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February 11 2008

"It's the most morally gray thing I've ever done". Joss Whedon tells io9 why Dollhouse is very different than his previous work.

...And that's why I'm excited about it.
(He breaks into an impromptu little "I'm an indie short filmmaker guy" dance).


Wait'll they start calling for that at the cons.

It's very different than the stuff I've done before, but at the same time it's still a very hardcore examination of the human condition. It really sort of boils it down to who are we, how are we programmed, what do we need, what is okay about us, and what is really not okay.


Joss can take the great robot/human metaphor to the next level with robotic humans/human robots -- programmable people. Disturb away, Big Purple Dude, like there's no tomorrow or at least a dystopian one. I've already started fanficking.

[ edited by Pointy on 2008-02-11 19:37 ]
I can't imagine being angered by anything Joss would ever do. He's my dependable go-to guy for stories with life, stories that make me that oh-so-delicious bit of uncomfortable,stories that cause me to think more about myself and my relationship to the world. Oh yeah...AND THEY'RE JUST KICK-ASS FUN! He's torn my heart out and made me grin 'till I thought my face was gonna fall off.

We're Joss fans because he takes us where we've never been before. Why would he think we'd want or expect anything different?

Three years ago, bought a house and to free up some cash for the big plunge into home ownership so we decided to forgo the T.V. because, as I said at the time, "It's not like Joss Whedon has anything on now anyway." Dollhouse? Time for a change.

SILLY, SILLY MAN.
I don't think he's being silly. I suspect he's wanting Dollhouse to be the kind of show which makes you think. About yourself. And the people around you. How you behave. How we behave. In a challenging way. It could well be one of those things where if fans aren't outraged by certain episodes, something isn't working.

One question I have is if the dolls -- and clients -- can be implanted to see people differently. As in, if a client hires Echo, can they see her as somebody else during the length of their clientage? 'cos I think that opens up some fucked up stories.
You, too, Pointy? I came up with a really emotionally painful idea shortly after Joss announced the show & read what it was going to be about.

And a while ago on another 'verse board I used to frequent I came up with another idea, for a role that could very easily (And extremely heart-breakingly) be played by Tony - A fast-paced businessman finds out that he's got a terminal illness, but has lost touch with his estranged daughter, so he hires Echo to play her so he can assuage his guilt. But Echo has one of her "flickers of humanity" before the second day, and manages to locate the daughter & arranges to have them meet, unbeknownst to either of them (But knownst to us).

My other idea I'm holding in reserve, until we find out more about Echo's world, so I can write it. 'cause...it's gonna be deep, and very painful, and slightly personal. Not to cast too many 'verse stars, but...I almost want to see Amber in the main guest role. She can do painfully emotional.
Joss: "...he's very gracious about my drool for the show."


It's good karma from the kajillion occasions on which Joss has been gracious to drooling fans of his work, wouldn't you say?

The Serving Girl cometh... and I'm so glad we are - hopefully - getting closer to the advent of more TV-Jossness - with 80% more Eliza Duskku, too. I plan to be angry and indignant after every episode.

I await more clipboardy fruition.
It's the most morally gray thing I've ever done


"That wasn't Angel. That wasn't Angelus either. Who was that?"


If it's more morally grey than Angel's painful journey of self discovery during season 2 then Dollhouse will be amazing.
I look forward to these new explorations done by a greater mind than mine. ;-)

This gives me the opportunity to mention neuroscientist Bruce Perry, because the "Dollhouse" outline as given by Joss earlier makes me think of the plasticity of the human brain. What we are, what we could have been, how much our potential was conveyed or destroyed, what at all our basic potential is, this all depends on how we were raised to a larger degree than even hardcore milieu theorists decades ago have dreamt off.

Personally I believe that as a newborn we are gifted and determined to grow, to explore, to create, to connect and to foster healthy relationships. All too often this is undermined by threat and punishment, neglection, abuse at home and in school instead of love and protection. Children are often used by adults for their own goals and treated like a property.

This is the widespread grievance "Dollhouse" makes me think of at the moment. (I'm curios what the series will bring.) These very common ways of harmful education are the origins of people with low self-esteem, easy to be manipulated, with mental and physical health problems and so on.

Bruce Perry: teacher dot scholastic dot com slash professional slash bruceperry slash index dot htm

[ edited by cleveland on 2008-02-11 18:47 ]
As if I couldn't look forward to Dollhouse any more than I already am... just, wow.

I enjoy being challenged, and these themes he's hitting on are powerful. What makes a person who they are? How are they shaped? How does someone come to the point where using another human for their own fantasy is OK? How can that be justified? I get chills just thinking about where this show can go.
Thematically, here's a thing which may or may not be there - connecting. How we connect to people is both what makes us human, and what makes us suck. And it's not just people we connect with - that extends to other things (technology..). The lines get a little blurred.

