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February 14 2009

(SPOILER) Discuss the first episode of Dollhouse. Enjoy the experience of watching a brand new Joss Whedon show.

Yes it's the official Whedonesque discussion thread for 'Ghost'.

Oh boy, oh boy, I can't wait. It's been far too long since we've had some weekly Joss.
My only advice: Don't go in wanting what you miss (Buffy, Angel, Firefly). Go in wanting Dollhouse to be what it is. Then decide if you like it. But mainly, have fun! I'm going to enjoy checking in here and on Twitter while the East Coast is watching.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-02-14 02:04 ]
I'm on the US West Coast. It's going to be just like getting my damned comics via TFAW: by the time I'm ready to join the conversation, everything will have been said. Hope all the rest of you enjoy it, though. Hope even more that it gets numbers.
Worst part about being in Australia.
Whereas its midday Saturday 14th here.
Its not even Dollhouse o'clock yet.
DAMN YOU AMERICANS AND YOUR CRAZY LOPSIDED TIME!
Get it together Obama...
Don't go in wanting what you miss

Wait...so you're saying that this show isn't set in New Sunnydale on a terraformed planet in the outer rim?

That's it, I'm out of here!
b!x, I've had my expectations attuned accordingly from the beginning. Luckily, I told a friend not to expect the end-all be-all of all-time awesomeness, because he said if he hadn't known going in that it wasn't supposed to be crazy brilliant, he would've been pissed.

That's the reaction I'm most dreading. I don't think we'll necessarily be getting that from the majority of folks around here, but I also don't want non-fans tuning in and then tuning out if the first episode's not immediately hooky.
Turns out that the Fox channel for Northern Virginia Comcast is just a big old white burst of static tonight. No Summernator, no dollies. So now Hulu and iTunes compete for my patronage.
54 minutes to Dollhouse. Sarah Connor is on now. Will crack open the popcorn soon. :)
Have fun watching Dollhouse!

Joss: make it available for the internet next time, f*@* Nielsen ratings...
Turns out that the Fox channel for Northern Virginia Comcast is just a big old white burst of static tonight. No Summernator, no dollies. So now Hulu and iTunes compete for my patronage.

That sucks. Commiseration.
Sorry to hear that Pointy. Maybe an aftereffect of the huge ice storm?
Ack, Pointy, suckage!
Pointy, where in Northern VA? I'm in Northern VA and Fox is fine on Cox.
Arlington. Comcast. It's alright, this sort of thing builds character. Of course I already have a lot of character. Is it possible to have too much character? ;-)
It's alright, this sort of thing builds character. Of course I already have a lot of character. Is it possible to have too much character? ;-)

Someone's going in wanting what he misses....;-)
Well, if anyone who's stuck with Comcast wants to come over, I'm in Springfield. My e-mail is nursebobbi at cox dot net. Must like dogs. I have 4.

Pointy, I work in Arlington at Marymount University.

[ edited by Bobbi on 2009-02-14 02:25 ]
Oh this is so exciting! To actually be able to discuss a new episode of Joss tv on Whedonesque again! (And this will be the first time for me.)

Wow, small world, I'm in a Maryland suburb of D.C. (and work outside Tyson's). And Comcast sux.

By the way, any of the other local Whedonesquers going to Farpoint in Baltimore this weekend? I can't wait! Alan Tudyk is always amazing. :-) And isn't he going to be guesting in Dollhouse too? How appropriate.

[ edited by AnotherFireflyfan on 2009-02-14 02:23 ]
There's a new Jossverse video.

Ah, that's sweet of you, Bobbi, thank you so much, but the Merlot has spoken, and it says, "Don't drive."

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-02-14 02:24 ]
Hulu said they'll post the episode tomorrow. Also DC area, as it happens.
Wow, with so many people near D.C. we should have gotten a shindig for the episode. ;-) Maybe when the finale airs?
Does anyone know when Dollverse.com or FOX.com will have the episode up?
How long 'til it starts over there? I can't make sense of US TV schedules and timezones, or at least not enough to translate it into Australian EDST. I mean, I tried, but looking at these comments, it's obvious that I was a couple of hours out...
If the Merlot is speaking, I'd say "Lie down, close your eyes and wait for the sanity to return." ;)
Wow, with so many people near D.C. we should have gotten a shindig for the episode. ;-)

I tried. No takers.
Good advice from the merlot, Pointy.

Seems like many of us in the DC area are here at the moment.
~ 30 min for the eastern zones, snowinhell.
Hulu said they'll post the episode tomorrow.

Which means it's possible they'll have it late tonight, which has been happening a lot lately with the shows they're allowed to post "next day".

ETA that I mean "late tonight" in the West, because they do have to at least wait for it to air here, heh.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-02-14 02:31 ]
If I watch it on Hulu, I get to see it on my Big Mac Monitor, so all's for the good.

ETA Thanks for the tip, B!x, I may see Dollhouse before I see the dawn.

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-02-14 02:33 ]
Sunfire, I saw your note but wasn't sure I'd be able to host either. The house needs cleaning, but I'm here, so company is welcome.
luckies that live on the east coast :pouts:
Thanks Sunfire. :) This is exciting, even if I don't know when I'll be able to watch it.
One more Northern VA poster here: Vienna. (Cox is working.) We need "Comicon: DC" !
Enjoy, everyone (sorry, Pointy, and also non-U.S. volk.) I'll be back much later. I'm on the left coast, and there's miles to go...

Forgive this analogy, if it offends, but: most times, I prefer a slow build and eventual release, rather than a quick pop out of the gate.

Well, those are actually mixed metaphors, but I hope my meaning is clear, if manic.

; >
Enjoy the premiere of Dollhouse, those who can. Personally, I'm going to bed. Why, you say? Well, it's half past two in the morning here, gorram! Us respectable Europeans have to go to bed at some point, you know.

Oh and also, make sure you guys discuss at least a thing or two other than Eliza's tank top. For instance, talk about her hair in stead. Mmmmm, Eliza-hair... Shiny...
Looking forward to hearing what you all think. Enjoy!
US East coast is almost a go.
I'm excited! I've got my red vines and my coke all ready.
Samberg and Parnell would waggle their fingers at you - its Mr. Pibb + Red Vines = Crazy Delicious!
Mr. Pibb! Anyone else remember the old ads with the hot air balloons? No, wait, ignore that. Threadjack. Carry on with Dollhouse.
This is going to be an exciting thread to try and keep up with. I am so excited.
Yes, Dollhouse :) Can't wait to see the full opening titles and all. Its a good time to be a Whedonesquer!
They don't sell Mr. Pibb here :[
I feel slightly left out that I didn't visit the concession stand in time to watch the show in a few. Does beer count? I have no candy and/or popcorn in the house.
1234567890 unix time and Dollhouse time, great to be in the ride :D
Beer counts if its good beer ;)
This is my first official comment ever, I think!! In more exciting news, Dollhouse in T - 14 minutes.
So what are the odds of Whedonesque getting crash Fandango'ed tonight?

I'm taking bets. ;-)
I hate comcast ... switched to verizon fios and love it ... Fox in all it's glory here ... Pointy switch to Cox if you can.......
I was a latecomer to BtVS, AtS, and Firefly, so this is my first Joss show premier. Exciting!
UPC - way less likely than it was last year ;) I will not jinx it further!

Bobbi - right on!
How many points do I get for a Newcastle?

And hi Rune!
BIG points for Newcastle in my book!
resa, my in-laws just got Verizon Fios and the installation (which took two weeks and many hours on the phone to tech support to successfully complete) was a nightmare. Quote from the tech guy who couldn't get their Internet setup: "I'm not a computer guy; I'm a phone guy. Call the Geek Squad." Jerk.

OK. Back to Dollhouse.
You have a book of points?
YAY, it's finally here!!! I can't believe it was so long ago that we were buying Dollhouse pencils (without a clue of what Dollhouse was).

I have to leave for a birthday party. Right. Now. :(

I'll catch up on the thread in about 5 hours when I've returned home and seen the show (via DVR). Have a great time you guys!

And welcome to the party Rune.
Yes, would you like to see it?
If you come to Comic-Con, you can bring it with you.
6 minutes. Exciting night even though I did watch what I could of Firefly, I didn't know much about Joss. Now it's a different world!
:) Alright, but it'll still be imaginary. That doesn't mean that I can't show it to you, right? Special welcome to anyone watching a Joss show live with a side of Whedonesque for the first time; we're thrilled to have you along for the ride!
Can someone please describe it in real-time? They don't have Fox in Austria. :(
Looks like it's about that time for the other side of the US. Have fun, all!
There will be recaps aplenty all over the internet tonight, I am sure.
Hey, why is there no coverage of the Summer/Eliza-hosting? Shouldn't Terminator be on already?
Sweet! Ok, I'm ready. Crap no bottle opener.

Ah, didn't let that stop me. Pried it open with a wine bottle opener.
I'll shoot it over to you via telepathy, wisengrund.
Does anyone else think it would be really funny if all of this excitement faded into disappointment and anger after Dollhouse airs?

Not that I want that to happen, I just think it'd be an amusing contrast.
It's about to start! Huzzah!
Anyone know when the episode is going up on Dollverse?
Not really, Racoon Boy, and I can assure you that a lot of people will enjoy it. I've enjoyed it several times already and plan on doing so again tonight.
Time to refill my beverage. Only a few minutes to go.
Anyone know when the episode is going up on Dollverse?

Considering it'd be illegal for it to be there, I assume not until it's on Hulu and can be embedded.
I think by reactions will be mixed. But by episode 6, there will be no doubt, that this is the best thing that happened to TV in the last 5 years.
"The year's most anticipated season premier."
You sure it's illegal? The Dollverse main page proudly announces that it will be hosting the episodes and that if we watch it there Fox can track us and we'll count as viewers
I'm enjoying the beverage updates. The question of the evening - what did you drink when Dollhouse premiered?
Let Down, because they're probably going to be embedding the Hulu stream.
Dollverse will embed the Hulu streams and its trackable. ETA: WBStm

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-02-14 03:02 ]
Ah right, cheers
Emmie, Wild Turkey OTR.
Ok, Echo just crashed her motorcycle and she decides it would be a good idea to sexily throw her helmet aside...
Beer. A lot of beer.

I wanna be in America right now.
Well the network made her do it, obviously ;) Actually, maybe that's the bike riding and the dancing.
I already feel the character development. Nobody gets out uncompromised.
Who's twittering this as it airs? Or anywhere to get a blow by blow as it's happening?

No tv reception here. Sigh.

(Yes, I know i could have fixed that before tonight.)
Dear Joss, that skirt is short.
Some people are chatting it up here.
I liked the memory-wipe effect.
It's started? Then must be time for me to log off to avoid spoilers...
Before you go - Echo isn't made of chocolate! Haha SPOILED!
(Sh-she's not? But, I thought... Well, then, is she at least made of chocolate icecream?)
I was just thinking that this must be the kidnapped child, and lo and behold...kidnapping and opening credits.
No, in fact if you put chocolate ice-cream on her, it... are you ready for this? MELTS!
Ads, the disadvantage of watching live tv.
I'm scared to buy a Hyundai now.
Yeah I think that dress's length is illegal in some states.
I'm actually still wondering if the dress wasn't a CG shot added in post :)
Ooh. Reed Diamond. I loved Homicide,. It was my first non-Joss DVD set.
Those Actives are breaking crimes left and right. ;)
Luckily in a later episode, Echo becomes a Congresswoman and gets those laws changed at the Federal level. Good work, Echo!
So, her body temperature's high enough to melt chocolate icecream... Hmm... Oh, I know! I've got it! She's made of hot chocolate, isn't she?

(Wow, I'm bad at actually logging off and walking away, aren't I?)
fortunateizzi, it was definitely illegal in my junior high.

Oh, Amy Acker!
Doesn't seem to be working so well :) Enjoy the episode later! Looking forward to learning about Dr. Claire's scars later on...
Loving the Acker scene.
Don't everyone post at once. (No, I get it. Watch now, post later.)

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-02-14 03:22 ]
I think "mixed bag" is a polite way of describing the twitter buzz.

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-02-14 03:23 ]
i'm only 10 minutes in, but did they steal the special effects from Tru Calling?
SO when's Echo morphing, you know Power Ranger style.
Twitter buzz definitely mixed. But that's up from the early (like first ten minutes) real-time response which was almost entirely from people who hated what they were seeing.
Pamelajaye, in Tru Calling, we saw what we'd already seen. In this, we see stuff we haven't seen as it's being wiped.
I think its important to note that people like to plan on hating things in advance and then grudgingly kinda sorta admit later that thaey liked it ;)
I hate that comment, but I planned to in advance.
Right now it's back to "mixed". But Tahmoh seems to make people happy.
You'll admit to liking it by 1-2AM PST at the latest ;)
An asthmatic in a high stress job? Here's hoping stress isn't one of her triggers.
I suspect that people who like it may be too busy watching to twitter, while those who hate it are less engrossed.
Besides Tahmoh, Amy seems to get the most twitter love.
Just to jump back a little bit - how great was it to see Written & Directed by Joss Whedon on your screens again? Right?
Great, zeitgeist. And how often to hostage negotiators wear stiletos?
Some guy named Josh. Never heard of him before.
If rumors are true, that will be the only time we can read that this season.
All of the ones I've ever seen on TV do ;)
Stress effect on Echo. Uh oh.
Interesting ... so far liking the mystery of the actives and the personalities.
It's funny. I remember the critique of having the Actives being imperfect and who would want a near-sighted, asthmatic negotiator, right? But I like the idea that they're imperfect because they're copies of real people, the best. Because perfection pales in comparison to the bizarre amalgamation of personality traits and talents that create an exceptional person. Flaws create motivation and forge the will to become exceptional.

Plus flaws are interesting.
Yo, what's with the early Twitter hate, b!x? Gimme the deets. I just don't understand why someone would object to the opening that strongly...
Yep, seeing Joss as writer and director was fabulous!

I've missed it so!
Hm, the buzz is now on to "interesting". Could align with the "good, not great"-critics by the end of the show.
There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch is pretty important for believable magic/science/phlebotenum.
I'm just jealous because I can't wear heels anymore. (Bad hip--need replacement. Don't want surgery.)

Wow. The asthma's a real issue. Not a great idea for this particular personality.

[ edited by Bobbi on 2009-02-14 03:43 ]
My understanding is that it wasn't a choice so much as a side-effect of getting the best available negotiator personality package. The highest highs with a few unfortunate side-effects.
What Emmie said.
As tweeted, really enojying so far, a few minor issues, but the negative reviews was too exagerated.
Yep, definitely moving towards "good" now, buzz-wise.

I'm sure he didn't name it "Ghostbusters" because of some copyright-issues.
She's morphed into River!
So for those of us who don't twitter and live in Australia and therefore won't get to see it till 2053, how was it?
That's weird. My recollection of how Topher describes it is that it's very much a matter of his choosing. The entire conversation about being nearsighted was about how Topher can interfere with the way her brain processes her visual sense. So why would the asthma not also have been a deliberate choice on his part?
library hooligan email me. Got tips, if you want to try it out. I'm watching it almost live, a bit of short delay.
Haha, KoC, I was thinking the same thing.

And it's not over yet, library hooligan.
Ah, that makes sense, Emmie. They use intact personalities, so flaws come with the desired traits.
B!x the impression I got, is that came from the package, as the imprints are from real people.
Then why would Topher explain the nearsightedness the way he did? He didn't say, "Because this personality was nearsighted." He said, "I can interfere with how her brain processed visual imagery", as if he was actively doing so when he imprinted her.
b!x, it wasn't a matter of Topher's choosing. He was describing how it was possible to do what he did, but it's an actual person she's been changed into, flaws and all.
This is awesome, actually.

I think Topher has to choose, but he has to balance -- if he just takes the best out of every personality they have, the Active's persona is probably unstable or fractured.
B!X, the way I understood it is by removing what they view as imperfect they would in fact make a person even more imperfect - like pulling a loose thread in a sweater and creating a huge hole. One piece removed makes the whole construct collapse.

[ edited by Emmie on 2009-02-14 04:22 ]
The buzz has slipped to "good" now. Definitely.
the guy from Journeyman still seems to be playing a cop
We'll see, I suppose, in later episodes. But I don't think that's correct. (To quibble on another point: Other dialogue suggests imprints are not of a single personality, but personality traits from different people.)
if he just takes the best out of every personality they have, the Active's persona is probably unstable or fractured.


He said ominously... we will find out about unstable and fractured before the season's out, I'm sure :)
Well, either what UPC said or an inconsistency. Maybe Topher gives himself credit when it's not due?
Well, I'm sold.
So wait, is he saying the persona was the result of multiple peoples' traits? Huh?
B!X, for argument's sake Ms. Penn having been traumatized as a child is both a flaw and an asset. It causes her to have dangerous stress reactions, but it also is what motivated her to strive to help save kidnapped victims. So what makes her great is also what makes her flawed.
Yay, arguments discussions about what things mean in a new Joss Whedon television program!
Yes, UPC, I think that's what he said.
So wait, is he saying the persona was the result of multiple peoples' traits? Huh?

