Monday, March 2, 2009

DollHouse - Give It A Chance.... or Maybe Seven Chances

DollHouse - Give It A Chance.... or Maybe Seven

Fox and Joss Whedon have not always had the best track record together. Mainly because Fox doesn't give a show enough time to flesh itself out. Maybe it's just the impatience behind it but they are quick to pull the trigger on a series like they're quick to sign him on for a new pilot.... only to quickly pull the trigger and cancel it. It's a vicious cycle, I know. Believe me, working with the company I'm familiar with a lot of vicious cycles. You come to accept it and embrace it. They're fair and balanced that way.

Even extending to Whedonverse (yes, he actually calls it that...), the actors who land other gigs haven't always had the best of luck. Maybe Nathan Fillion is just unlucky but DRIVE was not well received. Not that hard to believe when you're filming a Florida lighthouse scene in Griffith Park. But not to worry, fans of Captain Tightpants, he'll be over on CBS in what looks to be the reverse BONES.

Oh Booth, what sexual tension filled situation with Bones will you have next?

Speaking of those, Buffy and Angel star David Boreanaz has found his nitch back on Fox on that show and it's going strong. Playing Green Lantern in a New Frontier cartoon must have given him some willpower to deal with a show on Fox. Summer Glau is only still treading water in her gig as a Terminator because it's a series about Terminator. That and the show is produced by a different company. In the proper exchange, How I met your mother is alive and well and being produced by Fox, so it's clear to see that a certain red headed wiccan can put a spell on viewers.

With all that back story out of the way it was a little bit of a surprise to hear that Fox got Joss to work on a new series named Dollhouse. Not only that but they put it on Friday night. The same night that killed Firefly. Well at least this time we'll have Joss learn a lesson and get the show rolling and gripping viewers to come back for more from the get go. None of that stylized Joss Whedon stuff... oh wai...

In this interview from the Onion's A/V club with Eliza she lays it all out.
Okay, so I was talking to Eliza Dushku earlier today...the line she was pushing on the show was that it really kicks into gear starting with the sixth episode, which is written by Joss Whedon. She was quick to add that she’s not at all dissatisfied with the episodes before it, but the overall impression is that the first five were constructed more as standalone episodes that might hook the casual viewer while the back half of the season unfolds in more serialized fashion. (She also said that Whedon’s voice as a writer comes through more clearly than it has so far, which is great news given how little of it was evident in the premiere.) In the meantime, I think we’re supposed to be patient until the show finally hits its groove—provided that FOX is similarly patient, of course, and the network has spotty history at best.
So there you have it. You have to give it about seven episodes before it hits any sort of stride. I know what you're thinking. Ah, the old "have the show suck for the first five episodes" strategy. To be fair, Buffy needed 12 episodes to hit its stride as a series. So maybe this isn't so far fetched. What I do think is a real mystery is how Dushku acts so much better in her Hulu commercial than her show?

Dollhouse - Making Eliza play a really expensive escort since 2009

So if you've watched the episode this past week, it explains why we're still with what would be considered filler material. You're probably wondering why it was an all singing and dancing centric episode? It was written by Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon. they are the writers of Dr. Horrible. So that explains the whole song and dance going on in it. Fun, but not very good at advancing plotlines. The second episode was not much advancement in the overall story arc either. If anything, it was a standalone subplot with a twist on The Most Dangerous Game and it was at least a little exciting and full of genuinely unexpected turns.

But you do have to worry a little that Fox will be a bit too trigger happy when it comes to the ratings. Firefly hit its stride in episode six or so. I remember once you got to OUT OF GAS it really just hit you how amazing this show is.... was. It would be a whole different story if Fox at least kept it on the air for two seasons.

Whedon with a couple of fans

If you're all wondering about the rest of the Whedon connection, you should expect to see more friendly faces from the Whedonverse show up in this besides Fred. Alpha, for example, will be played by a Whedonverse known person... only I'm not sure how I'm going to take him seriously.

I'm going to have a harder time believing that Alan Tudyk is the Alpha Dollhouse member who went rogue. I mean, do you remember him from Firefly? The dude plays with Dinosaurs. I'm going to start believing that Eliza is a decent actress before I believe that Alan is a badass.

Alpha has been described as having 'multiple personalities, fragmented and twisted from his time in the Dollhouse'. His name suggests that he was the first person to be engaged by those in charge of the Dollhouse. It appears that Alan has already appeared on screen, albeit obscured and in some scenes played by a double to throw viewers off the scent

I am a leaf in the... oh hey, another series to jump on.

And hey, if you want to try the Alternative Reality Game, there's one right here.

It looks like it's there to give some history for the origins of the dollhouse and the technology they use, although I can't image they'd give away story material relevant for the show someplace like this. Anyway, the story's about the daughter of a scientist who developed the mind-wiping stuff they do on the show: she wanted to use it for good and then disappeared. Topher from the show was her lab assistant, and their first case was to put the memories of a mobster's dead daughter in a new body and have her live again, but something went ominously wrong. Her daughter has now come along to figure out what happened.

The vaguely cool thing about this ARG is that they make a new video every night that responds to the posts from users of the site, so that user input determines the course of the narrative--although probably not by much. It's kind of like an adventure game, where the main character listens to the audience's suggestions and does whatever's most popular or whatever makes the most sense in light of the situation or whatever. I'd be kind of sad if nobody bothered participating on an ARG that requires participation, since the ones I've followed were so scripted that they couldn't account for user participation.

Talk of online games bore you? Enjoy this picture!

This kind of promotion is always a little stupid, though, since it can never meaningfully connect with the parent media. Heroes has this sort of thing with characters that really don't mean shit to the plot of what is going on with the show.

So give this show a couple of episodes. I'm sure the whole purpose of the Dollhouse will be revealed. Either that or Fox spent a good 9million on a really expensive set. Or you could be like the fine folks at Penny Arcade:

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