Monday, May 11, 2009

Say goodnight, Caroline

Well, well, well. Joss Whedon, you old son of a gun. You’ve done it again. You’ve thoroughly engaged me in a series that is thought-provoking, action-packed and awesomely-empowered (well, as empowered as a brainwashed, reprogrammed, self-enlisted slaves can get). In just 12 quick episodes, “Dolllhouse” has woven a convincing alternate universe while wrapping our mind grapes around some of real life’s biggest questions. What is free will? What is a soul? What is reality? What kind of workout does Eliza Dushku do to look that banging in all those tiny tight outfits?

I won’t lie; I wasn’t completely sold at first. Certainly, I was intrigued. But it wasn’t quite clicking, the leap of faith was too great. Still I will always, always give Joss the benefit of the doubt when it comes to good TV. So then in the middle – exact middle, episode 6 to be precise – I felt like at last it all came together. That’s when the pathos became palpable and I started to care about what happened to Echo and the Dollhouse. It’s also when that old Joss magic returned and we finally got the blend of poignancy, hilarity and ass-kickery.

So, now, the finale. [Spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t watched the episode yet – damn, what are you waiting for?] Not too many shows can surprise me, but I was genuinely shocked several times this season. And the Dr. Claire Saunders/Whiskey Tango Foxtrot situation was the biggest. Holy mind fuck, Batman. So the good doctor was first an active named Whiskey who used to be the Dollhouse’s No. 1 until Alpha took a pair of scissors to her face so that his obsessive crush Echo could be No. 1 instead and after the attack gets imprinted with the memories of the house’s real Dr. Saunders, who just happened to be one of Alpha’s other victims during that same murderous spree, and now she has become aware of the fact that she is not really who she thought she was but a doll, like the people she considers her charges. Whew, say that sentence all in one breath, I dare you.

And, while we’re on the topic, can we get a “Hell, yeah!” for Amy Acker? While meek and adorable were her calling cards as Fred on “Angel,” she has brought a beautiful melancholy and seething disgust to her portrayal of the damaged (and now we realize totally unreal) Dr. Saunders. One of my great disappointments (and there will be many) if “Dollhouse” isn’t given a second season is that we’ll never get to see how Claire handles her new, totally fucked-up self awareness. Also, it would mean we’d never get to see Amy Acker in leather pants on the show again. That would be wrong, Fox, very wrong.

Really, all of the supporting cast has been excellent. Olivia Williams as DeWitt showed vulnerability under the steel. Dichen Lachman as Sierra has given Eliza a run for her money in the kicking ass and taking names department. And Miracle Laurie as Mellie/November kept breaking my heart. As happy and (once again) shocked as I was to see that Agent Ballard bartered her freedom from the Dollhouse, I’m also sad because it means the no more Miracle if the show continues. It also means the last person who isn’t a size 0 has left the series.

And on a somewhat similar note, while some have grumbled about the skimpiness of the outfits (particularly Eliza’s) in promos and throughout the season, it’s still as feminist a show as you’ll find out there filled with strong, complex, interesting and essential female characters. And it’s a show that delivers lines like, “To ascend to anything, at minimum, you don’t cut up women,” with unparalleled conviction.

Seriously, Fox, save Dollhouse. Don’t make me do the equivalent of a Save Chuck campaign because a chair that wipes away all of your memories and implants you with entirely new ones is a lot harder to buy than a Subway sandwich. So, thoughts ladies and discerning gentlemen? Did you feel welcomed to this Dollhouse?

23 comments:

Norma Desmond said...

I'll be the first to admit that I'm completely sucked into the show (though, I have to be honest, I did suspect the Whisky business). I, too, wasn't completely involved at first, though I did enjoy... once it got into gear, though... Wow. Just... WOW. I love it. It'll be tragic if Fox screws up again.

Anita said...

I'm a hardcore Joss fan. I was into Buffy and Firefly. I've always lusted after Eliza (I mean who doesn't?) So when I heard about this show I was pretty excited. I wasn't too sure about it in the beginning I have to admit, but after just watching the last 3 episodes I have to say I'm now hoping for a season 2. Things are just starting to get interesting.

Anonymous said...

The second half of the first season was really awesome. Amy Acker is brilliant, and I absolutely love her character, Claire/Whiskey. I really hope the people at Fox are smart enough to give a TV jewel like Dollhouse another season.

KingIsAFink said...

This show far exceeded my expectations. Loved the Dolls. Loved the Alpha twists. Really hope it comes back for another season.

i'mjustsayin said...

Truthfully, american television does not exist anymore. Only spanish tv can set us free!

Anonymous said...