I'll relisten to all of this when it airs here, taking this thread into consideration, to see if I was taking it wrong, but my memory is that it was suggested that Actives are not imprinted with a single actual persona, but a persona Topher constructs out of many different people.
I do think Topher was taking more credit than really was realistic. I think that imprints are a bit of an art as well as a science and its not as point and click clean as far as what you get as Topher is acting. I do recall thinking that there was some mix and match involved in a successful imprint, I'll go back and re-listen to Topher's lines about it again after the show is over again. That said, its something I would like to have someone from the writing staff expound upon, especially his Purple Mountains Majesty.

ETA - I did manage to muck up what I was trying to say there, b!X - more later. The explanation of the "how it works" made Topher sound like he had more control than he does, while the rest of the explanation sounds like its a little bit of a mystery what works and doesn't and why.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-02-14 03:58 ]
That's even weirder to me, zeit. Because I don't hear Topher's explanations as "point and click clean" at all. In fact, it's actually his own explanations that reinforced, for me, that sense of Tohper as artist.
You're both right -- it's clear he *does* make them out of multiple people. That's what an amalgam is. But he has to construct an *entire* personality, and that means good stuff and bad stuff. Just like actual people have had imperfect lives, so must the Actives if they are to function.
First time I've watched a Joss show as it airs! Exciting!

Cold Opening: I think that sucked me in well enough. Of course, I was looking to be sucked in, so that might have something to do with it. I think it did a good job (or even great job) of setting up the premise, though it probably helps that I knew about the premise before.

It's already got me into the characters, as well. The Handler character especially piqued my interest right away, with his moral conflict and all. The expression on his face when Echo said he was 'good people' or whatever was wow.

The opening credits were nice, I especially liked the tinker-toy-esque bit at the end.

Act I: I was a bit surprised to see Amy Acker so early, since I was under the impression she wouldn't be in the first episode, but I guess that was the old pilot and I never clarified the news later.

Juxtaposed boxing scene was a bit obvious, but certainly effective, I guess. It was sweet when he kneed that dude in the face Muay Thai-styles.

"No one is to be brought to justice." Sweet line.

Act II: I have admit, I'm impressed how Eliza is pulling off the hostage-negotiator personality. It really is like watching a different storyline within the show.

This far in, I'm pretty sure I'm already sold.

Act III: The FBI storyline doesn't really interest me all that much at this point.

Echo storyline, however. Wow.

Act IV: (man I dig these short commercials) I like the Handler character, it is decided (I don't have all the character names memorized yet).

"We do not have a client" "We have a mission!" adfiuashfjhasdadawesome

Act V: This show is so cool.

So. So. Cool.

Wow that new Doll is kind of terrifying. Well, whoever she was being was terrifying.

I don't know if I'm missing something with that closing scene, but I was a little confused. I think I know what was happening, but I don't know if I was supposed to know who any of those people were.

Overall, I really enjoyed that. Would watch again.

Grr! Arrgh!
Liked it. Looking forward to more. "The world is in need of some serious saving." :)
OMG - grr argh is back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I couldn't wait to see a brandy-new Grr Arrgh!!!! :D
GRRRR ARGH

*sigh*

I'm sold.
Grrr argh! Ha! That was awesome to see again on a live broadcast. I'm about to watch that scene again to see what exactly Topher said about how the imprints work.
KingofCretins, I think we were all agreed that the flaws had to be there too. We're differing on whether the flaws exist in the personas Topher uses, or if he chooses them himself somehow.
Okay, those last ten minutes were CLASSIC Whedon. Oh man. Oh man, oh man, oh man, next week looks incredible.

I am so happy.
Yeah, that was pretty awesome. And Eliza sold me.
Gr Arg!!!!!

Alpha looks exciting. I was not nearly as disappointed as all the buzz was making me believe I would be!!

"You can't fight a ghost." SO GOOD! SHE WAS DEAD!!

Exclamation points are not doing justice!!!!
The Middleman!!!!
YAY!
YAY!
So happy, stimulus package signed and Dollhouse is on!
All is well with the world.
Yeah I didn't understand what was happening in that last scene... were we supposed to?

ETA: Oh wait, I think I just got it. Was that supposed to be the uhh agenty guy we saw earlier? The one who we also saw boxing? Haha, sorry, I haven't read a lot online so I don't know everyone's name. So he killed those guys, whoever they were?

[ edited by fortunateizzi on 2009-02-14 04:05 ]
I think he chooses which flaws in the personalities he's drawing from to keep.

His "art" is just in the crafting together of one personality from several, and the making people near-sighted because they *have* to be for the personality to fit.


[ edited by Olya on 2010-04-24 00:05 ]
Oh, I'm a fan. That was majorly intriguing.
Eliza does have the acting chops to do this series. This is just the beginning, and Joss and Co. are going to be able to give her the means to prove it!
Got email answering now.

And, yes I'm sold too.
I loved that feeling at the end where things ended fairly well for Echo - she saved the girl and symbolically saved the personality of Ms. Penn from more trauma thereby giving her that accomplishment, yet while I'm happy that the company got away clean it also gave me this horrible feeling of unease. Compromised, indeed. I'm totally ready to be compromised again next week.

I'm firmly in the satisfied and entertained camp. A good intro and I can see how it's only going to get better from here.
You aren't supposed to know what the last scene is about for sure yet, but you will :) I have a lot of thoughts about that that I'm going to shut up about for now.
Well, all of the reservations I had were blown out the window after I saw Eliza play, like, four people in one go. Can't wait to see what goes down! Plus... Amy Acker!



I still don't like the singing in the theme though. ;)
What I most want to know (when the time comes) about where that last scene is going is: Does the Naked Guy just carry about stuff about Echo wherever he goes? Or are those dead people someone Echo knows, and they had that stuff?
Loved it!

Chills a couple places for totally different reasons:

1) Eliza with her arms up dancing next to a blonde girl. Buffy shout-out!

2) The edit of Eliza carrying the little girl out of the house. The moment is very poignant, but we barely get to feel it before it cuts back to a "clean slate" Echo in the Dollhouse. Nice editing touch that drove the stakes* home.

*I swear I didn't mean to make a whedonverse pun.
I had misgivings about Eliza's acting chops... but the blank look between "personalities" convinced me.
I clapped my hands when I saw that lovely Grrr argh! live again.

Yay! For Joss back on my TV every week.
Grrr Argh!
Too long since he's been on TV!

Such a good show. I'm in love.
Again.
I actually wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. It was awesome in a box. I love Fridays. Now, I must go and watch Mr. Marsters be the baddy on Numb3rs.

Is it next Friday yet?
That was excellent. I'm such a fan. I almost cried when Grrr Arghhh came on the screen. I didn't realise how much I missed it.

The man's a freakin' genius. That's all.
Even without the BSG-fans that are right now watching and not twittering it came around to quite a cool twitter buzz by the end.
I can't even express my many levels of happy bliss... GRRR ARGG... Joss Whedon... and if that weren't enough... it's also an awesome show!
Until tonight, I was a first-run virgin, having come to Joss post-Firefly. I giggled out loud when "created by" came up, and again at "GRR ARGH". The rest of the hour, completely absorbed. Now comes the permanently crossed fingers.
Buzz on Twitter kicked up into a better range once the show ended.
Yay...just yay! And I got 5 people new to Whedon to watch and they liked it too. More yay!
I really enjoyed the episode.Eliza was great as I expected as was the supporting cast(loved seeing Amy again)and I think the series has a lot of potential.

I'll admit,I never could get into Firefly.I watched the show as aired.Watched it again on DVD in the correct order and saw Serenity.But it just wasn't my type of show(the western angle).Dollhouse seems much more my speed.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-02-14 04:12 ]
I think by far this is the most cruel show that Joss has created. I'm not saying that to slam it, I just mean the way in which the characters are treated. In Buffy, Firefly, and to a lesser extent, Angel, the characters had some sense of community and belonging. Here, there seems to be none of that. While I still find the show extremely intriguing, I can see how that lack of community might keep some form connecting as easily as they did with the other shows.

I really like the idea of combining other identities to form the ones the Actives are implanted with, mostly because it has the potential to cause a lot of trouble, as we saw in this episode. Maybe that's a part of the factor that allows Echo to retain her memories.

I also really loathe Topher. He seems like an arrogant, pretentious asshole. Which means that Mr. Kranz is doing an amazing job, really. ;)

Overall, I enjoyed the episode, even though I wasn't immediately drawn to it like Buffy or Firefly. But I think that will come with time. And it was very heart-warming to see the Mutant Enemy logo a the end. :)
I don't know why people like Alan Sepinwall didn't buy Eliza's performance, I really don't. She wasn't Faith in skirt suit at all.
There wasn't a dull moment in the entire episode.
My mom lives in an area hard hit by that recent ice storm. She got her power back just in time to watch Dollhouse. She had been looking forward to the show despite some of the negative reviews she had read. (She's quite fond of that Josh Whedon.)

Her review? "The critics were wrong."
I came into it now expecting to see BTVS/"Angel"/"Firefly", but somethign new and good from Whedon. What I saw barely had any Whedon on it at all. From the crummy motorcycle race with annoying song playing during, to just the plain "feel", it's like FOX has put their fingerprints on this.

I can live without the humor he does in other series, 'cause not every show needs it (though I miss it), but this just didn't come across strong enough on it's own emotions, and the droning, do-nothing scoring in the back ground sure didn't help.

An older review stating it was't like Dushku becoming someone else, but rather Dusku dressed as somebody else, is fairly accurate. It was like Dushku in glasses.

By the end I was bored, even felt like just turning the TV off and doing something else. Whedon has stated the show "found" it's stride in later episodes; I hope so, because I won't give this show a full 13 episodes to impress me.


Dushku: average performance, could have been a LOT better.

Olivia Williams: okay, but her character just feels empty, like it's missing something, and she's too cliched for my Whedon tastes.

Fran Kranz: completely boring. Just a walking shell who puts some lines and looks in occassionally, but I wouldn't even blink if he vanished a few episodes later.

Harry Lennix: now this character I like; just looking at hgim you get the feeling there is more to him and that he can actually act.

Rob Simonsen & Mychael Danna's score: background servicing. A composer change is strongely needed for the series.


If a 10 Star system was used, I'd have to rate the episode as a *****. If it wasn't for my love of Whedon, and the aforementioned later foot-finding of the series, I wouldn't keep tuning in.


Oh, and every show he's done had a memorable music theme, this one ... totally forgettable. A new theme is needed as well.
And a shout out to Mr. Edward James Almos. Hee!
I loved it - after reading some of the critic's reviews I was a bit worrried about the first episode, but I think its a great start and can't wait to see more.

So exciting to have Joss back on TV!
Wow. That was great. I was incredibly worried based on some of the critics' reviews of the first few episodes, but having watched it, I disagree with them completely. Eliza did a fantastic job. Many critics said that it was lacking in Whedon's trademark wit, but I disagree with that as well. I think this may be Joss's best first episode. It wasn't too expositiony; it flowed very well. Woo. I'm a fan.
I enjoyed it. More of a set up than I needed but I hope enough for those who have not been obsessing for months and months.
It seemed pretty clear to me that Toper considers himself an artist - a bit from here, a bit from there and the perfect person for the job is created.
My worry is that we will get used to Echo's memories being wiped so the poignancy will be lost. Twice already we have seen things she would probably prefer to remember. Will we eventually just shrug and say "Oh well.She'll lose that one"
The flashes of her remembering has started soon than I expected.
How was Remote-Free-TV? Did "Ghost" feel stretched?
Topher: You see someone running. The first thing you gotta ask is are they running to something or running from something. The answer is both. See these personalities come from scans of real people. Now I can create amalgams of those personalities from here or there but a greatest hit - it's a whole person. Achievement balanced by fault. By a lack. Can't have one without the other. Everyone who excels is overcompensating. Running from something.


So that's how I understand the dolls. Topher can tinker here and there, but if he removes what he views as a potential flaw he's also damaging the strength that's created to overcompensate for that flaw.
Aww, today it sucks to be in Australia...

Glad MOST of you seemed to have enjoyed it- if you didn't then remember that Joss himself concedes that the series takes a few episodes to find its groove.

SO happy that this day has finally come, though!
I'm wondering if this is like Firefly, where a two-hour pilot would have been a better introduction to such a different environment. Still, the hostage "engagement" involved me more than I thought it would. And +1 on how much "Grr Arrgh" rules.

Topher's point about flaws is that being talented is not enough, the personality needs motivation. We see this in pro sports, the ones who work the hardest usually have a chip on their shoulders.

I see that I wasn't the only one to notice Eliza's white dress :-) , but I'm surprised the ladies haven't commented in this thread on Tahmoh's abs. Although the bathroom scene is well away from the main story, I thought it brought the funny. ("Wash your hand... and your shoes.")

[ edited by OneTeV on 2009-02-14 04:19 ]
I'm still not quite convinced, Emmie. But I'm more open to your interpretation of everything Topher says about it than I was before this thread.
OK so I saw the end of the show and it was AMAZING! Unfortunately, my DVR acted up and didn't record the beginning! So far so good...but I have to find the whole episode...

Yeah..more Joss and I'm just thrilled. Eliza is AMAZING on the show....I'm always happy to see a fellow Bostonian doing well. :-)
Maybe the little demon groaning "Grr Arrgh" could be changed so after "Grr", he stops, kind of fumbles in speech, then turns to us and scartches his head like he doesn't remember. ;-)
the show itself was awesome, but after the amazing theme songs in Firefly, Buffy, and Angel, please fix it oh my god! Other things... that dress was basically a long shirt, but I'm not complaining. If this was the hurried and humorous one of the bunch, I'm looking forward to the rest of the series! PlEEEAASSSEE Dollhouse Season 2!

Among other things... GRR ARGH YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!

Edit: Loving the shorter commercial breaks!

[ edited by Chris the Bloody on 2009-02-14 04:22 ]
I nearly had a heart attack earlier in the evening. Our power went off about 20 minutes before Terminator was set to begin, and stayed off until about 5 minutes before Terminator came on. I didn't really have time to be happy about it, since I then had to scramble around making sure things recorded properly.

You know you're a fan when you want to watch a show again almost as soon as it airs.
The wit was there, but it was a darker beginning of a series than Joss's previous series (serieses?). I like that! It makes it different, yet it is definitely Whedony. The careful set-up of future story threats has me enthralled.

Of course, FOX in our area had to have a special news report monopolized the screen for 5 minutes, making the shows image about the size of an iPod... No disrespect to the cop killed, or his family, but running that interference for so long did nothing for the family (who would NOT continue watching Dollhouse under those circumstances, and not want an image of the crime scene superimposed on any show), and nothing for the people watching the show.
Wow, now that we're "back" to the first 20 minutes, the buzz is bad again. Did he screw up that opening in any way?
Will this be on iTunes?
I wanted to express my thoughts on the first Ep.

In simple terms the beginning didn't really grab me, but the end was magnificent. It should hook people. Especially that final scene. With Caroline (is that her real name?) commenting on the Grad Vid.

Like others the FBI arc right now doesn't seem super appealing. I was not a fan of the fight scene mixed in with the yell fest. However, whoever that actor was playing Ballard's Boss was awesome.

I just thought at the beginning that Dushku and Kranz were over-acting their characters. I'm really not a fan of that "Did I fall asleep line." I have a feeling though that Topher is probably going to become my favourite character. And I'm interested to see what's going on with him and Dr. Saunders.

The show really picked up when Miss Penn/Echo/Dushku (lol) recognized the abuser. The lines in the van were awesome. I thought Dushku was awesome! And of course the "You can't fight a Ghost." line was incredible.

For any Whedon fans you can tell how much potential this show has, and I hope they can do a lot of arcing, we'll see though. For non-Whedon fans I think it did an excellent job setting up the show and hooking you in.

I'm very excited.
People probably realize the motorcycle chase/dancing were the network's doing :)
People probably realize the motorcycle chase/dancing were the network's doing :)

Yep.
So, how was the Summer/Eliza-hosting-thing?
Network fingerprints all over that piece. ;)
I freakin' loved it! and its only gonna get better, love the little cliffhanger at the end.

In regards to the poignancy of the memories being lost after the wipe, my guess is that Echo will eventually retain memories after the wipe.

I know that some people may not consider me the most objective being a JW fan but I can't help but think were some of these critics watching the same show? lol
I've never been a fan of a Joss show while it's on air, since I came into Buffy, Angel, and Firefly late. But this show was everything I expected and more! I can't wait until next week's episode! Two of my favorite shows back-to-back on Friday nights! I'm loving it!

And I love, love, LOVE the opening credits and theme.
So, how was the Summer/Eliza-hosting-thing?

Cheesy. A lot of FOX-generated crappy banter. Insulted everyone's intelligence - ours, Summer's, and Eliza's.
I liked it more than I expected, given the mixed reviews. I don't expect trouble identifying with the 'blank slate' Echo, as many people feared. Instead, I look forward to watching the emergence of Echo's underlying self over the longer arc. Amy & Dichen were good too.
Nobody can say FOX didn't pull out every stop to promote this show, though.

And the dancing was perfectly good, as was the dress :) Did network make Eliza dance on "Buffy" and "Angel", too?

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-02-14 04:36 ]
Definitely pleased. Still a little concerned about Dushku and how she'll tackle the roles.

