Joss Whedon’s newest show, Dollhouse, made its world premier, much to the anticipation of geeks everywhere. In a nutshell, Dollhouse follows the misadventures of Echo and other “dolls,” people who’s brains have been washed clean to be imprinted with new characters as needed. Although not without it’s flaws, the overall show was compelling and exciting. The pacing of this episode seemed to stall out from time to time, which is understandable for the premier of a show requiring plenty of exposition. Things picked up after Echo was sent on her first real mission, negotiating the release of a kidnapped girl for a wealthy client of the Dollhouse. Although it’s off to a good start, let’s hope that it attracts a real audience and doesn’t fade out as quickly of one of Whedon’s better concepts, Firefly.
One of the themes that it appears that the series will explore will be the rerpocutions of living a life without long term social, legal, or emotional consequences. Of course, actions without consequences has long been at the center of non-episodic television. The curious twist that Dollhouse is that the show is an ongoing saga for the audience, but the characters, or dolls, are largely wiped clean of any guilt or other emotional connections at, presumably, the end of each episode. It’ll be interesting to see how this aspect of the show plays out over the season.
The quality of acting was perfectly acceptable, especially for the first episode of a complicated show. That said, much like Whedon’s previous shows, the casting varies little from typical television Barbie/Ken fodder. This is a little disappointing, as the concept of this show could have been a great opportunity for a diverse ensemble cast. The characters surrounding the dolls are all equally compelling and ripe for development, but the cast itself looks like someone just scooped a bunch of young adults out of Orange County strip mall. No big surprise, just kind of a bummer.
All in all, the premier of Dollhouse was a success. The initial plot of the kidnapping storyline kept up a good pace once it got going, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes. If a new adventure like this for each episode is a sign of things to come, then it looks like we’ll be in for a wild ride, and viewers won’t be forced to watch every episode to keep track of what’s going on like most of the great shows on television at the moment. If there is an ongoing story, we can probably count on Whedon to make it a compelling one. If not, the admittedly titillating nature of the general concept of the show will no doubt keep fanboys and girls glued to their seats for some time to come.