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.