Originally posted here.
There’s always something that brings me back to a series; usually for a smarty-pants character (Dean Winchester of Supernatural, Rodney McKay of Stargate Atlantis) or for someone who surprises me by surviving despite the odds (the crew of Serenity, Sydney Bristow and Will “One in ten, you little …!” Pippin from Alias). But almost any screenwriter can do this. All my old standbys have failed me – Judd Apatow seems determined to sink to the lowest common denominator, JJ Abrams is getting a little strange, the list goes on and on.
But Joss is a different creature. Oh sure, he’s got his standby’s of kick-butt girls, hapless ‘quirky’ guys, watchers (both with a capital W and without), we know his familiar tunes well. But when he wants to hook you, you feel it catch, and the bottom drops out of your stomach. He draws his plotline in the sand, there’s a moment of clarity and stillness, and then the whole world is irrevocably changed. And he’ll do it three or four times a season. You know the moment when he just accesses something primal and universal in you…
…Buffy walks in and sees her mother on the couch, just lying there…Mal rips off the lid of the shipping container, sees River, and says “huh.”…Horror dawns on Lorne as he listens to Fred sing “you are my sunshine”…
In Dollhouse, it’s an answering machine clicking on and a crisp voice saying, “There are three flowers in a vase.”
It’s the casual and fluid flick of Alpha’s wrist in the most shocking and unexpected bit of violence that I have ever encountered.
So, there are a lot of things I like and dislike about Dollhouse, but there are a couple of things that I LOVE. I love the unexpected talent – Enver channeling Reed was as brilliant as it was surprising…update, his channeling of Topher was even better!- and the sheer diversity of the cast. I fell a little in love with Miracle Laurie the minute they focused on her exquisite and expressive eyes. I love that the sociopath isn’t even the worst bad guy, and that he has a drawer of inappropriate starches. I love that I’m not the only person that finds lentils completely incomprehensible.
Most of all I love Joss’ work. He has not wandered so far that I can’t follow. He writes characters that are full of Grace and fallibility, and the most enticing and occasionally brilliant dialogue. Even when I fundamentally disagree with Joss, I want to hear what he has to say. I’m sorry that it took six episodes of Dollhouse before he was able to speak, but then his world bloomed into technicolor with the words, “The third flower is green.”
So yes, I came to the party for Joss, and stayed for good TV. I wouldn’t have it any other way.