Epsiode 8: This show "NEEDS" better writers, Grade: C-

While this episode was far greater than the train wreck that was episode seven, while by no means a return to form in the realm of acting by any of the stars (sans Victor who actually conveyed more without pretending to cry than any of the other actives who had a reason to), this Dushku vehicle certainly doesn't fall into the realm of being the sci-fi version of "Two and Half Men". Thank gawd for that.


While the concept is totally unique to myself at least, I'm beginning to fret that that it might actually be too big for Joss Whedon and whoever the hell else Fox hired out for the job. Which is to say I'm giving Joss the benefit of the doubt right now and guessing that the network is giving him fully licensed creativity. I mean, these are some of the most generic and un-charming story-lines one can think of. November needs to grieve over the loss of her child? An understandable woe, but filling that gap in ninety seconds and in such a tactless way (the slow motion was really cheesy) was just not the way to go. Sierra being used for sex and handed over to the dollhouse was enticing, but we never learned that she was running from anything. The inconclusive point to that story was that either the dollhouse recruits forcefully or recruits based on the level of tragedy in a person's life. Not one of these people seemed content to be a doll, yet we are supposed to be convinced that they chose this life?

Even if Mrs. Dewitt is a cunning little slice of whore, is it too much to ask that she actually be more cunning than villainess? Could she be more a tactitioner and clever suave executive instead of the average honkey one liner mistress who gave the victims of the dollhouse an ultimatum. My impression of the dolls was that Echo was supposed to be the only doll, or in fact that rare exception, who didn't have a choice but to join the dollhouse, but the writers took the cheap way out and instead of adding depth to the stories of each character, solidified a consistency that can only be described as repetitive lazy writing.


Where's the black guy from the last episode? Utilize your characters! And Topher's assistant? I don't know what Joss Whedon is trying to do with a more serious show, but the atmospher he's created so far lacks the charm that our times call for. I've always enjoyed his snappy wit and humor and for him to abandon it for this cheap fodder is embarassing. I say do what you do best and embrace the instrument you're best with.

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Woowooj
Apr 8, 2009 9:45PM EDT

Definitely on point. Not to mention that the teasers were quite misleading.

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Apr 9, 2009 3:20PM EDT

I beg to differ. Maybe I'm not a writer or anything, but I've been wholly enjoying this show. I find Ms. DeWitt's character is getting more interesting. I think Joss is turning her less into a villainess and putting her more in the gray area. I like the idea that the show is not completely about Echo. Adding some depth into more than just her is a good choice. Furthermore, just because the actives shown in "needs" were having problems, doesn't mean that they did not volunteer. Echo was forced to volunteer. Sierra seems to have been sold into it somehow. But I think Victor and November both became actives of their own volition, as they both obviously have painful memories.

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Apr 9, 2009 5:03PM EDT

I agree with pink_flamingos. While I find it weird they didn't bring the black dude in. I'm sure he'll be brought in sooner or later. There's like at least a hundred dolls. He's probably getting groomed or brain wiped or something. It's not like he's a main character or recurring. He's a very minor character who we've just been introduced to. The Dr. is a main character and it's not like she's in every episode.
I liked this episode people were complaining how OMG we have no reason to feel bad for these people and Joss and his writers deliver and most are still not happy.
Joss has stated that he wants this series to be a bit more serious and less witty than the others which I'm so far fine with. This show has had it's up and downs...but I think this episode was more of an up than a down.

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Apr 10, 2009 7:49PM EDT

Ok, first of all I thought the reveal of November's pain was incredible moving and very well done. How else are you supposed to reveal a dead child? Pan's and slow-motion work exists for a reason...to reveal and emphasise.Secondly, the episode developed better than any other. It was well written, and more importantly...it made sense.You implied they signed up for it, therefore they shouldn't be experiencing problems...Well it's a fact of life we don't always like what we sign up for. I'm guessing actives are no different.The episode used a very clever plot to look into the active's past and troubles.As for Joss Whedon's lack of wit...we got plenty of it in the previous episode. And I'm quite happy to see the writer move on into new territory. We had Buffy, we had Angel and we glimpsed into Firefly...All three were fantastic, but done.I have high hopes for this series, but it's brand new territory pretty much and it's ragging like this that is going to bring it down.At the end of the day, you are going to watch the next episode, because you're invested. And that's all that matters.

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Apr 11, 2009 1:13AM EDT

I'm not so much a Whedon fan as I am of the world he creates. As far as his lack of depth into the characters in this episode, I would say that's part of his style. He's a big pain in the ass as far as not wanting to give too much away in one episode to where things get dragged out forever. Whenever he attempts to give us more than he can in one episode, it gets slightly ridiculous and dumbed down. He works with the hour slot and keeps us on the hook. I think he creates great characters (or ones that we recognize and feel comfortable with) and isn't always sure what to do with them.
I do agree that I too was hoping to find out Sierra's real deal and this left me wanting. The motivations of the actives left too much to the viewer to figure out. And that Mike guy, what was that? He was pretty much like the guy with a red shirt in the first Star Trek show (that person was nameless, faceless, and always got killed off first). They could have used the black guy for that. And as far as he goes, his character can wait in the wings or just be done. He could have been used to show the process of how someone messes up to point where their in the position to become actives.
And Ms. DeWitt feels so much like that the lady in charge of Section 1 from Le Fem Nikita. I think she is a highly manipulative woman who gets people at their very weakest and asks them to become dolls; like Satan and the apple. I really don't think any of the actives that signed up knew what they were getting themselves into and how much they would be sacrificing. It's like once some part of them realizes that wackness of the situation, they rebel. I get that.

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Apr 13, 2009 1:43PM EDT

I totally disagree with this review. I think that Dollhouse is one of the most creative and innovative shows broadcasting right now - and I'm really hoping they don't axe it. Seems that every really great show gets cut, and only the sappy reality shows or other mediocre ones keep going.
Dollhouse has the intrigue of ALIAS, the intelligent humor of Firefly, the mystery of an investigative cop show, and the character appeal of Jericho. I get the feeling that Joss Whedon has a whole lot to reveal, if the network will just let the show go on long enough to get there!

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