Return to the Dollhouse

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by DigificWriter, May 19, 2013.

  1. Kaijima

    Kaijima Captain Captain

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    IMO Dollhouse was accused of misogyny from the perspective of people who see, in a piece of fiction, literally anything bad happening to a female character as proof of the writer's dislike of women.

    Regardless of how the execution of the show turned out, Dollhouse is a fairly challenging concept, and way more challenging that anything that usually makes it on network television. Realize that it is a story where essentially the villains are the protagonists and the viewer is fed information and opinions through the lens of these people trying to justify their actions. (Or at least repress the moral complications.)

    By the end of the series I was left with the impression that the events of season 2 were probably compressed down from both a second and third season outline. I wonder what kind of show it would have been if season 1 hadn't been meddled with so badly and the rest of the arc was unwrapped across 3 full seasons. In the end that's the funny thing about Dollhouse to me. It's probably my least favorite Whedon TV series... but it's possibly the most interesting Whedon TV series.
     
  2. tighr

    tighr Commodore Commodore

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    What, like every Christopher Nolan film, ever?
     
  3. kirk55555

    kirk55555 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Dollhouse season 1 arrived yesterday. I watched the first two episodes (Ghost and The Target) and I enjoyed both of them. I don't quite agree with Digific writer about Ghost. I'd put Firefly's pilot (and probably Angel's) before Ghost, but Dollhouse's pilot was decent. The Target was better, and it was a very good episode. The supporting characters are interesting (its cool to see Amy Acker, and Echo's handler is probably the only halfway decent person in the orginazation), and the show hasn't been (so far) as creepy as I thought it might be. I'm definately interested and want to keep watching.
     
  4. tighr

    tighr Commodore Commodore

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    I don't want to spoil it for you, so I will just tell you that one sentence in your review is 100% wrong, and when you're done watching the show you'll know exactly which sentence it was :lol:
     
  5. kirk55555

    kirk55555 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, since my opinion on whether the episodes were good are not can't really be "wrong", the only things that could be wrong are what I said about the side characters being interesting (although thats more a matter of opinion) or, more likely, that Echo's handler is a good guy. Honestly, it wouldn't be a huge surprise, its just that he's the only one in the Dollhouse organization who was willing to keep trying to rescue the little girl in Ghost, so that put him a bit ahead of the others to me.
     
  6. tighr

    tighr Commodore Commodore

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    Hey, you ruin the surprise if you try to work it out logically!!
     
  7. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    Almost all the characters are despicable amoral people. Once you accept that, you will have a new graph to judge "Good people" by.
     
  8. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Which is more than a little bit weird given that Joss' female characters are consistently among the best-written characters in all of his works and in the medium(s) in which they appear in general, and given that he's been very open about the influence that his feminist mother had on his work.
     
  9. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    Well sure, but, the General Audience doesn't know things like that, or even that Whedon was responsible for Buffy, Angel and Firefly. Those kind of details are only known by us obsessives :alienblush:
     
  10. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Some people have the weirdest ideas of what constitutes misogyny. I guess that they'd also characterize Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens as misanthropes who had an incredible hate for poor people?

    And anyway, if they for some reason decided that the series is endorsing what the organization is doing to Echo and other dolls, I don't see what this has to do with women specifically, since there are both female and male "dolls", there's no indication that there isn't an equal number of "dolls" of both sexes, and both male and female dolls are used on sex assignments.

    Here's a series of Youtube essays by someone who argues - very well - that Dollhouse is a feminist show, and "some of the most feminist stuff Joss has done". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIcCS6mDEec
     
  11. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That's a pretty great video essay series, and I have to agree with the presenter's arguments against the claims made by the Youtube show Feminist Frequency; one of the many things that I think that show and its video blogger(s) missed about Dollhouse is that, as I mentioned earlier, the fact that, although the Dolls are hired out as sex partners, "it's not about the sex; it's about the connection", and think that that Dollhouse is Feminist video essayist covered that issue pretty succinctly even though she didn't put it quite in those terms.

