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Old May 22 2013, 04:04 PM   #16
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Re: Return to the Dollhouse

DalekJim wrote: View Post
Love Dollhouse, best thing Whedon's ever done. Proper characterisation and adult sci-fi themes. Much more memorable than Firefly.

Love the way it ended too. Especially that Boyd twist. Stunning, brave television.
I too really liked Dollhouse, and it's also my favorite of his shows. Buffy and Angel, I enjoyed and most episodes were pretty good, but, they were never "The Greatest Thing Evah" for me, just quality entertainment you could generally count on. I never watched Firefly in first run, but, I have the DVDs and enjoy revisiting it too, and think it really could've become something phenomenal, but, with it's limited run, I don't think it was "The Greatest Thing Evah" either
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Old May 22 2013, 09:21 PM   #17
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Re: Return to the Dollhouse

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Tell ya the truth the Boyd twist was the only thing I didn't like. Too out-of-left-field gimmicky for me.
I didn't like it either. I remember thinking that it didn't make all that much sense to me. Other than that I really enjoyed the show. I'm glad that Fox let Whedon know it was being canceled so he was able to wrap the show up in a reasonably good fashion. I wonder if the Boyd twist was due to the show getting axed or if that was always the plan and they had to rush it.
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Old May 22 2013, 10:22 PM   #18
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Re: Return to the Dollhouse

Dollhouse is really underrated. I think that Buffy is by far the best thing Joss has ever done, but Dollhouse is on par with his other TV shows. I think I may like it better than Firefly (although I do like Firefly; its first and only season was certainly stronger than the first seasons of any of the other Joss' shows; I don't think it was the best show ever, but maybe it could've been if it continued. Or not, who knows).

I disagree about Ghost being a good pilot, though. The first time I saw it, it didn't make me terribly interested in the show. It was only when I decided to give the show a second chance and watched the unaired pilot Echo that I was hooked. But since you're already hooked, I don't recommend watching Echo until you've seen the entire season 1. It's great, but it spoils almost a season's worth of storylines. They re-used quite a few scenes in later episodes.

The quality of the show rises significantly mid-way through season 1, from the episode Man on the Street. The season finale Epitaph One is one of the most awesome episodes with Joss' name on it (although he's just credited for writing the story). Season 2 is pretty great and delves more into the Science Fiction of it all rather than the "assignment of the week".

I never had a problem with Echo or Eliza Dushku, in fact, I quite liked her, and I agree with your assessment of Echo. Eliza was criticized for not disappearing into Echo's different personalities the way Victor and Sierra did, but I thought that worked well, because Echo is not supposed to be disappearing completely, she somehow retains a part of her own personality (I don't think that's a spoiler, since it was hinted strongly at the end of Target - IIRC which episode it was).

To the others in this thread: maybe we shouldn't be talking about the existence of certain twists, these can be considered spoilers (even if you don't say what it is, DigificWriter will know that there is a twist involving a specific character).
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Old May 23 2013, 12:50 AM   #19
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Re: Return to the Dollhouse

I'm also a Dollhouse fan myself. I only gave it a shot since the premise sounded like another show I enjoyed, but it ended up being pretty entertaining.
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Old May 23 2013, 12:53 AM   #20
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Re: Return to the Dollhouse

I'm a big Whedon fan, but I'm unsure about Dollhouse. I hated Faith in Buffy/Angel, and I have no desire to see Eliza Dushku as the main character of a show. The premise also sounds really stupid. Its not something I'm too interested in, even though I like Whedon's stuff. Still, its gotten pretty cheap on Amazon, so I'll probably get season 1 some day and check it out.
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Old May 23 2013, 02:12 AM   #21
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Re: Return to the Dollhouse

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The premise also sounds really stupid.
And Buffy's didn't??
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Old May 23 2013, 05:53 AM   #22
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Re: Return to the Dollhouse

I'm back with reviews of Echoes and Needs.

Echoes
My top two favorite seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are Seasons 6 and 5, in that order, and Echoes reminded me very much of three episodes from them: Tabula Rasa, Blood Ties, and The Weight of the World, as well as the Fringe episode Jacksonville, all of which are similarly centered around the theme of lost memory. The episode's plot also contained elements that reminded me of Beer Bad, Band Candy, Halloween, Restless, and the Angel episodes Spin the Bottle and Life of the Party.

I kind of alluded to this earlier, but this ep made me fall totally in love with Adelle and Topher. Fran Kranz and Olivia Williams are tremendous actors and took to the episode's quintessentially Jossian humor and off-the-wall narrative elements like ducks to water.

Beyond the episode's humor, I really liked the way the episode explored and dealt with Echo's resurfacing memories; it was the perfect way to set up and subtly telegraph the events of the very next episode, Needs (more on that subject in a bit).

I'm giving Echoes an enthusiastic 9.5 rating for the themes it explores and its quintessentially Jossian humor.

