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May 27 2008

(SPOILER) Joss Whedon: Inside Dollhouse. Joss is interviewed about a number of things including Dollhouse and his friendship with Eliza Dushku.

It's interesting that Joss describes Echo as a sort of life coach for the characters who engage her services. I had only thought of the show from the point of view of the Dolls and of Adelle, really; I had forgotten that the people who engage an Active, while engaging in illegal actions, might end up truly benefitting from it as opposed to an ephemeral pick-me-up.

A life coach for crime...that's a kind of scary thought.
When I pitched the show, I said, "Here's the pilot, here are the characters, here's episode six and sort of what we do every week and here's the first two years, second two years, third two years."


So I said, "The first arc is this, the second arc is this, the third is this." There's room for change though, but they know I have a five year plan and that's important.

This response as a whole was my favorite part of the interview, mainly for the two quotes above. I love the idea that he knows--or has an idea of--where this is going. I mean, obviously, it makes perfect sense, but...

I think maybe I'm just a giddy idiot. Still, good interview, though I'm kind of yearning for something more recent than the upfronts (though I'm guessing not much has changed about his answers).
So...pilot been leaked yet? ;-)
That is a really exciting thing. I guess I've come to take it for granted that Joss always plots in advance, so he knows where the story's going. I've never been disappointed with Joss's shows. The beginnings always catch my attention right away; the ends are always poigniant and perfect. And thank goodness: there's nothing worse than a show that is great at the beginning, then peters off at the end.

...Well, maybe a show that sucks at the beginning and continues to suck. That's worse.
ah, for once would angel: the series get the same love that buffy and firefly get? it's quite annoying. especially since i get more ats vibes from dollhouse than either buffy or firefly (and that's a good thing).

can't wait until we get a picture of amy as dr. claire saunders... scars and all.
NileQT87 - Use correct capitalization, please, it makes it easier to read.
I want to see Amy Ackers character!

Also... Pilot been leaked yet?
I cannot even express how excited I am to see this show!!
Interesting that "they" won't let the Actives be put into danger. Is that because they're expensive and difficult to replace or because they care about them and don't want to see them get hurt?
If a mission was dangerous but the client offered enough money would they take it?
The first part of this interview seemed really familiar--has it been posted before or am I sleep-deprived and having deja-vue? Maybe it's just a similar answer to a common question...

I absolutely love this bit about Dr. Saunders:

She works in the Dollhouse and she's a very moral force and she's very, very, very broken. She's scarred. Something happened she's literally scarred. Something happened at the dollhouse awhile back and she was scarred and she just sort of lives there and her whole mission in life is to take care of them

I was never a huge Fred fan, but since watching her turn into Illyria I've been an Amy fan and am oh so excited to see her in this.

I also love that he mentioned "Never Let Me Go." I hadn't thought of the parallels, but if they're taking the "feel" of that novel as a sort of guide, that can only be good. (Hooray beautiful sadness and tall Canadians!) I had my doubts when I first heard the premise for this show, because to me the strength of all Joss's shows is in the characters and their relationships, and I didn't see how the relationships could develop if the main character had her memory wiped every week--it sounded sort of gimmicky and anti-depth, but everything I hear (and see! what a great trailer!) has me looking forward to this more and more. I've come so late to every TV show that I love, watching them mostly on DVD, but this time I get to join the party from the beginning! I just hope they show it on the fox website or I'll have to (shudder) buy a television.
Okay. Been avoiding the "spoilers"...but an interview?!!!

I read it peering between my fingers thinking 'I can't know this!'...but...interview!!!

Joss evidently knows more about the biz than me and my suburban middle American life. I'm just not gonna worry about how it will do any more. All will be well. Just gonna concentrate on sending out them positive vibes.

Well, that and salivate over the fantasy of six years. Character development! Arcs! Plot coming out of nowhere but yet seeming inevitable! New and unbelievably good actors! *sigh* *drool* *breathe*
Interesting that "they" won't let the Actives be put into danger. Is that because they're expensive and difficult to replace or because they care about them and don't want to see them get hurt?

I'm guessing that question is going to be key to Adelle's character and we'll all get to have lively debates about it. I'm plunking myself down early in the She's-definitely-maybe-not-evil-and-anyway-she-has-awesome-eyebrows camp.
Saddened that there was no mention of "Goners," "Cabin in the Woods" or anything else movie-like. I'm all happy and excited for the return of JossTV, but I'd just as equally like to see his film career take off as well!

JossTV may last longer than JossFilm. More time for arcs.
The links at the bottom go to brief articles on the Paley Festival and Dr. Horrible that are also new today. I almost posted the Paley thing separately by mistake.
Amy plays Dr. Claire Saunders. She works in the Dollhouse and she's a very moral force and she's very, very, very broken. She's scarred.

