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February 09 2009

(SPOILER) Variety review "Dollhouse". The trade takes a look at the first few episodes and isn't overly sure what to make of the show's potential as a series. New York Magazine, on the other hand, is a lot more positive.

Wait, he's criticizing the set!?

I can't keep reading this.

Okay, in scrolling down I realised that there was only one more paragraph, which I did in fact read. Still I think the set is perfectly creepy in it's sereneness.

[ edited by Racoon Boy on 2009-02-09 04:43 ]
That's part of the show isn't it?
Trying to explain the first hour required a bit of cribbing off Fox's website...
That's the single most ludicrous thing anyone's ever said in a review about the pilot. There's nothing in the pilot that requires cribbing from the show's website to grasp.

ETA that the reviewer's reference to the set is a perhaps a good example of the response of a reviewer who only grasps the surface of what he or she is watching. The spa-like serenity of the set is precisely what informs its own brand of creepiness. Or, I rather suspect, since I'd rather not impugn the reviewer's intelligence, that they did in fact understand this, but chose to ignore it in order to cram the set into his opinion.

(ETA that obviously one can write a bad review of the show. I just don't quite understand why some reviewers seem to go out of their way to, in essence, invent problems in order to give a bad review to those invented problems.)

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-02-09 05:11 ]
I think the moment he said that Eliza "does wonderful things to a tank top, but her grasp of this vague, personality-changing character is a bit of a muddle" I lost interest in anything he has to say.

Why do these critics insist on being such nasty ignorant twats to try and gain attention? Was the tank top comment really necessary? Arse.
Hey, if you saw what I saw at NYCC, you'd want to mention it too.

I don't know if I'd want to go about it the way they did, but...
Some of us, like the reviewer, have seen more than what you saw at NYCC. And yet we didn't all feel the need to mention it, in the grander scheme of reviewing it.
As we know, it takes a few shows before we begin to realize where Joss is taking us. As for this review, ho-hum, it's to be expected. I'm holding judgement until the thirteen of February which is just a few days away. Starting to dance on pins and needles here!
New York magazine's review.
Thanks Pointy. I like that one much better.
Well, I don't know what I'd rather read: a dismissive review I can equally dismiss, or a thoughtful but deeply pessimistic review that makes me more worried about the show than ever.

[ edited by Effulgent on 2009-02-09 06:39 ]
Ugg, in my opinion this guy's review weighs less than sunlight (to quote Illyria, heh). Judging from the article, I don't want him to like the things that I like.

Some particularly nauseating quotes:

Dushku first appears in a micromini dress, showcasing her most formidable assets. This triggers an obvious thought: If you had the equivalent of a human blow-up doll resembling Dushku, one suspects her assignments would primarily be more of the indoor variety than action-adventure.


Uh, maybe that's just his thought process. I mean, yeah, sure...sex is part of it--a big part--but there's obviously more to it.

Dushku does wonderful things to a tank top...

I especially agree with vampmogs about the tank top comment. Totally inappropriate and creepy.

And the set is gorgeous!
Glad I'm not the only one who takes issue with it. John Darc, whilst I'm sure he's not wrong about Eliza looking great in a tank top, he had no reason to mention it in his review, or in the manner in which he did. He was basically saying "crappy actress but at least she has a nice rack" Which is incredibly rude and demeaning.

And nope I'm not one of those people who jump on anyone who mentions an actressís physique, it's just in the way he did that I found appalling.

I guess I'm just sick and tired of critics who feel like they have to act like a##holes to get any hits on their review.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2009-02-09 07:23 ]

[ edited by vampmogs on 2009-02-09 07:24 ]

[ edited by vampmogs on 2009-02-09 07:31 ]
It's just in the way he did that I found appalling.

Precisely my thoughts when reading it. It came across as very demeaning, as you said.

Also, about the micro-mini dress comment, he says it in a way that connotes that a sexy woman couldn't possibly do anything besides "indoor activities." I probably should have clarified that in my first comment. I didn't mean to say that I take issue with appreciating Eliza's hotness, though it can be done with a lot more tact.

[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2009-02-09 07:35 ]
The pilot may have problems, but a pig would have written a more civilized review.

Unbelieveable, what Variety has devolved to.
vampmogs, tone it down. We don't bash the reviewer.

And I added the NYM to the entry.
As is common now with most Variety reviews, it makes me want to run right out and see whatever they're panning. I'm positive and usually right that someone with the sensibility often exhibited would not enjoy what I enjoy, and vice versa.

