REVIEW: DOLLHOUSE – SEASON 1-2

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MAIN CAST

Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Harry Lennix (Man of Steel)
Fran Kranz (The Cabin In The Woods)
Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica)
Enver Gjokaj (Agent Carter)
Dichen Lachman (Agents of SHIELD)
Olivia Williams (X-Men 3)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Amy Acker (Angel)
Reed Diamond (Bones)
Liza Lapira (Cloverfield)
Kevin Kilner (Earth: Final Conflict)
VIncent Ventresca (Cold Case)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Alexis Denisof (Avengers Assemble)
Keith Carradine (The Big Bang Theory)
Summer Glau (Arrow)
Matt Keeslar (Scream 3)
Miracle Laurie (Insane Jane)
Mark Sheppard (Chuck)
Erin Cumming (Spartacus)
Jim Piddock (The Man)
Anson Mount (In Her Shoes)
David Alpay (The Vampire Diaries)
Aisha Hinds (Cult)
Patton Oswalt (Caprica)
Mehcad Brooks (Supergirl)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Emma Bell (Final Destination 5)
Teddy Sears (The Flash)
Jordan Bridges (J. Edgar)
Ian Anthony Dale (Mr. 3000)
Gregg Henry (Slither)
Ashley Johnson (Roswell)
Felicia Day (The Guild)
Janina Gavankar (True Blood)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Adair Tishler (Heroes)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Clayton Rohner (The Relic)
Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica)
Kristoffer Polaha (Ringer)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Michael Hogan (Red Riding Hood)
Nelson Franklin (New Girl)
Ray Wise (Swamp Thing)
Adam Godley (Powers)

Dollhouse is a near-future SF tv series, featuring Eliza Dushku as Echo, a woman working for the secretive “Dollhouse” who has voluntarily had her personality wiped in order to be imprinted with any mind and skills a client requires. While initially very episodic, a longer plotline slowly emerges as the more disturbing aspects of this technology and the Dollhouse emerges.

This series comes from the mind of Joss Whedon, responsible for Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. Like Firefly, Dollhouse was cancelled ignominiously in its second season, so be warned that you will not get the full story Whedon planned to write. Whedon has a real genius for producing brilliant genre TV that delights fans but doesn’t make it as a mainstream show, and the tension between his desire to tell a big story, while not alienating casual viewers, shows in the early episodes, which see Echo sent off on unrelated assignments.

Echo’s assignments range from the obvious seductions to less obvious tasks such as bodyguard and safe-cracker. As time goes on, we see her blank state slowly becoming not so blank. An outside element is provided by FBI agent Ballard, who is investigating the Dollhouse, and becomes obsessed with locating Echo and finding why she would enter the Dollhouse.

Once the first season gets into its stride it deals with rogue agent Alpha, whose eventual return causes chaos, and the ongoing investigation of Ballard. Slowly building along with this are the big questions of what the corporation behind the Dollhouse really want, what could be done with this technology, and how the apparently-wiped minds slowly find a personality. Season two attempts to kick into high gear, and throws some more radical changes into the mix, including glimpses of the eventual result of the Dollhouse technology, but ultimately couldn’t avoid cancellation.

Dollhouse has some excellent secondary characters, and tries to create an ensemble despite Dushku being very much the face of the show. Characters such as Topher, DeWitt, Langton, and Dr Saunders are brilliantly drawn, and the dialogue sparkles. As ever with a Whedon product, the characters draw you in and make you wish you could watch them again and again.

Ultimately Dollhouse is a brave but failed attempt to create something a little different, and provoke some real thought, in a genre that sometime gets too bland. It’s well worth watching, but doesn’t give the full story its vision deserved.

 

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