16 February 2009

on the dollhouse

This really is something I should've written on Friday and Saturday, but, what the hell. Better late than never, right (better short than too long, also):

Hearing what I'd heard about the trials and tribulations surrounding the production of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, I really didn't know what to expect going into the show. Sure, I knew the premise ("dolls" - personality-less people - can be programmed/imprinted in any way their masters see fit and one of them - the scrappy Eliza Dushku - discovers things she wasn't meant to know), and the fact that Karl C. "Helo" Agathon from Battlestar Galactica was going to be on the show, but I didn't really know what to expect, in the truest sense of things.

All in all, I thought it was a pretty good first episode. First episodes (not so much the case with Joss, but these were extenuating circumstances) are oftentimes iffy: the show's just getting its bearings, cast isn't quite comfortable with each other yet... The show doesn't always know what it's supposed to be, so it's imperfect. The best shows have more than flickers of promise or flashes of insight in their opening episodes, and if it gets nurtured properly, given time to grow, you'll see it come into its own and, hopefully, thrive.

Dollhouse's first episode was, I think, right on track. Regardless of how I feel about the lead actress (I've never been sold on Ms. Dushku, not even when she tore up the television screen as Faith in Buffy), Joss' idea is a magnificent one, and certainly allows him to explore more of the grey morality that seems to fascinate him, particularly lately. The fractioning, even from the start, inside the people that administrate over the Dollhouse should be ripe ground from which to harvest stories. The pitting of one "active" against another in order to accomplish the same mission, and the reality-making which gives the show such a good foothold in the zeitgeist of the now... All of it is practically bursting with possibility.

It reminds me a little bit of Alias (what I know of Alias, anyway), only with far less obnoxious tendencies. I like that.

The writing wasn't Joss-ish enough for me, but again, that's more of an issue, not so much with too many cooks spoiling the soup, but the cook having too many bosses that want him to adjust, and even reimagine, the recipie. I'm looking forward to seeing episodes that executives haven't monkeyed with so much.

It was nice to see Amy Acker on TV again (those scars... what's up with those scars?); ditto Harry Lennix. If they're putting Dollhouse on Fridays, tying it with Terminator (another show with a lot of good ideas), maybe they're trying to resurrect their cult show Fridays that used to be so great in the X-Files' heyday. I'd be pretty happy with that.

I'm going to wait and see, but I'm excited to do so.

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