This particular review has word choices that verge on the hostile, which would be completely mystifying if I didn't remember how completely pissed off the publication was about the Writers' Strike - something that, as we know, Joss supported in a major way. (But, I digress...)

Is it likely that Joss directs these "near-perfect specimens" to "stagger" around the Dollhouse? Stagger. Really? They seems to sleepwalk, of course, but I've yet to see anything resembling a "stagger" - more like "fluid or graceful somnambulism." And Lowry seems to completely fail at understanding why the cheery, lulling Dollhouse set is creepy - this even after viewing the claustrophobia-inducing sleeping pods.

It seems likely to me that "kitchen sink mentality" and "convoluted" may be his way of failing to understand or appreciate complexity, texture and genre-bending style.

The stuff about Eliza, of course, was just nasty - the tank top remark might've squeaked by - you'd have to be severely lacking not to notice her lush and sexy beauty - but her body as"her most formidable asset" and the human blow-up doll crack crossed the line into sexist and reductive unpleasantness. The muddled grasp bit was pretty bitchy, too.

I say all of this this, of course, as a Joss Whedon and Friends fan - which according to this review, makes me a cult member and I guess a "hardcore Whedon worshipper."

*sigh*

Brian Lowry should have such fans. Fans that can grasp your work. I'm hopeful that he doesn't represent The Everyman on the Street, since most of them don't sound like they have a chip on their shoulder about Joss, his success, and his fans.
I won't even talk about the Variety review, as it's too close to bashing to be dignified.
The NYM one, on the other hand, voices my concerns about the show and next friday(s). Dollhouse's premise might be good, but that is a premise that people don't already know and I don't think that's a good sign.
I also agree with the whole internet is the place for Whedon thing, but I have already said that.
Finally, I have some kind of question that I don't think was answered until now : how many viewers would make next friday a success ? I'm guessing something around 10 millions would be good, but you american people know better than me.
I don't really know anything Leo but I was reading the comments in an article a few days ago there and there was someone posting there who was from the industry and knows Kevin Reilly (yes, I know that people can claim they're all sorts of things on the internet but the plausibility of what he said, his manner and how well it gelled with what we already know made me pretty confident he is what he says he is). Anyway, one thing he said was that he'd been told by some people at FOX that they'd call 6 millions steady viewers a success. Obviously, I can't vouch for the accuracy of that figure. Maybe others have some thoughts on that
The funny part about following all these reviews, is once again I think we're getting another show from Joss, that will try to test the boundaries of how far or how deep he can go. And that makes people uncomfortable, it's so much easy to get a simple procedural, with "normal" situations. The fact that this is just another procedural, despite following some similar structures.

We've discussed before also, about how Dollhouse will not be Buffy, Angel, Firefly or Dr. Horrible, which is already an issue bothering the general critics, so it might get us even a stronger backlash a good part of the Whedon fandom, that is expecting another **** (Insert your favorite Whedon project).

Onto another point, the fact that out protagonist lacks a proper self identity, also makes people uncomfortable. Seeking it, is part of the journey, and is a journey that might challenge people to understand themselves better.

Onto this, it does make me worried about the longevity of the show, and whether it will actually be able to keep the viewers for the whole run.
I'm more afraid that the pilot seems to be getting such luke-warm reviews. Those of us who are Whedon fans who have anticipated this show for a while have had the benefit of reading many reviews and articles on the show, all suggesting it gets better as it goes on and that the pilot is the weakest episode of the bunch. But for the viewers who are tuning in from nothing more than seeing the promos on Fox or just on chance, they'll be harder to keep if the pilot turns them off and they have no reason to expect it'll get any better. That's my real concern.

I'm more or less come to terms with the fact that the pilot probably won't blow me away. I've even prepared myself that by the off chance we get a second season, the first season won't blow me away. Fortunately I was a lot younger and a lot easier to impress when I watched Buffy so the first season didn't bother me, but reflecting on it I think if I'd watched it now I may never have stuck it out, and the first season of Ats is no way my favourite either. So I've prepared to get through the first season and onto the next, when Joss said himself that he'd have earned the right to tell more serial styled storytelling. For someone who isnít a Whedon fan and isnít used to his works, they have no reason to believe it would get better? And we need those kind of people to get the numbers that will convince FOX to keep giving this a chance. (Iím not saying the first season is doomed to be bad, but Iím just trying to keep my expectations realistic)

[ edited by vampmogs on 2009-02-09 09:43 ]