And yes, Simon - Angel season two? I still maintain the 1/3rd of that season Tim wrote is some of the best character exploration I've ever seen. "And yet, I just can't seem to care".
I hope that Joss does stretch the 'politically correct' envelope with Dollhouse. I also can't imagine ever being angry with him, I have complete faith in Joss always having a point to make which is worth my time and attention.
Personally, I'm quite looking forward to the gray-toned exploration of humanity by Battlestar Galactica's #1 fan.
Ooooh. Morally grey gives me goosebumps. I just get more excited about this all the time.
Oooh, I can't wait for this to come out. I love morally gray shows. Like Simon said,(Hehe Simon said), if Dollhouse is even more morally gray than the middle stages of season 2 of Angel, it will be amazing.

And Joss, why do you always resort to violence first? Tsk, Tsk!
It just occurred to me that given how Joss tends to inverts tropes, Echo could easily be an anti-Pinocchio: a "real" girl who wishes to be a doll because it's a means to avoid all the risks and responsibilities that go along with free will.

That's quite relevant, I think, in our post-9/11 world where we're struggling to find the right balance between respecting personal freedom versus the need to maintain safety and security.

I wonder if that's what makes Joss concerned about angry fans, since it also means Dollhouse could be the polar opposite of Firefly's story of Mal and his quest for freedom independence.
(He breaks into an impromptu little "I'm an indie short filmmaker guy" dance).
I would expect nothing less from our Numfar.
"Tell me indie, who is that short filmmaker guy? And why does the ground move so?"
Last night I happened to watch a couple of episodes of Angel S1, Five By Five and Sanctuary, which just happen to feature Ms Dushku. Anyone who can go from sadistic killer gleefully torturing a former friend to pitiful wreck begging for death in the space of a few minutes, and make it completely believable, is just the right person to do "Morally grey"

Joss, you should know by now that your fans are the best. We love TV that makes us think. I remember many a long online debate about the morality of Spike, Buffy, Angel et al. Knowing we're gonna get more just brings me out in goosebumps.
Plus, Eliza, hot.
If not, Aurec, then a voluntary doll would make an interesting part of the ensemble or guest character. I guess a lot depends on how dolls are recruited. Unless they're manufactured, clone-like. Echo could investigate her own origins.
If there are viewers who still expect black and white delineations of villains versus the good guys, yes I suppose there will be people angry with you, Joss. But haven't they always been, and not just in that vein, when you do things that displease them? I admire writers just about more than any other artistic bent, but it is a lonely road because I really believe you have to write for yourself, not for an audience. And sticking to your own path, despite criticism, makes you a brave, maverick kind of guy, which of course, I love about you. I hope Dollhouse gets made because I wish to see this extreme grayness of which you speak.
I still maintain the 1/3rd of that season Tim wrote is some of the best character exploration I've ever seen.


Add Minear to your show to get it greyer than grey. The Inside was a prime example of Tim at the top of his game and I can't wait to see what he brings to Dollhouse.
What I keep thinking about in all of this discussion is a number of books on politics and language, where the upshot always seemed to be that the human brain is far more mechanical and programmable than makes me comfortable. The argument always seemed to be that the right was very good at programming the minds of the public, and if the left ever wanted to make any headway, it had to do a better job than the right of programming the brains of the public. No argument for "we must restore the idea that the republic relies upon a rational people governing themselves through their representatives" -- just "do a better job rewiring people's brains than the other side".

I think about this here because that's not just gray, it's pretty pitch black.
Please forgive me if I have not read previous comments, but I was wondering why Joss would think Dollhouse may anger fans? I mean I don't think any of his shows have been black and white in their storytelling. Is there something I am missing? Anyway, I can't be more excited about this show, (even though it is on Fox) I wonder when it will air?
If it's more morally grey than Angel's painful journey of self discovery during season 2 then Dollhouse will be amazing.


Oh lord, ditto. That was one amazing arc in that season.
WheelsOfJoy: Look at Buffy S6 for a good example. It angered a lot of fans. However, I'm not one of them (I find S6 to be flawed, yet incredibly daring) and I'm more excited than ever about Dollhouse thanks to this news. Bring it on Joss, and please don't hold back!

[ edited by mikejer on 2008-02-11 22:15 ]
Yeah, I think that s6 (despite Joss's lower level of involvement with it) might be a very good analogy. I would even go so far as to say that what angered a lot of fans was the moral ambiguity at the center of it (handled deftly and subtly, I thought, with Andrew et al., somewhat less so with Willow's addiction trope). Fundamentally, what was troubling and angering about that season was that it was not really clear whether the bad guys were bad guys or not.
The Inside was a prime example of Tim at the top of his game and I can't wait to see what he brings to Dollhouse.

Actually, funny you should say that. I just rewatched The Inside. It's better than I remembered; if I had to choose one Tim show to bring back, that would be it. Becky was one fucked up girl. And yet I loved her anyway. Just call me Paul.
It strikes me, perhaps, that the concern is not *exactly* with the "tried and true" Whedon fans, but, perhaps the general television audience. Something that's a tad odd premise-wise and demanding of its audience may mean that Dollhouse may not pick up enough of an audience to get more than its 7 episodes.