(Then again, I was also worried about Boreanaz being able to carry his own show..)
I actually liked blank-slate Echo quite a bit. Plus the way she and Sierra smiled at each other as they passed in the shower near the end. The innocence is very intriguing.
wiesengrund , I would say that the beginning of the episode was a bit "on the nose" and felt dumbed-down. I assumed it was a result of Joss rewriting to appease the network's desire for a clearer first episode. You know how Fox is, they think their viewers need everything spelled out for them. It got much better as the ep progressed.
Loved the show, can't wait for the next episode. Want more now.
I wish it were next Friday. I want MOAR.
All hail the return of Joss and Grr Argh! I belong to the 'I loved it and can't wait till next Friday!' camp. I can see much gold to be mined here, and can hardly wait to see the directions Joss is going to take this.
So, I already loved this episode, but then my girlfriend and I figured out (we think...) what was happening in the last scene, and my mind went crazy. I love you Joss Whedon :)

ETA that this episode (this show?) had a very The Inside feel to me. Which is good. I loved The Inside!

[ edited by Jobo on 2009-02-14 04:44 ]
There's a lot of comments on here, a lot to muddle through and I've tried lol but I just wanted to get a general opinion on the show one way or another? Were the critics right, or only a little, completely wrong? How many people loved it, hated it, found it ok or just were indifferent? I'm just trying to gage the mood of the show here so I'll get an idea of how much of a hit it was (or wasn’t'.)
It wasn't good.

The beginning scene was terrible and was a waste of time, the final scenes were decent and the only character I ended up liking was the handler.

Could the show become better? Obviously. I held off on reading reviews until after the airing. And I sadly have to say I agree with alot of the negative comments.

I'll keep watching but if it wasn't from Joss I would've stopped watching.
Far from perfect, but entirely enjoyable and I think a very good opening act to a great show!
It was pretty great, IMO, and it will only get better. I actually think, in spite of network meddling, that it may have been his best pilot. Its at least a solid 7/10 for me if not better. Rewatching makes it better, too.
I'm currently rewatching it right now. It fits in the solid good column for me with the potential to get even better. I'm torn between giving it a 7 or a 8 out of 10, so split the diff and give it a 7.5/10. But it also has that edge of mesmerizing me with every scene where I want to keep looking back.
I think some people here are blinded by their love for Whedon and the lack of any new Whedon episodic TV in a while.
I liked it. It didn't grab me like I thought it would but I think it has potential later on.
Yeah, 7.5 for sure :) Can't wait to rewatch all 13 of S1 in a marathon! You know, while waiting to hear about S2.

tharpdevenport - I know a lot of folks who didn't expect to like it from the premise, Whedon fans and non-Whedon fans who ended up being very excited by it. Its interesting how people who disagree with us are the ones who aren't seeing correctly, (instead of, say having a valid and differing opinion) isn't it? :) To take another example, I was SO looking forward to Studio 60 and loved everything Sorkin had done, but wow was Studio 60 a dog.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-02-14 04:51 ]
I think some people here are blinded by their love for Whedon and the lack of any new Whedon episodic TV in a while.

Or people have a legitimate difference of opinion based upon the episode itself.
Funny, how people can react differently. Overall, I really like this first episode, and if it's a sign, I'll really like the show in its entirety,
It's solid. And I really like this moody opening theme, my only complain about the opening sequence, is the lack of spotlight for each of the actors, they're just listed during the credits, but without a scene of their own, like in previous shows.
When you have comparritive television and acting abilities, no -- it's not a diffrerence in opinion.
I enjoyed it although pilots tend to make me a little crazy. I'm excited to see what happens in the next 12 episodes. It's great to have some Joss back on television again. Grrr Argh!!

I'm very pleased.
I loved it. Watched it with my mom, dad and one of my brothers, and they liked it too. I also got them on Terminator! Dollhouse was great, and I am sure it will get better. I just hope that Enver can do a good Russian accent. I have always been pretty picky about accents, but its been greatly amplified since I started taking Russian. Doing a good accent isn't hard, you just need to know to stress the right vowels and drop off the other ones. He didn't say much, but from what I heard was not bad (huh? I typed it and it confused me!) but I like where it is going. I couldn't hear enough to tell if it was good accent though. And while I know its the character, but it pained me to see Amy Acker all scarred up. Then again if she didn't have the makeup, some sort of cosmic imbalance may result from the amount of sheer beauty on Fox Fridays, as it is already teetering on the edge with Summer and Eliza. I have to say I cheered when Sierra killed the kidnappers, though having her do so was obviously a bit of dichotomy.

Eliza and Summer hosting could have been better... obviously it was scripted Fox stuff. But just seeing the two togther made me happy.

I loved the Edward James Olmos shout out, though to me he's freaking horrifying in BSG when he's angry, not at all fatherly! I also felt like the Terminator episode was heavily influenced by Baltar and Six, which sort of made up for the very little amount of Summer in it.

edit: changed the spelling of The Old Man's name so I don't look like a fool.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-02-14 04:57 ]
Are you actually telling us its not a difference of opinion? That you are just right and we are wrong? :)
loved the edward james olmos shout out. so true.

clearly some characters had second thoughts/ are kinda creeped out by wiping people's personalities (The handler, FBI agent, and the doctor). I'm pretty sure debating the ethics over the dollhouse will be done in every episode but---still i wish we had a little more information on how it actually goes down. Oh wait, thats why im gonna keep watching. haha.

Overall i thought it was a good pilot. I'm a little caught up on the technology aspect. Don't know why i can easily accept a futuristic space western but the thought of downloading people's personalities is still too much for me. Perhaps because the atmosphere is not spaced as much as firefly was. Either way, i find myself really stuck on how they receive personalities or code them or transfer them or whatever. If our experiences and memories can be digitized---how are we so different from machines? Terminator crossover? what?

the show has a lot going on right now in terms of subplots--- i hope they all wind in together nicely.
I think some people here are blinded by their love for Whedon

Well, that's certainly a possibility. But I also am appreciating this based on the what I view as categorically good. The theme of memory that continued throughout the language of the episode and the balance between the character relationships. The combination of eerie and enlightening, peace and disturbance. Not to say that your review was directed at me, but how is giving something a 7.5/10 being blind to its faults? If we were really blinded by love we'd be singing "oh em gees". I've been hearing good things from other people who've never watched Whedon shows before, so no I don't think it's blind Whedon love here.

Hehe, Topher is making me laugh during the rewatch. I certainly have some trouble with certain scenes like the boxing scene (really? how was that necessary?) and the motorcycle scene with Eliza sexily tossing her helmet away, but overall I found it very enjoyable.

Did anyone else wish that the credits featured more people besides Dushku?
Yeah come on tharpdevenport that's not really fair. People interpret "art" in their own way, I can look at one painting and think it's awesome and you can look at it and think it's awful but it doesn't mean you're right and I'm wrong, we just respond to and prefer different things. It doesn't mean I'm right and you're wrong.

I liked that the credit only featured Dushku Emmie :) It was a change from Joss' usual credits.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2009-02-14 05:01 ]
Thinking a little more, this was no more special or interesting than a random pointless episode from season 8 of "The X-Files". I'd love to see the original pilot Whedon show.
Technology doesn't bother me at all. I'm all for handwavium and saying "this is how it is", though I can understand how many do not like that. I guess it comes from my love of Star Wars, where the technology makes no sense at all, and almost all of it is impossible, but that doesn't matter. Hyperspace? Ok! Crazy mindwiping, mental implant thing? Okey dokey.

Though the comparision to Firefly is interesting, as Firefly is far more realistic (in its way) with the tech, or at least tried to be. For example, the no sound in space, no FTL, etc. Joss seems to be returning to the 'magic' explination, though to be fair it is only one episode in. I'm sure Topher will brag in numerous episodes about it, letting us evantually piece together some idea. Then again, it could just all be magic.

edit: To the above, that's your opinion, but not everyone thought so, both Whedon fans and non. Also, the characters and actors are far superior to that of X-Files.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-02-14 05:02 ]
This was really great. I can't wait for the next episode. It wasn't perfect, but what is? My biggest problem was with the excessive overt exposition in dialogue. Nevertheless, overall a very solid hour of television. I found Echo immediately sympathetic, and while a lot of the sympathy was for her downloaded personalities, her questions in the Dollhouse helped carry it over to the Echo-between-missions. I am a fan.
Woo.

@The One True b!X

heh at the lone dissenting comment.
I enjoyed the show as a whole. Eliza's acting surprised me...in a good way, clear distinction between her characters...There was definitely the foundation for numerous sub-plots, as well as some foreshadowing ... ;). I'll take a bit to get hooked on the theme song...kinda 'eh' reaction. Best parts were having written and directed by again...and our beloved "grr, argh"..look forward to how things progress and develop.
I think the pilot was flavoured with a healthy dose of awesomesauce. I can't wait to see where they go with this and develop Echo's memory and lack thereof. I'm also really intrigued to see more of Topher. I was kind of skeptical at first but Eliza seemed to fall into the negotiator role much more as the show went on. I wonder if that was a choice? (Also, sidebar: first time I've actually watched a Whedon show as it airs. I'm excited.)
Ah, the theme song. To date, I've only loved the Firefly theme song out of Whedon's shows. Angel was good in a dark way, but a bit overtly 'indie'. Buffy... I have to say not a big fan, I can't stand punk, and the majority of the music in the show itself was painful to me. Really made me wonder why the bronze was so big. But the Dollhouse theme song is probably my least favorite so far. I think in the future Joss should adopt the Lost style "flash the title while ominous groan plays", and be done with it. That or stick to writing his own theme songs, which he did so well with Firefly. :)
I thought the show was great. I admit it, I was a little afraid, especially cause I was never an Eliza fan. Plus, I stayed away from all spoilers cause I didn't want to hear anything bad. But I was all wrong. The show was definitely interesting. It sucks you in.

I can also see this appealing to other people. Meaning that non-Whedon fans will be able to relate to this better than to some of his other shows, because outwardly, this show is way more "normal" that his others. No vampires, for one thing, and no space cowboys. ;)
Huh, and I kinda enjoyed Studio 60, see, difference in opinion, it's a good thing!
I heard its not a difference of opinion ;) I really wanted to enjoy S60, but it was so... well, I think one thing was that it tried to tackle issues way out of the depth/grasp of the setting and characters. You can't necessarily tackle West Wing sized problems in a show set on an SNL-alike.
Wow, SteppeMerc, I actually really loved all the music in Buffy. So I guess you must be wrong!! lol
Right now, everything feels a little cold/distant to me. I mean, I know that's the point, but it's hard to really care about the characters if that's the case. I really like Harry Lennix's character... I think he is going to be the person we can really sympathize with, even more so than Echo. Like someone already said, though, what I've always loved about Joss' shows is their sense of community. I hope that get develops because right now there doesn't seem to be many "good guys." Still, all in all, I thought it was a good episode and look forward to seeing how the show progresses.

[ edited by fortunateizzi on 2009-02-14 05:15 ]
Topher wouldn't have these problems with differences of opinion. Wipe!

...I guess it's good we're not Topher.
Had to watch BSG, so I'm getting to this thread late. But, after a slow start, I thought the episode showed us a lot of promise for the future. The second half showed the Joss-man in action. Lots to think about.
I dunno, izzi, I feel there are a lot of good guys in their own ways. I feel like Langton is definitely one and more than just "in his own way", actually. I also feel like Adelle is going to surprise people and that Topher wants to believe that he's a good guy, though he is a bit squirelly... I do enjoy him quite a bit :)
That's one thing I'm not worried about. I think the philosophy of 'everyone thinks they're the good guy' will play out nicely in creating very well-rounded characters.
I personally don't understand now any true television critic would have dogged the show. I mean only in the since that this was one of if not the best pilot in years even if it didn't seem altogether a Joss show. I know my opinion but still.....

It did have a since of fox in the show but the show is on fox so no biggy there. To me it was a little like Alias 2 and I can see how Whedon fans could be a little upset. I think it had just enough of the Joss genius to satisfy most of us knowing that he always improves as the characters and arcs grow. I did like the best of Alias though but this show has the potential to be even better.

I think Eliza has the chops if we get best that she's a quieter actor in non faith like roles.

I like Echo. I love her Handler. Topher and Dr Amy interest me. I can't wait until next Friday!!
I got a very strong La Femme Nikita vibe from the Dollhouse premiere (the TV series with Peta Wilson, not the film, which I've never seen) and that's definitely not a bad thing IMO. Although it may've been hokier at times than I imagine Dollhouse will end up being, the cast was very tight, it occasionally explored some similar themes, the scene with Echo's former real life persona in the teaser reminded me hugely of the whole taking-criminals-and-forcing them/guilting them into working for a shady organization, and I just loved Nikita. Although on that show, the memory wiping/re-programming didn't start until Season 4, really (I still haven't seen the fifth and final season of that series that was tacked on due to fan demand, a mini-season really, but apparently I didn't miss much and Season 4 felt like it concluded things well enough, if crazily). This similarity is due to the icily mostly-calm conniving overlord of a boss (Adele DeWitt feels a bit like Madeline, except Madeline wasn't British) and the set is a little bit Nikita, a little bit Wolfram & Hart from Angel, but overall feels like it's own thing once they go down those steps to the dolls' level.

Someone mentioned The Inside and I can sorta see that now, but the only real connection I feel there was in the personality given to Echo/Caroline (okay I'll just call her Echo in the future for simplicity, especially since Caroline might be pretty much gone for good). The child abuse thing reminded me of the lead character from The Inside. The Inside seemed to happen almost entirely at night though, whereas this show happened mostly in the day time this episode, and the palette of the show is a lot warmer than The Inside's, so it didn't feel like The Inside looks-wise.

A few very familiar-looking faces that I couldn't place, yay for IMDB.

My dad phoned after the ep aired and said "Joxer from Xena!" about Tahmoh Penikett, waiting for a response, and I was like "Umm, I watched like three episodes of Xena, I know the character you're talking about, I don't know if that's him"...then thought to myself that he would have had to seriously bulk up and age/fill out in the face if it was him. According to the IMDB, it's not ? But he is a major player on Battlestar Galactica. Yikes. If everyone could refrain from spoiling that series in the tons of Dollhouse discussion yet to come, that would be hugely appreciated by myself and the doubtless many others who're planning on renting and marathoning or blind-buying that beast and devouring it when the pretty complete set inevitably comes out later this year or in early 2010.

Olivia Williams (Adelle DeWitt) looked so familiar, and I do remember her from Below now that I see that credit, but even more excitingly recognizable, she's Moira MacTaggart from the X-Men 3 film ! I love that character, hopefully she'll feature in a better sequel in the future.

Harry Lennix looked the most familiar, I was wracking my brain, but nope, it wasn't coming. Of course ! It's the commander dude from the Matrix sequels...I barely remember him from his role early on in the least-good-of-the-series Season 6 of 24.

Reed Diamond (the pushy blonde agent/manservant of Adelle's who was getting in Langdon's face over the breach of protocol and flew Echo in the helicopter to rescue the little girl) was Terry on The Shield, a small but very significant role in that series.

I love that the organization (does it have a name, besides what the FBI is calling it?) kept the $8 million.

Promising pilot, not nearly the "cool but lacklustre" I was expecting after so many lukewarm/let down reviews (but I did very much trust in the opinions of those who've seen up to episode 4 or 5. The folks who watched ahead for True Blood weren't wrong after its iffy pilot and there've been a couple other shows over the years where reviewers getting screeners for several episodes in advance has assured and resulted in happy viewing). Very solid opening. I imagine some viewers were confused and may be having neck pains due to the crazy twisting plot-&-exposition whiplash though.
Dollhouse? More like Dullhouse! Right?

Actually, I haven't seen it. [/bitterAustralian]
Very good, bordering on great. All that "Just wait, it gets better, stick with it" stuff we've been hearing for the past few weeks in nonsense. It's already damn good.
Since someone else brought up Studio 60... My opinion (sorry, I mean absolute fact!) is that the show was hilarious with the behind the scenes, the skits were boring. The show should never have wasted so much time on showing the skits of the show-within-a-show. How does this parallel Dollhouse? I think the Dollhouse itself (and probably long-term arcs with those characters) will be more interesting than the "engagements". Which will make an interesting dichotomy in the first few episodes, since Fox was pushing for the serial aspect.
I was beyond excited waiting for this show to start. I'll admit to love for all things Whedon, but I wouldn't say I'm blinded by it. If anything, I think I would be harder on a new Joss show because I expect that much more from it.
I think it was slow in the beginning and then it picked up. By the end I was wondering more about the characters and trying to figure things out, which means I liked it and I'll continue to watch.

And I cannot describe the feelings of Yay that I felt when I saw the Grrr! Argh! So happy to see that again.
I liked it, didn't love it, but I definitely see potential for greatness. The first part with the motorcycles and the dancing didn't grab me at all, and neither did the boxing despite shirtless Tahmoh (but the FBI part was all right). I agree with the people who think Eliza's acting was fine, especially in the second half. I found Topher somewhat annoying in the part where he was explaining why she was nearsighted, though I liked him in other parts, so we'll see. He seems like a character I could really get attached to.

I'll need to watch it again before I really know how I feel - hurry up Hulu! Also, my TV spazzed out for about a minute and I missed some stuff that seemed like it might have been important.

Grr Argh!
I re-watched the opening scene (recording?) right after the episode ended to see if I could figure out what wasn't being said outright between Adelle and Caroline-soon-to-be-Echo. I can't figure it out, but she must have done something fairly awful or have screwed up big-time for Adelle to be able to shame her or guilt her or whatever she was doing, into signing that piece of paper.

