Dollhouse: "Ghost" 2/13 - Grading & Discussion

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Aragorn, Feb 13, 2009.



  1. Excellent

    3 vote(s)
  2. Above average

    27 vote(s)
  3. Average

    45 vote(s)
  4. Below average

    25 vote(s)
  5. Poor

    7 vote(s)
  1. commodore64

    commodore64 Vice Admiral Admiral

    May 28, 2003
    Communist Portland
    You know, this is an interesting point. I've thought about it quite a bit and I think the opposite is true. If Joss' name wasn't attached to this, I wouldn't have watched it or want to give it one more chance.

    I agree with the comment about Firefly. The first episode was hard to get into, but once I did -- I was hooked.

    Now a television series about Dr. Horrible ... sign me up!
  2. O'Dib

    O'Dib Commodore Commodore

    May 14, 2005
    Mr. Brody's still
    I got a Quantum Leap vibe from this episode. How she lived someone else's life, and gave that personality, though not the person itself, a chance to deal with her painful past.
  3. tharpdevenport

    tharpdevenport Admiral Admiral

    The difference between this and "Qauntum Leap" is that in "Qauntum Leap
    Sam was in the body of the person (and that person in the Waiting Room in the fturure), while on the other hand of "Dollhouse", Echo isn't there at all; it's the real memories of another person(s). Sam had to figure out who he was, while Echo IS that person.
  4. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Oct 30, 1999
    Below average - ech, sleazy, distateful and pointless. It doesn't help that the premise rests on a blatant contrivance, that people can't be given mad skillz without wiping out their previous memories. Why? Because there would be no show otherwise. Stupid.

    Why not invent a gizmo that adds skills to people without wiping their memories? Make someone the perfect date or hostage negotiator without taking anything away (why would anything need to be taken away?) Everyone would want that. It would be useful, fun and legal. And none of this supremely annoying oh poor me/pity the poor Dolls manipulative horseshit.

    For that matter, what's illegal about a consenting adult asking to have their memories wiped out? Maybe it would be a question of medical ethics, assuming doctors are the one performing these procedures, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Without the AMA involved, who gives a fuck what people do with their own brains?

    Why is the FBI even involved in this? Why is the Dollhouse a big, bad secret? They could stop engaging in literal prostitution and just become a high-powered consulting firm, sending out experts in completely legitimate fields of endeavor, and there would be no "victims" here at all.

    But Whedon clearly wants to set up a show where there are "victims" for us to feel sorry for - and that's why it's all so distasteful.

    With the catastrophically bad premiere ratings, this one won't be stinking up the airwaves for long.
    Now, now, you're not supposed to think that way. ;) The real way a Memory Machine could make a superstar in any arena would be to keep injecting memories in a person without subtracting anything. A hostage negotiator who had the memories of a hostage taker, now that would be valuable. Or a hooker with the training of a professional acrobat. And a psychotherapist. And a schoolteacher, if you're into the whole Sarah Palin thing.

    But wiping out and injecting memories doesn't seem like something that's going to result in people whose skills can bring in an income to match the probable expense of doing it in the first place. Why not just hire the frakkin' people who were used as the templates for the memory injection? Another basic, basic problem with the premise. This is a good example of a show that needed to be re-thought at the one-page-synopsis stage before going any further.
    There can't be a "mid-season" twist, since this debuted mid-season. It will be lucky to get a half-season run before cancellation, I'm not counting on even that. And Firefly at least had an intriguing premise that made me want to learn more, and characters I could give a damn about. This show has neither, in fact, it has absolutely nothing to convince me to tune in next week. Sayonara, life is too short to waste on bad TV.
    Yeah. Fanboys do like to bash things. That doesn't mean some things don't deserve to be bashed.

    He DESERVES to be stuck in this lousy show! I wish the ratings were thru the roof so he'd be stuck for years! :p
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  5. Von_Steinwehr

    Von_Steinwehr Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Oct 12, 2006
    I watched the first episode today on I was a little disappointed, but I tried to keep in mind that this is Joss Whedon and nothing is as it appears. I hope this was a "set up" episode and I hope the future episodes will showcase his unique humor that we saw in Buffy and Firefly. I will stick with the show for a while just to see what happens.
  6. I am not Spock

    I am not Spock Commodore Commodore

    Dec 2, 2001
    This is Joss freaking Whedon, guys. I'm sure he'll give us a nice twist to the tale eventually. If FOX lets him get that far before they pull the plug.