But, if those 7 episodes are like unto Angel season 2's middle, I will cherish them.
Aw man, Becky was flawed and interesting but Virgil 'Web' Webster was far and away one of the most fucked up, twistedly noble (maybe ;) and ambiguous characters in recent TV. He was House before 'House' was big and there were tantalising hints that he might also have been Dexter before 'Dexter'. 'The Inside' is one of the best things Tim's done IMO and could've been a genuine classic, given the chance.

Now i'm even more intrigued about 'Dollhouse'. Joss wouldn't think it would anger us without reason and he knows we'll go to a lot of places that he leads quite willingly so now i'm even more interested than before (so, y'know, a lot ;).

Echo sounds like a "build-a-human" character but given Joss' recent podcasted diss of Data, I think we can look forward to a much more subtle treatment of the idea. Can't wait, I love those characters (like Anya in BtVS) more than any other, that allow a writer to strip us down and make a beeline for all the most salient parts of humanity.

Since it's along somewhat similar lines thematically (and cos it's one of my favourite shows of recent years), I wonder what Joss thinks of 'Dexter' (or if he's even seen it) ?
"Paul", how did you rewatch The Inside? Got it recorded?

Joss makes me angry all the time. Still love his work though.
k8cre8, I doubt that - there's no way FOX would let him go in and pitch a show knowing the general audience will hate it. Well, in theory.

When Dollhouse was first announced, one of the forums I post on had an interesting reaction - they saw the words 'Doll' and 'sexual fantasy', and threw their toys out of the pram. Which is their right. I don't think there's enough data to form a clear opinion on the show (and those words don't represent the premise), but if you're going to explore those kind of themes, you could argue that isn't what the Buffy fans were about.

[ edited by gossi on 2008-02-11 22:48 ]
If Joss wrote a new Brady Bunch series, I'd watch it -- because nobody does an innovative twist like The Great Purple One. Disturb me, please!


Joss on BSG:
I've spent a lot of time with Ron on the picket lines, and he's very gracious about my drool for the show.


It nice to see Joss can relate with his own fans.
they saw the words 'Doll' and 'sexual fantasy', and threw their toys out of the pram. Which is their right. I don't think there's enough data to form a clear opinion on the show (and those words don't represent the premise), but if you're going to explore those kind of themes, you could argue that isn't what the Buffy fans were about.

Well, it's obviously their right gossi but does anyone (especially any Buffy fan) seriously think that uber-feminist Joss is just going to offer a fan-boi wet dream without putting a subversive twist on it ? Without calling the very foundations of the fantasy into question ?

I mean there has to a difference between a cautious "wait and see, it might not be my thing" and "Joss is reneging on everything he's previously stood for" surely ?

And IMO questioning conventions (especially about women's role in society) is exactly what being a Buffy fan is about, 'Dollhouse' sounds like it's going to do exactly that (among other, broader questions).
Can anyone else see Dollhouse being renamed before shooting begins?
Good points. I imagine there were many raised eyebrows when Fox started advertising "a girl in a box" and "space hooker"...

Joss has earned my trust. He has heavily influenced the way I view television, so I'll go wherever he wants to take me and enjoy the ride.
Can anyone else see Dollhouse being renamed before shooting begins?

'Hooker Girl and the Death Dolls'
'Deadly Echo'
'Killer Kuties'
'Have Imprinting Machine, Will Travel'
'Alias'

I have others.
I have others.

Oh dear.
I heard that. Well, "heard" anyway.
gossi I think you're right, in that Fox wouldn't have said yes if they didn't think it would be "saleable." Clearly, in fact, they bought it. I'm just saying that it's a premise that might be odd in the main stream, and, as such, might be tough to keep a main stream audience. I mean, looking at something like "The Inside," which had a relatively main stream premise, but, I'd say that perhaps the tone of the show wasn't main stream enough (yes, it also had scheduling challenges and promotion problems, etc.), for it to take off. The audience never grew to be large enough to air more than a few episodes, and that the tone might've been a contributing factor. Who knows? All new TV shows are a gamble, and it seems that the viewers who appreciates a challenge or a show steeped in the "morally grey" ("Profit" being another fine example), are not a large enough group to make the show a hit.

Anyway, I am hopeful that it picks up a huge audience, and that the audience sticks around. And, even better, that the audience is mostly new to the Whedonverse and enjoys the show, whether they do any serious thinking about it or not.
I think Gossi's hit the nail on the head. The more you become a champion of a usually overlooked/misrepresented group, the more the politics within the group will pass stricter and harsher judgment on your representation of them. The classic example would be Tara/Willow going from "best depiction of lesbian relationship ever!!!!" to "all-lesbians-must-be-evil-or-dead cliche hell!!!". NB: not my voice there, other questionable voices

Dollhouse is going to be messing with feminism, sexuality, free will and oodles more. The idea itself is loaded with arguments for what constitutes prostitution, rape, love, choice, identity, consciousness. People are going to be upset by things (or at least the forum debates following the things).

It's like taking a hornets' nest and jabbing it sporadically with a very big stick.

Luckily Joss is good with big sticks.
It may seem unrelated at first, mostly because it was mostly from the aesthetics stand point, rather than content, but I just spent this morning through a lengthy discussion about the merits of Cloverfield with my friends.

