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April 25 2008

(SPOILER) Another review of the Dollhouse pilot script. "There's a pervasion of the creepy lurking throughout this pilot. Different kinds too. There's a sci-fi creepy in it and there's a stain-on-your-soul kind in there too".

That's just me look even more forward to the show.

Last remark I'm going to make is that, like Sorkin always seems to have one character that is really "his voice" in the sea of voices that are his (knowhatimsayn), I think Whedon kinda does the same, just not to the same degree or as obvious. But, not actually knowing him, I can be some completely wrong as to be fully submerged in wrongitude with nary a snorkel in sight.

In Buffy, it was Xander (the regular, uncomfortable guy), in Angel, I think it was Angel himself, he was generally uncomfortable and more humany than the human supporting cast. Firefly? I would argue that it's Wash (evolved into the extremely comfortable guy). In, Dollhouse, I get that vibe from Topher (Fran Kranz). The guy who does the programming and might be a little conflicted about that. I suspect that, outside of Echo, he might be my favorite character. He's uncomfortable with his comfort. It remains to be seen, but he seems to have a dark awareness of himself and I want to see this guy make the wrong choices.


my emphasis

Isn't Topher the creepy programmer dude who's blithely amoral, fascinated by the science and kind of digging the illegality, and not remotely trustworthy? Not to mention kind of evil?

I don't see Joss in this. If Topher does =Joss, then maybe I should retract my statement: "In Joss we trust."

I mean, I get the blanking and programming of the dolls, but from what I didn't "see", it seems like he's more into the dirty jobs than the pro-bono cases Echo will be going on.
BTW, totally digging this show and can't wait for the premiere.
I really can't wait for this. I came late to the Joss party...caught Serenity in the cinema, then bought Firefly the following day. Had to be pursuaded to watch Buffy by a friend (I had bad memories of the movie), watched a couple of episodes and was hooked; bought all Buffy and Angel seasons on DVD - that was a fun couple of months. Now I get to be there at the beginning! Woooo! Just wish I lived in the US so I could add to the viewing figures...

...of course the downside is that I have to wait a week between episodes now...

[ edited by Xeke on 2008-04-24 22:16 ]
Right there with you on can't wait.
Perhaps Topher starts having troubled thoughts once it's obvious Echo is herself evolving. The 'blithely amoral' programmer could just be his starting point, everyone in the Whedonverse has a starting point, even Buffy had a starting point of 'not caring'. (Though that was in the movie and shouldn't really count. ;-) )
Yeah, I get the impression that Topher is in store for quite the arc. Which really excites me. I love seeing conflicted characters grow.
I'm very excited about this! Just from what I'd heard I was figuring that Topher would be the Cordelia/Jayne character (and isn't it insulting that I even consider that Joss only does stock characters? LOL) instead of the Xander/Wash one. But I am totally open to anything! This is going to be so awesome.
I'm completely confused on where you guys think Topher has a character arc. If he does, I don't think it would occur in the first season.

To relate it to Tru Calling... I see Topher completely opposing Echo's development and attempts to correct it... only to start having doubts when he observes the progress her self-realization makes.
Why wouldn't Topher's arc begin during the first season? Isn't that...kind of what happens during a first season?
korkster, I think it's reasonable to assume all the major players will have a character arc. The first season will be 22 or so episodes, assuming it's a ratings success. That would be a lot of episodes for a character to do be doing nothing.

The show is about how creepy the 'reset' factor is, after all.

[ edited by gossi on 2008-04-25 01:16 ]
korkster: Listen to Joss' commentary on the Firefly pilot, and pretend it is channeled through a character who doesn't have humor or irony: "Homely, homely girl... Explosions, they aren't human drama, then I'm near one and they are so pretty... And like all creative people, they must be put down..."
Joss makes typos? And that article said no spoilers!

About the Topher character being our moral compass, I don't quite agree. I think Echo will be our 'ego' in the house- learning more about herself and the world at the same time as we do. It could be said that the viewers are also 'dolls', in that we too are blank slates when it comes to our knowledge of the 'Dollhouse' world. (Which is making me reconsider the whole spoiler thing. Knowledge is power, but is it going to compromise the integrity of my involvement with the show?)

And I actually wrote an essay WAY back about Joss's depiction of Xander as 'Mr Everyman'. I claimed that Joss moved away from us having empathy for Xander and transferred that affection onto Spike instead. (I got an A, so it must have been good!)

[ edited by missb on 2008-04-25 02:14 ]
I'm definitely seeing Joss in Xander and Wash. But in Angel, I think Lorne came to be the Voice of Joss. At least in the finale.

(Tangent warning! And Angel Season 5 spoiler warning!) Toward the end of "Not Fade Away," Lindsay asks Lorne if he's really done, and Lorne tells him, "It isn't my kind of work anymore." Then, shockingly, Lorne shoots him dead as one last favor to Angel. He sighs and says, "Good night, folks." To me it felt like he could be addressing the audience, there. I "read" it as Joss's goodbye to television after the industry crushed the last of his babies into a fine, gossamer dust. Of course, that's me projecting (a LOT) what we already know about the cancellations of Firefly and Angel. Even if it's not what Joss intended, it sure did pack a punch.

Thankfully, he's coming back. And dark is gooooood. I always preferred Joss and his writers when they went into the dark. I. can't. wait.
Oh, I don't think Topher will be our 'moral compass'. I just think it would be impossible for Joss to write a story without every one of the main characters rethinking their attitudes and undergoing sea changes, albeit reluctantly in many cases. Including Topher's case, though that's just spec based on his current description.
Oh, Joss has got to do a redemption arc in all his shows. And it'll start early. (Spike's arc started in Season 2, after all, and some people say it started in his second or third episode -- before Joss had even decided to keep him alive! The seeds were sown from the start.)



