Saturday, 23 February 2013

Dollhouse: Ghost

"I know. Actions have consequences."

"What if they didn't."

I've finished blogging one of Joss Whedon's TV series (Firefly), and I'm currently blogging Buffy and Angel. So why not add Dollhouse to the rota and complete a full set?

I know the story behind how this series came about, of course: Executive producer and star Eliza Dushku took Joss Whedon out to dinner and got him to think up an idea to use as a vehicle for her, an extremely smart thing to do. The concept- Echo as one of a series of "dolls", blank slates who can be programmed to perform any activity required by this mysterious organisation- is absolutely brilliant, and so is this episode. Weird though it is to see familiar names from other Mutant Enemy productions in the titles (including Amy Acker, no less, and Fran Kranz from The Cabin in the Woods), this is a very different show from Whedon's previous stuff: no fantasy elements and the sci-fi elements limited to things that may plausibly happen.

This is a pilot, of course, and must be judged as such. Dushku's character, Echo (her real name may or may not be Caroline) is an interesting challenge for her: her memory is regularly wiped and other traits imprinted into her, so what consistent features are there on which Dushku can base her performance? Elsewhere, Amy Acker's Saunders, as a white coated scientist, may seem superficially similarly to Fred from Angel. She isn't at all similar personality-wise, though: here, at least, she seems very bitter.

We're told very little about the backstory, thus far. We're introduced to another "doll", Sierra, and told that each of them serves a five year "term", although it's unclear on what legal basis this may or may not be. The "dolls", when not on a mission, appear to be drugged or hypnotised into docility, receiving their "treatment" without demur. This is a deeply creepy concept.

The action-oriented kidnapping "A" plot is a corker, and illustrates how the dolls are used. Dushku is brilliant at showing the contrast between the "normal" Echo and the very different character of Eleanor Penn, an amalgam of several individuals who have been combined to make up the perfect hostage negotiator. Seeing this tempts me to see the whole concept as a metaphor for acting; it'll be interesting, I think, to keep this concept in mind throughout the series.

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