That sounds like an amazing character for Amy!

And five-year plan???? That just makes me happy.
... Does that matter though, korkster? Moviedom is as equally important to me as TVdom and I just hope things can start happening once again for Joss on that front as soon as reality-stricken possible.
EricG, always bringing the great interview - kudos! You lucky lucky bastard . . . ;-)

(BTW: that's affectionate - I'm aware that he's actually a talented, rather than lucky, bastard.)
Amy plays pain well. I now can't wait to see this show.
Does anyone know where I can view the paley reunion, without travelling to either New York or LA. It would be much appreciated.
The links at the bottom go to brief articles on the Paley Festival and Dr. Horrible that are also new today.

I'm going to post the Buffy one on the front page. Give us something new to talk about. The Dr Horrible one has been posted here before in the form of the SciFi Wire interview (I'm assuming there was a round table interview with Joss).
The mention of Alexis, Amy and Aly being his close friends, makes me drool. But there is also a lot of good DOLLHOUSE stuff in there. Can't wait for the show. Has it leaked yet?
So, if Joss is such close friends with Alexis, surely he could find some sort of role for him on Dollhouse at some point, wouldn't you think? Give that man some work Joss!
SteveJ I would love that!
As much as I love Alexis, with Amy and Eliza already being there, it would be weird to have him on DOLLHOUSE.
I like that Joss clearly has a strong working relationship with Eliza. They're on this project not just because they get along but they bring out the best in each other creatively. I've been rewatching some Faith episodes/segments and it's clear that Joss really finds a way to push Dushku.

Catherine: I'd never considered the 'awesome-eyebrows' but you're quite right, hehehe.
Never focused on the eyebrows but I think Olivia Williams is built from awesome so it makes sense.

I'm guessing that question is going to be key to Adelle's character and we'll all get to have lively debates about it.

Yeah, I see her as someone like Virgil Webster from 'The Inside' where the ongoing question is about not necessarily what she does but why she does it (Webs, for those that didn't see 'The Inside', was the FBI agent in charge of the team and there was an implication later in the series that he might actually be a serial killer himself but one, like Dexter, that hunted other killers. He was certainly morally ambiguous).

And the comments about Saunders are intriguing. Makes me wonder about the possibility (invisitexted for choice because some speculations are starting to hover on the edge of unknowing but pre-emptive spoilers I reckon - we're getting into "infinite monkeys" territory and I wouldn't want the impact of a twist to be lessened because some dumbass on the internet - *waves* ;) - stumbled on it beforehand).
Great interview. He has a man-crush on Tahmoh Penikett?! *more BSG/Whedon crossover squee*
Great interview... thanks for posting. And Never Let Me Go? /smacks head. That's the book I've been trying to think of during all of these Dollhouse discussions. It's a lovely (and alarming) comparison.

LOVE your idea about Saunders, Saje. Gold watch, indeed. And

He has a man-crush on Tahmoh Penikett?! *more BSG/Whedon crossover squee*

Fan-fic writers, PLUG YOUR DAMN EARS.

ETA: And thanks to this interview, I've finally made sense of that feeling I had during my DVD viewings of Buffy. Watching on DVD triggered all sorts of "I swear I never heard that sentence" or "I don't remember that moment AT ALL," even though I'd seen every episode several times in reruns. /lightbulb. When you start with the reruns, you ain't getting the full package.

[ edited by barest_smidgen on 2008-05-28 11:59 ]
SteveJ2008 said:

So, if Joss is such close friends with Alexis, surely he could find some sort of role for him on Dollhouse at some point, wouldn't you think? Give that man some work Joss!

With all the possibilities for guest roles on this show (every week our dolls are different people!) I think it is likely that he will guest star at some point. And as we know from past Whedon shows, sometimes guest starring roles turn into recurring roles. (Ok, I can dream right?)

Donnie said:

As much as I love Alexis, with Amy and Eliza already being there, it would be weird to have him on DOLLHOUSE.

Blasphemer! Haha, ok. Yeah I see your point. I think that if he were to be on the show before the characters were really established, then yes, it would be a bit strange. However, I think that once Eliza has become Echo for us, and not Faith, and Amy has become Dr. Saunders and not Fred (at least in the context of this show) that it wouldn't be weird at all to have him on. He doesn't even need to necessarily interact with those characters.
Gold watch, or something more sinister? If BSG is another sort of model for the tone of this show and the kind of questions it wants to tackle, then the "who is a Cylon?" question might translate into "whose memory / reality can we really trust?"
No-one's (so we might as well trust our own ;). I think that's one of the basic questions the show asks (or could if Joss et gang go down that road).

