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December 23 2008

(SPOILER) Toronto Star review of Dollhouse, Ep. 1. Good: "a nifty concept, sporadically witty dialogue, a way-cool set"

Less good: "several glaringly dumbed-down story issues he clearly had to compromise on to even get the thing on the air", "I also worry about lead actor Eliza Dushku ... I seriously doubt she has the range.", "unfortunate resemblance to the quickly cancelled My Own Worst Enemy"

Seems to be a number of folks worried about Eliza being able to do the heavy lifting required for the role. To that I say, has Joss ever made a bad casting decision?

How can you know if someone has the range unless they're given the opportunity? Which Eliza has rarely had.
Meh, he's Canadian.

/just kidding
I just hope they're not judging her on Echo's "Dollhouse" state. Because she's not supposed to have a personality or really emote.
It annoys me when people say that Eliza doesn't have the range. Buffy's Faith was different from Angel's Faith, and let's not forget the radically different characters she's played in Bring It On, The New Guy, Tru Calling, On Broadway (which I recently saw and is a pretty good movie), Sex and Breakfast (which was a terrible movie but her performance was the highlight), and The Alphabet Killer. Come on! I don't know of many actors or actresses who have tackled such diverse characters and succeeded.
I forgot to mention City by the Sea, which was a non-Faith very broken character.
I've seen Eliza in pretty much every role she has played. The girl has range. And gorgeous eyes.

Hell, she's even the highlight of Nickleback's Rockstar video.
Ok, its official: I'm not reading anymore articles on Dollhouse until I've actually seen the premiere.

Most of the articles are just spewing the same reservations regarding the "death slot" and production delays. Yeah...everyone has those reservations and most outlets have reported (or blogged) about them already. Lets find new things to report about. As for the reviews, I'd like to go into the episode (and the series) with a relatively open mind. I'm not going to blindly worship the show because I love Joss, but I also don't want it pummeled into my head that the show is a poor quality and is going to fail. I just want to watch (and hopefully enjoy) the frakkin' show already!!!
With that many other screeners, I find it interesting he picked "Dollhouse" to watch first. That seems like a very good sign to me. The review's negatives weren't too harsh, and I'd be suspicious of one that was only positive.

When it comes to Eliza's range, I've only seen her on Buffy and Angel, so it wouldn't be fair for me to judge. But Faith went through so many different phases on those two shows, I'm sure she has the talent. (okay, maybe I did judge)

It'll be interesting to watch the reviews start rolling in.
I'm down with Rob Salem, he and I usually see eye-to-eye.

I had my own worries about Eliza's range when the concept was announced, not because I don't think she's a good actress, but because it is a lot to ask of any actor or actress. I honestly don't think there are too many who could pull it off.

The dumbed-down thing doesn't really give me pause. While it may irritate die-hard Whedon fans (we are an intelligent bunch!), I can speak for myself when I say as long as it isn't completely vapid I'll be able to tune in. It also might draw in more of a casual audience this way, who don't feel the need to watch it with their brains turned on all the time.

He gave all the shows he took a look at in the article a more-or-less positive write-up, so that's a good sign.
... and several glaringly dumbed-down story issues he clearly had to compromise on to even get the thing on the air.


Well, I just hope the numbers get in and the gorram execs back off for seasons 2-n. :)

About Elizas range. First, he didn't say she doesn't have it, he just was dubious about it. And I'm really not surprised about that, she really hasn't been in much to show the talent, I for one haven't seen her in anything besides Buffy and Tru Calling. Now consider somebody who has seen neither of those... I do believe she can pull it off, and not just that but really shine through it. Just look at her in 'Who Are You?' to shred any doubt of her talent (or pretty much the rest of the Buffy/Angel runs, but especially that one).
First of all, he's Canadian. That's sort of like being a Vulcan, they're very polite and don't lie (unless they've been transplanted into the USA and then it's more of a survival technique.)

Does Eliza have the range? Maybe. That's not to say I don't enjoy watching her. I do. But I've yet to see anything (other than as Faith) where she had to really stretch herself. Dollhouse should give her the space and the opportunity to show us.
Whedon shows tend not to start with a bang, but get better with time. That's my favourite kind of show, but then, I guess as a CANADIAN I'm in the minority, population-wise...

(Why no, we're not tired of ceaseless American mocking, not at all! ;-)
Vulcan => Volcano => eruptions => something annoyed people do.

