No, I'm not talking about new Cherry 7up or those bottles of Perrier I just had blessed, I'm talking about Dollhouse; Joss Whedon's newest television series.
Taking a well-needed break from the supernatural genre, Whedon returns to science fiction with Dollhouse, a series about secrets! Let's all admit it, we love mystery. And Dollhouse is chock full of it. Here's a run down, just in case you aren't familiar:
The "Dollhouse" is a hidden facility located somewhere in Los Angeles California. It's a sort of offshoot of the Rossum Corporation, a mysterious research group. The inhabitants of the Dollhouse are called Actives, or Dolls, and their minds have essentially been wiped of all memories of the outside world, a trait that allows them to be "imprinted" with new, different personae. This basically means that the Dolls are blank slates, and can be given new personalities, which help them complete tasks or missions for the Rossum Corporation. These missions may be known as "engagements" and are often dangerous. The Dolls are imprinted with the memories and expertise of other individuals in order to help them achieve certain goals. While acting in engagements, the Dolls are monitored by Handlers, who work for the corporation.
Okay, so now that we're all clear, let's discuss a few things about this series. The first season just ended, and I must say, well . . . the only thing I can say, "um?" Don't get me wrong, season one was a terrific run, but there was a ton of information to process along the way. For instance, there are Dolls, there are Handlers, there are general employees, and there are Rogue Actives (reprobate Dolls who have become somewhat "self-aware"). There's also this semi-good looking but still kinda boring detective, Paul Ballard, who's heard rumors of the Dollhouse and wants to bring it down. NEWS FLASH: The Dollhouse's activities are ILLEGAL, which is also a tad confusing, considering some of the missions they achieve are seemingly good. The cons of this series, or rather what I consider to be cons, are minimal, but still present. It is my strong belief, however, that the series has fallen victim to what I call Network Stifling. Fox currently has the rights to Dollhouse, and the network is using it's power to disassemble the series. A few of the episodes from Season One were rearranged to form a different order (sound familiar, Firefly fans?), and I believe at least one episode was left out of the season entirely. I'm not sure of the reasoning behind these choices, but Fox may have put a damper on Dollhouse's interpretability by stifling the original plan.
Now for the pros. My favorite thing about this show is all the familiar faces; shall I name them? Yes!
) Eliza Dushku - Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel
) Alan Tudyk - Firefly
) Amy Acker - Angel
. . . and many more.
It's great to see three of my favorite Whedon characters in one show.
For me, the story lines are what make this show a hit. In true Whedon style, there is a looming, sort of overlord of a plot (in this case Eliza Dushku's character Echo becoming "self-aware") and within each episode a smaller, more ascertainable, conflict is created to carry that episode along. This is what makes this show better, in my opinion, than other shows out there such as Lost or Heroes. These series leave too much untold in each episode for me to want to come back, and essentially nothing has been achieved by the end of each episode.
The best part of Dollhouse, though, is it's refreshing take on science fiction. Whedon blew millions away with Buffy and Angel. He created and entire universe of demons and dialogue that made those shows what they were (and have become). Breaking from that, and from the futuristic sci-fi world of Firefly, Whedon has created semi-realistic view of the technologically scientific fiction. No aliens, monsters, or weird flying machines here. This is strictly blow-your-mind (literally) technology, and that's perfectly fine.
So, check out Dollhouse if you haven't already. It's fantastic once you get past all the kinks. Season One DVD's on sale soon, and Season Two begins on FOX in September. You can also view episodes at hulu.com and fox.com.