Dollhouse Discussion

And this week's ep is:

The Target. Echo becomes the ultimate outdoorswoman when she is is hired by a handsome young client named Richard, but it may turn out that neither of the pair is what they seem to be. Meanwhile, Agent Ballard receives a clue about Echo's past, and we learn about Dr. Saunders' scars.

Post thoughts in the comments after if you got 'em.

See also:

Maureen Ryan's interview with Tahmoh Penikett over at The Watcher, where he says a couple of things that give me hope things will get good if we hang in there:

To help viewers understand "Dollhouse's" provocative concept, the first few episodes are self-contained hours focused on Echo's weekly adventures. But Penikett says that midway through the show’s 13-episode season, the mythology will kick into high gear.

"Halfway through the season, you'll start seeing some of the main story lines and arcs developed in a more serious way, around the fifth episode. I think that's when Joss and his writing team really found their feet and said, 'OK, this is what we wanted. This is what we were aiming at and we’ve got it now,'" Penikett said.

"I can't tell you how confidence-building it is when you experience that," the actor added. "Because as everyone knows, we had somewhat of a tumultuous start. There was a lot of speculation, a lot of bad press, and you inevitably get caught up in it a little bit. … Once I read the fifth and sixth episode, specifically [Episode 6, the Whedon-penned] 'Man on the Street,' I was like, 'This is it. This is the show.'"

And if you want to see some interesting thoughts about the first episode, check out this Coffee & Ink post.

17 thoughts on “Dollhouse Discussion”

  1. Hmmm. Haven’t watched this yet, but I keep hearing quotes about how we have to give the show four or five episodes to find its feet and pace and such. And I keep thinking, if a novelist told me to give her book 50 pages, because the opening is rocky, I would be wondering why she didn’t edit those pages before going to press, so I wouldn’t need her to reassure me that no, really, after that it’s a good book …

  2. Two words: Network executives. I’d liken it more to a trusted author telling me that her editor ruined the beginning of the book, but she’s still happy with the whole.
    (But, then, I routinely recommend books I think are amazing with the caveat, “But it doesn’t really start to get good until page 67/123/etc.”)

  3. I seem to be looking to this show for some fairly shallow action entertainment, because I’m just psyched to see Matt Keesler (from the sadly cancelled Minuteman!) guest-starring tonight.

  4. Better?
    I’m at least interested, now, in what happens next. And I’ve decided I like that there is no one to like, exactly, on this show. There’s a squick side to just about everyone, so far: the handler and the doctor are complicit, and the FBI agent clearly has a dark side. I hadn’t really twigged to the fact that we’re in the den of the bad guys, and Joss does bad guys pretty well. Reed Diamond is possibly my fave, so far. (Topher, on the other hand, is just too damn wrong–I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad.) I find it troubling, though, that on a show about a female character it’s the male characters around her that I’m most interested in.
    ED is a problem for me, still; sometimes it’s like she’s playing blank even when she’s imprinted, and when she is blank she bugs the hell out of me.
    As if to continue with the theme of Making Good Things Bad and Vice Versa, watching Matt Keeslar play wrong was a bit disturbing.

  5. Topher (techie, right? still learning the names) is striking me as Future!Pizz from Veronica Mars, if he was really good at science and went bad. I think it’s the haircut.
    I agree (and also a little disappointed that there’s no way for the Middleman to become a recurring part) with your assessment, but I am pleased that we started getting some hints at a story this week. I feel a bit disoriented because it really was like watching a different pilot and to a certain extent it felt like characterizations got tweaked from draft to draft? And all the repetition in terms of her romantic talk getting on the elevator that I couldn’t be sure was meant to repeat, or just did so coincidentally because they had to do another pilot?
    So I want the show to settle down and let me get a feel for who the people are supposed to be. But, yep yep, Lion’s Den.
    ED is not impressing. It bothered me more in this ep than the last one. Please let them give her something she can do well next time, and let her get less blank fast. At the very very end there was a glimmer of something there in the in-between state. Show us mercy. Let her start gaming them soon!

  6. (But, then, I routinely recommend books I think are amazing with the caveat, “But it doesn’t really start to get good until page 67/123/etc.”)
    I do this as a reader about books I liked, too. It’s just harder to imagine doing this about books I’d actually written myself, even if I did feel like others had ruined the whole beginning of my book. (Something that fortunately I haven’t felt thus far. :-))

  7. This ep seemed to have more Whedon-isms in the dialogue, which I enjoyed.
    I have more questions. If NegotiatorEcho is the result of real people’s personalities — and I believe all of this is based on real people, just tweaked and meshed? — who are they using for the dream-girl-sexy parts? To me, part of the attraction for the buyer is getting something that doesn’t exist in the real world…so why go to them for a negotiator? I’m already overthinking.
    Olivia Williams & this set up still reminds me too much of the Nikita series.
    I liked that other memories are leaking thru to Echo. I want more of that.
    I liked that Boyd is supposed to be the viewer; Boyd had to come to see that despite the blankness, Echo is a human to care about. I, as a viewer, am having a hard time coming to care about Echo because she’s a blank. I’m not quite ready to follow Boyd & become invested in Echo.
    Eliza is a good actress, given the right material. She isn’t being given the right material. I care more about others; and I want this to hurry up and start getting good.