BTW: I just edited out some stereotypes about Americans because I don't want to be spanked by Simon or Caroline.

Happy Holidays all!
No I'm not being PC, I'm not a Christian (though I am Canadian and we are so polite and don't want to offend anyone)
I don't worry so much about Eliza because I don't necessarily think she has to carry the show. The show isn't named "Echo." I think Joss consciously wanted her in a group-like environment ala Firefly and thinks she'll excel in it. There are other characters that will have interesting backstories and cool plots going forward. It's not all about Eliza/Echo.

As far as reviews, well, I'll take all of them a with a grain of salt. Many shows take several episodes (if not entire seasons) to really get rolling. Joss's, with his 4-5 year plans, are no exception. I just hope the network lets it go long enough.

[ edited by LaneMeyer on 2008-12-23 19:17 ]
I, too, might have worried about Eliza's range... but to all the doubters I simply point to "Who Are You." She did her scene playing Buffy with Giles so well, whenever I think back to it, I hear her dialogue in SMG's voice.

And let's not forget the end of "Five by Five."
But Faith killed a Vulcan, redfern--the most pacifist and logical of races. ;)

I'm excited as a kid at (year-end holiday celebration) about Dollhouse, but I'm quickly falling into the camp where I'll just wait to see what happens, both in terms of the show and its future.
Is this meant to be good or bad? IDK:

I will not spoil it for you, except to warn you of one particular, ludicrously coincidental plot point that will cause you to spout whatever beverage you are drinking out through your nose (in my case hot coffee it wasn't pretty).

Yes? No? Kill a CanadianVulcan?
I'm pretty sure it was meant to be bad, being an example of the "glaringly dumbed-down story issues".
Seems there's a common theme developing. Dollhouse related articles (read: gossip) are getting people riled up. Many come to the same conclusion, that they are no longer going to feed the fire by adding to the conjecture and simply wait to see the show for any further commentary.

Well I've had enough and I'm not taking it any more. I am officially THRILLED with the fantastic acting, gorgeous sets, clever dialog and all the exciting twists and turns of Dollhouse. Dollhouse has the greatest acting, directing and producing ever to be captured on film or digital media (whatever they are using). It's obvious to me that they will now have to re-name the Emmy's as The Dollhousies.

(Now I'm off to start a Save The Dollhouse campaign where I plan to mail the studio Barbie Dolls. Because nothing says, "Keep my show on the air" like here's a truckload of plastic boobs.)
Seriousfully? [cry]I can't tell anymore!![/cry]
Ok, its official: I'm not reading anymore articles on Dollhouse until I've actually seen the premiere.

I'm with you, TOASTERslayer.
This endless lead-up to next February 13 is driving me bonkers. The pre-Dollhouse period feels like the most recent U.S. prez election period. By the time the big election day came I was so blindingly and heartily sick of all the talk and speculation and coverage and brouhaha. And I'm one of the people who was happy with the outcome!

I doubt I'll be able to stop reading the Dollhouse articles that keep coming out, though. Sorry about that Joss. A bison should just be appreciated for its bisonness, shouldn't it? Instead, we keep pick, pick, picking. And read, read, reading.

(In honor of "Commentary!" I wonder if whedonesque shouldn't acquire a subtitle like "Bison News.")
I don't have to read the articles. I just read all your responses. I haven't visited the offical site yet either. I just want to wait for the premiere. And see it for myself. I, for one, am sick to death of critics.

I love Eliza and am very happy she has her own show again. She is a little ray of sunshine in a very drab world.
Dollhouse is the subject of this weeks Wire poll here
And apparently by that poll you're only allowed to watch Dollhouse because Joss is your master, or because Eliza's hot, and that's it.
I am tired of critics AND silly internet polls. I'll just wait untill the premiere with everyone else.
Merry Christmas
Anyone here see True Lies? Girl's got range, lemme tell ya.

Me? Gonna get silly excited the first time I see a preview for "Dollhouse," and then get happier & happier the closer it gets to the date, and then I'm gonna watch it (Hopefully live; otherwise I'll program the VCR for it) and decide then and only then what I think of it.
"And apparently by that poll you're only allowed to watch Dollhouse because Joss is your master, or because Eliza's hot, and that's it. "

Yeah, that clearly excludes those of us who are Joss's slaves and think Eliza is hot.
Nothing I've read about Dollhouse so far - not the re-worked scripts, not the scrapped and re-done pilot, not the Friday night slot and certainly not the doubting Eliza's ability to pull off such a demanding role (big WTF? there - has anyone with those doubts really watched BtS??) - has freaked me out, until the words "dumbed down".