What does reality even mean to an individual when they can't trust their memories of it ? After all, we only know reality through our experiences and our experiences are just memories. And, if you strip away the metaphor, what then does reality mean for any of us (since none of us have absolutely reliable memories) ? Same question 'Memento' asks (though, as i've said before, I wouldn't be surprised if Joss comes to a different ultimate conclusion).

There's also IMO an extension of Joss' "chosen family" idea that Buffy touched on in 'Normal Again' and that's "chosen realities" i.e. the idea that, since we don't actually know if reality is "out there" or, ultimately, its nature if it is, then to some extent we choose which reality we want to live in. Echo and the other actives allow a lot of potential to examine that in more detail.

ETA: Which ties in nicely to barest_smidgeon's point about re-run-Buffy and onetrue-Buffy. To a certain extent they're (slightly) different people that have led (slightly) different lives. So who's the "real" Buffy ?

[ edited by Saje on 2008-05-28 13:20 ]
Amy's character sounds very deep and interesting. Can't wait to see how the show reveals her past, how she got her scars, and what motivates her to care for the dolls as she does now. Knowing Joss and Shepherd Book, we may be waiting for a while for that explanation though. Still, it'll be a fun wait.

And a lot of today's writers should take note of Joss's 6 year plans... too many of them seem like they're making up stuff as they go.
That's a nice point about "Normal Again" and chosen realities. So much potential for unsettling mind-bendy storylines! Maybe "Never Let Me Go" isn't the only Ishiguro novel possibly influencing Joss--"When we were Orphans" plays around with issues of memory and reality like nobody's business.

Which ties in nicely to barest_smidgeon's point about re-run-Buffy and onetrue-Buffy. To a certain extent they're (slightly) different people that have led (slightly) different lives. So who's the "real" Buffy ?

Hee hee. Who would win in a fight, re-run-Buffy or onetrue-Buffy? Or comic-book-Buffy? All we know is movie-Buffy would get her ass kicked. *happy sigh*... so many Buffies.
Truly, we are rich in Buffies, the cup of Buffy doth runneth over. Or something ;).

Must read 'Never Let Me Go'. Have to admit, I took against it irrationally because reviewers were claiming it wasn't sci-fi (when to me, it fairly clearly is, it's just literary sci-fi). But that's not any fault of Ishiguro (or the book) so i'll probably swallow my annoyance.

(the plot also sounds not too dissimilar to a fairly decent 90s sci-fi novel by Michael Marshall Smith called 'Spares' which - obliquely - touches on some of the same ideas as 'Dollhouse' but from a more physical basis i.e. what's the nature of individuality and when is a "copy"/clone an individual in its own right ? Dreamworks actually optioned it in the 90s then after the option lapsed went on to make the really-quite-similar-in-plot-if-not-in-quality 'The Island'. Naughty Dreamworks ;)
Clay animation Buffy was truly the best of the Buffys. She crumpled those little clay vampires like nobody else.

Saje, I was thinking the other day-- what happens when an Active is done being an active, for whatever reason? And I had a similar thought to yours, but not giving the Active the choice.
Yeah, as catherine mentions, it could easily be something more sinister (i'd been assuming that ex-actives ). Basically, because the concept is so incredibly sinister to begin with, I sort of come at it from the perspective of "How can they [i.e. Joss and/or the characters in the show] introduce humanity and kindness into the process ?" and having the choice would be one way.

Said it before but i'll say it again, the more you think about the concept, the deeper and more versatile it gets. There're really very few kinds of story you can't tell in this format.
This is really overloading the "Joss spot" of my brain. (wow that reads creepy)

This was my first look at the trailer...too awesome just too awesome, I think I'll have to stay away from other awesome things in the lead-up to this show (which could be centuries as I live in a distant, Wallaby infested land).

Themes of Identity are my favorite kinda themes, but if the "Dollhouse" is evil then how can season six still be set there?

Perhaps the metaphor is not confined to one building.
It's difficult to remember that we are seven months away from seeing this show air.
Seven months of guessing, discussing, reading (or avoiding) spoilers, teasers, set photos, articles...
Maybe Joss can wipe OUR minds come January. Then we can be all "Hey, anyone seen this? There's a new TV series starting tonight. Cool."
Yeah, I think i'm either going to have to stop speculating so much or try to just throw it all out the mental window when I actually (finally ;) sit down to watch the show because I really am starting to worry that i'll have considered it so much it won't be able to surprise me (or worse, that it'll feel lesser because it's not meeting my expectations of what might happen, regardless of the actual quality).
Well I just ordered Never Let Me Go. Let the endorsements begin I guess, I'm a sucker for a name drop.

Like several of you, the thing I enjoyed most about this interview was his "life coach" twist. I loved the contrast set up between "romantic" and "creepy", between "the best in us" and "the worst in us".