It reminded me of the way we all started to know each other, which was through discussing about Buffy and Angel, and we did have some quite interesting discussions back then, which sometimes got heated up quickly. It makes me understand how Joss might be worried about angering people and being cautious, because his work do touch people deeply on several levels, to the point that the unprepared viewer will take it too personally, which is where the anger part comes in.
I think it might actually anger a lot of my fans, but there are questions I still have to ask.


Translated as

I learnt my lesson with Fox so Dollhouse is going to be a straight forward action adventure series with no undertones. This will anger my fans as they will have nothing to talk about.

Ooh, snap ;).

Screw cautious though, if people are angered that's one thing but it's essential (IMO) that Joss just does his thing regardless. Remember, "Cautious dies, reckless kills".

And yep, I did just quote "Hercules: The Legendary Journey" to support my argument. In retrospect, this may have been a mistake.
Speaking of a show not being mainstream enough to hold a person's attention, does anyone remember how long say, a show like The Prisoner was on the air and if it just tanked financially? I remember as a kid I didn't really get all of what it was trying to say, aside from just being kickass weird and enjoyable, but I just know that I loved it. I think on the one hand, people in 2008 are more sophisticated in their viewing and on the other hand, I despair when I see the offal that passes for entertainment (called Reality TV -- how long until we have a show that isn't just Wife Swap, but Discipline Your Neighbor's Wife or something equally hideous because that's the level I think some minds are sinking to) so the concern over Dollhouse finding a niche audience that will grow is an understandable concern. I loved The Inside and wanted more. Unfortunately, with Tim's shows I've learned the pain of unfulfilled gratification.
The Prisoner is different in that like most UK shows it was shot entirely, then edited and then aired. So even if the broadcaster had doubts, and they did, the couldn't really cancel it as the whole season was already completed. From memory I think they did mess around with the end or something.

Most US shows only have three or four episodes in hand at any time.

Also, this "shoot, edit then air" thing reminds me of Buffy. Wasn't S1 completed before the first episode ended?
'The Prisoner' only ran for 17 episodes (i.e. about 4-5 months). Not sure but I don't think it was because it was unsuccessful, that's just the way it often is with UK TV - get in, tell a story and then get out.

There isn't the same emphasis on producing the "magic 100" episodes for syndication as there is in the US nor do (non-soap) actors expect to work for 7 years, no matter how successful the show. And because the shows are often written by one or a few writers, it just isn't possible to produce the lengths of runs that US series have (because they wouldn't have the time and they'd probably get bored too, doing the same thing for 7 years).

(the co-creator of 'The Prisoner' left before the end BTW so it was "messed with" in the sense that Patrick McGoohan wrote and directed it without any involvement from him)
It's possible to be morally grey and still be a fun time, right? I believe it can be done, and the Boss can do it. And I look forward to finding out for sure and for definite.
Considering how much Joss has interacted with his fans, and that he knows the seven eps he's pitched, I'm willing to give his deductive reasoning enough credit to believe that he'll piss off everyone. In the world.
The only question I can think of that would seriously piss fans is "Wouldn't it be funny if we killed off Eliza's character in the first episode?"
*is still jealous of those who saw all episodes of The Inside (but is very happy about Dollhouse!)*
The more morally gray this show is, the more I am excited :-)
And morally gray is just so slimming.
So Tim Minear is on Dollhouse?
I predict morally gray with rainbow overcast, the temperature is Eliza and the pressure is Whedon, light winds building to gusts at act breaks. Some flooding expected.
Craig, everything Joss does has fun humour. It's how he thinks. I think an interesting form of torture would be to try to get Joss to write without humour.

ChosenOne5376, Tim is consulting on it.
So Tim Minear is on Dollhouse?

Yah. It was one of the first things we heard.
Woo hoooo!

Welcome back to the airwaves, Joss! (sorta, anyway)

As for Dollhouse, the greyer the better, imo.

I'm ready for all you got!
Thanks, for your input, that makes sense regarding my question. I for one was not angered by S6 of Buffy, deppressed at times lol but not angered. I have always appreciated the journey that Joss took on all of his shows even when it was difficult to watch. I suppose that may happen with Dollhouse. Still can't wait!
How is Joss going to anger his fans?

He's going to kill Tara every episode.

(I apologize. I just...I had to.)
So are we pretty certain Dollhouse is premiering in the fall?

ETA: That is, as opposed to at the end of this TV season?

[ edited by Jobo on 2008-02-12 03:19 ]
In recent weeks, I've been methodically re-watching the entirety of Homicide: Life in the Street. I mention this now because in the one I'm watching right now, a doctor just referred to a kid who had been shot as having "doll's eyes" -- which he then had to explain meant the kid was brain dead.

Also, since people seem to think we're the casting directors for Joss' stuff, the show makes me think that Andre Braugher would be good, somewhere.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-02-12 04:11 ]
In Jaws, Quint talked about a shark's eyes when it attacks rolling back in it's head and described them as "black eyes... dolls eyes..."

And btw, a heartfelt rest in peace for Roy Scheider. :*(
Dollhouse is going to be a straight forward action adventure series with no undertones. This will anger my fans as they will have nothing to talk about.