[ edited by vampmogs on 2009-02-09 09:44 ]
But they don't really need to come into thinking it's the best show ever. They just need to be intrigued enough to come again next week, which I think the reviews of the pilot so far have all indicated it will be. Some imperfections and roughness, but a good idea behind it and enough to make them want to see more. If the first few episodes don't seriously impress, then yeah, we're in trouble, but hopefully have DeKnight's episode second will help that.
Canwest News Service reviewer knows about what he talks. Mostly. I think.
off-putting mash-ups of juvenile genres (teen soap meets goth, vampire noir, cowboy-flavored space opera)


Is it really off-putting? Or do they mean off-putting to the public at large? 'Cause the genre bending is what I love about Whedon's shows.
While I am giddy with anticipation for this show and also find the Variety 'tank top' comment offensive, I have been somewhat dismayed that the marketing for DH (at least print photos) has indeed emphasized the b-b-b (boobs, belly, butt) aspects. As delightful as these are, I am not surprised that it casts the show in a particular light to those who may not be prepared to look beneath the surface. Similarly, I hope that the newbies aren't only drawn in by this.

[ edited by baxter on 2009-02-09 14:23 ]
So, positive but shallow reviews, good; negative but in-depth reviews, bad? Could we all just stop reacting? Variety positions all its reviews around one central organizing concept- is the movie or show going to succeed and be financially successful? In its review here, it touches upon issues that may impact that question- Eliza's sexuality, for example. And they ask the question, if you had someone like her, young and attractive, why pick her for hostage negotiation? Does it makes sense this is the person you would choose? Would you perhaps want someone who looks the part? My big worry over this show is precisely the one voiced in this review- how do we, the viewers, invest in a character who has no character? Who is mutable, and from episode to episode is someone different? Despite the obvious coordinating theme of Echo regaining parts of her memory, the big problem is the emotional investment that I think any good program needs to succeed. I am scarce the only person to voice this concern. The fact is that this program is begining with some of the largest strikes against I have seen in many years- it has had a significant amount of what I would call negative press, it has been placed in a time slot designed to constrain it, and even Joss in his most recent interviews seems to be noting the problems. It will succeed or fail despite our best efforts, because it will need a couple of million viewers at least to make it successful- and there are 9000 people here. There are always going to be good and bad reviews for any show, anywhere.
So, positive but shallow reviews, good; negative but in-depth reviews, bad?


I read it the opposite way, Dana5140: While Variety went to the shallow place with the tank top and ended up not raving about it, NY Magazine took some effort to discuss the storytelling and the meta-textuality of the show and ended up much more hopeful. (Which is, of course, only an observation formed by these two articles. No way to extend it to all the reviews out there.)

Also, all the recent Cast&Crew-interviews are in my opinion quite glowing in comparison to the prior months, because they all seem to be fueled by the awesomess of the season finale.
The real problem Dollhouse faces is the same as several other shows (most of which weren't even Joss's) that I liked have faced in the past - the 9000 people here probably make up the bulk of the viewers who are even remotely interested in watching a TV show that - *gasp* - they might have to actually think about...
While I'm sure that's in part true, Rowan Hawthorn, I still don't quite believe it. Just take a look at the success of Lost (which is really one of the most complicated storylines I've seen in a television show ever and a big hit) or even something like '24', which may not be very layered, but still requires an investment to watch.

So why we may be quick to blame potential lack of viewership (if that even occurs) on lack of interest in difficult shows, fact is that some of these shows do succeed. So the question becomes why one does and others don't, which is more interesting. I myself am quite certain that the reasons a show succeed are a varying mix of financiel reasons, viewing figures, critical succes and all kinds of other things, with the viewing figures being determined by the number of different people it appeals to, where every single person is watching or not watching for their own reasons, making generalisations like "dumber television = bigger apeal" difficult to establish.
Yeah... I don't think Joss is too deep or thought-provoking to be widely popular. Maybe a little too quirky? Actually, I think it's that his stuff so far has required a bit of getting into. For me, anyway.

I agree the way the tank top comment was phrased was not very nice, but otherwise... it just seemed like a bad review that made me a little nervous. They didn't think it was good, or likely to succeed, and they gave their impressions... some people are going to feel that way about it. I hope most people don't. (I hope I don't!). Or, what Dana5140 said.
While I'm sure that's in part true, Rowan Hawthorn, I still don't quite believe it. Just take a look at the success of Lost (which is really one of the most complicated storylines I've seen in a television show ever and a big hit) or even something like '24', which may not be very layered, but still requires an investment to watch.