I think it's indicative of the problem with American television that the episodes at the beginning of the series that were designed to make the show palatable to broad audiences are what made me want to NEVER watch this show again. But you're right, Ms. Snarker, about episode 6 and every episode thereafter: it got good. Really good. And the finale was basically a 42-minute-long argument as to why the show should have several more season to explore the universe it has created.

But in a world where episodes like "Stage Fright" are carefully orchestrated to attract viewers rather than repel them, I can't say I won't be surprised if it doesn't come back in the fall.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that you're doing an amazing job with this blog! Never stop! /A true fan

pippin said...

oh, i had stopped after the third episode! i was waiting, hoping for it to get better, but my patience didn't last. now i have rush to watch the ones still up on fox. thanks for the post.

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

Big fan of Dollhouse. The Dr. Saunders twist totally and completely blind-sided me! Never saw that coming.
Hope the show doesn't get the infamous Fox preemptive axe. Don't they realize that some shows need time to develop? I'm surprised that they stuck with X-Files at the beginning.

Tim Rooch said...

Miracle Laurie will be back. Joss always brings back the best people, even if he killed them off. Don't fail me now, Joss.

Vale said...

In the beginning, it sounded sordid and, I don't know, superficial. oh boy oh boy, how mistaken i was! it's pure science fiction and it's absolutely BRILLIANT! I hope they don't cancel it, it's going to break my heart :((

Melinda Barton said...

i'mjustsayin, I know what you're sayin.

I've become so obsessed with LHDP and HC that I haven't watched American television in a couple weeks or so.

I'll have to catch up on Dollhouse though and go watch the last 2 episodes of Chuck.

The only woman who can make me forget to watch Strahotski? Patricia Vico! Okay, and maybe Laura Sanchez.

Emma said...

News on whedonesque! Looks like we might be getting a second series!!

TheWeyrd1 said...

I really like The Dollhouse! I really love Chuck...well actually Sarah...but you know what I mean. And I am mourning the loss of Life... What is WRONG with the men that make these decisions!?! Oh, right they're MEN...I'm feeling a bit anti-male of the species...except for Joss, Chuck, and Crews of course.

delurk said...

It sucked me in completely by episode 2. I just assumed: of course it will be renewed! Can't believe they're contemplating not renewing it.

eme said...

it left questions and didn't disappoint. hope we get to see a second season and it starts out with a stride and not a limp.

Rizz Rustbolt said...

The best part of the Dr. Saunders reveal?

"Why did you make me hate you?!?"

elliB said...

Amy Acker has been brilliant from the get go, but she blew me away this episode. I audibly gasped a few times during the finale (something I rarely do) especially at the last word. We NEED that season 2! And I hope Joss has a way of keeping Miracle Laurie in the show because I heart her so. (Yes, I love Eliza too, that's just a given)

Shazza said...

Hope this makes it over to Europe someday. I love Josh Wheedon! And you have made it sound so goooooood.

CB said...

Love the blog.
I wasn't surprised by the Saunders/Whiskey reveal but I was blown away by Saunders own discovery that she was actually a doll. That alone deserves a second season. And Amy Acker needs to be a full cast member.

This show deserves to be renewed. If Fox wants to find someone to blame for ratings being lower than they wanted, they need only blame themselves. Fox promoted this as a show of scantily clad women going on sex-capades. I'm sure it was surprising to the apes that run Fox that it wasn't enough to attract viewers, but next time just trust Joss.

heartofartemis said...

I hope DOLLHOUSE gets a second season too. Joss should hire Laurel Holloman (who was a kickass Justine on Angel before the L Word) to play a new active!

Femme Politik said...

Seriously, TV has gone down the crapper. If Dollhouse doesn't get picked up again I'll have completely lost Faith. Literally. I'll follow Joss Whedon down whatever creative rabbit hole he leads me, but for real, the biz needs to give him some respect and let him do what he does best. I can't keep watching Buffy DVDs forever! Okay, I can, but I would also like a new Joss creation to stick around for a few seasons. Great post, Ms. Snarker!

Mari said...

This show has surprised me a lot. I am a huge Joss and Eliza fan (I was addicted to "Tru Calling" too :D), and I loved Amy as Fred on "Angel." Seeing them as different characters on this show with a lot of complexities about who they really are has gotten me hooked onto it, and I've been trying to get my friends to watch it as well.

The show started off slow and awkward, but Buffy, Angel and Firely took a few episodes to get their feet wet and get to the rich storylines we've come to respect, love and experienced. The supporting cast is awesome - some of the finest actors around.

The second season chances are looking up, from what I've been reading. Even on Eliza's Twitter account she mentioned that talks were looking positive, so here's hoping this totally awesome, kickass show gets a chance to delve deeper into the mysteries of the Dollhouse. The finale blew me away - perfection, IMO. Anything show that makes you think while you cheer on the characters is a plus for me. :)