That's the scariest fake speculation I've ever read. If Joss kills off the overtones, I am so out.

Also any deep thoughts I may have had get distracted by the awesomeness of the Joss-shadow in that pretty picture.
Andre Braugher is probably the most underused, underrated actor with the worst luck -- every movie and television show he's beein in since "Homicide" has seemed to fizzle commercially and gotten a critical drubbing to boot (which is why I haven't been able to bring myself to see any of them). He'd sure be a great addition to any show by Joss or any good creator.

However, what I'd really like is to see what Frank Pembleton's been doing the last decade. No one's going to tell me the guy's given up detective work. It wouldn't and shouldn't be anything like "Homicide," but more like "Cracker" or "Prime Suspect." A character driven show about a driven guy and his (naturally) screwed up life. Boy what I wouldn't give to see that one.
Jobo, I don't think anyone is "certain" of when it is going to air. Fall just seems the most likely at this point, but (as I have said before) my money is on next January.
Banter said:
And morally gray is just so slimming.

Plus I find it goes with everything else in my wardrobe.
'Hooker Girl and the Death Dolls'

Not bad, but I think it could be improved on. 'Hooker Girl and the Death Dolls of Ecstasy'?
Not bad, but I think it could be improved on. 'Hooker Girl and the Death Dolls of Ecstasy'?


What, no '...in the Avocado Jungle of Death?'. Pfft...
Here's where I think "Dollhouse" could be controversial -- the premise sounds as though it inherently deals with people who are very into their fantasies (the renters of the "dolls" know at minimum they're requesting scenarios involving a real human) and what they're willing to put a "player" through in the name of having the fantasies fulfilled -- and presumably how they react when they don't get what they wanted/expected out of the fantasy. Am I wrong in thinking there are elements here analogous to fandom (not just Whedon fandom, *any* fandom)? I can see where something that might be taken as a comment on fans could be controversial with fans. Or Mr. Whedon may have been referring to something else altogether.
The show doesn't appear, however, to just be about people renting dolls for fantasies.
I tip a rename to 'Biatches and Ho's: Beyond the Biodome.'

And some credit, please, if I switched off the tele every time I got mad at Joss, I wouldn't even have made it through 'Welcome to the Hellmouth' to begin with! To this day, one of my favorite phrases happens to be "I can't believe he killed off *insert random name here*!"

If we're playing the 'morally gray' game (it's so hard NOT to type G-R-E-Y) I'll see your S2 Angel and raise you a kill-age of Ben and a Willow-says-kick-his-ass, which I'm STILL awaiting the pay-off for.

And I can only hope that there IS some heated discussion over 'Dollhouse' as a result of paying a human-like object for self gratification. For example, what are the moral ambiguities behind providing unrealistic fantasies and then wiping the memories of those who provide the service? Where does prostitution end and commerce begin? And how the heck DO they get the pimento in the olive??
Besides the meta-commentary on fans, there's this. I'd assume that, at first, since Eliza's character is only gradually becoming conscious of what's going on, we're going to see her and the other dolls doing exactly whatever their clients want them to do, which could be assassination, torture, playing out sexual fantasies, etc. It's gonna kinda be like Spike killing people under the spell of the First, but how much moral leeway is the audience going to give these protagonists that they barely know? And who don't even know themselves?

Joss has usually dealt with people who were flawed, certainly, but who were, for a lot of the audience anyway, role-models and heroes in the end, people you could identify with, people striving to do good or atone, at least. But how can you identify with the dolls? They have no identity. The dolls are victims, victims who may have done and may do terrible things at the same time.

A lot grayer, I think.
For what it's worth, Boston Diva Productions appears to be Eliza's production company. It's unclear to me just what the related Boston Diva Live site is meant to be, especially since it's still full of site-under-construction Latin copy.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-02-12 07:49 ]
I'm just happy that Tim, Eliza and Joss is on the job. Because this really tells me that the show is really going to be awesome. But I think I can wait, kind of. But hey all fans, we got something from him, and it makes me so happy. I just want to cry lol.

[ edited by Allen Doyle on 2008-02-12 08:42 ]
Bring on the gray!! There's nothing more boring than unambiguous black vs. white. And I never love Joss more than when he's pissing me off. (well .... there was a time or two ;)

As for the renaming:
"Dollhouse: (Ibsen, you moron, not Barbie)".

Angel season two? I still maintain the 1/3rd of that season Tim wrote is some of the best character exploration I've ever seen. "And yet, I just can't seem to care".
gossi | February 11, 19:07 CET

My favorite AtS moment ever :_)

And if we needed a reminder of Eliza's mad acting skills ....

Angel S1, Five By Five and Sanctuary, which just happen to feature Ms Dushku.
zz9 | February 11, 21:23 CET


This is so gonna rock!
And morally gray is just so slimming.

Also, morally grey is the new morally black. Fact.

But how can you identify with the dolls? They have no identity. The dolls are victims, victims who may have done and may do terrible things at the same time.

A lot grayer, I think.