I'm trying to put my finger on it, but there's something ultimately intriguing and exciting about presenting a canvas that plays the human need, even desperation, for companionship against the cold commercialism of an escort service.

"'Never Let Me Go' is the best novel ever written. Really, ever, by anyone." - Kazuo Ishiguro's Mum.
Thanks for the books tips guys, I'm ordering them right now, quite intrigued by them.
Yikes, I can't stop myself, but I'm so excited to have one of my favorite writers mention one of my favorite writers... I'm not Kazuo Ishiguro's mom (...or am I?...) but "Never Let Me Go" is a Very Good Read. And "When we were Orphans" will blow your mind. And "The Unconsoled" will make you repaint your house inside and out and mistake random strangers for your wife (seriously). All of them should be read immediately by everybody, unless you just painted your house, in which case you should wait a few years. While "Never Let Me Go" has the clearest sci fi premise (whatever annoying critics tried to say to the contrary) and is a fairly straightforward story, the other two both have this kind of waking-dream quality, feature narrators playing detective into their own pasts and a sense of "reality" being entirely subjective and flexible and internal. Which again makes me think of this show I've been hearing about... hmm.
I'm one of those people that projected an Alias like story to the Dolls after seeing the trailer. Oops. ;)

BTW, does anyone have a list or an idea of the books that Joss (and any of the other writers from any Whedon show) have mentioned during interviews that they have read?
Has anyone considered that the ARG is designed to "wipe our minds", as in distract us so completely that we are completely floored by what Dollhouse actually becomes?

Seriously, how hard can it be to confuse a bunch of hive-minded geeks? ;)
Saje, I agree with you completely on the ex-active idea. It especially incorporates my whole "conspiracy" theory with the blog we saw on FOX a couple of days ago.
Oh, MysticSlug, I guess it's not that hard. See above black.
I'd like to humbly (gently?) offer a little balance on the Never Let Me Go front, lest we accidentally trigger an avalanche of ordering and then a backlash of "Really? That was what you were all on about?" I'm glad I read the novel, but can't say I liked it. The concept is compelling, and it truly is lovely in places. It's melancholy and raises interesting issues of identity and self and purpose and morality, much like we're expecting to see in Dollhouse. There's a detached-yet-searching tone to the narrator that feels deftly representative of the broader story and the fact that the book barely ever talks about what it's actually about and never truly shows its horrific face just intensifies the existential horror of the thing. Though I admired all of those smart, smart choices, I just didn't dig it. The very things that made the novel technically well-done made it really difficult for me to give enough of a damn. What was going on just beyond our sight was horrific beyond the telling of it, but with everyone moving around in a dream-like trance about what was happening to them and none of us ever really glimpsing its true face, my empathy and interest was likewise... half-hearted and detached.

I guess I'm drawn to the more viscerally emotional explorations of identity and self that seem to be a hallmark of Joss' work. The stories that force you consider the pain and the growth and the searching and the loss and the hiding and the finding because you're standing waist-deep in the very mess yourself. When it's almost as if it's happening to you. If I'm forced to observe through a one-way glass with my metaphoric clipboard, brilliant-exploration-of-compelling-issues-of-identity-nonwithstanding, I just can't get invested. (See Remainder.) I'm hoping that Whe-tendency for the deeply, uncomfortably personal has found a (disturbing and) happy home in the Dollhouse.
Interesting to hear your take, barest.
I thought the book sounded like something I might not like, mostly because I'm sort of a shallow creature, and I tend to like my "issues of identity" explored in the company of humor and adrenaline.
But I'll get it from the library. :)
Wondering . . . Is Amy Acker's character's name an homage to Clarissa Saunders of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington?
Wow, although I (humbly, gently, obviously?) had a very different response to Never Let Me Go, that was really beautifully put, barest_smidgen!

The Ishiguro narrators always have this kind of emotional reserve about them and sometimes you feel like you're being held at arm's length, but to me that never makes his stuff any less beautiful or painful to read. But of course, not everybody's thing... as a (humble, gentle, obvious) new member, I certainly don't want to be responsible for an Ishiguro backlash!!
Welcome aboard, catherine, great to have you with us!
aww, thanks!
Am I the only person who immediately went to the library to sign out Never Let Me Go?
Well, read the rest of the thread and you'll find out ;).
Sorry zeitgeist, I was just so excited to post for the first time that I only scanned the other posts. I have since read them and I apologize profusely for not doing so sooner.
I may as well be the one to say it, since coming from me, it won't be a jinx the way it would from a normal person, and I'm sure some of you are fighting the temptation to think this too loudly, too bad we'll never see what those various arcs will turn out to be.
Whew, lizwhiz, for a second I was afraid there weren't enough smartasses in the new crowd ;) Welcome aboard!

DaddyCatALSO - sure we will - in the Dollhouse Season Two comics ;)!

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