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Dollhouse — Episode 1.2 ‘The Target’

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

 

I’m annoyed that it took me this long to get this up, but I was out all weekend and then I had food poisoning yesterday (again — no more sushi, ever).

I’ve read a few blogs which have reviewed Dollhousespecifically this one — and the main complaint with the show so far seems to be that the premise sucks; they basically say they can’t see something like this going on for years and years — you know, Echo getting a new imprint every week, simply going on dates with new guys every week etc.  They think that would get pretty boring.  And they’re right.  If that did continually happen every week — Echo gets new imprint, goes on date, has sex with guy, goes back to her ‘treatment’ and then it’s all over with — that would be incredibly boring, and I wouldn’t watch it.

But here’s the thing.  Does anyone really believe that’s what going to happen?  Does anyone think that Joss actually believes he could sustain something like that for too long?  Or would want to?  Or that that’s what the whole plan is?  I highly doubt it.  I always assumed that Echo would start off as simply the ‘perfect prostitute’ character, but then something would happen to make her evolve into something else.

Well, with ‘The Target’ — only the series’ second episode — we’re already seeing that transformation beginning to take place, and I really don’t understand why, again, only two episodes in, people are being so bloody picky and impatient waiting for something to happen.  It’s called building a story people — relax!

Couple things happening: first, we’re given the story of Alpha’s bloody escape from the Dollhouse, and that for some reason he left Echo alive;

Second: Alpha seems to want Echo on his side, as indicated by him putting that drug into the water she drank, which started to trigger her memories (my assumption is that Alpha knew Echo would survive the ordeal with the arrow-crazy killer guy — that it was actually a test).  It seems like Alpha wants to go after the Dollhouse and take them down for what they did to him, but he wants Echo to do it with him;

Third: Even after her wipe at the end of the episode, she still seems to be remembering things, as indicated by the ‘shoulder to the wheel’ motion she did when Laurence got up in her face (which is also another intriguing aspect to throw in to the mix — Laurence not liking her, I mean); and

Fourth: I like how they are growing the relationship between Echo and Boyd; making him an obvious father figure for her, and having her be able to remember him somewhat even though she always loses her other memories (in theory).  The ‘trust imprint’ or whatever they called it.

Basically, my point is — right now, it’s building well, and people should just calm down.  Actually, no — I take that back.  To be honest, it’s building way, way too fast.  I think people both in the advance screenings and at Fox put way too much pressure on Joss to deliver something instantly that he’s being forced into throwing all this stuff out way, way too soon.  Unless what we’re getting now is really very, very preliminary, and there’s something grander to come which no one’s even been given a hint of yet . . . whatever the case, everyone just try to relax and give it a bit of time.  At least give it the first thirteen episodes before jumping to conclusions about it’s sustainability.  There was only a very slight ratings drop-off from week one — 11% according to Wikipedia — something I don’t think should be all that concerning at this point.
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8 Comments leave one →
  1. James17930 permalink
    Tuesday, February 24, 2009 11:08 am

    There are currently two ‘known’ actors who are being rumoured to play Alpha. One I would be happy with, the other I don’t know if I could buy.

  2. SarahP permalink
    Tuesday, February 24, 2009 11:14 am

    A small technical point: Didn’t the crazed archer-killer guy put the stuff in the water? I thought the memories were just an unintended side-effect brought on by fragile partitions that are created between her identities. But maybe I missed something. (As well, I didn’t see the pilot, so I don’t actually know who Alpha is).

    That aside, I found the episode kinda, well, tired. The trajectory was obvious and the conclusion just as much so (with her remembering the shoulder to the wheel gesture, indicating that – shockingly – the memory wipes don’t work!). I’m not sure if Whedon’s hand was forced by the executives so much as the fact that the basic idea of the Dollhouse just isn’t enough to keep anyone interested for longer than an episode. The “twist-savy” television audiences created by the likes of Whedon and J.J. Abrams need more to keep them going than basic premise exploration (character development happening through the twists a la Lost).

    As well, there just isn’t enough humour. I don’t mean slapstick, laugh your face off humour. There’s the one techie guy, Topher, (who wipes their memories) who is basically Wash from Firefly, and he’s got all the lines. They need to spread the funny around, even bitter, evil sarcasm where appropriate, and keep it all from getting way to heavy. Again, see Firefly; everyone was funny, not just the one who Joss identifies with most.

    But I’ll watch next time. While I didn’t like Buffy (and yeah, I only gave it a few episodes, and just couldn’t keep going), I really liked Firefly and Serenity, and I figure Whedon deserves a few more weeks to see where he’s going to start taking this thing.

  3. James17930 permalink
    Tuesday, February 24, 2009 11:26 am

    Yeah, Buffy Season 1 is really not good. You have to stick it out to get to the awesomeness that is Season 2 onward.