    I've loved every show he's done so far. I hope Dollhouse will at least reach some of its potential before they can its ass in, maybe, 12 weeks?

    Should we start a betting thread? How long til Dollhouse gets the axe?
  7. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Oct 30, 1999
    With ratings that bad, I wonder if it'll get yanked before the end of the season. Definitely no S2. So whatever the master plan is, if there's one at all, it's moot.

    Fox was right to relegate it to the Friday deathslot. No sense wasting a good timeslot on such a dog.
  8. Borgminister

    Borgminister Admiral Moderator

    May 30, 2001
    She's hawt though.


    Seriously don't see the reason for the hate; yes, some aspects seem half-baked or haphazardly thought through, but conceptually it could gel.

    And pigs could fly.

    At any rate, a few more viewings are in order before passing judgment.

    Maybe I'll spot a nipple or two along the way.
  9. hyzmarca

    hyzmarca Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 9, 2009
    One premise in the cyberpunk genre is the idea of wealthy individuals and powerful corporations hiring non-persons to commit acts of dubious legality, because non-persons are plausibly deniable.

    In most cyberpunk works that use the idea, these non-persons come from a large population of inner-city poor who are denied citizenship by a government that finds it more convenient to simply pretend that they do not exist than to fund comprehensive welfare programs. But the concern that the government would one day strip people of citizenship based solely on their income levels fell away along with the idea that 3D VR would be the most efficient and most common way of interacting with a computer.

    Dollhouse provides a more efficient sort of deniability Not only are the Actives non-persons, but they have their memories erased after each engagement, meaning that the details of them are unlikely to ever leak out.

    It's a similar concept to Philip K. Dick's Paycheck, though shorter term and possibly less voluntary.

    The idea of "meat-puppets" with customized implanted personalities is also somewhat prominent in some cyberpunk works. When you can implant memories and alter personalities, it is logical that it will be used by some to customize individuals, and this can be dehumanizing to various degrees. At it's most benign, some individuals can have themselves implanted with personality traits that they desire. At it's logical extreme you have people kidnapped and modified against their will to be happy compliant slaves, with brothels stocked with people who have been modified both psychologically and surgically to be indistinguishable from popular celebrities being fairly common. Dollhouse doesn't have the surgical modification aspect that makes celebrity impersonation viable, but the idea of having a real experience with the person of your dreams is quite a bit more appealing than a mere financial transaction, even when it is only momentary. Better to hav eloved and lost, they say, to hav enever loved at all.

    And there are some other very good reasons for using customized personalities rather than hiring someone off the streets, the most obvious being reliability, the other being speed. Let's say you have an important combat mission. You want to hire a sociopath to lead your team, for one very simple reason, combat units led by sociopaths tend to have hire success rates, higher kill counts, and are less likely to retreat. Putting a remorseless killer with little concern for his own safety in a position where his job is to kill remorselessly with little concern for his own safety inspires the men around him and under him to great acts of heroism themselves. But identifying someone with both the skills and experience to lead a combat unit and the personality traits to do it well without suffering from any crisis of conscience, particularly when engaging in illegal activity, is time consuming and difficult. It is far easier to program someone with that personality and the necessary skills, if the technology to do so exists. Both the Active who was involved in the raid at the end and the one who escaped seem to have been programed with sociopathic personalities for just this reason.

    And, although they must use the memories, skills, and personality traits of real people, they mix and match as they see fit to create the best possible individual for the task at hand, rather than simply copying a single person.

    I think that a great many complaints, other than those about Dushku's acting, are about genre conventions. It's a genre show. That genre is memory-maniuplation cyberpunk/post-cyberpunk. It isn't exactly a common genre on television, so viewers and reviewers might not be totally familiar with it, but complaining about why rich people would hire a meat-puppet is like complaining about why Riggs and Murtah are still cops after all of their hijinks. It's a genre convention. And the kidnapping mission, it's also a genre convention, as is the prostitution, though it is rare for combat missions and prostitution to be combined.

