Monday, February 16, 2009

"Dollhouse" renders me ambivalent but hopeful...

So did you think of "Dollhouse?" As my headline suggests, I felt a bit "meh" about the first episode but there was enough going on to pencil it onto my calendar for this Friday. It seems most people had the ambivalence thing going on with this episode. At first, I thought it was just me; I have a long history of taking forever to get into Whedon's shows and then I feel truly, madly and deeply in love with them. It took me three tries watching "Buffy" before it clicked with me. Same with "Angel." I'm ashamed to admit it was even worse with "Firefly." I stopped watching it after the first episode and don't even remember now how I climbed back on board that wagon train. So it didn't surprise me that "Dollhouse" didn't grab me from minute one.

I'm thoroughly intrigued by the mysterious aspects of the show -- who runs the Dollhouse, why it was created, why Echo's memories seem to be bleeding through, how Helo the FBI Dude fits into all this, and most of all, who crazy naked guy was at the end of the episode. All of those elements pulled me in and I think it's those bits that will make me come back to the show.

The procedural element of the episode was pretty dull though and didn't grab me at all. I'm hoping that part of the show will liven up down the road and will intertwine better with the overarching aspects of the "Dollhouse" main story.

The one thing I didn't enjoy very much was all the posturing monologues, the dialogue that seemed to be trying so hard to say something Very Important Indeed. I hope Whedon lightens the touch a bit. I've always thought he was most effective when he used humor to undercut the darker elements of his story and/or shock the hell out of his audience, e.g., "I am a leaf on the wind" and then evisceration.

My one sticking point with "Dollhouse" and the single thing that might break the deal for me is Eliza Dushku. I just don't like her. I mean, I don't dislike her but watching her act, for me, is like staring at a blank wall. It's not a bad wall but it's flat and two dimensional. Her characters always seem cold and distant to me and I used to think it was just those characters, but the more things I've seen her in, I'm starting to think it might be her. I found more intrigue in the 15 seconds that Amy Acker was on screen than I did the entire time Dushku was and that's including her climactic emotional scenes. (Kind of makes me wish Acker had been cast as the lead actually.)

But from everything I've read, the series does indeed pick up from this initial episode. I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out...plus, it looks like we have a few visits from BSG's Mark Sheppard coming up, so there's something to look forward to. In fact, if Joss can just keep employing former Buffy/Angel/Firefly/Battlestar Galactica actors for the rest of the season, I'll be more than happy...and will pledge to work harder to love the Dushku.

What did you think?

16 comments:

Megan said...

My reaction was very similar to yours. I had read so many reviews labeling the show as either bad or mediocre, that I think my expectations were really low. I'm not a fan of Dushku and the show felt really slow to me at parts, but I do think the ingredients are there for a good show. They just need to put them together differently, or turn up the heat, or some other cooking metaphor I can't think of right now.

Another Liz said...

I've read your blog for a while, but this is my first comment. I agree, especially about the humor part. The witty and amusing dialog was always my favorite part of Firefly and Buffy, so I was pretty disappointed that there was almost no humor in this first episode of Dollhouse. I'm still going to try to keep up with it for at least a few weeks, though - I suspect that it will get better.

DropEdge said...

I've been worried about Dollhouse from the get-go because of Dushku. She just... doesn't have much range. And I absolutely agree that Acker would have been about 14 times better as the lead.

michelle said...

I think it has potential, but I agree that the first episode didn't do much for me. Hopefully, the network will give it a chance. The first few episodes of Buffy were pretty bad as well.

crone51 said...

Not too fond of it. Sadly. However, Friday's BSG was insane. I am still having post exposition trauma.

Liz said...

Crone51, I'm with you totally on that BSG episode. I basically just sat through the whole thing slack-jawed and then had an irrational fear that I would be tested on the material at the end. Post exposition trauma is the perfect description. I really enjoyed it but it was just crazy.

Emily said...

Acker as the lead. Oh if wishing would make it so. I'm certainly going to give it a chance because well Joss deserves that. He really does. Dushku not so much but with Whedon at the helm I can't stay away. Fingers are crossed.

Beth said...

Yep, I'm like you. I did not like Firefly when I first watched it, but I'm now a big O' Browncoat. I really liked Dollhouse, but I'm not in love yet. I can see myself falling hard though...oh, and Felecia Day is guest starring in an episode!! One reason to keep on watching, as I have a huge girl crush on her!!

crone - I had to watch BSG three times and read an online blog to figure out what was going on. Head all explodey.

crone51 said...

I am wondering if I can have only one true TV obsession at a time.As soon as BSG came back on I dropped Dr. Who like a hot potato. I am afraid Dollshouse will never gell for me because what I am really doing watching it is killing time before BSG comes on.

Sigh. I love BSG. I will be very sad in a few short weeks. Sigh. My post exposition trauma disorder ( the dreaded PETD) is fading with many rewatches. I am ready for the next installment. Sadly, it is only Tuesday.

The Other Laura said...

I am a little ambivalent about Dushku too but then that kind of flat cool 2 dimensional acting fits well within the show's premise, doesn't it?

I couldn't decide if I liked it or if it felt like it was just all over the place.

boudiceaborn said...

Totally agree with what's been said here about Dollhouse. I liked the geeky/crazy technician, but he was the only character who really struck me. Acker didn't really strike me either way - I haven't seen her before, and since her character was so weirded out by Echo and let her escape I just assumed she was a bit of a drip.

I think the challenge with Dollhouse is that Whedon's going into very specific genres (Criminal Intent/Without a Trace in the pilot's case) and he might not be equally skilled at conceiving all of them. The main job was a boilerplate plot from one of those shows, and it didn't bring anything new to the genre for me.

Emmy said...

Finally got around to watching Dollhouse last night. It was such a hard show to watch. The characters were interesting, but flat. The dialog was not the witty banter you come to expect from Joss. And the pacing of the show was just odd.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Acker. I hope there is more of her. Dushku just wasn't doing it for me. I am hoping she gets better next episode - at least the preview gave me hope.

Lissy said...

my feelings EXACTLY

RedCochina said...

Liz, I feel pretty much the same about the show overall but am trying really hard to give Dushku a chance. I used to HATE her in Buffy but I'm rewatching the series for the third time now and she's starting to grow on me. Maybe her range will grow? *fingers crossed* However, now I cannot stop imagining Amy Acker as Echo. She would be AWESOME! Her turn from Fred to Illyria was flawless. I would totally believe her morphing from one Active personality to the next. Maybe she could give Dushku some pointers...

Elimare said...

Another 'never-been-a-fan' of Eliza Dushku here. I watched it and think my twitter directly afterwards was 'meh'.
I'm hoping it gets better - I was thinking about it and agree with what a lot of people have said here. Not sure if Dushku doesn't have any 'range' or if shes just been typecast in the role of morose, unemotional girls. Theres nothing about her that makes me want to root for her as a character - no feeling, its like she doesn't give anything back to the viewer. In a way I guess thats perfect for the role in Dollhouse as she's a blank slate every time.
I too was waiting to see what Amy's character was all about - that scar, I'm guessing thats important as the 'dolls' are all perfect and here's a woman who hides her face in the shadows...
Also freaky naked guy, I have some theories on what thats all about.
Squealed like a little girl when I saw Helo onscreen. :)

Elimare said...

Oh and BSG this week just about blew my head off. FANTASTIC!!