Maybe Echo was an agent/handler herself at one time and the punishment for messing up hugely, maybe not in ever agent's case but just sometimes, is becoming a doll.

Maybe she was into drugs or accidentally killed someone. She looked either recovering from something in that first scene, or just really tired, stressed, and like she'd maybe been crying earlier. Kudos to the make-up folks though there.

Ah, the rampant speculation. How I did miss it (well, okay, not that much, I hang out on Lost boards occasionally. But for a Joss show/movie).
Was so happy to see the Grrr Argh at the end. Had forgotten all about it. Made me shout out Yay!!!

I am so happy this show is on. It did start out slow for me. But by the end it had all locked into place for me. I thought of it as the actor's finding their footing, a toe hold in the side of a very crazy cliff. I can't wait for the infamous episode six.
I really really enjoyed this very first episode. The story was engaging and Eliza was good. This will really show off her acting range. I am praying that billions of people decided to give this a chance. I love it.

Did anyone else kinda squee at the ME, Grr-Arg at the end? I did. Also how cool is it to have a Battlestar Galactica actor in this?
Yea, finally I can read Whedonesque again without fear of spoilers! I really liked the episode and can't wait for next week. Of course I'm going to have to pay someone to climb on my snow covered roof and install an antenna before next week because I missed whatever happened right at the end. Crappy reception.
I "liked" it, not blown away. But I know Joss will work his mojo and have me hooked like all his projects.
Heh, not that I'm condoning it, but I had to go check and see how long it took for someone to get a .torrent up for those outside the US. In place as of about an hour prior to this post. Should've known.
Okay, so just some general reactions:
-I really hope Echo starts getting her memories back soon, 'cause it's a little painful to watch a grown woman acting like a two year old. That's enough of that, thank you.
-I like Boyd, he's pretty cool.
-Topher's gonna be the reverse Knox, I think. We're not gonna know what we think of him for while (though, he'll be moderately clever), and then he's gonna get a conscience. And then he's gonna die. Cause it's Joss.
-Sierra's totally new River! Awesome!
-Whoa, Olivia Williams is in this show. That's wonderful. Congrats on that one, big purple.
-I think it's my least favorite theme song of the four shows Joss has done. And I do think it's my least favorite pilot of the four, as well. I'd give it about a 7.5. Ultimately, I think the show will be a big, beautiful work of art but this one didn't give me a whole lot of anything. Nothing that pushed me over the edge.
That's all, I guess

P.S. Oh wait! I have to issue some concerns on Joss. Uh... My nickname in some circles (quite a few, actually) is Topher. And uh... My last name is Boyd. So, honored but... creepy...
Geeze what to say since I love Joss' work and this didn't feel like Joss' work to me. The timing was off, Eliza didn't pull off the changes of personalities well. I didn't go in expecting Buffy or Angel or Firefly. I expected Joss' wit, Joss' dialog, Joss' handling of action, dramatic timing and his edge. I found it to be closer to any CBS procedural drama. Kind of cookie cutter.
I know the next episode will be better, and the one after that even better. Joss' shows usually grab me for the very start so this is a disappointment.
To finally put my input into something that was discussed earlier, I believe the flaws (the nearsightedness and the asthma) were not only 'necessary' to appease Topher, but also a part of the memories that were put together. A memory of a person's childhood is going to include the memory of being nearsighted, which suggests that Topher cannot alter memories, just put them together in the best fashion. While Echo may not be nearsighted, if Ms. Penn has memories in which she is nearsighted, then Topher must alter Echo's brain receptions so that she is nearsighted.

In essence, if Ms. Penn woke up from her 'treatment' without Topher's alteration, she would immediately realize that she could see without glasses. Seeing is just a big part of a human's life.

I really liked it. It's not Buffy, or Angel or Firefly, and is not as funny or cute or dialogue-packed as those shows, but I think that it is very good.

I'm excited to learn about a lot of things, but something that hasn't been brought up yet: what exactly do the Actives think that they are being treated for?

Oh and. YAY GRR ARGH!
Good point, VVC. It would create cognitive dissonance.
I can see where it felt like a procedural (CSI) during some scenes biffsbabe, but I thought the very un-procedural scenes subverted that nicely. Not to say the whole "You can't fight a ghost" cleverness doesn't show up in those kinds of shows sometimes, they love their dramatic irony or whatever you'd call that, but this pilot still had more heart than procedurals usually do.

I think because almost all the characters are suit-wearing professionals and, even more than that, because there is no close-knit family unit (Firefly) or chummy band of friends/colleagues (Buffy & Angel) right off the bat, this does feel very un-Joss-like in some respects. We're just being made to wait for that stage this time, assuming that's a set-up that'll come about (maybe we'll only see a couple characters at most ally/share info/bond meaingfully, but for the most part everyone will be out for their own interests, we'll see. That would be different for a Joss show).

Maybe this comment has been made (I swear I read all 283 of everyone's, but maybe I missed it), but did anyone else catch that obvious/silly, but still satisfying dig at reality-TV ? I liked (I still watch Survivor, but that's my only one. Thursdays are fun/funny night, except for when The Office decides to be poignant or heart-wrenching, though I like that too).

Maybe the actives aren't told/programmed with any faked knowledge of what they're being treated for (when the mission's ended or aborted), they just know/believe that they must attend to the treatment when their handler says it's time.

I'm gonna love to see Adelle and/or Topher and/or any of the other agents, or all of them collectively, shit a brick the first time Echo disobeys in a really assertive fashion or freaks out and throws them over the railing or something. Those kinds of scenes are always fun and sometimes hair-raising in movies or TV shows where the slave/subject rises up.

[ edited by Kris on 2009-02-14 06:00 ]
I'm happy. I really liked it. All of it.
I think the theme music would work better if they kept the lyrics in.

I like getting the innocent-Echo stuff, since really, it's *that* character's journey that is central to the show.

I know Harry Lennix has warned against assuming Boyd is the "moral compass" of the show, but so far, definitely is. I love his insistence that they have "a mission". When Dewitt countered that's an engagement, I think she totally missed or ignored the subtext of the word he chose. He, at least, wasn't talking about the job anymore.

There's an interesting parallel between the Dollhouse and Serenity (the business and the ship, respectively) as businesses. The Dollhouse is all about the engagement. Serenity is all about "the job". Yet both are occasionally dragged into someone else's dilemma in the process. Is Dewitt the Malcolm Reynolds of "Dollhouse", grudgingly dragged along like a twig in the river of moral imperative? I mean, I don't think anybody else could have authorized activating Sierra to "clean the operation", if you like.

That would probably make Boyd some mix of Zoe, Inara, and Book in terms of his role in challenging her instincts.

I get why Topher is there. I get why Boyd is there. I think I get why Dewitt is there. The Actives are desperate volunteers or victims (I'm guessing). Right now, I wonder... why is Saunders there? She seems really squicked by every part of her job so far.
If I may be a rebel, I liked the theme song. I thought it fit the visuals quite well, even if the visuals looked a bit like the late lamented "The Inside" by way of "Bones".

I thought the ep itself hung together surprisingly well given the obvious network fingerprints. It's not perfect, but pilots rarely are, especially in the Jossverse. As someone on TWoP said, "you know it's good because you come out of it with more questions than you had going in".
Kris,Saw the dig. Giggled. And thought of Alec Baldwin eating brains. (Ick.)

[ edited by NYPinTA on 2009-02-14 05:58 ]
Grrr Arggh! I was so happy about that, and I got a quizzical look from my husband. So exciting!!

I think there was most reaction from both of us about Amy Acker. It just seemed ....uncomfortable...and I liked that. There might be a lot of attractive people floating around, but there's also a lot of surreality and creepiness. Amy Acker did a great job conveying that in few words. Creeeepy.

I liked the Edward James Olmos reference, that was great stuff. Tahmoh seemed very unlike Helo, which was great, but I'm not used to seeing him in colors other than grey, dirt grown or moss green!

I really liked that the hostage negotiator was flawed, and I liked the reinforcement that Topher had to be an artist — that the personalities he created were actually personalities, and not simply missions imprinted on someone, as if they were robots. An example would be Cameron or the other terminators on "Terminator." Echo isn't a robot, she has full personalities and those can be difficult and subject to fault. I liked that she had asthma, though that's something that perhaps should have been removed because it could be seen as an obstacle to facilitating the engagement.

And also...all respect to Henry Lennix, but did anyone else think Chiwetel Ejoifor would've been fantastic as Boyd? I really liked Henry Lennix, I just thought it would also be great if we saw Chiwetel working with Joss again.

Also, the TV spots with Summer and Eliza were really fantastic — I think it shows that FOX really knows what they have with these two women, and know how to play it up.

[ edited by The Ninja Report on 2009-02-14 06:01 ]
Hoo and I were quite pleased with the episode as a whole. He hated the theme song...we both had issues with the clunky, though required exposition. The white dress was scandalous! Meow.

That being said, thank god the gave her a prescription inhaler. That could make or break a great storyline. ;)

[ edited by Charmuse on 2009-02-14 06:04 ]
I get the feeling the fractured interpersonal relationships are representative of Echo's identity right now. That relationships will build as her identity builds. Like how Boyd's protectiveness of Echo will create a jumping off point when Echo is finally able to reciprocate this attachment to him.
Generic ?

I think it seeded enough hints that there's a lot more going on under the surface that it could maybe be looked at more as a generic bud that could open up into a more complexly built flower.

Plus it's a modern-set sci-fi show about memory-wiped-and-replaced people living in bizarre communal living quarters, so at the very least the set-up isn't generic, not in the least. Unless I haven't been paying attention to genre TV.
Brett's totally right. There are way too many shows dissecting the nature of personality/conciousness by means of secret organizations filled with mindwiped people being imprinted with new personalities. Whedon is a hack! This is just like every other damned show on TV! Seriously, though, Brett what did you like/not like and what did you think was generic about it?
STUFF I LIKED:

1. The complete red herring of "the blurry vision" whose only real purpose was to make us miss the significance of the asthma and the inhaler. Its apparent slight "side affect" then was the trigger for all the ensuing badness. Plus the off the cuff "We also gave her asthma" or something to that affect, made me laugh. Nice delivery.

2. How the point of contact bad guy wasn't even the main bad guy. It all seemed pretty stereotypical and then he was offed and of course the whole time we've been conditioned to think (by all those previously watched shows) that the "real bad guy is the "inside man" - but he wasn't. In fact he turned out to be relatively decent by evil kidnapper standards, despite the way scary mask. And then just as you feel a displaced sense of warmth for the guy because he's going to be so kind as to let her walk out the door with the girl and keep the 8 million...he gets shot.

3. With the exception of the massively overloaded and slightly confusing exposition, there was some nice back and forth dialog. Good rhythm between the characters. Either them actors or them editors got one really great sense of timing. Or both.

4. Those brief moments of philosophical inquiry.

5. The intriguing, although way confusing, end with the guy and the bodies and the video.

STUFF I DIDN'T LIKE:

1. The opening "job" for Echo. I know it was a job and she was supposed to be the perfect date and it was all some guy's cliched fantasy but it was cheesy and boring. TOO cliched. In fact it felt completely unconnected to the rest of the show.

2. The Echo persona. I'm gonna assume that as Eliza got more comfortable it becomes more believable, but every time she went "Echo" I saw acting. That said, I've been trying to figure out just how would a "blank non-person" act? I'm glad it's not my job. Go Eliza.

3. The aforementioned exposition. Did it all really need to be there? Couldn't it have been simpler? Less detailed?

4. I don't really care about Echo as of yet. How do you care about someone who isn't a someone? She has no point of view if she's just erased all the time. The workers (doctor, handler, programmer) are far more interesting characters out of the gate.

5. Somehow I wish I had been a bit surprised when
Sierra rammed through the door guns a blazing. But it just seemed expected.

6. The theme song. There was a theme song?

THINGS I'M REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO FINDING OUT MORE ABOUT:

1. This place is illegal. So what is a somewhat ethical seeming ex-cop doing there?

2. How many times can you erase an active anyway? My flash drive will only take so much of it.

3. These people have no difficulty just murdering anyone to cover their tracks. How did this all come to be? How do they all really justify it to themselves.

4. You just know some employee somewhere in the dollhouse is going to be taking advantage of that whole lovely ease of erasing and there's going to be abuse of the system.

5. How blank are those personalities anyway?

6. That place is going to start seeming awful claustrophobic. How does a person remind them self of who they are when their entire environment is a control? Outward expression of self in the form of clothing and personal space is elemental. Will this be reflected as Echo experiences bleed through?

I'm sure I can come up with more, but those are my thoughts for now.
Grr Argh!! I absolutely loved this episode! It was so much fun throwing Joss show watching party for the first time in years! I am a huge fan of Topher and the handler at this point. The FBI aspect doesn't really grab me as much. The scene at the rich dad's house where she had a flashback to Sierra was probably one of the coolest. I think the ambiance of this show is perfect.

One thing I find just really interesting is just how different this feels compared to the other three shows. I mean, you see that wonderful name at the bottom but the feel was really unique. I am definitely a fan! WOOOHOOO!!!
Great beginning (well, after the first scene with Olivia and Eliza) and great ending. The middle was OK. Very excited to see where it goes.

Theme song is great. I disagree with the haters.
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this series. It's certainly interesting, but it lacks the hook that Buffy and Angel had, which was also why I couldn't really get into Firefly.

I actually found Eliza Dushku to be a little grating. For me, she seems to work better in small doses, so I'm not sure what a weekly Eliza series will feel like.

I'll continue to watch, of course. I'm excited to see the original pilot next week.
You're going to be disappointed next week, then, Riker as next week is not the original pilot.
Not that I'm really surprised considering the type of people that hang out there, but the people on IMDB are really trashing the show:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1135300/board
I just watched it twice. I liked well enough it the first time, and a lot more the second time.

I loved the fact that actives can't be programmed with strengths alone. Strengths that exist as struggles against weaknesses are much more interesting. It's like customizable kryptonite for any situation. The writers must love it. It's also Joss with a 17-foot capital J: Think of Buffy's power and how it comes from darkness, or Angel's soul and how it exists only in the absence of happiness.

Because the actives' programming comes from scans of real people, it always has a built-in chance of failure. In other shows, Joss amplifies one person's highs and lows when that person has superpowers. On this show it appears that he'll splice different highs and lows into the same person. Since the source is a real person, it's never going to be sterile or predictable like programming a robot. Topher isn't a composer working with individual musical notes. Instead, he makes a mix CD of different people's souls, loads it into an active, and presses "shuffle". Cacophony ensues.

I didn't like the motorcycle or dancing scenes because there wasn't proper setup. They makes sense in the context of the "perfect date" later, but I didn't feel it along with the characters during the moment. I was thinking, "who are these people, and why should I care?" I was very concerned during the first 10 minutes, but then it got better quickly.

The dialog is definitely more "normal" than in his other stories. I miss the silly banter of Buffy, the retro-Chinese language of Firefly, or the future speak of Fray. Perhaps it's good that this show doesn't have those linguistic quirks if we want a to attract bigger audience?

It took 18 minutes to get to the first laugh. Hopefully that won't be the norm.

I disliked the boxing scene's literalness at first, but then really enjoyed the subversion at the end.

I had to watch the end twice to get it.
The complete red herring of "the blurry vision" whose only real purpose was to make us miss the significance of the asthma and the inhaler.

Well, it was also there to set up Boyd running into the imprint room hoping she wasn't wiped yet, only to be disappointed because Echo has her "blank slate" look on her face... which then reverses again to turn out to just be her nearsighted look.

Also, these Summer/Eliza bits make me want to vomit in my mouth.
I dunno, there's actually a shocking amount of praise to be found there for an imdb board.
Eh. Halfway through. Very bored now..... Fastlane + CSI Miami. If I wanted to watch that gorram crap, I would have, but I didn't.

This isn't Joss. This is pure FUX crap.
I can't stop being bummed that Eliza and Joss didn't do a Faith series to actually enjoy watching this...
I don't even remotely see what the big deal about the Summer/Eliza scenes was. Were they wearing shock collars or something that I couldn't see?

Question about the ending --
Because if it got away knowing things that it shouldn't about itself and angry about them along with the (presumably) psychotic effects of a splintered set of overlapping failed/failing imprints... chances are some of them are dangerous or as you say they are just as dangerous as any human being... which is not something to underestimate, btw. I know you meant it dismissively/pejoratively, but even without a super dangerous imprint, pissed off folks of even average intelligence can be nasty :)
b!x, ah yes, I forgot. Darn. Just going to have to watch it again. And again. : D
I thought the first 10 minutes or so were pretty weak, but it got a lot better as it went on. That bothers me though, because I've watched the first episodes of other shows and given up 10 minutes in.

In the first scene, all I could think was "Faith! Keep her away from The Glove of Minigon!" Then there was the motorcycle thing, which I guess was for other potential viewers; not me. Then there was the dancing scene, which was for the leg men in the audience... Then I became a leg man...

I didn't buy Echo's negotiator character at first. I was thinking "Come on, that's just Faith in glasses and a pencil skirt. You know better than that, Joss!" But it ended up working for me, as I did become invested in the success of that character. By contrast, when Amy Acker showed up, I wasn't thinking "Fred" even though she was wearing a lab coat.

