"Belonging," and some more important stuff.

Dollhouse is an amazing show, and it's not even just my Joss Whedon fanbrain talking. To tell the truth, sometimes I don't even actively remember its his show because it's so drastically different from his other series in a lot of ways.

The latest episode, "Belonging," was remarkable in so many ways. Firstly, because it was only a little bit about Echo and Paul Ballard, who are basically the main characters. Hell, Tahmoh Penikett wasn't in this episode at all. Instead, "Belonging" focused on characters who haven't had a whole lot of development time - most notably, Sierra. Other than Victor, she's been the least developed character up to this point. But now we know her full self and her original self, Priya, in a good amount of depth thanks to a stellar performance by Dichen Lachman. Plus, there was a continuation of Topher's moral/self discovery, and a little hint that Boyd is far more fascinating than we realized.

Another thing that made this episode so very amazing was the delicacy and mastery of it. The themes and the character development were both delivered without the slightly-cheesy-slightly-overwritten-speech-character-speech method. I don't feel like I was told anything. But I definitely felt it all. And it was beautiful, in a way beyond the aesthetic - which is also astounding, btw.

And this brings me to my original point. Dollhouse is amazing television. I am literally in love with this show. And FOX is going to take it away and break my heart.

The countdown has started. "Belonging" is the last episode of Dollhouse to air until December. And after that, the rest of the thirteen approved episodes are going to start airing two at a time straight on to the end. Confirmed air dates: December 4, 11, and 18. And soon after that it really might be the end. Because Dollhouse's audience is hovering right around 2.5 million an episode right now - counting the DVR audience. In the real world, that sounds like a lot of people. In television, well, let's just say that 4 million is the earliest mark of the deathzone.

Fact: Dollhouse was pretty much fucked from the beginning. Why? Point one: it has always been scheduled on Fridays at 9pm. In the television community, that's known colloquially as the Death Slot. Point two: it is a Joss Whedon show. Dollhouse originated from a contract that FOX had with Eliza Dushku. She met with Joss Whedon as a personal friend to talk over the opportunity, and what resulted was the earliest iteration of the Dollhouse idea. Ask a fan, they'll tell you that's a brilliant, wonderful thing. Ask FOX, they'll be significantly less thrilled. Why? Well, once upon a time Joss Whedon had another series on FOX. A little (and I do mean little) show you may have heard of called Firefly. There were a lot of network vs. creator issues with Firefly, which I won't go into now because this is a post about Dollhouse. Just take away the understanding that Dollhouse was always destined for disaster unless an actual, straight-from-the-powers-that-be, god-given, genuine miracle interfered. And so far we haven't seen one.

So my request to anyone who reads this post is that you get fucking outraged. You head over to SideReel or the Dollhouse Facebook page now and you start making a hell of a lot of noise. Because this show is genuinely brilliant television. And it has a tangible potential future - see: Epitaph One, the unaired thirteenth episode of Season One.

I want to see Dollhouse make it the five years of planned storyline Joss Whedon has in mind. But unless something major changes RIGHT NOW, it ain't gonna happen. That is the sad, sad reality of it.


Eliza Dushku's interview with Life After Film School

Firefly Wikipedia article and related sources

Dollhouse Cancellation Watch on SideReel

EW Ausiello Files

"Dollhouse Benched" article on SideReel

(This review/newspiece/sobstory, complete with links to sources and mentioned sites, also posted on my blog at http://meltedbrain.wordpress.com)




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Oct 26, 2009 2:49AM EDT

1) I love your reviews.
2) Why oh why can't Joss Whedon get a break from the networks? I would LOVE to see where everything goes, especially after this past episode (and connections to "Epitaph: One" which was AMAZING), I know that there is a really thrilling story to be told here, particularly by those who SEEM perfectly at ease in their post-Doll life (Mellie) and now those, like Sierra, who would not only choose to return to the Dollhouse (perhaps for love, perhaps something else), but also those who would choose to have their memories modified. This episode marks the tipping point towards an idea introduced in the delightful "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." So now we not only get to ponder a universe where the mad scientist can remotely hack your brain, but also a choose-your-own-memory situation (and the inevitable brainwashing and general misuse of this sort of science).
Clearly, I am going to wilt without this show. The fact that I have to wait until December for the next episode sucks enough, but maybe the month off will give us fans enough time to recruit people to save the dollhouse.


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Oct 26, 2009 4:56AM EDT

Honestly, I am too tired of my shows getting cancelled. I have spent so much time fighting for shows to stay on the air, yet they've gone anyway. Veronica Mars is possibly the best example of this. Ask any critic, they will tell you how much VM was great TV. And a lot of us saw that too. Yet because it wasn't getting a huge audience, it went. If a show say jumped the shark (hello Heroes) then fair enough to cancel it but these networks aren't giving a chance for things to develop. For example, if I were them I would move the timeslot. Then I would do my best to get Dollhouse on in different countries, and only to networks I know would do it justice and hugely promote it. Only then, if it wasn't doing well would I even question cancelling it. Its as though these networks just keep expecting to make more and more money without any effort. Sadly, Dollhouse isn't the first, and it most definitely won't be the last.
Nice review.


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Oct 27, 2009 6:04AM EDT

yep. firefly and dollhouse are wicked.
they're different and actually GOOD. I was hooked on firefly after the first episode. and after their final episode - was so sad :( i was really hoping to see how River's character developed. I mean there was the movie Serenity, but still...
The same goes for this show. dollhouse raises so many moral and ethical issues. not to mention the possible impact of the technological stuff.
After seeing "epitiah 1" i think the show must at least get to that stage because otherwise it's like "WTF??"

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