This week on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday, Tiffany is reviewing TNT’s Rizzoli and Isles and I…well, I’m reviewing…uhhh…
Okay, I must admit, after all the long distance excitement of SDCC (San Diego Comic Con) this past weekend, I had trouble focusing on what would be worth watching. The ten year anniversary of Firefly was celebrated, in part, with a special panel at SDCC, and while wonderful, it made me mourn the loss all over again.*
But I couldn’t very well tell you about Firefly again, right?
So, instead, in my cable-less room I chose to resurrect another Whedon creation that you may have missed. (Thanks, Netflix.)
Welcome to the Dollhouse.
See all those beautiful serene looking people? They are called “actives” or “dolls”. They’re personalities have been wiped, and as they are needed for various “engagements” they are imprinted with the appropriate personality and skills. Need a hostage negotiator? A girlfriend for the weekend who thinks your Halo skills are a turn on? Whatever the need, the Dollhouse can make it happen.
For a fee, of course.
The series centers around one doll in particular, Echo (Eliza Dushku). As the series opens, we get a hint that she entered into a five year agreement to be in the dollhouse, albeit reluctantly. But why? What would compel someone to have their identity erased in favor of being used for who knows what?
Running things is Adelle DeWitt (Olivia Williams), a savvy business woman who appears to believe that what the Dollhouse does is for the good of all involved. Dolls are assigned handlers to ensure that engagements go as planned and they return safely, and Echo’s handler Boyd (Harry Lennix) seems to be one of the few that has doubts about the ethics of what they do.
Topher Brink (Fran Kranz) is the brains behind the technology that makes the wiping and imprinting possible – he seems less concerned with the moral implications of what they do. Advancement in science, and how cool those advancements are, trumps any concept of right or wrong.
While the dollhouse is a relatively secret operation, one FBI agent, Paul Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett), believes in its existence and is determined to find, expose, and take the place down. His determination is obsessive, particularly his search for a girl named Caroline.
On the surface, Dollhouse appears to be a program showcasing hot people who often end up in situations that require that they a) kick butt b) look sexy doing it. (Think, Sydney Bristow from Alias.) For many, that sentence may be enough to sell you on checking it out. This formula isn’t exactly one that brings me running to the TV, though, so what makes it worth my viewing time?
First, the Whedonesque dialogue and banter. The clever quips and specific way that characters phrase things (that I can’t quite describe) but immediately recognize as the Work of Whedon are definitely present in this show.
Second, the questions the story raises. I feel that a really good story is one that doesn’t slap you in the face with its philosophical/political ideas, but definitely gets you thinking beyond “dude, that hot girl just kicked butt”.
Third, the humor in dark moments, another item that I find uniquely Whedon. His shows always seem to make you laugh in the moments that could otherwise be tragic. It’s never a cheap laugh, but more like that awkward moment where we deflect what is happening in whatever way we know how.
While I doubt any show could ever replace my love for Firefly, Dollhouse at least gives me more of the Whedon I’ve grown to love – not to mention some familiar faces from the old Firefly days (you’ll see).
There are only two seasons of Dollhouse, and I believe it may not have had that second season if 1) FOX execs weren’t afraid of the barrage of hate mail they would have received had they cancelled it after only one season and 2) there had been less scantily-clad hot people.
Dollhouse gets a solid MacTV for me – if FOX had given Whedon sufficient time to continue the series, I believe it would have only been improved, but sadly, FOX does dumb things. (Like, say, putting awesome shows in the Friday deathslot. Oh, and cancelling Firefly.)
Are you a Whedon fan? Have you watched Dollhouse? If not, do you have plans to add it to your Netflix queue?
Now, head over to Tiffany’s blog, where she fills you in on the popular lady duo, Rizzoli and Isles.
Join us next week for a special football themed Why It’s Worth a Watch!
Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.
A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:
GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech
*I was not at SDCC. I merely experienced a small taste through the various tweets and videos from friends who were there. For those of you who are Firefly fans, you can view the panel here.