I worry that Joss's best stuff is inaccessible to general audiences (e.g. the double meaning in lines like "Who does she think she is?") So, most of my concerns about the episode are based on my paranoia about it attracting and keeping a big enough audience. The critics that complained that it was confusing or hard to follow are huge idiots. It was not hard to follow, even by regular TV drama standards. The last scene was mysterious, but it was obviously supposed to be.
I found it pretty uneven in quality so it was a bit underwhelming for me. There's tons of potential though, storylines and characters have me excited. Last 10 minutes were especially solid.

LOVED Amy,The EJO namedrp, and of course "grr argh."

Really unsure about Eliza however. She was fine in some scenes, very meh in others. Also the theme/credits are pretty dissapointing. =/
King,
Anybody else think Ghostbusters when Topher was blowing on the hard drive after the memory wipe? Think that was intentional?
Emmie,
I really like watching this show. I'm excited for next week.
Isn't it possible that if Echo is going to start remembering things about her past life, the "rogue" doll could start remembering things about the personalities imprinted on him/her over time? Which includes dangerous things like martial arts training ect? There's many ways in which they could twist it to make it so the technology has gone wrong.

But I agree that the biggest threat is the very knowledge that the Dollhouse exists.
Enjoyed the show muchly, though it was not without fault. It had a few moments that screamed "this is a pilot" but very few pilots don't have those. Pilots are just really hard to make good and grabbing. Especially with network television. The thing I found myself noting the most while watching was how Fox it was while at the same time keeping itself very Jossian.
Things I loved:
Harry Lenix- come on, there's no arguing that guy.
the wtf ending that adds a level of scope to the series.
Victor's chin- it's just a really great chin and i am drawn to it every time he's on screen.
Echo being Echo- I can see the complaints but I loved it, then again I loved Thandie Newton's grown woman baby in Beloved, so what do I know.
The Eddie Olmos shout out.
Sierra.
Dr. Claire.
I was intrigued by Olivia Williams but am not sold on her yet.

I wasn't one hundred percent on board with the choice of opening engagement, but that wasn't for us. That was for the people across america turning in unsure who need something shiny to keep their attention. It isn't perfect but it's the nature of the network beast and thats the game that Jos wants to play.

But of course I'm wrong and it was just mediocre, so I should really watch it again so I can see this mediocre I seem to me missing out on.

[ edited by theMidnighter on 2009-02-14 07:03 ]
After the horrible terminator episode tonight (IMO) I was so bored that I wasn't even paying attention to the first part of Dollhouse. I just re-watched it after getting a caffeine fix and enjoyed it much more the second time. There was a lot I missed the first time through. I enjoyed it overall though and can't wait to see more of the rogue active Alpha.

Why did they choose that part of the song for the title though?
They chopped out all the words and played the la la la part of the song.

The background soundtrack is really lacking as previously stated as well. I hope they work on that. A bad soundtrack can ruin a tv show or a movie. I expected more from the new age master of musicals. Star Wars wouldn't have been a great film without John Williams.

Oh yeah, I loved that dress in the dance club. It was not as great as the one she wore on Conan last night, but it was even shorter and leggier. I am glad Joss likes to sex it up a bit. I just hope it doesn't turn off female viewers too much.

[ edited by Jaynes Hat on 2009-02-14 07:14 ]
Anyone who gave that a 'B' is clueless. Solid A-
Okay, I was in a rush because I had to leave right after the show was over, but now that I've got more time, some very positive thoughts:

Topher wins the UnpluggedCrazy Best Frakking Character in This Whole Show Award already. Everything that came out of Fran Kranz's mouth was gold. Such a sarcastic, arrogant, little prick...ah, I love it. Like I said to my friend, he's like the Randal Graves of Dollhouse (cookie to those who get the reference). A lot of people seem huge on Boyd, and while I do like him, he's perhaps my least favorite character so far.

Also, there was very nice symbolism here. Echo rescues the girl from a cocoon-like chamber, only to immediately climb into a cocoon-like chamber herself. There were some other thoughts I had too, but I am going to have to rewatch this puppy. Might even do a lil' review.
Woo! Loved it! It was great.
The show was pretty much average. Honestly, if this wasn't a Joss show, I think it would get cut very soon. It has a ton of potential, but I don't think we saw much of it in the pilot. There was never really a moment where I was on the edge of my seat or highly anticipating the next moment. If I didn't already know what the premise of the show was, I think it would have been a bit confusing.

I'll watch the next few episodes to see how the show goes, but I'm not really impressed so far. There's no real attachment to any of the characters and we NEED that.

Best thing this episode: shirtless Tamoh Penikett.
Rewatching makes it better, too.

WZS™.
Yes, everyone should watch it twice.

Lots of little clues in there that I missed. But maybe I was still asleep from the craptastic non-summer terminator tonight as I previously stated.
There was at least one frame in that last sequence where I could have sworn that . But then there were also some that suggested otherwise.
Hey all. In desperation I've found Dollhouse online and I just started watching ... but the beginning seemed wrong so I stopped. Is it supposed to begin with grainy black and white footage of Adele and Echo talking before switching to colour close ups of them? If one of you lovely people could shoot me a really quick email telling me whether or not that is where it's supposed to start (eddieie@hotmail.com) I would be enormously grateful (I can't read any comments in this thread for fear of spoilers). Thanks!
Frakkin' wonderful. That's my view. Best first (aired) episode of any Joss series yet. I'm hooked.
I'm with snot! The hubby and I just watched it and both that it was fantastic. I'm hooked, line and sinker. So deliciously and provokingly disturbing and beautiful.

Must rewatch. STAT.
Well, at the risk of being overly simplistic: I liked it. And seeing the "Grr-Arrg" at the end made my heart warm and happy.
To balance out the negative out there, there are lots of positive comments over at the EW PopWatch blog.

Personally I liked it a lot. Not quite to the love stage yet but was instantly reminded of what I've been missing in television lately. There's always so much more to a Whedon show than what lies on the surface and Dollhouse is no exception.

I was worried about Eliza in this role, especially after reading critic after critic pan her versatility. But I saw four different characters tonight. Maybe I'll change my mind as we see more but for now I'm impressed.

As for the people who keep asking why you would go to the Dollhouse for your needs, I can only ask why wouldn't you? Clearly the Dollhouse has a reputation for delivering exactly what you need at any given time and they can do it almost instantly. If you can't go to the police and have to hire a kidnapping negotiator, why try to find a good one when you can go to people who can basically create the one most suited for your particular situation? Obviously there are some moral/ethical questions here about the type of people who would use a service like this but, those aside, I don't really see the argument for why you wouldn't use them. Especially since the Dollhouse clearly has been around for awhile and they seem to be running a multitude of engagements. If they've got a reputation for delivering the goods, then of course people will use their services.

And, yes, nothing thrilled me more than the Grr Argh at the end. Who knew one could love a vanity card so much?
My first gut reaction is that I liked it. I had a fun time watching it, and so did the people I watched it with. I haven't really examined it intellectually yet, mostly just fire bad tree pretty...

But I did enjoy how it is clearly going to be about identity. I believe Joss said this at one point, and it is the perfect plot for it. I love how right off the bat they say things hinting at the larger theme. What makes us who we are? The setup is perfect for it, because essentially we have a blank slate as the main character. Echo is someone who is no one. She has none of the things that make us real people. As her memories surface, we will get to see, step by step, what builds a person. This is also analyzed while she is active, with a strong focus on personality. This episode said that we are largely made up of our flaws, and that our flaws must be there for our positive qualities to be. This kind of stuff really intrigues me, and I really look forward to more.

I will probably think about this topic all week. YAY! Joss is back on TV!
I am THRILLED! I thought the episode was exciting and even moving.... I agree w/Kris that there was definitely a La Femme Nikita note at the beginning/introduction to 'Caroline'.... A close friend (who never liked Faith) didn't think that Eliza was convincing, but I thought that the story sold it by having the client question her abilities/appearance and the way she broke down when she recognized one of the kidnappers.... I am very happy, but then I wasn't put off by the Eliza/Summer introductions either, they looked so cute promoting their shows, it is all good in my opinion.

And can I say how happy the 'grrr argh' makes me?!?! LOL
I'm BSG'ing, but just popped in during commercial to say we loved it! Loved it! I can see what FOX kinda pushed in, and I can see lots of places for it to grow, but it's nonetheless ONE DAMN FINE SHOW! Really something, and I'm saying this sans kool-aid.

More TK...

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2009-02-14 07:28 ]
Okay, keeping in mind that Joss had to go back and recreate the opening episode thanks to Fox executives going, "I don't get it, not enough action, what's this about?", I thought it was fairly compelling. There's a nice Wolfram & Hart air about the digs, sinister, nothing supernatural. But I didn't love it. I think as we see more of the actives in action, and more twists and turns are introduced (I know of these, but don't know what they are as I avoided spoilers) the show will become more interesting and "Oh my God, what will happen next-like". Eliza is fine, but I don't think the changes in persona were very defined. In fact, she's more haunting after she's been wiped and not all there.

The ending was chilling - oh boy, someone's got a sick obsession. What a hook.

Other than that, I did have some fun with which characters in the show correlate somewhat recognizably to characters on Buffy or Angel. Good times: Tahmoh Penicott's agent = Mal; Topher Brink = Xander; Harry Lennix = Giles; Reed Diamond = an older Lindsey.

That's all I got as I'm completely exhausted.

Grrrrrr Arrrrrg

Nite.
At the risk of redundancy, given that there's 300+ comments, here's what I thought.

Loved it. I'm not a huge fan of procedurals, so I would've preferred it if less time was spent on the hostage situation and more on the stuff that really intrigued me. I already knew the set-up of the show from reading about it, and I'd seen the Big Spa before, but I wasn't prepared for how effectively the show creeped me out. The cut from "what if actions didn't have consequences?" to the motorcycle chase was perfect and I was hooked from there. Once you get involved in the world, everything that happens is tinged with this eerie mournfulness.

So it bummed me out a bit that the majority of the episode did its best to bury such a cool and unique vibe. The hostage negotiator idea wasn't bad by any means, and it's really interesting when you start to care about the scarred psyche of what's essentially a fabricated personality, especially when there's ANOTHER real person (Echo) being victimized by that personality. But what I got from the hostage stuff was more of a "huh, that's interesting" intellectual-type appreciation than the visceral almost-nausea of the stuff that dealt with who Echo is. I realize that they can't deal with who Echo is all the time; if they did, the show would have to be a miniseries or a movie. But I hope that in future episodes the two parts of the show match tonally a bit better. And I'm not worried because, even with these criticisms, I thought it was great and it seems headed in the right direction.
Huh, I don't see those character correlations at all.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-02-14 07:35 ]
My impressions...
The less good stuff:
- Bit stingy on funny moments.
- Gratuitous, much? from the credits through the dance scene. And yes, forgettable music. But possibly it was wiped from my brain.
- Not very smooth, storyline-wise, with some moments not really meshing logically with others or seeming randomly pieced together. That may smooth out on a second-watching.
- Some of the in-the-Dollhouse scenes rang fairly hollow. Why the big spa set-up at all? Do their blank personas live to get massaged?
- Some iffy acting moments.

The good stuff:
- Loved that I got invested in the Ms. Penn persona and was rooting for her alternative happy ending through Echo's "adventure."
- Love the deeper setup of personas with fully human flaws and history; still, this seemed a bit inconsistent with the fluffy perfect date premise set up right off.
- Definitely some promising characters, some very interesting ethics at play, and some rogue action to look forward to. Much yay.
- Some awesome acting moments.

- Grr argh! My first live Whedon TV premiere.
I went in accepting that the pilot might be weak, but having no doubt that it would have a ton of potential and only get better as time passes. But I actually think the pilot was pretty damn good. Not perfect, but certainly engaging. And I still have no doubt that it will only improve with time. Nice work, Joss & Co.
I watched an enjoyed it a lot more then I thought I would. I also knew it was only the first episode.

b!X- I'm sorry the spots with Summer & Eliza made you want to vomit. I found myself cheering! Nothing wrong with some of our favorite actresses promoting their show. It was more proof that FOX does wants Dollhouse & T:SCC to succeed.

The show was very intriguing. I found myself feeling sorry for Eco and interested in her story right away. The scene with the young blonde strapped to the chair with needles in her head was disturbing. I thought Echo was going to run in and save her but I guessing we will learn later.

Tahmoh’s character was very likeable & very intense. I can’t wait to learn more about his character as well.
So 2 random observations from me...

1) I can see where I'm going to have difficulty investing in the characters that are actives since they are so devoid of personality. I was vibing on Eleanor Penn but we'll never see her again...or will we? I would definitely bring back the implanted personalities that become popular for another spin.

2) It's hard for me to imagine any scenario where a guy orders up an active and doesn't end with "oh yeah I'm going to want to do her so make her hot." When the father of the kidnapped girl said he'd have a bed turned down for Eleanor I was like huh? Did he order ala carte?
L-O-V-E it! Can't describe how happy... Haven't seen a live Joss show in SOOOOOOO long! I let my roommate watch it again when he got home from work... "let" HA! Now I can say that I've seen every ep of a Joss show multiple times again! MUWHAHAHA! OK, now that the nerd rage has begun to fade, I am glad that it is good. I got worried by some of the reviews, and there wasn't much of the funny, but I didn't even notice that until it was over. Thought the reveal of Sierra being a second active on the job was really neat. I was glad that the scars on Amy weren't WAY over the top. I love her beautiful face. I like where I see the Topher/Saunders angle going... and I guess that's it for now... If you are reading these Joss, Eliza, and company, GREAT JOB!! I can't wait for the musical commentary on this ep!

[ edited by montresor on 2009-02-14 07:53 ]
Love the deeper setup of personas with fully human flaws and history; still, this seemed a bit inconsistent with the fluffy perfect date premise set up right off.

If you mean the teaser, I'm rewatching it now, and wondering if her imperfection might be the bit where she's a sore loser. Or, one of her imperfections, anyway.
So, did everyone get the asthma medication commercial right before the "We also gave her asthma"? Does that count as product placement?
I kind of loved it! Waaay more than I expected to after some of the reviews I read. Two concerns of critics that I thought might be a problem for me were not at all.
1) I was worried about Dushku being able to pull it off, but I thought she did a great job. Also, my husband, who disliked Faith enough to not really want to watch this, decided at the last minute to watch it with me and said, "I like her MUCH better in this show."(!)
And 2) the whole business of not being able to connect with Echo was not a problem for me at all. When she sat down in that chair happy & feeling like she was falling in love with a great guy, and woke up having forgotten all about him, I felt that loss she couldn't feel. And the same again when they wiped away her triumph over the negotiator's abuser. For me that was really sad.
I agree with criticisms of the first scene and of the heavy exposition, but there was much of interest here, and I can't wait to see the rest of it.
I am so excited about this show. Tonight's episode wasn't flawless by any stretch of the imagination, but it was intriguing, engaging (no pun intended), and the potential for how great it could be is definitely right there on screen. I didn't love this as a first episode, but most of Joss's season/series openers have left me cold, especially on first viewing. I'm wondering if I will become more endeared to this episode once I've seen the entire first season.

Just a couple of quick likes and dislikes:

Dislikes first, 'cause no one likes to end on a sour note:
-The kickboxing. Wholly unnecessary.
-Opening the show with Adelle and Caroline/Echo. It set a weird tone right from the get-go that was hard to shake.
-Who the hell are all these people? A lot of info was thrown at us, and not enough all at once. I'm curious to see how the characters of Adelle and Boyd are fleshed out, but they both left me cold tonight.

And now the stuff I liked:
-I was pleasantly surprised by Topher. From the previews I had seen, I thought he was going to put me off right from the start, but I found myself more intrigued by his character than anyone else's.
-Sierra commanding that hideaway, guns a-blazin'. That was a nice climactic visual to what could have become a weepfest of a hostage situation.
-The creepifying tone and musical score. Very effective.
-Eliza. 'Nuff said.

I can't wait to see what's in store in the coming weeks, especially the oft-talked about episode 6.

Joss and co., if you're reading this, I think you've got the potential for a fantastic show. Best of luck to you!
The episode overall was kinda cool... but confusing. Dr. Saunders totally threw me off.. i cant wait to know more about her...
I know the comments have reached somewhere near the number of 350 at this point, but I just finished watching, and I wanted to say how much I enjoyed Eliza's performance.

I admit that I questioned whether she would come off as believable in all of the different personas she would assume as an "active": I'd never seen her work outside of the Buffyverse. I had no reason to worry, however. She did quite well, and I was surprised to see how much I cared about what was happening to her. I'm glad there were vulnerable moments. I look forward to seeing how Joss develops her awareness.

I'm a little irritated that screen time was utilized on showboating crap like the motorcycle racing/dancing instead of more character development, but I guess those were attention getting moments, and this was a premier. Ergo flashy bikes and provocative dancing.

Overall, I enjoyed it. I'm so pleased Joss is finally back making "small screen" serials. It's a real pleasure.
I had to dust off the manual but in case anyone is wondering what happens next, here's what we did in the old days for Angel episodes.

The day after - much discussion about ratings
A couple of days after - glee over the trailer and related promotional material
Days after - meta discussion
So happy I can take part this time! I started coming here after Serenity and long before Doctor Horrible. During the Long Hiatus. So glad it's over!
The presence of 'Alpha' in the story line is, by far, the most interesting part of it all, for me.
I liked it!

