Dollhouse - August 2010

This my first TV series review and it's for a series that has already been cancelled. What frustrates me about this is that someone like J.J. Abrams, who is nowhere near the genius everyone else seems to think he is, only has to fart and a flood of crisp bank notes washes up at his door and yet Joss Whedon, creator of what I believe to be some of the best Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV of all time, has watched his last two series and what could've been a movie franchise in Serenity, fail before given the opportunity to grow. He must hate it, he turns up to Comic-Con or does Q & A's around the world and thousands upon thousands of people turn out to tell him how great he is but when he puts something on TV not enough seem to watch. Although, apparently, the only reason that Dollhouse got another season was that the head of Fox programming didn't want to receive a gazillion letters from whining fans. The threat wasn't enough to push it to a third, sadly.
Right, so between Abrams and Whedon (not that it's a fight particularly), I am firmly in the Whedon camp. Especially as I don't trust anyone who doesn't reveal their first name, what's with the J.J. ? hmmmmmm? Seems pretentious as hell if you ask me.
I have the fondest memories of watching Buffy at university with my housemates. They used to be released in 2 VHS boxsets a few months apart and each time my friend would purchase a box set we would have a Buffy marathon. A ton of sweets and munchies would be purchased, duvets would be brought down to the sofa, curtains would be drawn, eyes would be glued to the screen, laughs would be had and lectures would be missed. I would later buy them and Angel on DVD myself and with my wife, who I introduced to them, I would watch every episode again back to back. Then Firefly and Serenity, which I consider Joss Whedon's finest hour, would prove to me that Whedon seemingly can do no wrong and also introduced me to Nathon Fillion who could prove to be the next generation Bruce Campbell.
Joss Whedon firstly writes good characters and then secondly gives them interesting and unexpected things to do, not like M. Night Shamalawhotsit where it became a twist for twists sake (although Joss does terrific twists) and not like Lost where the unexpected things happened because the writers seemed to be scrabbling around for any old 'cool' idea but because it makes sense within the parameters of the plot. In every Whedon show you get the distinct impression it's actually building to a genuine climax and that you won't be disappointed, I never feel like I am being taken down a blind alleyway he can't get us out of and you also get the feeling that he has thought this through, you are in safe hands and he cares. Also he is funny, really funny, you only have to watch Dr.Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog to see that (review coming soon because I watched that again this weekend).

So, to Dollhouse then, the show that before I'd even seen a frame of it I knew it had been cancelled, reviews had been mixed and I had heard from friends that they didn't really like it either. This was a challenge then because I wanted to see it and judge it for myself but I also didn't want to watch the first Whedon show that I might not like. I was also on the fence about Eliza Dushku as well because the Faith character in Buffy she played could be 50% exciting and sassy and 50% annoying (but then again so could Buffy).
I am just going to say that I loved it and no it didn't have the pop culture attitude of Buffy, the class (or cast) of Firefly or anything like the humour of his previous work but it was still one hell of a complex, adult, interesting and exciting show. 
I could go into each episode and the overall plot of the piece but honestly all I want to say about it is that both my wife and I were on the edge of our seats and happily plowed through the 14 episodes on the DVD (including the original pilot) in no time at all and despite the negative and unfair reviews I have read about her, I thought that Eliza Dushku showed incredible range and versatility in all of the roles she is required to play in this show. 
I also have a theory about why it wasn't so popular on TV. Watching each episode without adverts on DVD, the in depth, dense plot line develops quickly and cleverly. I couldn't imagine watching it week after week and having to wait each time, it would lose its carefully crafted nuance. Also this is a TV show without, really, any heros or villains. It's the first TV Show I have watched where everyone is in a grey area, which is just terrific. My wife and I had long discussions about whether we sided with the Dollhouse characters or the FBI agent and who in the Dollhouse would turn out to be good or evil. There was a lot more moral ambiguity than ever before and that doesn't sit well with audiences used to the black n white weekly soap opera/entertainment show where the labels are clearly defined. I did think, at some point, you had to accept what the Dollhouse was and not judge it in order to go along with the ride. By the time Alpha showed up we were completely hooked!
Thank goodness that Season 2 comes out in November because we are both hankering for more time in the Dollhouse. Now who's going to give Joss some money to resurrect this and Firefly simultaneously hmmmmmm?
8.5 out of 10 glorious steak and fries
Points from The Misses 9 out of 10 glorious steak and fries

Dr.Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog - 28th August 2010

Above The Law - 27th August 2010