Contains general discussion of the premise, but no other spoilers.

Dollhouse is the new Joss Whedon thing (you know, Buffy, Firefly: that Joss Whedon). It stars, and is produced by, Eliza Dushku, who played Faith in Buffy. Dushku plays Echo, one of the “dolls” in the Dollhouse. The dolls are reprogrammable people: their personalities are wiped and replaced with whatever the clients of the Dollhouse ask for. The Dollhouse isn’t just a brothel, although it’s part of what it does.

When the first episode appeared, there was a lot of debate on here on LJ, with posts heavily laden with feminist theoretic jargon about agency, the male gaze and so on. It’s easy to see why the feminists objected: the idea of being able to program Eliza Dushku to do whatever I want certainly causes some triggering in my safe space, let me tell you.

Still, a more telling criticism was that it wasn’t really that good. In his other work, Whedon does witty dialogue to keep us amused while the story draws us into the relationships between the ensemble cast, and there’s always a story arc which rewards watching the series in order rather than as individual episodes. This sort of thing was initially absent from Dollhouse. The first few episodes of Dollhouse are pretty much Quantum Leap (which must count as one of the neatest tricks you can do with episodic SF) without the fun bits.

Things have been looking up for the last couple of episodes, so perhaps we can forgive the early stuff as really laboured scene setting. It looks like there is an arc, we’re finding out more about the characters’ pasts so we care about them more, and the last one was funny. Worth a look, I’d say.

4 Comments on "Dollhouse"

  1. Quantum Leap has, however, forever been tarnished in my memory because Sam was being helped by John Cavil, the psychopathic architect of the destruction of the 12 colonies.


  2. I have not seen any of it, but from the descriptions it sounds like another piece that will be required when the most awesome Neuromancer adaptation ever gets filmed. The general population needs to be primed in order for Molly’s puppet-slave past (and Riviera’s “show”) to make sense. It’s all just practice for other movies. In fact, I mostly just watch bad science fiction to fantasise about other stories. I wouldn’t retain my sanity if I regarded Matrix 2 and 3 as anything other than extended CGI practice runs for Neuromancer. 🙂


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