The SciFi Wire just put out an article called “Why we love Dollhouse – and why we hate it!” (the emphasis is theirs), which has SPOILERS for last weeks episode – please don’t visit the link if you haven’t seen it yet. Anyway, they asked Alyx why she (he?) loved Dollhouse, and Janna why she couldn’t be bothered to waste her time with the show.
I really appreciate their candidness, and could agree, or at least understand, most of the opinions stated in the article. Right about now, though, I am praying that Janna doesn’t work for Fox.
This show is very difficult. Joss has always tackled some pretty dense and touchy theological and philosophical issues, but with Dollhouse he gets to explore some particularly juicy ones: emancipation, logical consequences, personal identity, societal identity, social responsibility, money outstripping justice, science outstripping morality, rape (?), the amount that someone is willing to subsume him/herself to save another, slavery/indentured servitude, bachelor cooking, etc. As you can see, some of this stuff is pretty morally questionable, and some of it is downright reprehensible, but please remember that this was intended. Its a pretty extreme metaphor, but its a metaphor none the less.
***I am seriously trying to give my opinion on character development for the most part, so there shouldn’t be any spoilers, but just in case there are, I am putting them below the break. Oh! And they’re NOT for the finale, because I haven’t seen it.***
Echo/Caroline (Dushku) really did phone in some of those early episodes – or, to be fair, it could have been the direction – and I nearly left the series. Then I remember how BAD the first season of Buffy (full disclosure – I watched it on DVD) was, and I just settled for doing my homework during the episodes. I forgive her, though, as episode 6 (and beyond) were truly worth waiting for.
Some of the other main actors were just riding on their looks as well – Sierra (Lachman) is particularly binary (1 = squint on, 0 = squint off) until she smiles, and shows off that wicked sense of humor. Look for that around the fifth episode. Paul Ballard (Penikett) just bullys his way through all the scenery until he gets what he thinks he wants, then he just looks shocked. I started feeling sorry for him at some point; he’s so pitifully used, for a being with a soul.
Meanwhile, the background characters were beginning to glow….
Like Mellie (Laurie) – have you ever seen such a luminous smile in your life? That actress is truly aptly named Miracle, and has gone a LONG way to selling me on this series. I really appreciate the fact that she is not a “stick with boobs” as I heard somebody call other actresses when discussing her (I wish that I could remember who said that!!).Trust me, this actress oversells her longing looks a bit, but she has the potential to hone her craft into something remarkable.
Like Laurence Dominic (Diamond) and Topher Brink (Kranz) – could you be any smarmier, and still walk in sunlight? Seriously! I’ve never seen such blatant narcissists since…well, since Dr. Horrible, Angel, Firefly, BtVS…I’m sensing a trend here, Joss. Just who are you writing? And how does Dominic – who’s not even a big bad – manage to be so evil still?
Like Victor (Gjokaj) – I really thought you were boring, as you either gave this goofy made mob idiot face, or this flat aspect that made you look like you’d gotten caught in the headlights. When did you become the hidden talent of the show? You’re playing with accents, and you sell yourself physically to the myriad of roles that you’ve played. Bravo, sir.
There are those that I just love; like Boyd Langton (Lennix), who looks like he would be the family friend that you call uncle, Dr. Saunders (Aker – once again sporting a lab coat, which made me a little misty eyed), trying so hard to disappear in the Dollhouse, and Ivy (Lapira), hanging around in the hopes that Topher will throw her some scraps. Then there are those that I hate, like Adelle DeWitt (Williams), who’s a spoiled, self-righteous, hypocritical, and ruthless woman. And yet, she’s played with this unexpected and subtle sorrow and desperation, sort of softly and never for very long.
Finally, there’s Alpha. I was not spoiled, and I won’t spoil anyone else. I will say that I was taken by surprise so much that I didn’t know whether to throw up or burst into tears. The casual and abrupt violence of your grand entrance literally brought me out of my seat…
…and made me fall in love with Joss all over again…