Edit: if the parenthetical remark is longer than the actual comment, should I reverse the parentheses and put them around the first sentence instead?

[ edited by ManEnoughToAdmitIt on 2008-04-25 04:28 ]
Why make it parenthetical at all? It reads perfectly well without.
Thinking about it, Joss may well be putting his voice into Topher the most. He's said that this is the most morally grey work that he's done. It would make sense then, to project mainly onto the character who is morally conflicted. Uncomfortable with his comfort? Articulate and nerdily attractive? Maybe a little bit worried about being blithely amoral? Plus, you know, totally in love with Amy...
So anyone know what channel this will be on in the UK?
I don't think anyone has bought it yet but I would imagine BBC 2, Sky One and Virgin One would be extremely interested in getting a hold of it.
I'm not reading anything with a spoiler label, but I'm so excited, just from Simon's non-spoilery quote from the review.

Another late-comer to the Jossverse, this will be my first experience of watching a show unfold from the beginning. I'm so glad for this forum, without the discussions I'm sure will be going on here, I'd have a very hard time waiting a week between episodes. ;-)
Or Sci-Fi, maybe.
I'd love to see it on BBC2 (as then I'm sure my non-Joss-loving friends would at least watch one episode) but I fear that it'll be on Sky One first then BBC a few months later (then again that'd be better than Sky One first and BBC never).
Every day I get more excited about this show. Every day I think that can't be possible. My Whedonmania is on fire!

Someday I hope that this script becomes available to the lowly folk to read. It seems to be circulating like mad now among some sort of internet elite. Seems a great marketing strategy. Maybe the script will be available on the DVD? Maybe in a book release? Maybe somewhere online? Pretty please? (I love Tim Minear's site for that reason. All his scripts are there.) It could just be me, but I get so much pleasure reading the Whedonverse shooting scripts. To me it isn't a spoilery thing or a ruining of the art experience thing. I like to pull back the curtain and see the building of the thing, because there's beauty in that, too. That, and all the cool quips and asides and descriptive bits that you otherwise never see.

This show can't come fast enough. So greedy I'm getting.
Wow, Xeke. Is it a lot of pressure being the living embodiment of every Browncoats frustrated dreams? If there were only ten million more like you. :) Welcome aboard!

orpheus - love your take on Lorne towards the end of Angel. Makes me look at things with fresh eyes. And, lastly, curlymynci, cool thoughts about the moral ambiguity, etc. Makes me giddy at the thought of the new, provocative discussion headed our way this autumn. Score.
I'm sooo excited and it's only just started filming! Am I going to remain "virgin" enough to not know the entire script before I see the show?

Also, as Buffy helped Sky get to where it is today, I think they owe Joss. However, to get Dollhouse into the UK mindset then it has to be BBC imho.

I know it's early, but do we know if there has been any interest from the UK channels. I'm interested as we now get shows within a week or so of the US, so it will mean minimum spolier time if it gets picked up!
To clarify my objections regarding the writer's assumption of the Jossness of Topher...

I imagine Topher's role in the Dollhouse similar to Cordelia's role in the Scooby gang. Let me explain! Please.

Remember, this is based on the initial meeting of the characters. Of course Cordelia develops later on, but this is where we first meet the characters.

1) Both Cordelia & Topher believe in the rules & structure of their society. Cordelia upheld the social structure of high school; Topher upholds the mind-wipe and programming of the dolls.
2) Both are attractive & amoral. Cordelia uses her high social rank to prey upon the weaker (Willow, Xander, Xander's friend, Harmony); Topher was described as being "blithely amoral".
3) Both are smitten with older people that have no interest in them. Cordelia~Angel; Topher~Dr. Claire Saunders.
4) Both are fun to be around, but you wouldn't trust them readily. Cordelia gave her car to her grandma when Angelus had access to it (meaning she would sacrifice her grandmother before herself); Topher is described as "digging the illegality" & "not remotely trustworthy". These characters work with you if it's the structure they believe in. If you step outside of that structure, and start to break their society, they will do what they need and can do to prevent that from happening.

Sure, Joss puts himself into all of his characters (writers do that), but to classify Joss as Topher seems a stretch to me. That would be like him classifying himself as Cordelia, which just isn't true.

Maybe it's the loyality thing that's getting me. Xander and Spike (who were shaped in some way after Joss) are extremely loyal to Buffy, and both have Cordelia tendencies.

Hopefully I made myself more clear. Joss' dark wit and untimely jokes are what I like best. However, all of his characters present that sort of sarcasm, irony, and fun.

Just 'sayin.
Great breakdown, korkster! But I was confused by your sentence "Xander and Spike...both have Cordelia tendencies." Not sure I follow - Xander especially was never anything like Cordy.
I wasn't saying that Topher IS Joss. Just that he might be the way a lot of Jossly ideas are voiced.
ohbejoyful, maybe I was losing site on the Xander/Spike to Cordy comparison. Well,

1) All three are average/below average academic wise (unlike Topher who's a nerd/programmer).
2) Spike was brought in (commented on by James Marsters recently at the Paley Center) to be the next Cordelia (i.e.- to replace her). Spike is similar that he states the obvious without worrying about people's feelings (like Cordelia).
3) In the unlikely places, both Xander & Cordy have come up with clear, good ideas to avert some big bad or apocolypse.

Eh, again, maybe that last thought wasn't followed through, but the point of my semi-rant is that neither Xander nor Spike (which may be seen as Jossy characters) are like Topher.

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