Now I'm thinking, lets hope for a good thirteen eps, as I can't imaging anything less that "good" from Joss, then hope he gets his ass out of Dodge/Fox forever and pursues cable for his next TV project, where they don't make you dumb stuff down. And that Eliza's contract with Fox isn't a long one, because she also deserves better than the dreaded but ubiquitous "dumbing down" that the broadcast nets are so famous for.

You can see T:TSCC struggling with the pressure to dumb it down, and only partially complying, and it's their lowest rated show. While the outrageously bad (if mindlessly entertaining) Fringe, rakes in the ratings.
I am seriously pissed now, pressure to "dumb it down" is what I've sensed lurking underneath a lot of commentary.

Oh, and what happened to the suit guy who was going to support Joss doing it his way? Fuck all, network TV is still a "lowest common denominator" fest.
Yeah, it bothers me too, Shey. But we should keep in mind that Joss was also asked to dumb down Firefly (from Serenity to The Train Job) and that turned out okay. And remember that the second Angel episode was originally going to be much darker (and, I've heard, better) than what was filmed. So hopefully any dumbing down Fox asked for was mostly for the first few episodes. And let's hope that Fox backs off when season 2 is filmed. (That 'when' felt good)
Thanks Let Down, I needed a Rachael Maddow "talking down". ;)
Still, we only got thirteen eps of Firefly, and not even the last two until SciFi ran a marathon (that I know of).
I just can't see Fox backing off, once the dreaded "dumbing down" has come into play. If the show doesn't do well right away, they'll want it dumber. If it does fairly well, they'll think "well, dumb it down even more and it will do even better".

I frankly don't see them giving Joss a free hand, unless it's a breakout hit of miraculous proportions. Even then, I can see the pressure to keep it within the parameters of "keep the action coming, don't delve to deeply into characterization and metaphor and sub-text and all the really good stuff. It's a hit, don't mess with the formula".
It's just not exactly looking like a winning situation. And this is the first time ever, that I've gone over to the "not so encouraged" side.

I'm beginning to think that BtS was a miracle of being in the right place at the right time (the WB at the beginning, a fledgling net with not much to lose and not too many people to ride herd on the creative types) then getting to switch to another fledgling 'netlet' (UPN), when the need arose. And that we'll never again see the stars align in that particular way.
Which is why I keep thinking "Joss, Dude and Master .... cable is your true home".

OK, end of rant, hope for the best, BlahBlahBlah. ;)

[ edited by Shey on 2008-12-24 12:19 ]
Remember that folks have said previously that Dollhouse really hits its stride with episode 3 (I believe), so I will at least be waiting until then before pulling out the torches and pitchforks.
Shey, they won't be making any changes at all since all episodes will be finished before the first one airs. If we are lucky enough to get a second season (and the only way that will happen is surprisingly good ratings) then I imagine they will leave him alone.
The 'dumbing down' thing bothers me, too, but this is the first review I've read that has complained about it. Plus, there are various degrees of 'dumbing down'. On the other hand, I remember that most of the reviewers of the original pilot were worried that it could be too confusing for an average viewer to stick around.

If spelling out things early in the series helps the ratings, I can live with it.

[ edited by Effulgent on 2008-12-25 04:47 ]
Im joining the group that will wait to see the first episode . Critics change their opinions according to the money that they receive from the broadcasters ...

Not a reliable source .

I like Eliza , a lot . I loved True Calling , cause of her acting , and not the terrible lack of plot .

But ...i have to say this . Id rather see a new Tv star doing the lead role .
Wow brunooracle, as a TV critic (and the guy who wrote the IGN review of Dollhouse), I now feel I've been cheated out of all this money it seems I'm supposed to be receiving from broadcasters. I haven't ever gotten any from them - guess they just forgot to send it?
Ah, well no wonder you made criticisms of the episode :)
It all makes sense to me now ;)

(also: I've apareantly been missing out on oodles of cash for my reviews as well. Or maybe they only send out money to American critics?)
No, I'm American, so that can't be it... There must be some secret we're not privy to. Gotta figure this one out!

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