Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dollhouse Gets Demolished


My good buddy Newman dropped me a line the other day to inform me of the recent cancellation of Joss Whedon's latest TV show, Dollhouse. No doubt there are many, many Whedonites out there that are utterly grief-stricken at this decision, and I do understand their devotion. I share it, to some degree. I was frankly obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and to only a slightly lesser extent, Angel. Firefly was fantastic and was treated absolutely abysmally by Fox, which resulted in it being cancelled long before its time. I was then stunned that they successfully brought such a failed series to the big screen, and I thought the result was great.


Having said all that, I hated Dollhouse. Look, to succeed a TV series needs at least one of three qualities. It either needs viewers or it needs someone at the network with faith in the show. I think it's fair to say that Dollhouse never had enough viewers to support it, but it did have load of network support. Fox didn't want to be wrong on Whedon twice. So, what was missing? Well, it needed the ever elusive third quality; it had to be good.


From the first second I began watching it, I could never really get behind the ridiculous concept at the show's heart. The idea of brainwashed operatives made sense, but the injection of the prostitution angle fucked it all up. First off, all these clients are gazillionaires, right? Getting laid would not be difficult, nor would paying a woman to do whatever kinky-ass shit you're into. Yeah, yeah, I get that it's a luxury service, but I just thought that wouldn't it be cheaper and less risky to use an actual hooker rather than some brainwashed girl that has apparently been sold into slavery?


Remember the episode where a rich client's kid gets kidnapped? And he has them load up Echo to be the best hostage negotiator in the world? This guy, as shady as he is, is rich, right? Couldn't he HIRE the best negotiator, rather than letting a shady criminal enterprise turn a hooker into one? There was another ep where she was loaded up as a master thief to help rob a bank. So, let's get this straight: a group of thieves evidently paid a massive fee to obtain their own master thief to.....steal.....more...money. Completely illogical. By the time she was solving crime as a backup singer to a diva I was convinced that the show was actually trying to make me fed up.


Then there was the lead. Look, I get why Dushku is a fan fave. She played a cool supporting character on a much better show. But, let's be honest, the role of Echo was a challenging role. I can say she surprised me in that she wasn't unwatchable, but a stronger actor should have made that into an incredible showcase, and Dushku was quite often the least interesting performer on the show. Not good.


So, Dollhouse goes the way of the dodo, and I have to say that it's no bad thing. It frees Whedon up to create something that really deserves the devotion he's earned.

1 comment:

TimeLords said...

While I don't think Dollhouse was ever a great show, and I won't really miss it, I don't think it had nothing to enjoy in it. It actually improved a fair bit later in Season 1, when they moved away from the Echo's mission of the week format, and it became a bit more of an ensemble show.

That said, they never completely got away from Dushku as the centre of the show. But to me that was its the major failing. Dushku wasn't able to pull off such a complex role, and her character came of as boring, when it should have been anything but.

Also one note, the dolls were not sold into slavery, but were volunteers on 5 year terms. One exception to this was the doll Sierra, who, unbeknownst by the Dollhouse, was committed against her will by a powerful man whose sexual advances she had refused. This revelation made for the best episodes of the series.