    I accidentally spoiled myself on the Boyd twist someone mentioned offhand earlier, and have to say that, although the Dollhouse is Feminist video essayist isn't sure that Joss actually initially planned on invoking said twist, I am, and would even put forth the argument that the existence of the twist doesn't in any way invalidate Boyd's characterization throughout most of the series, and also falls squarely within classic Joss Whedon storytelling form.

    I'm about finished with The Left Hand, BTW, and should hopefully be back sometime tomorrow with reviews of both it and its predecessor episode, The Public Eye.
     
  12. tighr

    tighr Commodore Commodore

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    The twist is kinda weird though, and puts the show in a different light upon a rewatch. Especially since like I said earlier, Boyd is our audience surrogate in the first few episodes.
     
  13. kirk55555

    kirk55555 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I just watched Stage Fright and Grey Hour. I got to say, I'm liking the show so far. A lot of people talked about the first part of season 1 being bad or not important, but I definately don't get that feel. There has been important stuff happening with characters and setting up Alpha, and every episode has felt like it contributed something to the show outside of being a standalone. Stage Fright is my least favorite episode so far (I don't like normal pop music, so parts of the episode were very painful) but even it had important parts and I didn't hate it, I could have just done without the horrible singing.

    Grey Hour was great. I liked pretty much everything about it, and it was interesting to see Echo out in the world without an imprint. Also, with these two episodes, the reveal about Agent ballard's "source" was surprising, although it made sense. Of course Dollhouse would do something like that to lead him in the wrong direction. For a first part that was supposedly weak, I'm liking Dollhouse so far. I wonder what will happen when I get into what people call the stronger second half.
     
  14. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    Yea, alot of people don't have the patience for World Building, I too enjoyed it from the start. I believe you, like me, also enjoyed B5 S1 during it's world building phase, which is another series many have issues with Season 1 World Building.

    Regarding the supposed Mysogyny earlier on for Dollhouse, in the first several episodes, it really wasn't known that Victor was a doll or that there were/would be male dolls treated exactly like the female dolls, that didn't come clear until Victor was revealed. So, for the General audience it definitely had the appearance of mysogyny and did indeed turn off many viewers (3 people I specifically tried getting into the Series, plus a whole lots of folks posting on various SciFi BBSes I frequented mentioned it as their chief complaint). Knowing the Series more thoroughly, of course we who have seen it all know better
     
  15. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    As I recall, Joss said the first 7 (6?) episodes were studio-notes-driven. After episode 7, it's all Joss.
     
  16. kirk55555

    kirk55555 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I just watched True Believer and Man on the street. TB was ok, but not great. Man on the Street...I have very mixed feelings about. The stuff with Oswalt's character was really good. The stuff with what was happening with Sierra was interesting. The little "interviews" about what the average people thought about the possibility of the Dollhouse was so annoying it was almost downright infuriating, and the reveal about ballard's negihbor was extremely predictable. I was hoping that maybe she was just a fake out, because it was so obvious that she was one of the dolls that if it was revealed that she wasn't, it would have been interesting (like how Vitor being a doll was a surprise, at least to me). But, no, its exactly what probably the majority of the audience figured out very quickly. I also was hoping we wouldn't get the "agent gets taken down and now has to persue his goal while suspended/kicked off the case" cliche, or atleast not this quickly. This wasn't a bad episode by any means, it was fairly good, but it was also a bit dissappointing. Still, overall I'm enjoying the show.
     
  17. tighr

    tighr Commodore Commodore

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    It works out for the better.
     
  18. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's been a crazy few days, but I'm back with reviews of not only The Public Eye and The Left Hand, but also Meet Jane Doe.

    The Public Eye
    I've said this before, but one of Dollhouse's strengths is that it broke away from a lot of Joss' typical stylistic approaches in much of its first season, and while S2 has thus far been very much in Joss' typical stylistic wheelhouse, that changed with this ep, which marks the first and only time a Joss Whedon show has told a 3-part story.