I dunno shambleau, they're not morally responsible for what they do as dolls since it's not "them" that's doing it (and they have no choice in the matter) so I have no problems with that aspect, they're straight victims which is pretty black and white (Dexter is a greyer character IMO, with one foot in each world and the ability to make choices - as much as any of us do that is).

Identifying with them will come later and gradually (and it'll be mainly just be with Echo i'd imagine since, AFA We K, none of the other dolls have an emerging consciousness).

I do like the idea hinted at by ShadowQuest that, even when she becomes conscious, she may still prefer to be a doll because it's easier. That questions the fundamental assumption of Western, post enlightenment society IMO i.e. that freedom is inherently good and that anyone, when given the choice, would take it over any alternatives.

And btw, a heartfelt rest in peace for Roy Scheider. :*(

Yep, the great Robert Shaw delivered the line about doll's eyes
And, you know, the thing about a shark... he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living... until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'.

And also yep, sad to see Roy Scheider go "You're gonna need a bigger boat" is still one of the best - and best delivered - lines in mainstream cinema I reckon.
"Echo Chamber"
What, no '...in the Avocado Jungle of Death?'. Pfft...

zeitgeist | February 12, 06:10 CET

Well, no, 'cause if you go over to that Wizard Magazine interview, Joss distinctly says no avocados involved.
Wow, you totally fell for that whole "not avocado" misdirect barboo. Just wait, they'll be hip-deep in avocados before the end of the pilot, guaranteed. Or maybe piranhas.

What, no '...in the Avocado Jungle of Death?'. Pfft...

That's just silly.

;-)
But not as silly as double posts which are so silly they border on daft.

[ edited by Saje on 2008-02-12 17:19 ]
Wow, you totally fell for that whole "not avocado" misdirect barboo. Just wait, they'll be hip-deep in avocados before the end of the pilot, guaranteed. Or maybe piranhas.

Ha, shows what you know. I have it on the best authority that it's going to be the papayas of death.
(Or, maybe it was mangoes. Er, cherimoya. Um, guavas. Guavas of death, yes!)
All the kidding aside (actually, I think a line involving death blows might go like this: "Ah! Pretty poisoned nail polish, I see, hath been his timely end") I worry for this show the more I think about it and only brought up The Prisoner as an example of something so far out of the mainstream that this show might not survive. I think the concept is brilliant and I can be entertained by darkness and moral ambiguity (see: Millennium) but studios want numbers and me plus all of you who agree makes what, a few thousand? Yeah, yeah, cart before the horse and all that, but I'd hate to see Joss get burned again by another cancellation.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2008-02-12 18:32 ]
Aw Jeez, who left all this kidding here ? These shoes are ruined.

I dunno, to put it bluntly Tonya J, 'Alias' showed that "hot woman has weekly adventures" will get bums on seats. So long as you then offer more than that i'd say it's got legs.

Frankly, I think this could be Joss' most commercial series so far, it's got hooks for just about every demographic.

('Hooker Girl and the Satsumas of Doom !')

[ edited by Saje on 2008-02-12 20:34 ]
Well, I never watched Alias beyond the pilot so I wouldn't know. What I do know is that Joss' work is not commercial, nor would I want him to go slumming to get good ratings. But he is smart enough to realize that even a brilliant concept is not enough.
I'm still not sure about this series. I'm willing to give it a chance because it's Joss, but there's one big problem that I can't look away from: it's ultimately in control of the Purple Bellies at Fox. Even if they promote it properly, air the episodes in order, or choose not to cancel it, being on Fox is a huge problem, namely, because they readily interfere with things. They meddle, they really like telling the writers and directors how to do their jobs. In Firefly, Joss and Tim ignored them. They were told not to do any more Westerns, and then they made Heart of Gold which is what really got them canceled.

If the networks interfere this time around, I think that Joss will listen. And Fox will interfere. I can see their influence in shows like the Sarah Connor Chronicles which is being forced to toss in needless sex appeal just because a certain amount of time had passed without any. I have this awful feeling that Fox is going to have their way with this series and there could be a lot of things forced into it that causes things to move away from that which is empowering to that which is degrading, and Joss could suffer for that, as could his credibility. Worse, the series really sets itself up for this. There's Eliza Dushku, and she fulfills people's fantasies. I wonder how the execs are going to play around with that.

That being said, I'll have to wait and see. But so far, I have no reason to believe that we'll being seeing Joss's true vision but rather what the execs think it should be. I'm not exactly holding my breath or getting excited over this one. As ambitious as it is, I really think that the network is going to give me yet another reason to watch something else.
Not the same people at Fox. Why do we have to say that in every thread? People make these decisions not some machine. And the people who dealt with Firefly don't live there anymore.

And all the networks are the same as to the meddling thing. There is no difference.
What I am talking about is the style of meddling that is typical of Fox. Thus far, the only series to escape it was the X-Files (the execs wanted Scully to be the office bimbo), aside from Chris Carter being forced to keep the series going for six seasons longer than he wanted. What I am talking about is the forced sex appeal. It doesn't matter that these are new folks doing the decision making, the style is still the same and even the more recent shows are suffering in their credibility because of it. Dollhouse just sets itself up in ways that others have not and I'm not putting it past the execs to revel in this, and I will be particularly disappointed if they do.

