph One - In 2019, something terrible has happened and it seems the technology of the Dollhouse has led to an apocalyptic storyline where mankind and those who have been imprinted are at war. Featured in HD.

JUDGMENT CALL:

"dollhouse" is an enjoyable series. As a fan of Joss Whedon's work (television, film and comic books), you literally know that you're in for a treat. I've always thought that how his mind works, many of us who enjoy his work know that these storylines that can look incredible on television but also on film. His utilization of characters and character development is just quality.

"dollhouse" is a series that eventually gets better and better with each episode. In a way, I think it works that there are 12-episodes as opposed to the Buffy and Angel years that had nearly two dozen. This allows for less filler episodes and getting to the focal point of the storyline of "dollhouse" about Echo being a special kind of active, Agent Ballard trying to bring down the Dollhouse and of course, a rogue active named Alpha who wants to go further and destroy those who work at the Dollhouse and use the technology for other means.

There are many characters in the series but with each episode, they are carefully integrated to each episode and amongst the development for each character, you get to know enough backstory to have interest in them.

Also, Whedon's future apocalyptic storyline definitely was intriguing. I will say that the bonus 13th episode "Epitaph One" definitely has exciting plans for the future and although the episode may have been created just in case the series is canceled, nevertheless it opens a potential of a future that is quite exciting and not sure if that storyline will be part of season two.

Overall, I really enjoyed Joss Whedon's "dollhouse". Each episode is well-written and enjoyable, especially as the series progresses. I really hope the series makes it through its five year plan.

As for the Blu-ray release, the Blu-ray features a good number of bells and whistles to make this season worth owning. Granted, this is not the most beautiful looking television series on High Definition but the series looks great and you definitely get your money's worth with this release.

Overall, Joss Whedon's "dollhouse" Season One is a wonderful series to own. Definitely recommended!
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on March 18, 2015
What is not to like? Joss Whedon & Eliza Dushku! Loved she could pull off a new character each week. Phenomenal writing and acting. The supporting cast was wonderful as well. I love how Joss always brings in actors he has worked with on his other series.
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on January 30, 2010
First, let's talk about DOLLHOUSE. Brilliant concept for a show -- a lead character who gets to be a different person each week. A dream job for an actor. Eliza Dushku pulls it off stunningly well. She's also surrounded by a fantastic ensemble, especially Tahmoh Penikett, Fran Kranz and Olivia Williams. Admittedly, the show starts out a bit weak, but it definitely improves as the episodes progress.

The problem with DOLLHOUSE? Fox has no faith in it. They put it on Friday nights from the start, which is where networks put shows that they're trying to kill. No one watches TV on Fridays, apparently. It's the death slot for a program. The bigger problem with DOLLHOUSE? You have to have an IQ of at least 135 to begin to understand it. When you read complaints about it, you'll notice that the people complaining just don't seem to get it -- they're not smart enough to follow the complexities of the writing. This is a deep, convoluted show that requires you to put some effort into viewing it. You can't sit passively back and enjoy it like an episode of THE KING OF QUEENS. A brain is required.

Now, about the Blu-Ray set. It's as good as it gets. Not one, but TWO unaired episodes: an unaired pilot episode that gives you some good insight into the show's origins, and an episode unrelated to the rest of season 1 titled EPITAPH 1. This is a story set in the future, showing the mostly-destroyed world as the Dollhouse technology has left it. Fox didn't show this episode, but it's fascinating nonetheless. You rarely get "bonus materials" so good on a DVD set. Plus, the picture, sound and extras are all top-notch.

If you're a fan of TV that makes you think, I highly recommend you pick up both this season and the second season (when it comes out). Unlike many shows that are cancelled too soon, DOLLHOUSE gets a pretty satisfying conclusion at the end of the second season. I think this is a show that will be talked about for years to come (much like Whedon's previous show FIREFLY).
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I read reviews by a long string of established mainstream critics like David Bianculli and the consensus seemed to be that the first episode wasn't very good, but that DOLLHOUSE gets very good shortly after that. Well, I'm glad that everyone feels that the series gets much better as it goes along, but I have to tell you, I enjoyed this first episode a lot. It might be a sign of the very high standards against which we hold Joss Whedon that some felt that this episode was mildly disappointing.