But I do have one question for Joss:

Why do you write such strong asthmatic characters?
One more thing I liked: Summer and Eliza, together at last. For those interested, here's a You Tube clip of some Summer/Eliza outtakes. Enjoy!

Oh, and apologies if this link was posted somewhere up above! That's a lot of comments to sift through, and I am, in a word, lazy.
Wow, I loved it! Can't wait for the next episode! Thought the first part with the date and the motorbikes was hot and also sad, like Cinderella but she doesn't get the prince. The hostage part was really intringing and the end part left me wanting to find out more about Caroline and her back story. The premise is great and there's so much potential story arcs, endless possibilities, so I can't wait to see where it goes from week to week. Good to see familiar names in the the opening credits, it's like a homecoming almost, and especially grand to see written and directed by Joss Whedon! Joss, I heart you, that was awesome, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I saw it. I liked parts of it, didn't love it, didn't like some of it. Have to say it has great production values - obviously Fox is spending money on this. Thought this first show was half of an episode - too many things going on or it felt like too much was crammed into it. Probably would not have sat through it if I didn't know it was a Whedon show since it was slow coming on. Believe that is going to be the problem, not too many people are as invested in this as we Whedon fans are - can't see them sticking around long enough to see the payoff. Can see this getting Firefly'ed. Even with Fox promoting it like crazy, premise is hard pressed to grab mondo casual viewers. For one, did not really care about the "engagements" and if that is going to be the draw for the casual viewer they're going to have to write that part better. As a Whedon fan, the overall arch is fascinating - and maybe therein lies a weakness as the "engagements" look like they will be the triggers that drive the over-arcing storyline. If Fox is banking on the engagements as being the main draw - can't see it happening as Joss seems to be using them as the means to and end here and not vice versa. Will have to see in the next few episodes.

Don't think the Terminator crowd will necessarily stay tuned for Dollhouse. Thought that was the point of the first 15 minutes was to lure us boys in with the motorcyles and short dresses. Don't think many of them stayed on after that though.

In another vein, did anyone else get the feeling that Eliza was projecting some weird SMG-like vibe. In some scenes I had this feeling of deja vu tied to SMG, couldn't shake it. My buddy watching with me said something to the effect that he thought it was the Buffy chick. I mentioned that she had been on Buffy - that she was Faith - and he said he didn't mean it that way but that he thought for a minute she was Buffy - with dark hair.

Anyway, I think I'm going to live this show week to week. Hoping for the best but sort of having this bad feeling. At least Joss has 12 episodes to get a foothold in.
b!X- I'm sorry the spots with Summer & Eliza made you want to vomit. I found myself cheering! Nothing wrong with some of our favorite actresses promoting their show. It was more proof that FOX does wants Dollhouse & T:SCC to succeed.

It's not the promotion that bothers me, obviously. It's that they had to act like idiots.
The Dollhouse provides whatever so whomever their client needs and it that way they are kind of like publicist especially in the old days when things could be kept secret and secretive. (They are kind of W&H like as well). Clients retain the dollhouse because they don't have to worry about the clean up.

What I'm interested in is how far will the house allow a client to go with one of the dolls. Say a really rich client likes to rape women who really believe they are being raped and wants to be able to do that with little fear of repercussions; Would that be fair game? As long as the doll isn't physically damaged? Would the house believe that they are doing the society good since the victim would soon be mind wiped and would be no victim left? Or would they see that a bit like participating in a drugged up date rape? Or some less icky scenario.
I wasn't too impressed with those spots either. Couple of amusing lines, but mostly kind of awkward. And Eliza pretty much quoted one of the promos at one point.

I don't know why reviewers said there was no humor. I laughed a bunch of times. I also enjoyed Topher more than I thought I would.
The spots with Summer and Eliza were horrible and took away from the feeling of their characters. It seemed like they were selling something on Playboy TV, which I am not hating on, just didn't seem appropriate for a sci-fi night.
I was prepared to be underwhelmed after all the lukewarm reviews, but I was more than pleasantly surprised. I thought the pilot struck a decent balance between entertainment and moral exploration (even if they felt a little shoved together), and a stronger balance between dark ambiguity and triumphant heroism. The premise is even more exciting to me now that I'm not going to be holding my breath waiting for the good episodes - we just got our first.

Also, Amy Acker is already making my heart ache for her character, and we've barely met her. This is a completely new side of her, and it's utterly haunting.

[ edited by zoinkers on 2009-02-14 09:14 ]
I think it seeded enough hints that there's a lot more going on under the surface that it could maybe be looked at more as a generic bud that could open up into a more complexly built flower.
An elegant defense, and an eloquent summery.

But, on to my own two cents...
I could have done w/out Caroline, or at least the yearbook thing, but at the same time I get where he was going with it and I respect it.

I thought that this pilot did an amazing job setting up people and relationships in no time at all (see "tyrant") and with every character I was left wanting to know more about them. I think the perfect example of that is Dr. Saunders. She had almost no time, but the scars on her face--and especially the way she was AWARE of the scars, all the time, in the very way she moved--really conveyed a ton of answers and questions about why she was there.

I didn't like the credits and was disappointed by the crappy non-song that had been hand designed by two people whose music I love, but my father loved it and swears it's perfect, so there you go...

I didn't notice any exposition in dialog, which is a huge compliment, actually. I mean, I noticed that I got information, but I was sucked into the storytelling and the people and I never felt like I was waiting out a monologue so we could get back to the show. So...points!

I liked Paul's introduction a lot, and I thought the boxing was a great way of explaining his personality, but while I liked his scenes individually after that, they didn't quite seem to mesh with the rest of the show.

Naked in a house full of dead bodies: icky thought process, no matter what your reasons. Not that I'm criticizing the idea, just noticing the character. Was it the "Lizzy Bordon" thing from Angel? (Did I spell that right? Oh, well.)

All in all, I really liked it and I think it will appeal to a wide audience, because it was both smart and understandable (except when it wasn't...understandable that is, Joss is always smart:).

About the personality engineering--it reminded me (and my father, we watched it together) a lot of roll playing. We have family friends who are very into Ars Magica and in that game you have to balance your strengths with weaknesses. It makes a person realistic, definitely, and it answers a lot of my questions about Dollhouse. I also loved Topher's explanation of it.

I didn't think the asthma was linked specifically to one of the "good" traits, I just thought that there had to be bad traits so he took ones that made sense and worked. I guess it's a question of how big his parts are--are they slices of people, or are they little nuts and bolts and easily separated washers?

Anyway, asthma may be a problem for the character, yes, but it made a ton of sense as a choice. People who have been physically abused/violated often have physical symptoms that manifest around it...so she needed a debilitating physical reaction to stress and danger, and asthma allows her to keep her head, unlike panic attacks, fainting spells, or the like.

Anyway, that was a really long yay vote.

I'm such a dork for not getting the ghost line. Must sleep and watch again. I think I'm a fan, and I think I'll like it better the next time. And the next time, and the next time, and...the...

*snore* (but in a feminine way, of course)
"It's not the promotion that bothers me, obviously. It's that they had to act like idiots."

I totally agree Bix. For some reason it made me feel like I was back in high school, and the popular cheerleaders were trying to coerce me into going to a football game I had no intention of being suckered into attending.

"Like, come to the big game, like, okay?"
North - I'm part of the 'Terminator crowd' - it's a surprisingly thoughtful show. It really takes its time, and is far from the action-oriented spectacle one would expect (and maybe even hope for).
I didn't really care for the promos either, although, sadly, they were much better than similar ones I've seen.

I bet Eliza and Summer could manage a synchronized high-kick, though, which is more than I can say for the cheerleaders we had...:)

[ edited by heinouslizard on 2009-02-14 09:22 ]

[ edited by heinouslizard on 2009-02-14 09:22 ]
Maybe this has been mentioned already (but it's such a long thread and I'm already up too late) - was the kidnapped girl's house the same location as the "plane" in the WGA strike vid posted here a while back - the one with Zack, Jed, and Maurissa?
Rather than echo (hah, didn't mean for that pun) everyone's sentiments, I'll just mention the dating service commercial I saw while watching the premiere...which almost seemed to be referencing the show. Wherein a man walks up to a store counter to "purchase" the perfect mate...maybe it wasn't so different from most cheesy dating service ads, but it made me giggle anywho.
After nearly a year (for me) of anticipation, I started watching the show...and then I couldn't sit still. I made a cheesecake, warmed up my dinner, placated a 5-year-old--everything but sit there and watch the entire episode. I am SO grateful for DVR. Tomorrow, I'll sit down, focus, and watch the show. From my brief moments of paying attention, I can say this: the end of the episode was far more captivating (i.e. it held my attention) than the beginning. But, wow, that white dress! I'm straight, but even I had to say d***.
I'm intrigued, iz new and different, which should be exciting!
was the kidnapped girl's house the same location as the "plane" in the WGA strike vid posted here a while back - the one with Zack, Jed, and Maurissa?

Doesn't look like it to me.
Ah ... it was the couch and the windows that reminded me of that location. But I guess the room in the pilot was two stories ... I'll have to look again. Thanks for the link!
I loved it. My roommate loved it too, and she's slightly twitchy about me trying to rope her into shows.

The helmet-throwing was absurd, as was the highly abbreviated dress. If the helmet had fallen off, it would have made sense, since taking the time to put it back on would have resulted in the guy getting that much more of an advantage in the race.

Anyway. I liked that we got to see who Echo was when she was actually her own person. Didn't expect that. Topher and Dr. Saunders are awesome. I loved the double-meaning of Topher's "running from something" bit, with how he was looking at heavily and mysteriously scarred Dr. Saunders with great interest while saying it.

The boxing scene actually made sense to me, even if it was rather gratuitous. Whenever he was making his points to the FBI blokes, he'd be rallying in the match, and whenever they were shooting him down, he'd be taking quite a beating in the match. And then, though he appeared to have conceded at the end of the conversation, he came out victorious in the match, so we know he's not the type to be giving up quite that easily.

Loved the bit in the bathroom. Loved the seemingly out-of-nowhere cliffhanger ending. Loved the flaws/strengths balancing and their unforeseen complications with the Miss Penn persona (and the promise of future such unforeseen complications). ADORED the redemption via Echo of the unknown real personality who was kidnapped and later committed suicide. "You can't fight a ghost," indeed. PERFECT.

Also, since watching the episode, I've realized that the premise of the show simultaneously reminds me of The Island and Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction. Which, since I think both are awesome, I find nifty. And it doesn't remind me of them to the point that I feel like I'm watching either with a Jossian makeover. I just love the connection that all three deal with personality and memory and their roles in defining who we are and what makes us human.

Definitely going to watch it again tomorrow, and cannot wait for next Friday.
I think there's a correlation between the answer to the questions b!X and others have aired about the flaws in the Actives' personae, and the sub-plot to which we're introduced by the closing scene.

If I'm right, the narrative to that sub-plot will show

Just thinking out loud, but that's a place that I, at least, would be interested in seeing Joss explore.
I think the boxing scene made sense (I don't actually know anyone who didn't get it), but I'm in the camp that found it kind of unnecessary and a little too heavily metaphorical. Personally, I'd have found it more interesting just to see this guy we didn't know, Ballard, telling his bosses he'd back down. Only to have him reappear later in the episode not having done so.

But, while I do find it an engaging writing point to debate, my problem with it isn't a large enough quibble for me to get worked up over. Heh.
Interesting thought, Mercenary. (Who ever thought I'd say or type that sentence?)
I'm lazy, it's late, and my memory's terrible, so I'd like someone more obsessive than me to correct this quote: "I want to do everything - is that too much to ask?"

I kinda wish they'd held a bit longer on Echo's expression as the 'bed' closes - I remember it from an early promo and it's stuck with me.
The quote is correct, zoinkers.
Thanks again! I almost always get quotes wrong.
I've just watched it once so far. I'm ready to watch it again and expect to enjoy it as much as the first time if not more. And I'm excited to see more.

So far, I have the most connection with Boyd, and I'm intrigued by Adelle. I liked that they went as far as to show Caroline signing up for the Dollhouse, and we saw her before she was Echo in that video too (unless that was an imprint, of course).

Anyway, more thoughts after I've watched it again. Nothing sounded as good as the Grr Aargh at the end. I hope the ratings were good :) Nice work team.
Well, I'm back and I'll just say a few things - but very longwindedly - 'cause it's late & I'm tired, but I thought this was a great start on a fascinating show.

LOVING:

Eliza's acting. I think she's doing a great job. She's got layers, and nuance, and she's doing good combos and variations of energy/power and withholding/subtlety. The only thing I can see - and I've seen it mentioned somewhere that Joss wanted less "bedroom eyes" from Eliza in one scene - is that maybe she has a hard time laying back on the "love me" attraction/charm stuff. It's so automatic for most actors - radiating that old sexy charm - that it can be hard to turn off. But like Adam Baldwin has said, it's better to have to be reined in than be pushed to do more, and I know Eliza can stretch her wings now that she has a role worthy of her talent.

Everybody else's acting. They're all good - nothing less than top performers, I thought - Amy was perfect as the Doctor, Adelle rocked as Olivia, and everybody else was smashing. I can't wait to see more, especially of the other Actives. BTW, I hope we get to see some male Actives sometime soon, other than in the background, or this Dollhouse will start to feel lopsided.

The writing - despite the many Exposition Songs that had had to be sung, this stuff was handled smoothly, and we've already got a good taste of how each character thinks & speaks - and a sense of what they're willing to show, and what they're hiding. There's humor, and subtlety, and in your face bad-assery and already a great variety of colors and tones. Nifty. There were a few things that seemed "hit you over the head with it" - like the boxing scene with Paul - but I dunno if that will feel the same for everyone.

The direction. Joss obviously loves actors, and it shows. As usual in his shows, everyone seemed to work well as an ensemble, and there were no wrong notes, or over-the-topness, etc. That's good direction.

Production values. Just top-notch. The Dollhouse set is lovely on the surface, but with glimpses of the creepy underneath. Everything else looked and felt right - kinda noir and very L.A. Special effects very... um, effective. (And gods, that refrigerator prison box was just horrible.) Oh, and the Chinatown shoot was beautifully done.

NOT SO MUCH:

The Summer-Eliza Interstitial bits. Bleh and serious feh. While seeing these two together was initially quite nifty (for about three seconds) the writing made me want to spork myself in the gelatinous optical orbs. Coy, arch, juvenile, inane. FOX, please. What's a "girl" gotta do to make you never do that again!

Miss Penn in the van - from personality fall-apart to Negotiator With a Plan happened too quickly for me. I got past it fine, but it pulled me out for a while. I understand why she broke like that, but not why she got her shit together so fast just afterwards.

Caroline and her Consequences. I thought it was maybe a little clunky to have this scene all at once at the top. I thought it could've been shown in flashes throughout and worked a little more effectively. But no biggee.

Fox Action-Station touches. I don't need constant action and car chases and fights and movement to keep me occupied or entertained (although I do look forward to some things being blowed-up real good) - but on the other hand, I didn't mind it, either. Just don't shoehorn stuff in at the expense of much needed time to let things unfold.

Well, I could go on and on about it overall - there's so much to it, and so much that's very cool - the mirroring of the Ghosts imagery, the different little boxes and confined spaces conveying a sort of identity confinement in the midst of wide open spaces, Topher as the masterminding artist, etc,. etc. I did especially like the visuals on the credits & the musical theme works for me.

I'm looking forward - greatly - to re-watching this episode, and to seeing what's lined up for us next.

One thing:

Jaynes Hat: "Why did they choose that part of the song for the title though? They chopped out all the words and played the la la la part of the song."

They didn't really chop out the words - according to Jonatha, the "la la la" is what Joss wanted for the show theme, and the wordish stanzas were written & added for a later music video.

Finally, my partner, who can be very laconic in his appreciation, turned to me when the show was over and said, "That was amazing. Are you going to post something on that Whedon-place you visit? 'Cause tell Joss I think his new show is amazing."

So I done it.
VeryVeryCrowded and Emmie, you both beat me to this, but I'm since I wrote it all out, I'm putting it up anyway.

Maybe they use some characteristics of others, in the form of abilities and knowledge to give her greater advantage, but perhaps there is an over-riding conciousness they are using to imprint onto Echo. And perhaps the conciousness of the person they are imprinting on her would depend on certain aspects of that person being present in order to keep the illusion of this reality in place. That person was nearsighted, therefore, Echo must be made to be; same for the asthma. Because the imprint carries memories, such as the one of the kidnapper, and mingled with those memories are the physical characteristics. Too much to take out. Therefore, it is simpler to include the physical characteristics to complete the expectation. Remember that Adelle expressed that it was important for Echo to believe in the illusion and not to suspect that it was false. Perhaps not having those physical characteristics would impede the illusion.

I figured that I'd probably enjoy the show, but I didn't expect I'd do as much speculating about the future as I had for Buffy and Angel. (Missed most of Firefly when it was airing due to the messed-upedness of the scheduling -- watched it on DVD 3-4 epidodes concurrently each day over about a week in the summer of 2006. And just about cried when it was over.) But I am! My mind was spinning possibilities from the opening scene, and almost nonstop during the show. I love this!

Almost missed out on the Grr Argh at the end, but I just caught it. What a welcome sight and sound!
Well, I'm finally getting on here...as I watched it at a friend's house tonight.