  8. I think TV series are materially different from a books in this way, I guess. Perhaps because it’s such a collaborative medium, and insert a bunch of other variables, it seems like there’s a long history of TV shows taking awhile to find their footing. So perhaps I’m more inclined to cut the slack because I’ve seen the pattern before?
    I have to think that the only reason anyone would say these kind of things publicly is because they were really and truly disappointed in the earlier work (and unfortunately in this kind of show in network television, you’re kind of stuck with what you got there) — which is more refreshing than lying about it. Tonight’s ep was a big improvement over last week’s, enough for me to keep watching. For now.

  9. Not that this episode was perfect (not by a long shot!), but I’m just going to pretend that last week’s episode never happened. There was just enough overlap to make this really feel like the pilot, and the other one feel like a gratuitous motorcycles with hot girl PLEEZ WATCH network stunt (with some intriguing stuff thrown in). But what I didn’t get a good sense of last week was a story that might get more engaging as it goes on. And all the performances were even flatter. I finally felt a hint of a real larger story with interesting characters in it last night.

  10. I really, really hate the cliche of terrified girls getting chased by psychotic men, so I found a lot of this episode pretty unpleasant. I think I was supposed to find it unpleasant, in exactly that way, and to find it a satisfying twist when Echo overturned the cliche and saved herself at the end. Maybe Whedon is undermined by his own success here, because Buffy already pulled that trick, and I expect it now. So for half of the show, I kept thinking “Enough with the sadistic hunting, get to the point where she’s kicking his ass.” It’s possible that he’s hoping to pick up an entirely new audience with this show, and that he’s treading familiar ground in the initial episodes because he knows it may not be so familiar to everyone. I dunno.
    One of the most frustrating aspects of the show so far is that just when we’re getting to like Echo, her personality disappears into this childlike thing. The show asks a lot of its audience, that we’re supposed to put up with that until it changes. I think we’ll be seeing a spark of self in her that gathers more aspects of characteristics she absorbs, and becomes someone/something quite unusual. If “Alpha” is any indication of her ultimate destiny, we can expect to see her become practically superpowered. The inklings of that possibility are what’s keeping me interested.
    I liked the flashbacks in this episode, especially of Amy Acker, who is playing it nicely subtle with some major trauma beneath the surface. Want to see more of her. But it was profoundly disturbing to see Matt Keesler as a psycho. He has not shaken his previous role in my mind. Throughout the episode we kept calling out: MIDDLEMAN! MIDDLEBOAT! MIDDLESEX! MIDDLETRAP!

  11. I know, right? So MIDDLEWRONG! Although I’m seeing a lot of spec that he’s some sort of doll himself, perhaps programmed by Alpha, so maybe he can be resurrected? He did seem almost mechanistic. He would make a great T2, but he’ll always be the Middleman in my heart.
    And, yeah, on the discomfort during the running and screaming bits. I think this is going to be a much darker show than anything Whedon’s done previously, and I also think that the premise itself is requiring more fussing with to get it to a place anyone can stand to watch regularly. Rather than riffing on a slasher flick, he’s riffing on a snuff film in this ep.

  12. Oh god. It just occurred to me: if he’s trying to create his own dolls we’re getting a revamp of Adam from Buffy’s Season 4. Let’s hope not.
    I do wonder what Caroline did that brought her to the point where she’d sign up for this deal. If she was involved with Alpha in his previous life, that might explain why he’s trying to ramp up Echo’s evolution.

  13. We just watched the second episode on Hulu last night, and though it was FAR superior to the lackluster first episode, I’m still waiting to see if this show gets its legs before it gets canceled. What surprised me most about the first episode was that it was so . . . so LAME. Wooden acting, trite dialogue (“Dear God, what are we playing at?”), and almost no surprising drama. I’m with you, Gwenda–let’s delete that one from our consciousnesses, ala Echo’s mindwipes.
    This week was marginally better, with, as someone else pointed out, more Whedonesque dialogue and plot twists. (Although, strangely, LAST week’s ep was written and directed by Whedon, not this week’s. This week’s writer/director was Steven DeKnight.) Even so, did anyone else get a “Kirk being chased by a Gorn” feel from this episode, or was it just me? Maybe it was all the rock climbing. I kept expecting Echo to make her own gun out of bamboo and homemade gunpowder.
    My biggest problem with the show overall is that, given the nature of her “blank slate,” we have a main character for whom it is almost impossible to develop any sympathy for. The other characters in the show have the same problem–just as they get to know her, she’s “wiped” and we start all over with her. It’s a neat idea for a show, but in practice it’s a hard sell. At least at the end of this episode we get the first hint that she is (of course) going to be begin remembering things from one wipe to another–but what then? How long can she keep that a secret? I won’t be surprised if she and her watcher–er, sorry, her handler–go rogue and turn AGAINST the Dollhouse at some point, ala Alpha. Only, you know, without the carving people up.
    I’m intrigued enough to tune in next time, but I have to say, this is perhaps my least favorite Whedon effort so far.

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