Networks meddle, that's unavoidable. But Fox is distinctively notorious for it and I just can't bring myself to have faith in them.

[ edited by zohrael on 2008-02-12 22:15 ]
Wow. Way to be all proactive with pep, there, zohrael.

Why don't you tell us how you really feel about the networks?

Meanwhile, I'll be watching T:SCC because it's a quality show when there really isn't a whole lot of new stuff available, and I'll be watching "Dollhouse" because it's something new from The Mind of Joss, and it just might be the most daring thing to grace our screens in a long time.

And if it, heaven forbid, tanks, then I'll rewatch all the episodes I taped and think "Coulda been a contender." And I'll rewatch every single episode of Firefly, in order, and then the movie. 'cause, like Captain Peter Taggert said "Never give up! Never surrender!"
('Hooker Girl and the Satsumas of Doom !')


As a bonus the satsumas can be used to help you against Sycorax.

Why do we have to say that in every thread?


I'll go ahead and assume that that's a rhetorical question.

ETA - zohrael - If (when) the execs do meddle, Joss isn't exactly known for backing down on issues that matter. You won't see a show going to air that compromises Joss' principles. The very idea seems absurd to me. If it goes to air with Joss' name on it, its because 'I am Joss Whedon and I approve this message'.
I think waiting to see the result before borrowing unnecessary trouble might be the best way to handle it, but YMMV. I like to think that Joss may just be able to handle the studio for whom he has made three shows. Maybe he learned a trick or two.

Yes, zeitgeist, it was just a venty rhetorical question. :)

[ edited by TamaraC on 2008-02-12 22:34 ]
Well, I never watched Alias beyond the pilot so I wouldn't know. What I do know is that Joss' work is not commercial, nor would I want him to go slumming to get good ratings.

You don't even need to have seen the pilot Tonya J, you just need to know it lasted 5 seasons, ergo people watched it ;).

Saying Joss' work isn't commercial sounds just a smidge like special pleading too. So far his TV shows haven't been huge ratings juggernauts but that doesn't mean he can't produce that and maintain his integrity, there's no reason (IMO) that we can't have a show that works as a commercial show and as e.g. a critique of the objectification of women or about what makes us human or about moral responsibility etc.

My point is, I think a fair few people will watch because "Eliza Dushku is teh hotz!!" and if the other stuff completely passes them by that's fine, so long as they get what they want from it (and so keep watching and therefore allow us to get what we want from it).
Sorry, I just want to argue one point here though I think you're being willfully determined not to understand what it is I'm getting at (and by the way, you can call me Tonya - I've only been on this board for years and exchanged emails with you). That Buffy and Angel were "commercially" successful in their way (because they lasted far longer than you ever would have thought, given the subject material) I think is more a testament to not only Joss' skill as a writer and gathering other good writers/actors about him, but some confluence of the fates. A studio's bottom line is to make money - they don't give a shit about art. So when I say Joss' work isn't commercial, I mean that it doesn't meet the criteria that some shows out there strive for to wear as some weird mantle of pride.

For example, I have read people (not here) peeing themselves over the greatness of a show like Grey's Anatomy and the few times I've watched it, I feel like I'm just watching a glorified soap opera next to anything Joss has ever put up on screen. And all the Emmy's it keeps being nominated for when no actor from Buffy or Angel ever was or won a damn thing. I could name more but I won't. When I think the word commercial, I'm thinking about shows where art is less and T&A (and screw the writing) in a vacuum is more. That's all.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2008-02-13 00:44 ]
It's the most morally gray thing I've ever done.


Except for that one time.
And also yep, sad to see Roy Scheider go "You're gonna need a bigger boat" is still one of the best - and best delivered - lines in mainstream cinema I reckon.

Yes, that is one of the most memorable lines in the history of Hollywood film. I hadn't heard of Scheider's death. That's too bad, because he was truly one of my favorites. He gave spark even to secondary roles.

Regarding the issue at hand: while I understand what Tonya is saying, I think being commercial is more than just T&A and eye candy. I think Serenity was a commercial film, despite its relative failure at the box office. It suffered because it didn't have any famous stars--although it certainly helped launch some. Were it to have come out now, with the greater visibility Nathan, and Alan, and Summer, and especially Chewetel Ejiofor have had, it might be a different matter. I think the success of Dollhouse will depend a great deal on who is in the cast with ED. I have faith that Joss and Tim can do the rest. (Well, I didn't intend that as a pun, but I'll let it stand as one.)
Except for that one time.

Shhh we aren't supposed to talk about that!
Yeah, we all agreed not to mention it again. Ever. We swored!

Oh, Pointy... how... how could you?

*sobs and runs out of the room.*
Tonya J said:
"I think the word commercial, I'm thinking about shows where art is less and T&A (and screw the writing) in a vacuum is more."