    The question is can Whedon do the genre justice, because it is a heady philosphical genre about exploring the nature of the self that uses violent action adventure as a contextualizing and motivating device, rather than a mere violent action-adventure genre.

    Maybe I'm just willing to give it more of the benefit of the doubt because I am familiar with the genre and enjoy it, but it seems that many of the complaints come from a simply dislike or misunderstanding of the genre, which is understandable given that the only real example of it on the screen is Total Recall.
  10. Cartoonist

    Cartoonist Captain Captain

    Mar 4, 2002
    Los Angeles, CA, USA
    Just saw it. I wasn't blown away, but I couldn't get it out of my head that this was the exposition Whedon cobbled together at the last minute to explain everything to the Fox executives. I'm not going to judge it by this episode at all. I'll wait 'til next week.

    About the set, it just screamed Wolfram & Hart to me. I was expecting to see Ilyria walk into the room, and just as that thought occurred to me, in walked Fred! I wouldn't be surprised if Whedon used a lot of the same crew, designers, and of course actors. If I had a good time making a show that got canceled early, I'd bring back as many people as possible for my next one. I wouldn't be surprised if that killer they barely showed turns out to be Wesley Wyndham Price.
  11. Bob The Skutter

    Bob The Skutter Complete Arse Cleft Premium Member

    Jul 12, 2001
    This island Earth
    Same here, nothing great about it yet, but I didn't see anything too bad about it either. With time to grow and get deeper in to the story I'm sure it'll start to click, if not then it's got a few weeks to prove itself before I switch off.
  12. Caligula

    Caligula Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 26, 2001
    Knoxville, TN USA
    "Hey, man, you're preachin' to the guy who ate the choir." ;)
  13. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 3, 2003
    Andrew Timson
    I believe that, asides from some of the actors, every single person credited at the beginning of act 1 has worked for him before.
  14. species5618

    species5618 Commodore Commodore

    May 16, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    ^^^I recognized a lot of names from past shows...Tim Minear, David Solomon, Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain, Kelly A. Manners...

    That got my hopes up.

    Then I sat through the pilot. I can only hope things get better from here.
  15. Rii

    Rii Rear Admiral

    Jul 22, 2008
    I get not liking the dialogue, but liking the shows in spite of that? That's like enjoying a sandwich minus all those bits between the bread. :lol:
  16. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 19, 2007
    Space Massachusetts
    He si the kiss of death for new TV shows. :lol:
  17. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Oct 30, 1999
    That might explain why I don't care about Dollhouse. I don't care about cyberpunk or its conventions and I'm simply judging the show on the basis of any show I'd watch. Are the characters interesting? Does their situation seem compelling? How many massive logic problems do I notice and is the show otherwise so interesting, I shrug them off?

    I also don't care about the conventions of the superhero genre, yet Heroes managed to appeal to me on the basis of the compelling characters and (in S1 anyway) the good writing. If Dollhouse needs to rely on cyberpunk fans for its survival, that might explain the shitty ratings - there just aren't enough around to support a TV series.

    And I doubt it's so hard to find people who are highly reliable to do certain jobs. People who become highly skilled in a profession are motivated to do a top-notch job because that is what they have chosen to do, and if they fuck up, they won't get the good future assignments they crave.

    I also wonder whether a "sociopath" really makes the best SWAT-team type operative. That sounds like an inherently unreliable person who would be hard to integrate well into a team. Sociopaths by definition are not team players but any military operation I can envision will be highly reliant on the team-building skills of its leader and tight cooperation, communication and trust within the team. I've never been in the military, but from what people who have been have told me, a sociopath would be a highly disruptive element that would destroy the team's effectiveness.

    I also doubt it's so hard to find sociopaths to hire as mercenaries that you need to rely on expensive brainwashed zombies- there must be plenty of self-styled mercenaries who should not be in the business, but want to be, for all the wrong reasons.

