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Dollhouse — Episode 1.8 ‘Needs’

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Whoo.  That started off as a big ‘hunh . . . it’s too soon for this’ and ended with ‘wow — nice work team.’

Yes, there are many reasons to like this episode (especially after last week — still blech-ing on that one).  First, I’m happy to see that my major concern about how the Dollhouse is screwy right now, and fixing that problem, was the main premise of this episode.  Second, I’m happy that this problem — the ‘glitches’ — is resolved, as it now turns out to be a miniature arc within the bigger season arc, which, of course, is Alpha.  Which means Alpha is a comin’ soon.  Giddy-up.

Yes, the premise and plotting of this episode was strong — giving the Dolls the closure they are all subconciously desiring to get it out of their systems and stop them from glitching.  I just feel a bit let down by the writing — more specifically, the dialogue; it’s slightly amateurish.  It’s just not as sharp as someone like Whedon or Minear, especially at the beginning; the dream sequence and scene where the Dolls first wake up are both pretty bad.  It tries, and it’s not awful, but not great, for the Dolls anyway, but maybe that makes sense since before this episode they had no personalities, so the writer, Tracy Bellomo (who is she, by the way, and why does she get such a huge episode like this . . . watch it be a pen name for Joss, or something, and here I am saying it’s not the same) had to work from scratch.  Topher was really good, but maybe that’s because Fran Kranz has really become that role and is, in my estimation, the strongest of the cast at the moment.  We can all forget Tom Lenk.

I read someone complaining that the ‘automatic sedative’ thing was stupid, and . . . yeah, I guess so.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense.  But it’s a small thing, not enough to bring the entire rest of the episode down (although, technically, if Sierra’s need was just to confront that guy, shouldn’t she have collapsed in the stairs?)  Even though I think ‘Caroline’s’ animal rights past is a bit boring, having her need be to free the Dolls a la the lab rats they are is an interesting way to put it to use.  She’s just so gee-golly good, that Caroline, isn’t she?!

Now — get to Alpha already!  And let’s see a kick-ass finale to this season to save the show.  The ratings people are predicting it’s done.  Prove them wrong.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. SarahP permalink
    Monday, April 6, 2009 7:42 pm

    I enjoyed “Needs.” A bit more savvy than most of the episodes, and I didn’t find the dialogue that bad. No, not stellar, but not annoyingly, distractingly bad. The idea was a good one, and for the most part, well executed.

    The biggest criticism I have for “Needs” was how much the audience was aware of the controlled nature of the dolls’ escape. We shouldn’t have known. Keep the bit at the beginning with De Witt addressing the staff, but then don’t go back to her for any reaction during the escape. Wait until the end, and keep the bit the doctor had to say, and all the pieces will fall into place. When they showed De Witt and Dominic being relatively unconcerned (until the power was cut), it kinda sucked all the excitement out of the episode.

    As far as the ratings counters, I can’t help thinking that they’re right; Dollhouse is mostly likely facing the ax with Fox. Unfortunately, I have a hard time blaming them. There’s just not enough good about it to keep it going. One fantastic episode, and one really good episode out of seven don’t really seem to spell success for a series. And it’s clear it’s not likely to bring in the ad money Fox wants for it to survive. An AMAZING finale might go a long way to helping it, but I’m not holding my breath. Just going to wait, and watch, and see.

    A final note: some writers don’t need a season (or half a season) to really get going. See Sorkin and The West Wing. Not only was it good from the start, I would say Sorkin was able to do such a good job, and train his writing staff so well, that they were able to keep the quality level high even AFTER he left.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    Thursday, April 9, 2009 12:10 pm

    tracy bellomo is real!! give her some credit!

  3. Friday, April 10, 2009 1:58 am

    Ha ha — okay. Sorry. I just found it odd that a heretofore unknown (to me, anywhere) writer was given such an important episode to write. I was expecting one of the Whedonverse regulars, is all.

    But yeah, overall she did a good job.

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