Oh, I know this one, I know ! What is...One Tree Hill, Grey's Anatomy, Las Vegas, etc ? (I hate to slag Grey's Anatomy sometimes because it's got Sandra Oh in it...if you've seen a lot of her bit roles, not to mention the excellent pre-apocalyptic Canadian indie drama Last Night, you probably love her too).

Buffy (and to a lesser degree, Angel) almost always seemed commercial enough to me because, on the surface, they had a lot of elements that favorite mainstream shows (both quality and guilty pleasures) in the past have had. The Buffyverse has eye candy, melodrama, relationships often at the center of the season arcs (or orbiting), and for the sci-fi/fantasy fans who'll watch anything that isn't a straight drama, you had dudes in rubber masks, effects, and mythology and nerd talk out the ying-yang.

So you're getting the Trekkies and the X-Philes along with the more open-minded Dawson's Creek and 90210 viewers. Buffy has commercial written all over it, at first glance. And that's probably a huge reason for why it lasted seven seasons. The fact that it was deeper than all that though, that there was genuine quality and a uniqueness to it, probably accounts for the devoted following and its place as a merchandise cash cow. This line of reasoning does not, however, explain how Smallville continues (I would've mentioned Charmed lasting 8 frickin seasons, but my dad watched that and Vegas and it's dudes like him who keep shows like those on the air...and in Charmed's case, those above-mentioned genre fans who'll watch anything with some magic or a spaceship in it regardless of quality).
Sorry, I just want to argue one point here though I think you're being willfully determined not to understand what it is I'm getting at (and by the way, you can call me Tonya - I've only been on this board for years and exchanged emails with you).

OK, clearly I missed the bit where using someone's full screen name was somehow insulting and the bit where it's possible to know what I understand and don't understand without actually, y'know, being me. Never underestimate my capacity to not understand something Tonya (because apparently J is now Osama's favourite letter or something ;), I can even do it unwillingly ;).

When I think the word commercial, I'm thinking about shows where art is less and T&A (and screw the writing) in a vacuum is more.

Ah right, I meant shows that are commercially successful. 'House' is one example. Very good show, critically well regarded and a mainstream ratings success.

And people on here have raved about "Grey's Anatomy" BTW (though I also find it too "soapy"), horses for courses I guess ;).

Buffy (and to a lesser degree, Angel) almost always seemed commercial enough to me because, on the surface, they had a lot of elements that favorite mainstream shows (both quality and guilty pleasures) in the past have had.

True Kris, except Buffy would've been cancelled in weeks on Fox (wasn't it getting around 4-5 million viewers ?) so in that sense not enough. 'Dollhouse' just seems to have an even wider appeal to me - if I put myself in what, for want of another phrase, we could call the NASCAR/Idol mindset, I can imagine a lot of ways to sell it. My point being, so long as Joss doesn't sell out (and who of us really thinks he will ?) then there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

[ edited by Saje on 2008-02-13 08:34 ]
BTW, this is the first I've read about Dollhouse outside of the initial announcement that Joss was doing it and Eliza was in it. I was determined to know as little about the project as possible come air time, but ah well. Guess I'm not 95% spoiler-phobic like I used to be. For Firefly I actually succeeded in doing that, I went in blind. I'm so glad Minear's involved too, that is just...huge. The collaboration is meant to be. A second chance, of sorts, to see what he and Joss can do long-term, hopefully.

I dunno what else to say about Buffy + commercial appeal and/or Dollhouse. My brain is mush after being on the I Am Legend IMDB boards for the past half hour or so reading a thread about the argument against the Christianity elements thrown into the final third of film (I loved the movie until those, btw. I mean I was even kinda okay with it until near the very end with the Signs-like coincidental God-had-a-plan-all-along-ness of it all...if God could work something like that, why didn't he stop the goddamn plague from happening in the first place, duh. Among other historical atrocities. Within the context of the I Am Legend movieverse. And no "He gave us free will, including the ability to fuck up big" explanations on this, please...'cause if those apply, then God cheats with the whole butterfly thing by getting involved. Agian).

[ edited by Kris on 2008-02-13 09:15 ]
... if God could work something like that, why didn't he stop the goddamn plague from happening in the first place, duh.

*waves hands* Because He moves in mysterious ways, of course ;).

(totally agree BTW, i'm still undecided on whether the last 5-10 minutes completely ruin the film for me or if I can get over it and appreciate the rest of it in isolation, probably have to see it again to be sure. From a character perspective I actually like Neville's "solution" and in some ways his realisation almost harks back to the book - which is how I thought the film would end up until the last act. Dunno why but i'm still often surprised at how much real character acting Will Smith can fit into a big studio film, good for him)
Saje, inviting someone to call you by your real first name instead of just a moniker is a gesture of friendship. But that's okay, we don't have to talk at all here. Palehorse and Kris, thanks for getting what I was "getting" at.
Well apologies if I took it wrong but saying someone is "willfully determined not to understand what it is I'm getting at" and "(and by the way, you can call me Tonya - I've only been on this board for years and exchanged emails with you)" seemed a bit snippy to me.

If absolutely no snip was intended then I apologise, best just move on with no hard feelings ;).

(disagreeing with someone and genuinely not understanding what they mean is not a sign of hostility BTW)

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