I would like to note that none of Joss Whedon's other series featured a truly great pilot. "Welcome to the Hellmouth" and "The Harvest," the two-part pilot for BUFFY had many great moments, but overall was marred by a small budget, awkward pacing, and just the general awkwardness of everyone (not least Joss Whedon) learning how this whole TV thing was done (Whedon had written for TV before, but he had never been in charge of a production). "City of Angel" was not among my favorite episodes of ANGEL, though like the BUFFY pilot was not bad. "Train Job" was thoroughly inappropriate as the pilot of FIREFLY. Interestingly both "Train Job" and "Ghost" were second versions of the initial pilot. On the DVD box set the original pilot, "Serenity," was inserted in front of "Train Job," and was clearly the better of the two. Why FOX thought it inadequate is baffling today. But "Ghost" was actually pretty much as good as any of these pilots. I suppose my point is that Whedon's shows prove their worth over time, not in the initial episode. He is at his best when the plot is thickening, not when it is starting.

Anyone who has not had their head in the ground knows that DOLLHOUSE is about a secret organization that hires women and men to serve for five years as "Actives," human slates whose personalities are erased and then implanted with new ones for various missions that arise. The first few seconds of the pilot shows Caroline, played by Eliza Dushku, talking with the woman in charge of the Dollhouse. We don't know what predicament that Caroline is in, but she is in a situation in which she has no options but to sign on to be a human doll. This scene cuts immediately to another where Caroline has ceased to exist and has now become Echo.

Clearly there is a lot about Caroline/Echo that we don't know, but a number of questions/clues were introduced here. We even got to see a film clip of Echo back when she was Caroline. The networks hate too much of this sort of thing. They want neat, self-contained episodes that don't spill out much into other episodes. Dense backstory makes it hard for people to try a show out for the first time. But it makes a show an utter delight for those of us who stick with it.

The pilot not only saw the transformation of Caroline into Echo, but the introduction of the ongoing "B" plot, an FBI agent who at the behest of someone "up above" (and therefore presumably protected in some way) has been charged with investigating the existence of the Dollhouse. Agent Paul Ballard is played by BATTLESTAR GALACTICA's Tahmoh Penikett and obviously is intended as Echo's long-term romantic foil.

I'm very excited about the show. The pilot lacked Joss Whedon's patented blend of humor and drama (BUFFY is considered the first Dramedy), and perhaps the subject matter of DOLLHOUSE does not lend itself as readily to humor. The central situation of the series is tragic, people who no longer exist as themselves. Nonetheless, it is easy to imagine Echo in assignments that would create comic situations. The problem here is that not knowing who she is, Echo cannot be in on the jokes.

This could be the star vehicle that Eliza Dushku has long been looking for. She was outstanding in BUFFY and ANGEL as Faith, but other projects like TRU CALLING jut didn't work out. But being asked to do so many things, Eliza gets an opportunity to be more people than any actress on TV since Jennifer Garner was Sydney Bristow in ALIAS. I look forward to seeing how she does. And she has never looked better. She looks fitter and healthier than ever. I've read that she gave up smoking and it really shows up in her voice, which tends heavily to be a "smoker's voice" anyway, but sounds freer than it has in the past. I've read that she has participated in triathlons, and she looks the part. This show is clearly going to allow her to show precisely how wide her range as an actress is. And we have her to thank for the show even existing. Just over a year ago she signed a development contract with FOX. As soon as the ink was dry on the contract she invited Joss Whedon to lunch and asked him to create a TV show for her. And that is how we got DOLLHOUSE. And I think it is going to be a very, very interesting ride.
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on February 8, 2016
As a fan of Whedon's this show lived up to and surpassed my expectations. I was expecting a soft porn "ho of the week" but it actually turned out to be an interesting thriller. So if you are thinking about watching it, I'd say go ahead - BUT DO NOT WATCH THE LAST EPISODE "EPITAPH" UNTIL AFTER SEASON 2. I relaly can't understand why they dind' tave it after season 2, it makes for a nice little 2 parter, but after season 1 it makes absolutely no sense. I only wrote this review to say that. So my 5 star review doesn't include that final "epitaph" episode.
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