First Impressions


Aired on: FOX

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            When I first saw previews for the television show Dollhouse, I thought, ďOoh, Eliza Dushku is getting another seriesÖand sheís working with Joss Whedon again!  Cool!Ē  After watching the previews I realized that this could be a big break for Dushku.  I first gained admiration for Eliza Dushkuís acting after watching her portrayal of the misunderstood vampire slayer known as Faith in the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer .  I though she had great potential as an actress.  Then I saw her in a comedic role as a tough gymnast who tries cheerleading on for size in Bring it On.  Once again, I enjoyed her acting and saw potential for more.  This new series which premiered on February 13, 2009 on FOX promised audiences an opportunity to see Eliza Dushkuís wide range of acting abilities.

            In Dollhouse, Dushku portrays Echo, an operative for a secret corporation known in some circles as the Dollhouse.  Operatives for the Dollhouse are usually supplied to those who can afford it for one night of perfect pleasure with the partner of their dreams.  There is one catch Ė the operatives will never remember you after the experience.  Prior to the mission, the operative is imprinted with the properties of the customerís dream person.  When they are returned to the Dollhouse, their memories are wiped clean, supposedly leaving no trace of their past experiences, leaving the operative with an empty slate of a mind.  Of course, sometimes the operatives are used for more intense missions like rescuing someone from a hostage situation, but the main goal of the Dollhouse is pleasure.  At least, that is what the viewer is led to believe.  By the second episode, we begin to learn that the Dollhouse may be more than simply a pleasure house and that not all memories are wiped perfectly clean.  We also learn that there is something special about the operative known as Echo. 

            After watching two episodes of f Dollhouse, I am torn as to how the show makes me feel.  There are great points to this series, but there are clearly some things I didnít like about it.  The first annoying issue is the vagueness of the plot.  I know that things canít be revealed to you too quickly or they wonít have enough story to tell for the rest of the season, but the cloudy little morsels you are tossed can be interpreted in a number of different ways.  Second, you find yourself hating everything that the company stands for, but youíre not exactly sure which annoys you more.  Is it the idea that peopleís entire mental beings are wiped clean for the sake of someone rich enough to pay for one day of pleasure?  Maybe itís the fact that you know there is more to the company than this, but you canít figure out exactly what they stand for.  Maybe itís just that cocky little memory-wipe scientist (Fran Kranz).  Or perhaps itís the jerk thatís head of security at the place (Reed Diamond).  And how is it that these folks have the ability to summon helicopters and high-powered weaponry to provide military-like extractions when things get to hairy for the operatives?

            Of course, thereís a lot to like about this show, too.  First, this is an opportunity for Eliza Dushku to shine.  Each week she gets to play a different person with a different style and personality.  Second, each episode reveals just a little bit about Echoís past and that is enough to keep you coming back for more as you try to solve the puzzle that is Echo and the Dollhouse.  We canít help it Ė we love solving puzzles.  You know there is going to be something big revealed because this is Joss Whedon of Buffy, Angel and Firefly fame - everything he works on has some big, shocking mystery to reveal.  Third, being a fan of the hidden code of literature, I canít help but grin at the main characterís name.  All of the operatives at the Dollhouse are named for radio phonetics (Alpha, Beta, etc.), but there is a special significance to naming Dushkuís character Echo Ė she never gets fully wiped and there are echoes of her past experience and her life before the Dollhouse still left inside her mind.

            So, final verdict time Ė do we watch Dollhouse, or do we let it go by the wayside?  Well, I happen to know that networks are very impatient when it comes to letting stories flesh themselves out.  Iíve lost quite a few decent shows to network execsí impatience.  That being said, FOX could grow impatient with how long it takes for Joss Whedon to reveal the hidden secrets of the show and cancel it before it even gets going.  For my part, Iím going to continue watching the show.  After all, I canít stop now that Iíve just begin piecing the clues together, can I? 


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