Sure, there are other considerations - financial reasons and viewing figures (although, viewing figures are the factor that would be affected by people who don't watch because a show is "too difficult") among them - but how many shows like Lost and 24 succeed, though, compared to the kind of shows that wouldn't strain the IQ of a cocker spaniel? I'm not sure that critical acclaim has very much to do with network decisions, either, considering how many well-reviewed shows get canned in favor of shows that take critical beatings.
I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that our brand new Fox executive saved Friday Night Lights partly because it got great reviews. So I'd say it does happen, but it's probably a very small ifluence on the overall decission.

And sure, not many shows like 'Lost' and '24' succeed... but how many get the greenlight to begin with? And how does the percentage of surviving shows compare to the survival percentage of all shows?

I'd say the chances of a "difficult" show succeeding are probably less than the chances of an "easy" show doing the same, because they're harder on the casual viewer (imagine seeing Lost for the first time with the current season: it'd confuse the hell out of you), but I have no real numbers to back up that feeling.

So, in the end, we have no real way of knowing why certain shows succeed and others don't. I'm pretty sure the need for casual, dumbed-down 'just want to watch things move'-television is there, but that doesn't mean there isn't an audience for other types of shows as well.

So if Dollhouse were to fail, I don't think it'd be because it was too complex or difficult to sustain a general audience. And if it were to succeed, that also doesn't prove that it was dumbed down enough to make it work.
I don't worship. I praise.
For the record, I've read negative reviews of Dollhouse before and haven't felt compelled to comment on them. I remarked on this one because it had, I thought, a particularly nasty, digging tone, using gratuitous jabs at Eliza's lusciousness, and a lack of examples/evidence to back up his assertions. He also had just that touch of snark about Joss' fans that made me think, "What's that about, dude?"

The pilot is a pilot and and I expect this show to build - like Joss' shows all have before. What the pilot does have is that touch of special and dark and depth that sets it apart from the mass of mostly mindless drek that passes for TV.

There will be negative reviews, and I may or may not disagree - but if I'm to respect the writer, they need to be written without that touch of viciousness that suggests - to me, anyway - that the writer really enjoyed dissing the show. I thought he failed to back up his position with concrete examples, using instead vague assertions of awfulness and remarkable failures of observation.

Sometimes it is the way you break up, rather than the fact of the break-up itself.
Well, it seems that things are happening all ways. We get upset at the reviewer here for mentioning Eliza's figure; Maxim runs an entire pictorial showcasing that same figure and no one complains. ED's sexiness is part and parcel of the show; it is in part built around it. So I have no problem with the comment here because it is part of the entire marketing effort for the show.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-02-09 21:02 ]
What QuoterGal said. I've appreciated some of the negative reviews for their intelligent and thoughtful tone. It's about the quality of the review as I perceive it.

As for the common and to me, increasingly irksome, complaint that Echo has no character to root for - how many times do Joss et al have to say it? The show hinges around her dawning awareness of her identity. If we go into the show knowing that she has a self-awareness to recapture (or perhaps it was never entirely gone? One of the questions raised), and from the very first episode we get glimmerings that the mindwipes are not 100% working, then how is this nothing to root for? Do we honestly think that Joss Whedon would be so dunderheaded as to show utter lack of character movement and development in the featured character? Do we really think we'll be starting 100% fresh with a new Echo each episode? Really? Plus, as we watch Echo (or whoever she is - ah! Interesting!) develop/redevelop, we get to ponder the non-wiped characters of those who work in the Dollhouse and those who are obsessed with finding it. How will this not be interesting and without characters to root for? At times icky, perhaps. I'd warrant always interesting, though.

At any rate, this no-real-central-character-to-root-for criticism has been voiced to death and keeps being voiced, despite it running counter to *the central premise of the show.* Seriously, how many times can it be said? I wish this done-to-death criticism would go away or at least be rephrased in a more interesting way. I can see the same sort of criticism leveled at the brilliant show "The Prisoner" - Ooooh no!! The Number Six character doesn't know why he's there or what he's become and no one is telling him the same thing from episode to episode and oh dear, the "truth" appears so slippery and ungraspable and how are we to root for him if we don't know who he is or why he's there?! Oh dear! And that Village setting looks far too bucolic for it to be a truly evil or dismaying place! What a horribly conceived set!

Me, rant much? I just wish the show would start already.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-02-10 00:10 ]
What phlebotinin said.