Needs
Needs honestly felt like the second part of a two-part story (with Echoes being the first part), and consequently reminded me very much of the same batch of Buffy, Angel, and Fringe episodes as Echoes. The ep also reminded me of Out of My Mind, Fear Itself, The Initiative, Primeval, As You Were, and the TSCC episode Allison from Palmdale.

Claire Saunders' suggestion, although ultimately rather totalitarian, was actually pretty smart and savvy, and the way it is revealed was brilliant, not only because it's a quintessentially Jossian twist, but also because it's not even remotely telegraphed even though Topher does tell Echo that they're running a test on her.

Echo was clearly the main protagonist of the ep, which she should've been, but it was also great to get some info on Sierra and Mellie/November's pasts as well, and to get payoff not only for Victor's romantic interest in Sierra, but the unresolved trauma of her abuse at the hands of her handler Hearn.

I was initially wondering why they even bothered to put Paul into the episode at all since his story really wasn't connected in any way to the rest of the narrative, but the episode's ending dispelled all those doubts with the reveal of him having received a voice message from lucid Echo.

Needs, just like Echoes, gets a 9.5 rating from me, although I actually think it's just slightly better overall because of its narrative and the themes it explores.
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Old May 23 2013, 07:27 AM   #23
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Re: Return to the Dollhouse

It's episodes like those last two that makes me wonder if Whedon knew how he wanted the series to end. We're clearly supposed to identify with Ballard, and Langdon acts as the audience surrogate in these first few episodes (because he's new to the Dollhouse, and therefore asks a lot of questions for us).
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Old May 23 2013, 01:01 PM   #24
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Re: Return to the Dollhouse

Ayelbourne wrote: View Post
kirk55555 wrote: View Post
The premise also sounds really stupid.
And Buffy's didn't??
Let's face it. Stupid premises is how Whedon works. "A blonde meets a vampire in a dark alley and kicks his ass." "Cowboys in space speaking Chinese." "Vampire with a soul hunts other vampires" is the least stupid.

The most stupid is Dollhouse, which is dedicated to an indentured servitude/brainwashing operation that does nothing but teach cute people to do stuff that more experienced normal people already know how to do. Need a hostage negotiator? Rent a doll! Or, you know, hire an actual hostage negotiator! Need a bodyguard? Rent a doll! Or, like, consult a private security firm! Need somebody to fuck? Is it seriously so hard for rich people to find just the right high class hooker or gigolo that you have to wipe people's minds just to provide them?

One of the biggest mysteries in the history of television is why Fox gave this show a second season after seeing any episodes of the first.
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Old May 23 2013, 06:28 PM   #25
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Re: Return to the Dollhouse

I'm still in the process of watching A Spy in the House of Love and Haunted, but wanted to say that I just (re)read two articles that IO9 had on their site back in 2009 and with which I'm very slowly but surely coming to be in 100% agreement.

Dollhouse really offers something that is unique because it starts out as largely devoid of Joss' typical storytelling style and slowly becomes more familiar but without losing the things that initially set it apart from Joss' other projects.
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Old May 23 2013, 06:45 PM   #26
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Re: Return to the Dollhouse

Admiral2 wrote: View Post
The most stupid is Dollhouse, which is dedicated to an indentured servitude/brainwashing operation that does nothing but teach cute people to do stuff that more experienced normal people already know how to do. Need a hostage negotiator? Rent a doll! Or, you know, hire an actual hostage negotiator! Need a bodyguard? Rent a doll! Or, like, consult a private security firm! Need somebody to fuck? Is it seriously so hard for rich people to find just the right high class hooker or gigolo that you have to wipe people's minds just to provide them?

One of the biggest mysteries in the history of television is why Fox gave this show a second season after seeing any episodes of the first.
You have a point about bodyguards and hostage negotiators, but you're completely missing the point with the dolls used as sex partners (which I'm willing to bet is the majority of the assignments). Sure, they could rent a prostitute, but it's not the same thing. The prostitute is doing it all for money - she or he may fuck you, pretend to be sexually attracted to you, pretend to love you, dress up as your fantasy, pretend to be someone else - but they're doing it all for the money. They are just pretending. A doll is not pretending: they really are that person at the time, they really do want you and love you, at the time. In a way, it's all real, as Adelle explains to a client in one of the episodes (she did in the unaired pilot and the scene was re-used in another episode, I'm not sure which).

And then there are other, very specific assignments where it was necessary for the doll to truly be that person and feel genuine emotion: as in the season 2 episode "Instinct" where
In other assignments, the clients had decided that it wasn't safe enough to hire a person who would just pretend to be whatever, because they believed nobody was such a good actor and the targets would see through the lie, so they needed someone who was 100% genuine, as in the episode "True Believer". If I'm remembering it correctly, something similar was the case with the hostage negotiator episode, since Echo was not just supposed to be a good hostage negotiator but it was also instrumental that she had a specific memory.

