Valley of the Dolls

As an avid Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, I wanted to expand my Whedon horizons. Some avenues of exploration have not been terrific successes (more on that in the next Shorties entry), while I have very much enjoyed others. It's not often I wish I could overcome my aversion to gore, but I'd really like to see what he did with Cabin in the Woods. Alas, that has to stay in the realm of reading internet reviews and spoilers.

One thing I can do, though, is hop on Netflix Instant and work my way through the two seasons of Dollhouse. It was a short-lived show that got off to a pretty rocky start, and it's not difficult to see why, given what a complicated concept it attempted to pull off. Eliza Dushku plays Echo, a young woman who willingly signs up to participate in a shadow corporation's schemes. What the Dollhouse does is essentially upload personalities into a blank shell of a person. Need a girlfriend for the night? An industrial spy? A backup singer? The Dollhouse has got you covered.

I've now finished the first season, and it was a strange experience. A lot of shows find a groove and settle into it, but Dollhouse was all over the map. The good episodes were really good, and the bad episodes were really bad. The first five or so episodes were the roughest patch, but as more of the show's mythology and background information was filled in, it got a lot more interesting. Characters who previously seemed one-dimensional began to fill out, and acquired multi-faceted personalities and motivations.

A couple over-arching problems remain. The show never really nails down a consistent tone regarding the morality of what the Dollhouse does to people, and although he's certainly easy on the eyes, Paul Ballard - World's Worst FBI Agent is an ineffectual, borderline obnoxious antagonist. Still, the universe that Dollhouse has built is pretty fascinating, and I'm definitely in for Season 2.

Dollhouse - Season 1: B-


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