From Joss Whedon, the creative mastermind behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, comes the provocative Dollhouse, a sexy, suspenseful thriller starring the stunningly talented Eliza Dushku. As an “Active,” the mysterious Echo (Dushku) serves as an unwitting agent of Dollhouse, an illegal underground organization that provides its elite clientele with programmable human beings. Actives receive personality imprints, allowing them to temporarily become anyone or anything – the perfect burglar, lover, spy, or assassin. Now, with the FBI and her own shadowy past closing in, Echo must face a rogue Active who will stop at nothing to bring Dollhouse down – forever.
Dollhouse is the latest series by Joss Whedon. It stars Eliza Dushku as the alternating personality that goes by the name Echo. It centers around a privately run agency called the Dollhouse. The Dollhouse is an illegal organization that caters to the rich and the elite. The company specializes in providing programmable people, known as Actives, that can take on any personality except their own. After they complete their assignment, they are wiped clean – turning them back into routine following drones that live in a spa. However, there is a catch. The personalities that are imprinted onto the Actives are from actual people. Although they take on new talents and abilities, the Active also receives the personalitie’s flaws. In the pilot episode, after Echo (Dushku) is imprinted, she becomes a kidnapped persons negotiator who inherits asthma and near-sightedness.
Dollhouse has so far has been a weak attempt by Whedon. His style and direction is not present at all in the show. Compared to his previous works, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly, the usual Whedon fan would never know he had a hand in this.
Although Dollhouse has given Eliza Dushku a chance to show her wide array of acting chops, the show presents no character development. With her personality changing so much, the viewer can’t establish a connection with the main character. There is no one to root for. The Echo (Dushku) character needs to undergo some substantial development. There are certain scenes which show her remembering past events that were thought to be erased, but no permanent character change has occurred.
Dollhouse also focuses more time on the show providing explanations as to what and why certain events are taking place. There is so much attention to detail, that the show moves quite slowly. There are of course action scenes on the show, but the Echo character is so lacking that it’s hard to even care.
Dollhouse does have one rare characteristic. Every week the show can pretty much be about whatever it wants. With Echo changing from episode to episode, the viewer never knows what to expect. While interesting, the viewer might not ever become emotionally invested in the main character. After all, the show is essentially about a programmed robot that records and deletes at the beginning and the end of every episode.
There is however potential in the concept. It is just not clear yet as to whether or not the show can follow through. Whedon fans may be disappointed by this one, as much as I am. It’s already off to a bad start by being on Fox’s Friday death spot.
Blu-ray special features include the original un-aired pilot, a final un-aired episode, audio commentary, deleted scenes, and a number of featurettes. Fans may actually enjoy the final un-aired episode more than any of the others in the first season.
Review by Gable White
Official site: http://www.fox.com/dollhouse/
Buy on Amazon: Dollhouse: Season 1