    I realize now the whole ‘poison in the canteen thing’ could have been just that — poison, and that her memory weirdness was unintended, as you say (I only think it could be Alpha since Alpha hired the guy and set the whole thing up in the first place). I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    I’m pretty sure Whedon’s hand, while maybe not forced, was certainly coerced. Fox seems to be frightened of things that don’t take off right away, and they have this ‘action-first’ mentality that can get in the way of actual story-telling. That’s why he had to re-shoot the pilot (most people are assuming, anyway). I do truly hope it gets better.

    But, if you plan on sticking it out, at least for a few more episodes, you can actually go here . . .

    http://www.fox.com/fod/play.php?sh=dollhouse

    . . . and watch the first episode, just so you have a better idea about what’s going on.

  4. SarahP permalink
    Tuesday, February 24, 2009 12:39 pm

    Alas, in Canada, we can’t watch the network posted episodes. Unless G brings his computer home tonight (he connects through an American server at work).

    • James17930 permalink
      Tuesday, February 24, 2009 8:57 pm

      Then when/how did you watch episode 2? On TV last Friday? Or did you torrent it?

      Because if you torrented it, then you could also of course torrent episode 1 as well (are you conversant with torrents?)

      If so, check out http://www.mininova.org. They’ve got it.

  5. Wednesday, February 25, 2009 12:19 am

    Best part of episode two: when he’s pretending to be the news guy in order to appease the ranger, Harry Lennix assumes his Obama voice.

    I have to say it’s probably a good thing they’ve been releasing throughplot details at the rate they have; if they’d taken a relaxed pace, there’s no way I’d give a third episode a go, because the individual plots of these two episodes have both been dull and completely uninventive. The dialogue is still weak, and the abovementioned Wash substitute (who was, what, the Xander substitute? I don’t know from Buffy) isn’t actually funny for a funny guy. I get that he’s supposed to be funny, but I don’t recall him being funny.

    Like I implied, I’ll give episode three a shot, but the show’s still on probation. I don’t really agree with the “give it thirteen episodes to get good” philosophy, because that’s thirteen hours of my life that could be spent watching a season of The Shield or surfing Dinosaurs Fucking Robots. Joss Whedon’s a skilled, experienced writer, and I’m sure he knows how to surround himself with skilled others to help him along; they shouldn’t need that much time to make something of interest — plus, Firefly didn’t start getting good at the end of its run, it had been good all along.

    So if I don’t see a serious upramp in quality soon, I’m gonna bail. And then if it gathers the buzz and gets good after thirteen and becomes the new greatest thing ever, well that’s what Jesus and Allah co-developed TVonDVD for.

    • James17930 permalink
      Wednesday, February 25, 2009 2:22 am

      I still blame Fox; a show like this could have been really strong had they gone the moody, atmospheric route, but instead it feels like they’re being forced into the ‘all action, all the time’ route.

      Beal, do you know the Firefly story? From the Wiki:

      “During filming of the pilot episode, Whedon was still arguing with FOX that the show should be displayed in widescreen format. Consequently, he purposely filmed scenes with actors on the extreme edge of both sides so that they would have no choice. However, the pilot was rejected by the FOX executives, who felt that it lacked action and that the captain was too “dour”. They also disliked a scene in which the crew backed down to a crime boss, since the scene implied the crew was “being nothing”. Thus, FOX told Whedon on a Friday afternoon that he had to submit a new pilot script on Monday morning or the show would not be picked up. Whedon and Tim Minear closeted themselves for the weekend to write what became the new pilot, “The Train Job”. In this new pilot, the captain was more “jolly” and, at the direction of FOX, they added “larger than life” characters. These characters manifested themselves in the henchman “Crow”, and the “hands of blue” men, which also introduced an X-Files-type ending.”

      Also:

      “Fans [of Firefly] attributed the low ratings in part to actions of the Fox Network — most notably the fact that Fox had aired the episodes out of chronological order, making the plot much more difficult to follow. For instance, the two-hour episode “Serenity” was intended to be the series’ premiere episode, and therefore contained most of the character introductions and back-story. However, Fox decided that “Serenity” was unsuitable to open the series, and so the second episode, “The Train Job”, was created to become the new pilot. In addition, Firefly was promoted as an action-comedy rather than the more serious character study it was intended to be. Episodes were occasionally preempted for sporting events.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefly_(TV_series)#Broadcast_history

      I mean, who would want to work like that? But it also makes me wonder why Whedon would go back to Fox with Dollhouse, knowing that stuff like this could well happen again. And it did. His first script for the Dollhouse pilot was not used, and even though he said it was all his decision to re-do it, you have to wonder if he’s just saying that to avoid any bad publicity.

      I haven’t read that first ditched script but I’ve read a few bloggers who have who have who say it was much better that what we got in ‘Ghost.’ This is why I say I just wish people (and the network) give it a chance because if they can get through the first season he’ll have an entire summer to sit down with the creative staff, map everything out for season 2 and come out (I believe) much stronger.

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