I liked it. I liked Eliza's performance. I don't understand all the nay-saying in that regard. I loved the part when Topher talks about flaws, and how every person who reaches success in something is overcompensating for something else. It's good food for thought, Joss style.

What I really have a problem with are the commercials. Is it just me or are there more commercial breaks? I mean, yes, they are short commercial breaks, but I'd rather have a few longer breaks than a lot of little short ones. It kept taking me out of the story, and that was frustrating. Plus, I like the longer breaks for going and getting food... or you know, seeing a man about a horse (don't make me spell it out, cause TMI).

I felt that it was a bit cold -- lacking the humor of Joss' other shows. But I was also expecting that, and hey, if I had to rewrite a pilot at the last minute I think I would definitely be lacking in the humor department as well.

I think I like Boyd the most so far too. Though Sierra's entrance at the ending was pretty bad ass.

Definitely intrigued to see what comes next.
Oh and QuoterGal, RE Eliza and Summer:

the writing made me want to spork myself in the gelatinous optical orbs. Coy, arch, juvenile, inane.

I wholeheartedly agree. I was quite embarrassed at that.
Completely unspoiled first impression (one viewing):

Was put off by the obvious Foxification of the first 10 minutes or so, but after that much improvement; by the last 10 minutes there were definite stirrings of giddiness and anticipation for next week's episode.

It's early for getting meta, but I can't help myself. Maybe Topher's lingering explanation of the importance of flaws in creating a fully believable identity can be applied to the structure of this initial episode as a whole? IOW, "Ghost" needs its flaws to be fundamentally approachable and vulnerable to our fantasies. If it was too perfect, too shiny and impenetrable, there'd be no place for us (more critical viewers/fans) to fit into it. Instead there's "stuff" we can do to it already -- mentally manipulating it to make it better in our mind's eye -- which allows each one of us to replay it and make it our own. The flaws actually make it more interesting.

How participatory. And voyeuristic. I'm intrigued ... and already compromised. I feel a little dirty now. Nice job! ;)
I enjoyed it. I mean, I found it good, not great, but I've never been particularly into the pilots of Buffy, Angel or Firefly either, and love all three shows. I think that if it stuck to this procedural structure, I probably wouldn't stay interested indefinitely, but from past history, I'm guessing at the moment they're establishing the status quo so we know when they destroy it.

I found myself empathising with Echo's character, which is good, since I was worried that I wouldn't. I also thought that Eliza Dushku carried off all the parts well. What I liked particularly about blank-Echo was that she wasn't entirely blank. She had an edge to her, like something was still going on, like she was fighting to put something together. And I thought that was great.

Like someone theorised above, I'm also wondering if maybe the Dollhouse had bad experiences in the past with making an all-strengths-no-weaknesses active, and if that might be why they made Echo's character more human.

I didn't get to see the Grr Argh at the end, which made me sad, but I guess I'll get to see that when Dollhouse finally comes out over here. (I remember that at the end of Doctor Horrible, the Grr Argh was the one thing that could cheer me up after Penny's death.) I really liked the opening credits, though; but I guess since I was less into Firefly's theme song, it's just a matter of different tastes.

I'm really looking forward to next week. Also: this is my first Whedon premier as a member of Whedonesque (I was still just lurking when Doctor Horrible came out) and it's nice to be able to be part of that excitement and analysis. Not that I'm contributing anything, but still, it's nice.
Hi everyone! It's been a few years since I last posted here, when Serenity was in theaters. It's SO EXCITING to have a new Joss TV show. Given that I got into Buffy right after he went off the air, and I hadn't caught up with Angel before that show was cancelled, this is the very first time i've watched an episode of a Joss serial as it aired. So I invited friends over who I had gotten into Buffy.

I'm giddy! *waves to everyone*

I watched this with my friends, including someone who told me she had no idea why Joss was such a big deal, and even she loved it. :) Also, the other members of my viewing party loved it too! We're going to get together for next week!

I think this pilot does a great job roping in the casual viewer. It's premise is so open-ended and leaves much more to explore. There are so many directions this story can go. I'm left wondering: what IS the history of the dollhouse? What is Echo's real life, and why did she agree to sign the contract? Maybe someone finds out too much about the dollhouse, and their memory (or the memory of a main character) gets wiped and they become a completely different person? So much potential plot yumminess!

It was pretty cool to see all the parallels between Ms. Penn and Echo: the buried memories, and the struggle to find and assert who they are. Perhaps I'm stating the obvious - I have not been following these forums - but it seems like some of who Echo actually is mixes in with the imprints. As in, Echo doesn't simply come in during those brief flashes when she sees Echo's memories, but the "essence" of Echo herself also changes the people she becomes. The abused girl or woman who became part of her person had killed herself. But in Echo, she confronted her abuser and stayed strong.

Topher's explanation about both strengths and weaknesses, and how people have strengths because they're "overcompensating" for things, seems to be a "mission statement" for the show - that who we are is how we make ourselves. ALso, does this mean Boyd is a rookie? Because why would he need this explained to him?

It would be fun to see some of the same imprints come back, or even in other "dolls"(!). :)

As for the intro, I liked the fact that only Eliza was in it. It made me have no idea who in the pilot might die. ;) As you can tell, I'm spoiler-free. :)

Am I the only one who thought that Tahmoh's gratuitous long boxing scene was a way to rope in the OTHER half of people out there who might appreciate such things? :)

I also found a good dose of funny in the episode. Loved the setup of Ms. Penn being nearsighted so that when Boyd saw her confused look, he thought for a moment she was Echo again.

As for the first job... totally screams Fox. It was completely unrelated to the rest of the episode. It basically set out a male fantasy, and came off exactly as the kind of show one would expect from the commercials. Still, it's also not completely worthless because it sets up the prostitution/trafficking/something-is-wrong-here angle. It was also nice to see that this first imprint was not a stereotype: she had her own sweet affection for the guy, and actually had her own motivations. I also loved how the memory wipe brought us backward in time through her memories, gave us the beginning of the date, and then went back to her childhood - showing us these are full

I like how the pilot has established that the imprints can have flaws. It makes every "engagement" suspenseful. It's not like watching The Matrix, where the people had the powers of superheroes. Here, the imprints are actually like regular human beings (sure, some extraordinary, but each one is a fully fleshed, sympathetic person). Also, perhaps some imprints will not be sympathetic people - that would be interesting to see.

Add me to the chorus of people who love the "ghost" line. Such a great moment when you think of it from the abuser's point of view.

As you can see I'm gushing over this pilot! There's so much potential. I watched the pilots for Buffy, Angel, and Firefly, and I thought they were pretty good introductions to their respective worlds and a taste of what would follow. At the same time, I wasn't very sure if they would win over the general television-viewing audience. I loved Serenity, but I was also uncertain how it would be received. I have only watched a few series over the years because I have so little free time, but with my little TV-watching experience, I must say that when I watched the pilots for Alias, Lost, and Battlestar Galactica, I had this gut feeling that they would be successful shows. I have that same feeling with this one, too. It's original, fresh, intriguing, and seems pregnang with possibilities. Sex, mystery, action, and plot twists - what more could you ask for? ;)

I know folks love to analyze here, and I'm as ready as the next one to pick an episode apart, but I also like what I'm feeling in my gut right now. Bring on next Friday!!

P.S. - I have one question. For us spoilerphobes, is it safe to go back and look through the spoiler threads? Or will there get spoiled about future episodes?

[ edited by Ronald_SF on 2009-02-14 11:12 ]

[ edited by Ronald_SF on 2009-02-14 11:17 ]
This show is awesome, as i knew it would be, Joss never fails to please us =D
Oh and for randomness.


TOA!!!!!!!!!
Just got time for a quick comment but ... I really, really loved this. There were certainly some flaws (I thought Eliza and Adele's conversation was a weird way to start the episode; some of the exposition was awkward; there were too many characters thrown at us too quickly - in particular I think Dr. Saunders was unnecessary and should have been introduced in episode 2 or 3) but for me the positive greatly outweighed the negative. Particularly towards the end it just got hugely compelling and, to be honest, I don't think Fox's interferences were too bad at all. I didn't mind the motorbike race (it was quite short much like Eliza's dress which I also didn't mind) and while Paul Ballard's boxing scene might have been unnecessary it was hardly worth worrying about. Best of all, I can really see this having appeal outside we hardcore Whedon fans

So, basically, I thought it was a little flawed but totally awesome and if this is the slow start we were supposed to fear I'm pretty damn excited about what will happen when it picks up pace

Oh and that was a freaky mask
And one final comment: I let out a loud nervous laugh when we learned that Topher put memories of abuse into Echo's head. Really creepy
Joss is Love. He brought something new to us; something not-very-Joss but still very Joss-like. How did that happen? Answer: Joss.

I love all the characters so far... I can't tell if "Victor" is already part of the Dollhouse, or if Ballard's words got him mixed up in it. Anyways, I found the men's room scene rather hilarious. I don't know if that's because it was, or because I've had a tiring day... whatever. I'm so back next week!

Unfortunately, my download didn't have the Grr! Argh! Sadness. :(
Last (U.S.)time zone to check in, as always. I need to watch this again, plan to do so right away.

I was so put off by the Summer/Eliza intro, as well as the overkill of the micro-mimi white dress and the totally disconnected motorcycle race with the cheesy, staged "oops, I lost my helmet so my sexy hair can fly" part, it left a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the show.
All I could think was sexist/exploitative (about the intro) and clunky, cheesy, badly edited "did this really belong in this ep, originally", about the dance club/motorcycle bit.

It felt as it Fox not only meddled in that sequence, but totally constructed it from something that belonged in another ep entirely (maybe originally was in a different ep?)

The degree of exposition was downright intelligence-insulting, IMO (somthing for which I certainly don't blame Joss). I just felt beaten over the head with it. Including the boxing sequence, which would have been very effective, if they'd cut it time-wise by about two thirds. The entire first part of the show felt to me like something quilted together from pieces that were originally meant to be spread around in different eps.

I loved the very first scenes between Eliza and Oliva Williams. After that, it was almost as if they switched to a different show, then switched back again.

What I loved: the acting, uniformly excellent. I had faith ;) in Eliza and she didn't disappoint.
The closing sequence, which set up the possibility of something actually coherent but at the same time, intriguing and full of layered mystery (something that the dumbed-down first part of the ep lacked entirely, again so obviously no fault of Joss's but with the fingerprints of Fox meddling all over it).

I like the opening theme but wasn't crazy about the background music during the ep.
Hoping for better things to come. I know the better stuff has to be there, I just hope that we don't have to endure another five eps (as both Joss and Eliza have hinted) of over-exposition, disjointed sequences designed to work in "just enough" action, whether or not the storyline calls for it at that particular moment, and unworthy (for Joss) dialog, to suit the suits.

Hopefully, I'll like it better the second time around. Skipping the Eliza/Summer lead-in will help.

ETA: That came off more negative than I meant it to be. Just want to make it clear that all my problems with this ep are so obviously Fox-related, and that left me so needing to vent that I left out lots that I liked. Will get to that later.
I now understand the Fox hate, and how it was assumed that they would find a way to fuck with the genius that is Joss.

[ edited by Shey on 2009-02-14 11:58 ]
Oh and finally finally: IMHO 'Ghost' was considerably better than 'City Of', far from as good as 'Serenity' but probably a bit better than 'Train Job' and perhaps not as outright enjoyable and smooth as 'Welcome to the Hellmouth' but in many ways more impressive
I really liked it. It had a lot more depth than i was expecting and frankly I'm not quite sure why the critics gave it such a hard time. I'll watch this episode again, and I'm looking forward to the next one too.
This looks like it has the potential to be quite a complex series, which may reflect how much Joss and his colleagues have grown, and gained experience since the days of B+A, and Firefly. IMHO :-)
I also really enjoyed it. I was so worried that I wouldn't (and have to live in shame for not liking joss' work) but Joss does it again! His shows never fail me. I live in Australia so I just watched it illegally on the interent but thats just as good. Was really excited to see Amy Acker again too. Shame she is only recurring. It definately does suck you in, I really want to know more. Can't wait for the next installment!
When can we expect the first overnight ratings? :)

I also liked it way more than "City of", slightly more than "Welcome to the Hellmouth", and kind of on par with "The Train Job".
Dollverse has a trailer for the next episode here.

Ratings are going to arrive in a few hours time.
The breakout star of this show will not be ED, it will be Dichen Lachman.
We made a bit of a night out of it. Sadly, the first 10 minutes didn't do much for me. If this was a rewritten pilot, I'm scared of what the original pilot was like. Of course, It couldn't have been much much better, but only if you have a brain, which as we all know, viewers do not, so dumb it down. We persevered. Amy's scenes were lovely. Eliza did Joss proud.

I have a feeling the pilot perhaps would have been better if they had started with the child being kidnapped . It's just far more compelling, and you would want to know what happened next. Starting with Echo partying wasn't exactly grabbing, despite the obvious cheap shots - short skirt, hot red bikes racing, hair toss etc. Was that more grabbing for the gents out there?

I think those scenes had their place, but maybe the order could have been better?

*dodges the cans being thrown at her*
Ivalaine, I actually agree with you 100%. I am really not a fan of the almost upskirt nature of that party scene. The actress who played the kid was awesome I thought, btw.

Dana, I agree, I think Deech will be the breakout from this show. She's glorious.
I'm not sure of the need for can dodging (joke goes here), people mentioned all night on the discussion thread that they didn't like the action/sexy that got shoehorned in.
Oh I thought I recognised Sierra from somewhere. Way to step it up a notch from Neighbours.
Dichen is big with the awesomeness :) She really stood out in her little time on screen.
Yeah, only a few sentences but her Yank sounded pretty good too.

OK, very late to the party so sorry folks, just skimmed your no-doubt witty, thoughtful, erudite comments.

I'm not sure if i've totally ODed on Kool-Aid and can't tell good Joss from bad Joss anymore but that, to me, was a great pilot.

I'm already engaged with the main characters and intensely curious about the others and though I don't like Echo yet (cos right now there's no there there) i'm already on her side. It's touched on the arc, it showed the ambiguity without making any simple-minded judgments, it had me actually willing one character (Boyd) to stay his course above all else (all humans reading this probably know at what point) and that's after "knowing" him for, what, 40 minutes ? And it had a genuinely dark moment of suspense, an actual doubt as to what would happen, with an instant payoff (when she asks for her glasses - my only issue with that being, why wasn't she wiped ? Did Miss Penn abort the process before Topher started ?).

It did everything I wanted of it basically, it showed me the path without telling me the destination. Made me feel good in parts and then ask myself why and the same with feeling bad. Plus, humour - which reviewers said this didn't have any ? Maniacs ;).

(and I love the early hint that what Echo becomes is always unique, always different, always more than the sum of her "component parts". The poor woman that was abused couldn't get past what happened to her but Ellie Penn could cos Ellie Penn has just a little bit of Caroline/Echo in her)

It's gonna get dark though I think, it's gonna genuinely ask some hard questions - not the nice abstract ones we can all shoot the breeze about and think nothing of 5 minutes later, real, difficult, "this might hurt a bit" questions about society and where we all stand in it. Can't wait ;).
Looking forward to Matt Keeslar being on the next episode. Love "The Middleman." Joss has put together an amazing roster of guest stars!

I really hope Dollhouse shows up on iTunes. I need something to keep me going at the gym. (I haven't gone regularly since they moved Buffy and Angel reruns too early for me to get out of bed!)
After a year long of speculating, without actually wanting to know to much facts, "Ghost" managed to wrong many of my expectations.

After all the bad press, I was very pleasently suprised by Eliza's acting. And after all the talk of dumbing things down I was expecting the conversation between Adelle and Echo to run like a clear cut introduction to make sure everyone in the audience would fully understand what the Dollhouse is: something like Adelle explaining how the Dollhouse works, maybe over a montage with give some examples of actives on their missions. Instead there was the sudden cut to the motor racing. I didn't know what to make of that one immediately : wondered if it was a flashback or flashforward, so instead of the overly explicit exposition aimed at Joe Regular I was expecting, the show started out confusing to someone who knew all about the premise.

Having read there would be a sexual and an action oriented engagementin the first ep and having seen the first trailer, with the date with the older guy and the mexican assasin engagements, I was expecting the first one to be my favourite.

In the actual episode however, I was hugely dissapointed with the first engagement. Really strange the show opened with such a terrible act, I hope it didn't turn away to many viewers. (why didn't they kept the one from the original trailer or put in something else all togheter, this one wasn't connected to the rest of the episode anyway.)

Then I was very pleasantly surprised with the "Ghost" storyline. I actually got involved with the story and love how it shows all the ways in which the show can work. IMO the second half of the show already was one of the best pieces of television of the year.

The FBI storyline, which I somehow expected to hate after the first released scene, the one with "Echo" and the FBI agent, also worked absolutely perfect. (Also didn't mind the boxing at all.) The inner workings of the Dollhouse were just as intriguing as I had expected, but the huge power of the Lennix character was something I hadn't seen coming at all.
Yep, I thought the boxing worked very nicely as an entertaining little expository shortcut for Ballard's character. Not got a lot of quit in him has he ? ;) The stuff with his FBI bosses reminded me of The X-Files quite a bit, this idea that someone has to be on this case because of an edict from on high, it's just that the mid-level powers that be have accidentally picked the perfect guy for the job.

