February 12 2009

Dollhouse – A Preemptive Plea For Support

dollhouseDollhouse, the new sci-fi series from Joss Whedeon, premieres on Friday, February 13th, on Fox at 9 EST/8 CST.

Please watch… I’m begging you.

The series centers around Echo (played by Eliza Dushku) who is an “active’ inside the Dollhouse. Actives are people that have had their memories wiped so that they are a blank slate that can then have any set of memories implanted on them to fulfill a job. Need an assassin? Echo will be given the memories and skills of an assassin. Need a debutante date for a state dinner? Echo can do that also. After each assignment ends, her memory is again wiped to prepare her for the next imprinting, leaving her and her other fellow actives in a child like state with no memories of what they have done.

The series premise kicks up when Echo stops losing all of the memories, and she starts realizing the things she has done, and what she is.

As I write this, Dollhouse has not yet premiered, and I have only seen a handful of clips from the show, not even close to a full episode, but, yet, here I am, already begging you to watch. Why would someone beg you to watch something when they aren’t even 100% sure themselves yet they will like it? Please read on to discover my reasoning.

Joss Whedon

Joss Whedon is the creator of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly. He also was the man behind the recent Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog web series that was quite a success. I am an unabashed fan of the man’s work, and I am proud to say that. I feel he is one of the best writers currently working in television, but he gets a raw deal at times due to his chosen genre of science fiction. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, admittedly, but what Joss writes tends to transcend the genre and speak to a much deeper part of the human soul. He may write about a teenage girl slaying a vampire, but is it possibly more about a girl fighting to slay her own inner demons to transcend from girl into woman?

He is an amazingly talented writer that deserves attention. While I am uncertain of my fondness for the actual series of Dollhouse, the fact he is backing it and guiding it gives me enough faith that I know I will enjoy the series.

Eliza Dushku

Ms. Dusku is best known for playing the character of Faith, the sometimes evil Slayer, on Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Angel, so she has a history of knowing how to play the words that Mr. Whedon puts to paper. This series was also built with her in mind for the part of Echo from day one as it was conceived over a lunch the two had where the expressed their desire to work together again.

While Ms. Dushku has never carried the weight of being the lead in a series before, she is an accomplished actress, and she is sure to be up to the task.
dollhouse cast

The Slow Build

Mr. Whedon is a writer, while extremely talented, builds plots at his own pace. The series currently has an order for 13 episodes, a standard order for any new series, but 13 is really not enough for his story arcs to kick into high gear. In a recent interview, Ms. Dushku stated that Mr. Whedon had a five year story plan all laid out of how the characters will develop, and where they are going. Figuring four and half seasons to be the true number, that would put the series at approximately 101 episodes (22 episodes per normal season plus 13 for the half season), meaning that 13 would barely get us through the first tenth of what he has planned. However, the series can’t get past those initial 13 episodes without viewers.

You also have to give props to any series that plans for five years out. So many of today’s shows bounce from week to week with no real sense of where they are going, or what the final resolution is going to be. Those that do always end up having the strongest writing and the most loyal fan bases. Need convincing? LOST and Battlestar Galactica were both pre-planned series.


The Fox network has messed with Mr. Whedon before by showing Firefly out of order, and never airing the full 13 episodes of the initial order. Fans are concerned not only because of the network the series will be airing on, but also due to the fact that they dumped it into the Friday lineup, a traditional gravveyard for science fiction television series. Most people aren’t home on Friday nights, but that is why there are DVRs and online streaming of shows. If you miss the show as it airs, you can always catch iot another way, and networks are paying more attention that ifnormation now. It does make me awfully fearful that Fox may not be putting a lot of hope into this series by starting it off in a well known television wasteland slot.

Why You Should Watch Dollhouse

I am acutely aware of how odd it is to be calling for support of a series before it even airs, but I fear that if support doesn’t build from day one, that Fox may get scared and cancel the series before it even has a chance to find its audience. In a review published by io9 of the first three episodes, they say that many people are finding the second episode stronger than the first, but overall they found all three episodes to be engaging. So I put forth that you at least give this show two episodes to prove itself to you. Is two hours really too much to ask for what may end up being a series that could entertain for five years if Mr. Whedon gets to she his entire plan through to the end?

Even if after my plea you don’t feel this series is for you, please tell your friends about it, tell your family, tell some random stranger on the street… I really don’t care who you tell, but just tell someone that they should give a series that has the potential to be strongly written, well acted and highly engaging a try.

Again, series premiere will be Friday, February, 13th at 9 EST/8 CST… tell a friend.

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