DollHouse: Impressions

Is that a gun or are you happy to see me? I know, I know. I had to. Sorry.

Why do great shows get canceled?  Can anyone explain that to me?  Firefly?  I still don’t forgive Firefly for being canceled.  I never will forgive that.  Not only did it make no sense, but it is a tragedy beyond the limits of space and time.  Imagine the stories that could have been told!  I think because of the heartbreak I felt over Firefly’s premature demise, I was very hesitate to get into Dollhouse.  People had made promises to me before, and I didn’t want to have to go through that again.  Did Dollhouse get canceled?  Of course it did.  Was it a great show?  Of course it was.  Maybe it is even a better show because of the shortness of it, because, maybe, even Joss Whedon knew that the show had the life span of a hamster.  That won’t stop me from singing the show’s praises.  Spoilers are coming up.

The premise of Dollhouse is that someone, not sure who, designed technology that allows for people to be “imprinted”.  You can take a guy, imprint him with someone’s memories, and then the imprinted person is a completely different person.  The Dollhouse is full of “Dolls”, these empty vessels with no real personality or high brain function. People hire the Dollhouse for missions, the dolls are imprinted, they do what they are hired to do.  Most of the dolls are hired to give people their fantasies, their wishes.  But the dolls can also be hired to complete dangerous missions, thief, whatever a rich person might need.  My biggest concern at first was that there was no way a show could develop a characters, well, character without a character progression.  How can I care about what a character is going through if the character’s mind is wiped clean every episode?  Two words solved that problem pretty quickly.  Eliza Dushku.  I never thought she was a decent actress, or even an actress I wanted to pay attention to, until I started watching this show.  Somehow, even with all the changing characters and the shifting situations and the different events that are going on, Dushku allows the main character, Echo, to have a sense of self.  Echo is always Echo, even when Echo has a different personality.

The show asks the question: Is ignorance truly bliss?  Would you be happy if you could live a fantasy world, either by having a doll in your life or by becoming one? It really does get complex, forcing you to think about the different characters in way that is more important than if they are going to fall in love or not. Add to that the FBI agent trying to find this super-secret Dollhouse, a Doll who went insane and is out there murdering people, Echo’s handler with a heart of gold, conspiracies, moral issues and, you know, hot chicks in their underwear, and you have a damn good show.  It is so good, in fact, that the reality of its cancellation sort of confirms my idea of the typical American television viewer:  They are tasteless and stupid.  It was the Sarah Connor Chronicles.  It still stings a little.

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