    Joss has always been a master when it comes to world-building, and we really start to see that talent manifest itself here in the story of Daniel Perrin's quest to bring down Rossum Corp. The twists and turns that story takes are classic Whedon, and, also in classic Whedon fashion, create a 'snowball effect' that keeps you off-balance for 2/3 of the episode.

    I accidentally spoiled myself on Daniel Perrin being augmented with Active tech, but it didn't detract from the episode at all.

    Creating a multi-part story arc for television can be tricky, especially if there's no real resolution offered until the story arc's conclusion, but the writers of the ep didn't have any problems rising to the occasion, offering up an episode that feels complete even though it ends with things being very much open-ended, and deserve props for that.

    Before I offer my rating for the ep, I have to give Summer Glau props for her performance as Bennett Halverson. She imbued Bennett with this very 'off' character quality that makes her both endearing, intimidating, and a bit creepy but without making her unlikeable.

    I'm giving the episode a 9.9 rating, and also have to say that it reminded me a lot of The Initiative and As You Were.

    The Left Hand
    Joss really knows how to create characters who are meant to be antagonists but without writing them as black-and-white villains (even if they appear in eps he didn't write), and the is perfectly demonstrated with Keith Carradine's Harding and Ray Wise's Lipman, both of whom toe the line between making you like them and making you want to shoot them.

    This also happens with Summer Glau's Bennett, who really comes across in this ep as the antithesis to Gopher, which makes her and Fran Kranz's scenes together a lot of fun.

    It's also a lot of fun to see Victor imprinted with Topher's personality and abilities.

    Olivia Williams is really in fine form in this ep, and her righteous indignation over getting the runaround from Lipman is a great counterpoint to what happens in the next episode.

    Cynthia Perrin is one cold-hearted bitca, and she makes for an excellent antagonist 'avatar'.

    The episode's ending, with Echo wandering the streets of D.C. all alone, is a nice setup for Meet Jane Doe, and a neat juxtaposition with Madeline being enslaved again, this time by the D.C. Dollhouse and Rossum's plans for Perrin succeeding.

    The ep earns S2's first perfect 10 rating, and is truly one of the best eps of any of Joss' series.

    Meet Jane Doe
    Amazon Instant Video's description for this ep is really misleading, which is both good and bad; good in that it subverts audience expectation, but bad in that it describes the ep as being about something completely different than what it actually is.

    This ep isn't the first time we've seen a time jump in a Joss Whedon show, but I think it's the first time we've seen a time jump in the course of an episode in a Joss Whedon show, which makes it all the more effective.

    Keith Carradine is perfect in this ep as Harding, making the audience hate him and yearn to see him taken down a peg or two, which makes what happens in the episode with Adelle and Topher all the more effective since its kind of hard in the end to be excited about him getting booted from the L.A. Dollhouse because of the way it happens.

    Adelle reminds me a lot of Maggie Walsh in this ep, especially at the end, which is great because it evolves her character in a very interesting direction.

    Story-wise, this ep is interesting because it is clearly meant to be the conclusion to the story arc started in The Public Eye, even though it doesn't have anything to do with the plot threads from that ep and The Left Hand, and because it has to do a lot of things in a very short period of time; it's the latter that ultimately holds it back a bit because we don't get enough explanation for how certain things happen, such as Ballard and Echo working together and with Boyd, even though that information would've made things a bit easier to comprehend.

    Despite some flaws, I really enjoyed this ep, and am giving it a 9.8.
     
  19. kirk55555

    kirk55555 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I finished all the regular season 1 episodes (I haven't gotten to Epitaph One yet, but its not really related to the season anyway) and I really like Dollhouse. It has interesting characters and storyline, and its had some great moments. Alpha's reveal in the last two episodes was surprising and awesome. Alan Tudyk was awesome. I also liked the reveal about Dr. Sanders, although I had already guessed it. I wasn't sure what I would think about the show when I first heard about it, but its definately another great show from Joss Whedon.
     
  20. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm popping back in here to apologize for going silent; it's just been a crazy week/week-and-a-half and I haven't had a chance to continue watching Season 2. Hopefully things will settle down for me after this next week and I can get back to watching and reviewing episodes.