And, Dana, I don't think people are upset with the reviewer for mentioning Eliza's figure so much as insinuating that her figure is all she has to offer.
You mean this comment, RH: "I think the moment he said that Eliza "does wonderful things to a tank top, but her grasp of this vague, personality-changing character is a bit of a muddle" Or this one: "I especially agree with vampmogs about the tank top comment. Totally inappropriate and creepy. I lost interest in anything he has to say." Yes, some people simply rejected what he said on that basis alone. I am just saying we cannot have both ways, accept it from Maxim, reject it from Variety. Let's be consistent on this issue.
Except it depends on tone. It something sounds creepy in one article but doesn't in another, it doesn't matter if they are discussing the very same thing. And people can have varied opinions on each comment seperately.
I find fault with the review on many grounds. The tank top comment is not a big one for me. It's not all about the tank top issue for everyone. But for those for whom it is a big issue, why must all whedonesque posters be consistent with each other? We are not one voice, clearly. We can indeed have it both - many - ways, because "we" are not sharing a unified brain.

Besides, is there some sort of counter somewhere measuring responses to the Maxim piece and then matching them to same-poster responses to the Variety piece? Is there a requirement that posters respond to both threads in a precisely measurable "consistent" manner?

Edited to add: NYPT said it just right. Tone is the thing. There is an apples and oranges element here.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-02-09 22:57 ]
Besides, is there some sort of counter somewhere measuring responses to the Maxim piece and then matching them to same-poster responses to the Variety piece?

Hee hee, I wish I was clever enough to set one up. I think Maxim is maybe not generating a lot of comments because we just had that conversation - sexy photos - recently, and it seems a little too soon to have it all over again. And I agree that the issue with the "Eliza in a tank top" comment is that the way it's phrased doesn't sound like "Eliza looks gorgeous in a tank top" (which we can all agree with) but rather "She looks hot in tank top, but she can't act" (which is rude. If a reviewer thinks she can't act, that's fine, but I don't think it should be attached to a comment on her body. Those points made separately are less offensive).

Otherwise, I read it really quickly and didn't pick up on the snarky tone a lot of you are commenting on, but I'm generally not very good at picking up on snark - cluelessness occasionally saves what I like to call my sanity ;).
As for the common and to me, increasingly irksome, complaint that Echo has no character to root for - how many times do Joss et al have to say it? The show hinges around her dawning awareness of her identity.

Yes. It's not as if we don't have the example of River to point to. River has nothing but fragments and flashes of her "personality" in Firefly, but in some ways rooting for her was the central story arc of the tragically abbreviated first season. And fans had no problems at all in getting on that train.
Good point about River, snot monster. We also were able to root for River via a caring proxy character, Simon. This involves no spoiler knowledge, but I imagine there will be a proxy character or two in the show rooting for (and against!) Echo and helping anchor our feelings for her.

I think you're right, catherine: It is rude and off-putting to dismiss Eliza in the way that the reviewer seems to be doing, effectively saying that she's pretty but that's all she has going for her.
Dana5140:
You mean this comment, RH: "I think the moment he said that Eliza "does wonderful things to a tank top, but her grasp of this vague, personality-changing character is a bit of a muddle" Or this one: "I especially agree with vampmogs about the tank top comment. Totally inappropriate and creepy. I lost interest in anything he has to say."

I mean the comment right exactly above where I posted to agree with it. Miss that one, did you?

Dana5140:
Yes, some people simply rejected what he said on that basis alone. I am just saying we cannot have both ways, accept it from Maxim, reject it from Variety. Let's be consistent on this issue.

Yes, let's. Maxim's covergirl and accompanying inside spread is usually, as far as I can tell, pretty much just what it appears to be - photo-cheesecake with marginal connection to anything deeper - and doesn't really pretend to be much of anything else. Variety's article, on the other hand, is ostensibly a professional review of the show. So, tell me, which one comes closest to meeting its "job description" in this case?

I have no problem with the cheesecake, I wouldn't have any problem with Eliza (or any of the other stars) appearing in Playboy, if they so wished, and I have no problem with admiring an attractive star, in print or anywhere else. I do have a problem with supposedly "professional" reviewers taking deliberate potshots at actors who are actually pretty decent at their jobs. I think that's being pretty consistent, myself.
catherine: "I think Maxim is maybe not generating a lot of comments because we just had that conversation - sexy photos - recently, and it seems a little too soon to have it all over again."

'Zackly - at least as far as I was concerned, after this and then especially after this from Joss.