    In another thread I was trying to think of jobs that brainwashed zombies could do so much better than their non-brainwashed and much less expensive (because there wouldn't be the expense of maintaining the pricey Dollhouse facility and that fancy tech) competitors that they would be worth the price hike. Any suggestions?

    If they didn't brainwash them, then the business would not be illegal, so there would be no reason to keep it secret.

    And I'm not sure why brainwashing willing adults even is illegal. They made the choice of their own free will, at least as far as we've seen.

    Also, speaking of legal issues, in another thread, someone brought up a good point: the rich clients of Dollhouse would rat out the operation in a hearbeat if they were ever charged with other crimes, in order to get a plea bargain, and considering the sketchy morality they show by being clients in the first place, odds are very good that at least one will be charged with some other crime, not necessarily having anything to do with Dollhouse. That should have brought down the whole operation before now.

    Making this business illegal is unnecessary and exposes the operation to tremendous risks. If there is some value of wiping out people's memories and replacing them, why not just do it in the open? Delete the prostitution part of the business, make sure the Dolls are all consenting adults, and they are doing nothing wrong.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  18. ITHell

    ITHell Vice Admiral Admiral

    Nov 27, 2004
    I'm a Whedon fan, but I wasn't too thrilled with the episode. Basically, I found it boring. The premise isn't that interesting and - as others have said - is pretty dumb to begin with.

    Hopefully it will improve.
  19. Pilot Ace

    Pilot Ace Captain Captain

    Apr 16, 2002
    Arizona, USA
    Wow, this show is so incredibly bland.

    No witty Whedon banter and no characters to care about even though I know I'm supposed to side with the child-like Echo... But, I just don't.

    Yuck so far.
  20. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Oct 30, 1999
    Ah-HAH I got it! :rommie: There is one profession in which the MindWipe(TM) tech would be a huge asset, and it's a highly paid profession, which would justify the apparently enormous expense.


    Imagine taking some beautiful no-talent and simply whomping up the memories for the character her or she is supposed to play. No acting needed - they are that person. Until the next TV show or movie, when they are re-programmed. The screenwriters would be the ones crafting the character, cobbled out of real people's memories or just invented whole-cloth, and inputting it into the MindWipe(TM) machine.

    And considering how tough a profession acting is, there would be no shortage of wannabees lining up around the block for such a huge potential boost to their careers, particularly if the wannabees have no discerable talent.

    There wouldn't be anything illegal about this, but it would drive all legitimate actors out of business - how could they compete? Dollhouse is a wish-fulfillment show for untalented actors. Now it all becomes so clear!

    Wow, now I can think of many other professions where this tech would cause immense problems of simple fairness. How about creating the best chess player in the world? Completely unfair to all those poor dumb suckers who spend years crafting their skills, to see it all swept away by a technological boost to some random person.

    Or any sport that requires a high degree of mental dexterity and precision in addition to physical skill - sharpshooting, football (particularly for quarterbacks), golf. But the fact that they suddenly appear on the scene would make it obvious they were "cheating" and they would be banned.

    How about using the MindWipe(TM) tech to create a skilled surgeon and just keep them that way forever? That person could be so skilled that they would be a benefit to society, would make so much money they'd willingly agree to have their minds wiped (maybe they had a life not worth remembering anyway) - why would that be illegal? Who loses in that scenario?

    How about a great college teacher? Maybe not as remunerative as the surgeon idea, but certainly a huge asset to everyone. And not just college teachers, how about teachers at all levels of society? Forget wiping anything - the first injection of memories creates someone who is valuable forever.

    There's been some talk about the Dollhouse being "for the good of society." If that's true, why not be a "school" for high-paid brilliant surgeons who can underwrite the expense of churning out great teachers? Or great poker players - that certainly would fund a whole lot of teachers.

    In most cases, there would be no need for multiple mind-wipes; these people should be overjoyed to have professions in which they greatly excel and are praised for, and their skills will be needed indefinitely. Only the actors need to be reprogrammed for new gigs. Assuming the Dolls are people with terrible pasts they want to forget, it's a win/win scenario.

    So why the mopeyness of this show? This could all work out wonderfully for everyone. Even the FBI could benefit, from super-agents created by the Dollhouse.