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Dollhouse — Episode 1.5 ‘True Believer’

Sunday, March 15, 2009

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So let’s get this out of the way — ratings jump! Awesome.  I guess word got out that last week’s episode was really good and people were drawn back to see if that would continue.

So let us now praise Tim Minear.  One of the best writers of the Buffyverse alum, he’s come onto Dollhouse and given us the new best episode yet, which may have just saved the series: if it can draw back some or most of the viewers it lost after episode 3, it just might survive.  Although at this point it doesn’t seem likely to pick up any new ones.  Hopefully it will be enough.

Anyway — let’s get on with it.

I’ve been thinking for the past couple of weeks about how since Echo is basically a new character every episode (not entirely, as her ‘doll state’ persona is starting to take on a life of its own, but, you know . . .), the supporting cast is going to have to be really strong into order to give continuity to the world and advance the whole ‘arc’ bit when it doesn’t directly involve Echo; so far I think they’ve been up to the task, and this episode gave them all another really good chance to shine.

The best example might be the whole ‘Victor in the shower’ thing, which allowed Topher and Saunders to have their own little moment, and, secondarily, to add something that a lot of people have been complaining was missing from the series so far: humour.

Ballard had his own sub-plot, which got him tantalizingly closer to the answers he’s seeking (and some may find it silly, but I love the quirk that Millie is always bringing him food, no matter where he is); the tension between Dominic and DeWitt at the end was great (not to mention Dominic’s surprise turn in the main plot); and Boyd continues to be developed as the moral centre of the whole show.  All good stuff.

And now to the story itself.  So good.  Tightly constructed, well-written, well-acted by the supporting cast, a basically unbelievable sci-fi element (the eye-camera thing) thrown in in such a way that you’re actually willing to accept it, and the requisite number of plot twists and ambiguity to keep you compelled right to the end.  Yummy.

Although, I will say that it’s getting a bit annoying that the writers are ‘cleverly’ inserting all these metaphors for various aspects of a Doll’s life; for example, the midwife scene from last episode analogizing the baby-like state of Echo in her Doll-form; and then the whole ‘Dollhouse as cult’ thing that played out the end of this week’s episode when DeWitt gave her verdict on what to do with Victor.  I find it a bit obvious, and I hope it doesn’t become a central theme of the show as it moves forward.

Aside from that one minor quibble, everything is setting up perfectly for the much-heralded episode 6, Man on the Street, arriving in just one week’s time.  Are you excited?  I am!  Can’t wait.

Finally — here’s an interview with Tim Minear re: True Believer, if you want to get a little inside-scoopage on it.
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4 Comments leave one →
  1. James17930 permalink
    Sunday, March 15, 2009 2:27 am

    BTW — sorry that I’ve been monopolizing the posting on this so far. It’s just that if I’m free on Sunday afternoons, all I want to do is watch the episode and then write about it.

    And Beal: if you’re reading this — I know you wrote off the show, but seriously, catch up on episodes four and five online and see if it doesn’t make you want to watch six next week.

    I think you’ll be happy with it, if you give it another chance.

  2. SarahP permalink
    Monday, March 16, 2009 10:07 am

    I’ve been taking my time to craft my response (more like cobble together) because it feels a little bit like we watched different episodes. I saw supporting characters have more screen time, but I wouldn’t have said they began to “shine.” There was character exposure, but I pull myself back from calling it character development, ’cause we don’t really know more about them now than we did; we just saw them act on it (I’m thinking specifically Boyd and Dominic). It kinda felt like their actions were supposed to be a shock or surprise that fell flat. It might be setting up for something else, but set-up episodes (or elements of an episode) are usually pretty weak.

    There were a couple of moments I liked: Ballard seeing the escapees, and the moment between DeWitt and Dominic. But they were fleeting, and I had to watch the other 40 minutes of show to get there. I didn’t mind the “man reaction” thing (only slightly funny), but it didn’t do for me what it did for you…..hmmmm, what does THAT say about us?

    I’ll still watch this season (as long as I can, we won’t have cable in the new house), but I’m doing it mostly to have something to argue about on Culturatti. I’m not drawn in by the show, and could easily leave it. I won’t yet – I’ll give it time. But the spark ain’t there, and I wonder if the ratings next week won’t reflect that…again….

    • James17930 permalink
      Wednesday, March 18, 2009 12:12 pm

      A little odd — you seemed more excited about it before.

      But anyway, if you’re not really enjoying it, then don’t watch it.

  3. SarahP permalink
    Thursday, March 19, 2009 8:15 am

    It’s not odd, I was more excited about a better episode. But this one didn’t have it. I’ll watch; it’s not as if I hate the show I’m just not enthusiastic about it. But I’m giving it time to get better.

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