Dollhouse Catch-up 1.02-1.04

You may have noticed I haven’t blogged about Dollhouse since the disappointing opening episode. That’s mostly because I lacked the enthusiasm to even watch the episodes never mind write about them. However I finally got around to it and the good news is the show is definitely improving.

So without further a do:

1.02 “Target”

"Run Joss, run!"

"Run Joss, run!"

Target is a variation on the old idea of someone hunting a human being. From other reviews and comments I’ve heard that thisĀ  references something called “The Most Dangerous Game” which may well be the first but is certainly not the only use of this idea.

It’s a bad habit but I found myself second-guessing the plot twists and wondered if this client had paid for the hunt (but was expected to avoid an outright kill). Instead the twist was that the hunter didn’t exist, he was an assumed identity. That fits with the overall Dollhouse theme but wasn’t quite as satisfying.

Target had a bit more of the Whedon-style dialogue – as expressed through Stephen DeKnight.

Overall it was a better episode that the first, and a decent-ish version of a well-worn idea, but nothing new or radical – 6/10.

1.03 Stage Fright

Anyone seen my career?

Anyone seen my career?

OK now it starts to get a bit more interesting. This time Echo is being a back-up singer (and closet bodyguard) for a pop diva who has a crazy fan out to get her. Not a scenario that attracts me on paper but it was well done. In particular I liked the feisty-ness of Eliza’s character in this one.

It also had a couple of plot twists I didn’t see coming. I liked the idea the Echo sees deeper into the assignment than her handlers had expected – that she need to protect Rayna from herself. This singles out Echo as something special.

The writers continue to have fun with the themes of the show with the dialogue about being “grown in a lab”. They also have a gentle dig at the fans with this:

Are you a fan Mr Dominic?

I’m sorry?

Rayna, do you like her music?

I’m not sure being a fan has very much to do with that

Whedon has teased the fans about this kind of thing before – notably in Angel’s third season “Waiting in the Wings” or, I suppose, the whole of Buffy season six with the nerd trio. But it’s always affectionately done.

The reveal of Victor as an active was a surprise and I guess that’s going to be an ongoing issue with this show – who’s an active?

After watching this my thought was, it’s a very good episode of a certain kind of show – but is it the kind of show I like? Anyway still enjoyed it, Eliza can sing – 7/10.

1.04 Gray Hour

"...and there's absolutely no chance of bring back Tru Calling?"

"...and there's absolutely no chance of bringing back Tru Calling?"

With the frankly ridiculous opening of Echo as a midwife half-way up a mountain, the show neatly identifies a problem with the show’s core concept – why not just hire the best expert in a field you can find? The super-rich certainly have the money to do that and it’ll be cheaper, easier and probably safer than relying on what is fast turning out to be some fairly unreliable tech.

Anyway, best to leave that aside for now. If I can live with the stupid idea that the best approach to fighting a global vampire threat is a single girl in one small town then I can certainly live with this.

Plus, I’m never one to harp on these technical details if the story’s good and here it is.

Well it is for me anyway because I have a weakness for heist stories. I loved “The Shroud of Rahmon” which many will tell you is an awful Angel episode.

A different character, different story, but again we have a feisty Eliza – at least for the first half of the story.

The thing that I found myself thinking during this episode is that I wanted to know what happens next. That’s gotta be good right?

More good dialogue

This one is broken.

Look who’s talking

I liked the use of Sierra and seeing the same “imprint” being used with her as the active.

It seems that, like Lost did for a while, they’re developing a habit of using a music-over-montage at the end of the episode.

Anyway, love a good heist story and this was one – 8/10.

General Comments

There’s been a lot of discussion of how Echo being a different character every week causes a problem because you’re not following the same character every week. I don’t think this is such a problem because we get that from the other characters and the ongoing story.

The format reminds me a little of Quantum Leap and that was very successful, ran for years and years.

I wonder whether it’s partly a reaction to the criticism Whedon has had about his shows being too “arc-y” that this one has a “story-of-the-week” written into the very format of the show?

Maybe the problem, if there is one, is that the metaphor – which is basically about what being an actress is like – is not universal enough.

Anyway – the show’s picking up – getting better with each episode according to my personal scale. Just in time to get really good before it gets cancelled no doubt.

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