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Customer Review

690 of 779 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A flawed diamond, May 23, 2009
This review is from: Dollhouse: Season 1 (DVD)
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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Showing 1-10 of 47 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 24, 2009 12:24:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 24, 2009 1:59:14 AM PDT
Lola says:
Hah! I was planning on writing my own review, but really, couldn't agree more. For anyone that doesn't get this review, the show really and truly is worth watching...starting with episode 6! (Ok, then I read some of the negative reviews and felt I needed to reiterate how good the show was, and tried to write one afterall. But yours is better!)

Posted on May 26, 2009 2:50:33 PM PDT
Nikki says:
Brilliant, layered review that is very Whedonesque, too!

In reply to an earlier post on May 27, 2009 2:47:05 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 27, 2009 3:12:39 AM PDT
Thank 'ee kindly. And good (proper) review Lola.

Posted on Jun 26, 2009 12:11:27 PM PDT
I loved your comment, now that i read it i see Fox more like Wolfram and Hart when Angel agreed to take over their LA based office, loved it very entertaining

Posted on Jul 28, 2009 10:38:37 AM PDT
mrgray says:
*sigh* I love Whedon as much as the next Whedonite, but you've got your story wrong, as do most rabid Whedonites. Here's how this went down: Eliza had a development deal at Fox. She didn't like the pitches they were sending her. She got together with Joss for lunch (whether this was a lunch to discuss a show or just to catch up is unknown). She and Joss discussed the material she was getting sent and she bemoaned the fact that all the pitches were based on the sexuality of her image. She felt that they were underestimating her talent and assuming too much about her as a person. Joss consoled her with the advice that in the entertainment industry, most people operate on a surface understanding of who you are. It eventually became a brainstorming session. Joss went to the loo to relieve himself and when he returned he had the basic premise of Dollhouse in his head. He pitched it to Eliza. She liked it a lot but didn't want to do it without Joss' direct involvement. He agreed and they presented the show to Fox. Based on Eliza's development deal. Fox agreed (because they HAD to get her a series, because of her development contract). Joss agreed to produce despite his history with the network. This was both to aid Eliza and because he frequently admits fault in what happened last time with Fox. So there you go. Stop villifying Fox and stop acting like this is a Joss Whedon dream show. It's essentially a vanity project for Eliza Dushku that happens to be produced by Joss Whedon. Which I enjoy, don't get me wrong. I just think too many of my fellow Whedonites are acting melodramatic about it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2009 4:18:58 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 30, 2009 12:50:48 AM PDT
Do you really think I'm being serious?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2009 7:32:07 AM PDT
Apparently so. The tendrils of the Fox network are long.

Posted on Aug 10, 2009 3:21:57 AM PDT
The best review for this show. You've just single-handedly tipped the scales far enough to convince me to continue my long-standing Joss Whedon love affair and drop the thirty bucks needed to witness his latest creation, despite my hesitation and doubts.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 10, 2009 9:26:55 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 10, 2009 9:32:20 AM PDT
Thanks for not taking the review literally. There are clear parallels in the show about the artist-studio relationship which the review makes fun with, and even mrgray acknowledges these in his rant... if he could just get out of the IMDB forum mentality and realise he doesn't have to take sides, as well as assuming ignorance in others.

Perhaps I should bore people now and give an extra clarifying review, and concentrate on the doubters... I was one of them, but am a fan of Joss Whedon who in my opinion is the most interesting writer out there at the moment (having said that I really did not like the Angel series, it was a show mostly for girls, a shame that this meant I missed Amy Acker).

Dollhouse is a premise that can take you anywhere, I imagine for the writers it was like being presented with a complete blank canvas and for the viewers it is like watching a painting develop* (and despite the character wipes, not an etch-a-sketch) *but definitely not like watching it dry. (The open-endedness seems to have led Joss Whedon having to reign-in the team with 'Man On The Street').

It doesn't talk down and assumes imagination and intelligence in the viewers - it just needs a little patience and if the early episodes leave you doubting, as they did me, there's always something to take away from each one, for example the masterful way expectations are played with before the episode 4 intro credits (although to be honest the whole of episode 4 is pretty good). And rewatching them after seeing the whole will give added resonance and meaning.

One big stumbling block seems to be 'Am I Meant to Root For The Evil Dollhouse?' (Here I'd better not joke that you're already watching Fox aren't you?) If you need moral certainty you need to find it in your own vision - the show is not judging one way or the other and is admirably (and practically for the writers) leaving things open at the moment. Yes essentially the Dollhouse is evil, but it is run by individuals who, morally compromised or not, have good in them. Even if it takes experimental drugs by said Evil Corporation to make them remember (a brilliant, funny episode you should not miss out on). The moral problems are what makes this show complex and will have any thinking person's brain fascinated and firing off in many directions. If this is still a deal breaker, then if you have not already check out Little House On The Prairie, it is a fine show and no-one should mock anyone wanting to find uncomplicated representations of purity and goodness.

Characters can be annoying and strangely distant while you figure out them and their place. Partly it is a sacrifice that must be made to get the premise of the show underway; Echo and the actives build up slowly with many small brushstrokes. Enjoy something taking its time! For the others, for me Topher took 4 episodes to turn annoying to lovable, Ballard took 12 episodes to become bearable. One character is barely there but explodes into life later on. One is never there and explodes as well. And who doesn't enjoy a good villain? Adele is more than that and marvellously sinister, Dominic always pitch perfect and Boyd is a rock for Echo and the show. Mistakes are made by the writers on the infinite possibility of the blank canvas. Along the way Ballard breaks believability (and in a sci-fi show at that), there can be blandness that isn't just the dolls' fault (the low budget doesn't help), and some untied threads are a little frayed at the end.

More polished mission episodes are desperately needed in series 2, I think this is more likely with the writer's having had time to settle into the whole idea. Studios need to have more faith and allow more time in development, audiences need more patience. But Fox have renewed on faith, see, moral ambiguity.

Posted on Aug 21, 2009 11:26:04 AM PDT
Sara says:
Ha! Perfect review.
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