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Old May 23 2013, 07:11 PM   #27
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Re: Return to the Dollhouse

^ With regards to Eleanor Penn (Echo's persona in Ghost), the fact that she had a connection with one of the kidnappers wasn't something that anyone knew anything about until it made itself manifest, but, yes, they did need someone who genuinely had the hostage negotiation skills required to get the client's daughter back and who wasn't connected in any way to the police or another governmental agency.

You're also correct when it comes to the usage of the dolls as sex partners; the point ultimately isn't the sex, it's the connection, as both Man on the Street and A Spy in the House of Love make rather clear (more on the latter when I review the ep).
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Old May 23 2013, 09:30 PM   #28
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Re: Return to the Dollhouse

Sorry for the double-post, but I just finished A Spy in the House of Love and Haunted and needed to get my thoughts down while they were fresh.

A Spy in the House of Love
First off, whoever came up with the title for the ep is a freaking genius.

Andrew Chambliss' name might've been the one on the ep, but Joss most definitely had his hand in the final product, as his stylistic fingerprints are everywhere, from the plot of the episode to the way it was edited.

In light of the recent discussion concerning the logic of the series' premise, the thing that stood out for me in this ep was actually the 'B' story involving Adelle. We don't learn much in the way of specific details about her, but what we do learn is that, in parallel to the themes explored in the next episode, she knows just how dangerous loneliness can be, and, as touched on a bit earlier, demonstrates that the practice of using the Dolls as sex partners isn't so much about the sex as it is about connection. Despite knowing that 'Roger' wasn't real, Adelle was about to give into the fantasy and accept and embrace the human connection the persona offered permanently, but wilfully and rather reluctantly pulled herself back from the edge.

The 'A' plot of the search for the spy and 'C' plot of Mellie/November going back to Paul and basically shattering his world for a second time were as equally riveting and executed as the Adelle story and provided some excellent quintessentially Jossian twists and turns, particularly the reveal of Dominic as the spy and Echo's role in exposing him.

Speaking of, I couldn't help but feel as if the significance of Echo actually asking to be Imprinted wasn't played up as much as it ought to have been, especially given that it represented the resolution of the mini-arc involving her and Dominic that started back in Stage Fright.

Ratings-wise, I thought this ep was the strongest of the season, and am giving it a 9.8.

Haunted
The very first episode of a Joss Whedon show that I ever watched was Buffy Season 2's Killed by Death, and this ep very much reminded me of it, primarily because, like KbD, it's more or less a 'Jossified' take on a classic Noir murder mystery.

I would've liked to have seen more of the original Margaret so as to have a bit stronger of a connection to her as we watch her try and solve her own death, but Jane and the 'other Whedons' (Jed and Maurissa T.) are still able to make us care about her 'avatar' guise as Echo by using her family members and Adelle as prisms through which to reflect her.

Given what Adelle learned about herself in the last episode, the 'B' plot of Topher celebrating his birthday by creating a virtual best friend takes on a lot more poignancy than it might've otherwise, and also serves as the perfect juxtaposition for the episode's moral message concerning the nature of mortality and the possibility of the Imprinting technology being used to effectively create artificial immortality.

You also have the heartbreakingly painful and ongoing breakdown of Paul as he forces himself to deal with the fact that, as he found out in the last ep, she's a Doll and he's become the very scum he'd been trying to bring down, made even more powerful by Tahmoh's skills as an actor.

This ep, like its predecessor, gets a 9.8 rating that couldn't be more well-deserved.
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Old May 23 2013, 09:49 PM   #29
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Re: Return to the Dollhouse

DigificWriter wrote: View Post
Dollhouse really offers something that is unique because it starts out as largely devoid of Joss' typical storytelling style and slowly becomes more familiar but without losing the things that initially set it apart from Joss' other projects.
You're going to love Season 2, then.

You're already seeing it with these last two episodes, but the central overarching conflict for the series is starting to come to light... the episodes are starting to become less standalone, and more about what the Dollhouse really stands for, especially in the season 1 finale.
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Old May 23 2013, 10:34 PM   #30
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Re: Return to the Dollhouse

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A Spy in the House of Love
First off, whoever came up with the title for the ep is a freaking genius.

Andrew Chambliss' name might've been the one on the ep, but Joss most definitely had his hand in the final product, as his stylistic fingerprints are everywhere, from the plot of the episode to the way it was edited.
And in the dialogue - Chambliss has revealed that Joss wrote all of Adelle's lines.

That means that a significant chunk of the episode must have been written or rewritten by Joss. I wish I had known that when I first heard about Chambliss being chosen to write for Buffy season 9. Me and several other people got excited thinking "This guy wrote Spy in the House of Love, he must be really good". And then his writing for the comics turned out to be really unimpressive.

The 'A' and 'B' plot in the episode were connected through Adelle, due to the unresolved sexual tension between her and Dominic, which was hinted with her suppressed-emotion reply that she hasn't lost anything. She's heavily guarded with "real people" and she was only letting herself go and being vulnerable in the fantasy with a "person" who only exists when she allows it. Now she's even more sure she can't trust anyone.
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