Unless an article or review covers new ground - or seems especially egregious like this one did, for a number of reasons in addition to this issue - I'm probably not going to comment about this subject in the foreseeable future, unless something rises to new levels of egregious-ness-osity-itude.

This way you are all spared QuoterGal's "Blahy-blah X: This Time (Again) It's Personal."

And obviously, there is no reason to expect consistency between the responses of hundreds of active WHEDON-esque posters. There is no one beast called WHEDONesque, and thank jiminy for that, I say.

I think Eliza is hot as hell, and I get that she's exploring this as an actress - with Joss and the writers - in Dollhouse. (I have concerns about how that's been used to sell Dollhouse, but that's different, I think, than how it's been explored in the show itself.) But she is a lot more in addition to her luminous sexual presence, and when it's used against her to belittle her other talents, I take especial issue.
But she is a lot more in addition to her luminous sexual presence, and when it's used against her to belittle her other talents, I take especial issue.

This.
Nicely argued, RowanH and QuoterG.
Dana5140,

The Maxim pics (while not really my thing) are on a completely different level for me than this review. This reviewer offends me because he, as RowanH said, comes off as completely dismissive of anything Eliza has to offer besides her body. Sexuality and misogyny are two different things.

Eliza in sexy photos - This is something she wanted to do, and something she is proud of, as Joss has said. I don't think it's the same as receiving nasty comments that liken her to a talentless blow up doll.

[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2009-02-10 01:44 ]
Amen, QG, Amen! So say we all!
My big worry over this show is precisely the one voiced in this review- how do we, the viewers, invest in a character who has no character? Who is mutable, and from episode to episode is someone different? Despite the obvious coordinating theme of Echo regaining parts of her memory, the big problem is the emotional investment that I think any good program needs to succeed. I am scarce the only person to voice this concern. The fact is that this program is begining with some of the largest strikes against I have seen in many years- it has had a significant amount of what I would call negative press, it has been placed in a time slot designed to constrain it, and even Joss in his most recent interviews seems to be noting the problems. It will succeed or fail despite our best efforts, because it will need a couple of million viewers at least to make it successful- and there are 9000 people here. There are always going to be good and bad reviews for any show, anywhere.

First off, this is a wonderful post. I'll come back to it.

Second, there are three or four real good TV reviewers (Sepinwall, Goodman, Mo Ryan, some others), I really tend to disregard the opinions of others. They (and I don't deny that others exist I just don't read them) tend to try and give a broader/more even handed look at most shows. I don't see that instinct to foppishly praise or cynically trash shows in their reviews. So, if I were the type to put a ton of stock into criticism (I'm not), I'd wait for their reviews.

But, seriously, Dana, you're absolutely right. I tend to think that TV audiences flock to characters, not narratives, (explains the popularity of procedurals) and as such, Dollhouse could be setting itself up for failure. Do people watch House for patient of the week and the medicine? Maybe a little bit, maybe for some viewers, I'd guess most watch it for Laurie and some cynical quipping from Dr. House.

Look at House, as mentioned. Look at Homicide which was all about the interrogation room scenes in comparison to something like Burn Notice which is a seduction show (Michael seduces the weekly villain and uses that to his advantage), both are successful shows, but the nature of their procedural elements are decidedly different. What they share are strong, compelling lead characters. What that says, to me, is that the nature of the procedural element is fungible, but the character part may not be.

Of course, there exists the possibility that the non-Doll characters (specifically Ballard) will shoulder the characterization load until Echo develops more fully, but I'm not sure how audiences will respond to a literal blank slate as the lead.

Which isn't to say, to a certain extent, I don't appreciate Joss experimenting with the form. Identity is an ancient theme which can be, in the hands of a talented writer, used to create awesomeness. I'd rather see a show try something different and fail than shoot for mediocrity/accessibility and succeed. I just wonder if he'll ever even get to explore his chosen themes if the audience that chooses to sample the show (if any audience does, in fact, choose to sample) is put off by the lack of a 'hero' to latch onto. Given how much I like Joss as a writer, I'll watch all the episodes that air and likely seek them out wherever they end up should the show be cancelled. Most people who watch TV aren't like me.

I'll always remember David Simon saying that scripts for Homicide would come back with notes from the network saying 'Where are the life affirming moments?'

[ edited by Dirk on 2009-02-10 02:34 ]
Here's the place where I predict that Variety's going to go 180 on this later. I'll be looking for this comment some time in the future so as to neener neener at them in an extremely poised and mature manner.

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