Dollhouse Cancelled

November 23rd, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I guess this was a surprise to exactly no one.  A few months ago I would have been ranting and raving at the news.  It seemed to me that the show was just beginning to hit its stride at the end of season one.

Epitaph One and the first episode of season two were fantastic, both mixing inventive stories with deep looks at all of the characters.  I thought that, after the first episodes that pretty much looked like movies of the week, the show was done throwing us episodic stories in which Something Randomly Goes Wrong.

Then we saw an episode where Echo subs in for a mother and gets wiped but still retains her maternal instinct enough to stumble around with a knife.  And a show with a serial killer who ends up in Echo’s body.  That was enough.  I love the show, but not enough to have to sit through six by-the-numbers episodes to get into the main story for each season. 

Goodbye, Dollhouse.  I’m glad I watched you long enough for my love for you to sputter out.  May the next Joss Whedon project end up on HBO.

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Dollhouse Reveals New Miracle Cure: Punch-in-the-Face

October 21st, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Say what you want about Dollhouse, it makes a compelling case for giving Bruce Lee the Nobel Prize for Medicine posthumously.  There is very little in the human body, mind, or soul that this series hasn’t cured with a good hit to the brain-pan. 

First of all, any soon-to-be parents can throw out those namby-pamby parenting manuals that tell them to spare the rod.  In the pilot, the ‘hero’ of the series is introduced via boxing montage.  As he is pummelled mercilessly, his fight is intersperced with scenes of his superiors telling him to back off investigating the Dollhouse.  After he is beaten to the ground, he gets up to fight once more!  That’s right.  You can smack determination into your kids.  Do it early.  Do it often.

Of course, this might get them feeling a little down.  No problem.  You know what cures suicidal tendencies?  A hit with a chair.  Yes, in episode three, a suicidal pop star is ‘cured’ of her tendencies by being cracked with a folding chair, wrestlemania-style.  No, I’m not kidding.  It wasn’t subtext.  It wasn’t a post hoc, ergo propter hoc situation.  They actually said, on the show, that a ‘brush with death’ helped reignite her desire to live.

But those are just mental conditions, right?  Mental problems are cured in all kinds of strange ways.  Physical problems, however, well – they take something a little more specialized.

Or not.  Four episodes into the series, an evangelical preacher actually beats the blindness out of the main character.  All right, so he only dislodged a chip in her head, allowing her to see.  That, however, was just an open-handed slap.  Imagine what a fist could do.

We only get to see that miracle cure in season two, but let me tell you, readers, it was worth the wait.  In the first episode of season two, we see the boxing-ring hero call on all of his experience and actually beat martial arts ability into the heroine.  On the way, he probably went through the ability to horseback ride, speak other languages, and work as a trained nurse, because she was glitching between multiple personalities until she was smacked into one who could kill all the arms dealers who were surrounding the both of them.

Regardless of the situation, I think that Dollhouse has showed us the way to true health.  Forget vegetables and meditation.  Find yourself a wall and whack it with your head.  You’ll thank me when you’re a ninja.

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The Dollhouse Flip

October 14th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I like my comics to be more variety show than epic tale.  Although there are a few long stories I adore, most of which I’ve gone on about already, there is nothing I like better than an eclectic bunch of simple stories.  Gotham Knights, Superman/Batman, Legends of the Dark Knight, Batman Confidential, Tiny Titans, all of these are the kinds of things I like.

This love of the well-told episode extends to other forms of media.  I prefer The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings.  I hate when they artificially extend a storyline by making the season finale end on a cliffhanger.  And I generally like one-off stories better than overall arcs.  The episode of the Justice League Unlimited in which Wonder Woman got turned into a pig, or the time that Buffy had to take on a mind-control creature that came out of the eggs that students had to carry around for sex-ed.

So it’s strange to me that Dollhouse entirely flips my preferences.  I don’t care what assignment that Echo has this week or how well she completes it.  I want to see more of the sub-plots, the foreshadowing, and the ongoing undercurrents that color every episode.  I want to see the grander story.

I’m not sure what it is that is different about the series.  I’ve seen a lot of criticism of Echo/Caroline, but while I don’t find her a particularly interesting character, she carries the stories along and makes me believe she can be both creatively clever while being clueless to larger implications.

Maybe it’s because the Dollhouse itself is evil.  When the show is about heroes, I don’t like to see them hit trouble.  When it’s about villains, I welcome a chance to make them miserable.

But I think there’s a larger reason.  So many shows give us meaningless plot-twists and clever set-ups that reveal themselves to be just that – clever set-ups, with payoffs to be filled in by the writers if its necessary.  Dollhouse is planned, from first to last.   There aren’t any dropped story lines or hollow explanations or rushed justifications.  I know that if I see something strange, it was because I was meant to, and I’ll get a satisfying pay-off if I wonder about it.

Take note, Lost.  Oh wait.  That show actually did well.

Please watch Dollhouse, you guys.  If the show gets cancelled because the world ends I will go freaking crazy on someone and I can’t be sure it won’t be myself.  So.

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Five Things About Dollhouse That Are Hard To Miss

September 27th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

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To Read Makes Joss Whedon’s Speaking English Good?

September 22nd, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

It seems that FOX did something to Joss Whedon’s vision of the first season of Dollhouse.  Joss Wheden talked about it after a charity screening of Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.  And after reading the quote, I have no idea what it is.

[FOX] said “so they’re kinda like prostitutes and that’s not ok” Word came down that it wasn’t ok. I wanted to make a show that’s about feeling bad about feeling good or good about feeling bad. Fantasy is just that, fantasy. FOX wanted to back away from these implications.

The thing is, they are prostitutes and that is ‘not ok’.  It seems like acknowledging that is doing the exact opposite of ‘backing away’ from the implications of that concept.

Or is it ‘not okay’ for them to be shown as prostitutes and Joss Whedon wanted to lay what the dolls were used for out plainly enough for us all to have moral objections?

Or were the FOX executives simply saying to lay off the hooker plots?

Only Joss knows for sure. 

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A warning to all those attending Comic-Con 2009.

June 7th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

The thirteenth episode of Dollhouse is going to be aired at Comic-Con 2009.

Below are two images from the episode:

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