And yeah, I meant to mention Eliza cos I really believed her as Miss Penn, again, totally disagree with whichever reviewer said he only saw Eliza in a business suit she was plainly a different character to the first engagement (which I think they included largely to have a bit of throwaway action PLUS show us how the imprinting worked before the setup with Miss Penn).
Eliza Dushkus not sexy? Did he see the dress she was in? Her legs in that dress? Is he blind?

[ edited by Tymen on 2009-02-14 15:21 ]
No way I'm going to get through all these comments.

So to add my own for other people not to get through:

Like Eliza. But Joss thinks a lot more of her acting ability than I do. Miss Penn... didn't buy it.

Didn't buy Topher's explanation (such as I understood it) of why the Actives are given flaws and background traumas. Nevertheless, found the impact of the realization that Echo's been given those flaws very moving, somehow.

Why do we go in with Helo, er, Paul already suspecting the Dollhouse exists and even having the name "Dollhouse"? Are we going to get more information on how he discovered this? It just seems out of nowhere.

If it weren't Joss, I doubt I'd be sticking with it, but it's Joss, and he gets all the benefit of the doubt in the world from me, for very obvious reasons.

Oh, the promos? Summer and Eliza, both of whom I like (adore Summer), as dimwits? Hated them. HATED them.
I understand the reason for the first imprint with just the quick flash of the sex but the dancing was a mistake for me - I just saw Faith at the Bronze. And then I saw a serious Faith. Well, ok, not Faith. Eliza. The trouble for me I think is that we don't know Echo as a character yet and so both characters could be the same person in different circumstances. Who I am on the dancefloor is different from who I am at work.
I was more impressed with Echo wiped. There must have been a lot of discussion around how to act in that state. How much knowledge do they have? Why don't they question everything?
I've been having a look around the internet for reactions from viewers and the good reactions are making me feel pretty positive. Obviously there are places on the internet which are just plain nasty, but I've stumbled on a sizeable number of people who didn't know much or anything about Joss Whedon but really liked the episode (enough to seek out fansites) and I've also seen that most of the people criticising the show say they're planning to stick with it for at least a few more episodes. So I'll be feeling pretty upbeat for the next little while (and hoping not to be proven wrong by disastrous ratings)

I agree with what some people have said here about the first 10 minutes being a bit rocky. But I can't imagine that that many people really stop watching a show if they don't love the first ten minutes (assuming it's not truly dire).

I have a fair number of friends who I plan on encouraging to watch Dollhouse on Hulu (sadly it's not on Australia TV) but I was going to wait until 2 or 3 episodes were out because I thought that 'Ghost' might not make a big enough impression. But given how strong 'Ghost' is I think I can start the gentle bullying ahead of schedule

[ edited by Let Down on 2009-02-14 15:27 ]
Finally, I've been able to join Whedonesque!

I thought it was great! It had the excellent Joss Whedon feel to it but it was unique to the show and the Dollhouse set was awesome - kind of like hotel/spa version of Wolfram & Hart. I loved the boxing scene. As for the opening credits music: it wasn't what I expected, but it was nice, I liked as Nolan said the 'tinker-toy-esque' end.

The plot and dialogue was strong as I reckon Dollhouse has great potential.
I think there was much more layered into that first imprint section than people are giving Joss credit for. Much of it will likely make us go "Oh!" as we see more episodes.
For example, the Cinderella reference by the "John" (to use a not-entirely-inappropriate phrase), contrasted after she returns with the sarcastic line from Boyd about her finally finding the right guy.
LOTS of Joss there, just not the same Joss who was writing five years ago.

[ edited by PaulfromSunnydale on 2009-02-14 15:31 ]
Ok, this is too much text to cover so I'm just gonna state my opinion and be done with that. It was good but kinda heavy handed at times. It did manage to show some of the future complexities that we're in for which does seem promising but not as engaging as one could have hoped. And one thing that was kinda disappointing was that none of the characters was immediately likable. The most engaging and interesting character was actually the one that wasn't there, which was Ellie Penn, Echo's assumed persona. Basically it was kinda The Train Job but without a Kaylee and a "kicking a guy into an engine" scene. But since I'm a jaded old Whedon fan I'm well aware that there's nothing to worry about. His shows always takes a few episodes to find themselves. As an introduction this worked fine and I'm excited for next Friday...

And while on the subject of shows that aired yesterday... OMG, BSG is blowing my mind! O_o

[ edited by Djungelurban on 2009-02-14 15:38 ]
Didn't buy Topher's explanation (such as I understood it) of why the Actives are given flaws and background traumas.

I thought the episode answered that really well (when the client asks her to prove to him that she knows what she's doing, to tell him why she does it - basically he wanted to know there was a 'soul' behind the imprint and that's partly why Topher does it. As he says, they're not robots, they have to be able to deal with the complexities and demands of the all too messy real world and for that they need to be people, actual and whole - maybe ;) - and people have ghosts, right ? It's what drives us). And more explicitly of course (more plot oriented if you like) the little girl would've been raped and then killed if Echo/Miss Penn hadn't had her flash-back based insight i.e. without her past she'd have been less effective on the mission.

Eliza Dushkus not sexy? Did he see the dress she was in? Her legs in that dress? Is he blind?

Well, sexy is like funny in that it's entirely subjective. Except in this instance, where that guy's just wrong ;).
It was pretty good. Sucky theme music, but all in all pretty nice. I'm not totally hooked yet, but it's certainly something I want to watch more of, which is more than can be said about most series. I guess the expectations can be a bitch, for most other creators this would have been an awesome opening. Still, smooth and gripping enough, and luckily everybody keeps saying it gets better soon!

That said, I just wish the network(s) would stop meddling so much, this episode had Fox executives all over. I just wish the good stuff comes before people get bored... I mean, just check Buffy pilot or Firefly pilot (the real one). Excellent openings, now just back off, shoo shoo, let us watch creative stuff, not something toned down average appealing-to-masses-with-tits. I do love looking at all those sexy Eliza promo pics, but still the dance was just an annoying waste of time: nice to watch in youtube, but I'd rather see content...
Well, sexy is like funny in that it's entirely subjective. Except in this instance, where that guy's just wrong ;).
WSS. :) Even though Eliza isn't my personal ideal, even I'm not blind (or dead.) Not sure about Mr. Reviewer.
I knew I would like it, but, god, I didn't know how much I would like it. It's so slick and sexy and intelligent and creepy and beautiful all at once!
Definitely exceeded my expectations, I'm looking forward to more.

I totally get the flaw thing in general;it makes sense, and adds complexity and interest. But I do think it is somewhat implausible (within this world, I mean, I don't expect actually plausible), that Topher would select the personality of a suicide, especially for an incredibly hazardous situation. I mean, what there is of Caroline in Echo adds some strength, to good effect, ultimately. But what a chance to take with the life of a little girl.
Exceeded expectations seems to be a common theme, though there is a contingent bent on saying that everyone hated it. I keep hearing from people who liked it more than they expected and are looking forward to all of the potential (no pun intended,, Vi fans) they see in it being realized.
Saje, thanks. That makes it make more sense (why the Actives are given "flaws"). Also more horrifying (the horrifying part I got; the rest, obviously not so much).
Couldn't jump in last night, we had a roomful of people. Our verdict: good start, maybe a 6 or 7 on 10-scale. We all thought Eliza was great. A lot of necessary business to set things up, which we could accept. Three negatives came up as we talked it through afterwards: some were OK with memory-wiping but not with memory-importing as a premise, none of us was sure what kind of rent-a-doll thing people would pay $1 million for, and the setup seemed a bit close to the Peta Wilson "La Femme Nikita" series (I didn't think of this but others mentioned it).

That said, I wouldn't miss an episode.
I can't help but feel that the people who are getting all hung up on the opening sequence (that dress! the cheesy motorcycle bit! etc) are doing roughly the equivalent of bitching after the opening of the BSG pilot "well, it's all just an excuse to show cliched "hot alien sex." Or, perhaps more to the point, the equivalent of bitching 1/4 of the way into "Welcome to the Hellmouth" (anyone else noticing how close hellmouth/dollhouse are?) "oh, jeez, not another show about sexy, sexy highschool kids in California?"

I just loved this show. It delivered on all the creepy "how deep does the rabbit hole go" stuff. That opening sequence was obviously meant to be cheesy--the point is to show us that the actives are the playthings of rich doofuses (doofi?) whose ideas of a great time are like cliched FOX action shows. This is all part of the Active/Actor metaphor, and perfectly underscores that. But, really, it's pretty obvious that that stuff isn't going to be a big part of the series once things begin to unravel.
Is there a record for the number of comments on Whedonesque? Did this thread break it?
The one criticism of the pilot that does seem to me to have some merit--though in the event I wasn't very bothered by it--is that they didn't do enough to explain why the billionaire-du-jour would hire an Active to do the negotiation for his daughter. He wasn't breaking any laws and there must be private companies that do this kind of thing. He didn't even get the kind of negotiator that he wanted.

That suggests to me that their simply not going to bother trying to make this part of the world plausible (rather like the way they just don't bother to really make it believable that no one in Sunnydale knows about vampires...), which is a fair enough genre loophole to exploit.
I absolutely loved this show. It far exceeded my expectations. I'm so happy we've got more weekly Joss. I think this show is gonna be kick-ass, and totally believe Fox won't cancel it.
Dichen Lachman far exceeded expectations, considering her little time on screen. I didn't expect much from an ex-soap actress, but she was awesome.

One qualm: "I've been involved in at least 12 negotiations." At least? Wouldn't that then just be 13 negotiations? That line didn't sit right for me anyway.

Loved it, and want to see the next episode, but I don't think it'll go beyond "entertaining" until a proper arc really starts. Also, Topher rules.
One qualm: "I've been involved in at least 12 negotiations." At least? Wouldn't that then just be 13 negotiations? That line didn't sit right for me anyway.

I thought it was meant to ring oddly--that we were beginning to push the boundaries of her implanted memories.
The one criticism of the pilot that does seem to me to have some merit--though in the event I wasn't very bothered by it--is that they didn't do enough to explain why the billionaire-du-jour would hire an Active to do the negotiation for his daughter. He wasn't breaking any laws and there must be private companies that do this kind of thing. He didn't even get the kind of negotiator that he wanted.

Well, they did make it clear that he had done business with the Dollhouse before. Presumably he knows from experience that you can't get anything better, so when his daughter got kidnapped it was the first place he went. The one I had a problem with was the all around sucky first engagement, where the necessity of a Doll/Active was far less clear to me.
Overall, like everyone else, I felt that it exceeded my lowered-by-early-reviews expectations. I think that, basically, reviewers were holding it to a higher standard, a is-it-as-incredible-as-other-Whedon-shows standard, which would be fair except that often even other Whedon shows don't meet that standard (especially in their first episodes). If it were JUST another procedural/spy/action show, and were judged as such, I think it would have gotten really high marks. I found it to be a seriously enjoyable hour of television.
Is there a record for the number of comments on Whedonesque? Did this thread break it?

Yep, there's a record (though I can't remember which thread or how many posts ;). But nope, this one is a ways off yet.

One qualm: "I've been involved in at least 12 negotiations." At least? Wouldn't that then just be 13 negotiations? That line didn't sit right for me anyway.

I thought it was meant to ring oddly--that we were beginning to push the boundaries of her implanted memories.


Yeah I wondered that too, that Miss Penn/Echo might have some inkling that there're things she's done but doesn't remember.

Re: the first engagement, we don't know how much a doll costs so it's hard to judge just how "perfect" a date would have to be to justify the price to some (ludicrously rich) people. They might do it for the same reason some guys hire prostitutes i.e. not because they have to but partly for the illicit thrill.
It strikes me that people would come to the Dollhouse, as the man with the kidnapped daughter did, because they want the Perfect person for the job and that perfect person might not exist or might take too long to find. Topher is creating the person who is most likely to do the job as the client wants it done.
Clearly, the Dollhouse has its own ideas on what it takes to do the job but they must be in synch with their clients most of the time or they wouldn't have repeat business.
I wonder if we will see more about where these personalities come from.
Yeah, I can see some amazing flash-back episodes about where the dollhouse gets the memories from (if Joss et al gets the chance).
Alright Mr. Whedon, you done your job. A night of sleep and I woke up thinking about "Dollhouse." More thoughts after my up-thread:

1. I'm not worried about the whole "Personality of the Week" thing. "Monster of the Week" was a non-issue after season one of BtVS and Joss has obviously picked up a thing or two since then.

2. It was my understanding (so quite possibly wrong - I need to rewatch) that the imprinting was a combination of personalities and therefore a bit of a crap shoot with what came out. Meaning, they can't control everything. Lot's o' possibilities.

3. Where do the personalities come from? Are all the people dead? If they're dead, WHY are they dead? If not, what would happen if imprinted Echo ran into the original?

4. There's only so many wealthy people in the world and not everyone will want to indulge in the "service." So, will we have repeat clients on the horizon? That would be cool. I could see last night's guy wanting a date with Echo.

5. IF "Caroline" is her true personality, there's the interesting question of what kinds of sticky fingerprints all the others will leave behind. How much of who we are is our experience?

6. Why does the Dollhouse really exist? There are easier ways to make money.

7. An interesting way to examine the "thingness" that we all too often treat others like. Somehow I doubt the actives are seen exactly like real people to the corporation. They have definitely been turned into objects.

So my overall impression is: GOD! The possibilities! No wonder Joss was excited! After all, I can't stop thinking about it. I'm totally over the weaknesses - moving on to the good stuff: obsessing.

Okay, now I need my morning tea so I can obsessively have new thoughts - hopefully more coherent ones.
I don't want to be redundant, I found this episode incredible, can't wait to see where it goes from here!

The one thing I disliked that hasn't been mentioned (this is
stretching the boundaries of being very nitpicky mind you) the little things before the commercial breaks that were like *Dollhouse will be back in (60,90) seconds* just go and come back!
Yikes, that opening is of the 'on-the-nose ambiguity' variety. A form of philistinism - and usually a by-committee sort of thing, alas. Poor Joss. Having seen nothing else - no time yet, busy turning 30 last night - I find myself looking forward to the day when Whedon can run off with Buffy's syndication money and mount small-scale serial productions without interference from a goddamn network and a goddamn studio.

Can't wait to see the next few episodes, am nervous about the pilot, alas. The premise of this show, and the way Joss has spoken about it, give me hope; I like darkly-grownup Joss (cf. Serenity, 'Objects in Space,' Buffy issue #5, his writing about the strike, etc.). The man's an extraordinary comic writer but at times his verbal cup runneth over once too often, lending kind of a manic tone to proceedings; writing in comics has made him more terse in an interesting way. I'm excited to see him bend his verbal talents to the symbolically-overloaded Dollhouse.

But.

But I'm nervous about this pilot. Alas.
I can see the network fingerprints...but, shining through is the work of Joss and company. I loved the episode. I see why they wanted the first episode re-tooled for the non-Whedonverse folks living out there (there handful that there are *grin*).

It slowed the show down a tad bit for me. But, I still loved it. I can't wait to see what comes next.

Does this mean I agree with Fox? No. I just see how big business doesn't always *get* what they are putting on air. *sigh*

And, the fact that Eliza was smiling so much? Oh, gads. That was wonderful. As Faith, she didn't really throw out joy towards the world...so, having her in a role where she can be so very very happy (even as an imprint) makes me love her even more as an actress.
I had said before that I was thrilled, but that was last night, right after seeing it.
NOW I'm beyond thrilled: I dreamed about 'Dollhouse' and woke up thinking about the karmic implications. Echo (should I even think of her as Caroline?) was downloaded with a damaged/suicidal personality, it is like Eleanor Penn was hard wired to fail, so falling apart when she saw her 'ghost'/kidnapper was not surprising (Topher made a big mistake). But where did that strength to go beyond her programming come from? It is like Echo redeemed Eleanor's life, fulfilled Eleanor's life's goals. It really has some power over-tones IMO. I think there is a lot going on here.
The pilot was pretty wicked! I was and I'm still a little unsure about Eliza. I trust Joss vision though.

I just hope FOX doesn't pull any of their old stunts!
Much potential, many questions, hopefully some will get answered soonish, I find the 'lets never answer any questions until later much later' shows quite annoying.
All characters grey with the ability to go either way leaves me confuzzled and annoyed, like me some black hats that I can root for, was hoping Adelle would come close to Madeleine/Operations ("La Femme Nikita") but in my book she never did get that defining moment.
The show seems a bit cobbled together, hope the next episode gives a clearer picture, will be waiting impatiently for the story arc.
Better than many reviews led me to believe, still wont come close to filling the Buffy shaped hole in my tv watching, probably not intended to a very different type of show :)
5 out of 10
Ok, finally watched it!
I won't read all 444 posts before me, but read a few and saw some interesting reviews from you guys...
And I will try not to write too much, but I just wanna put on record here that every little bit of expectation was worth it! Joss totally delivered imo!

I loved seen Eliza back! I LOVED seeing Amy back! I loved to see the new faces and I dare say I already have some favorites... and above all things, I loved to the some familiar names on the credits, ending with "written and directed by Joss Whedon".

This is my first Whedon-show premiere, cause I started with Buffy S3 (but while it was airing Season 4), so my first season premiere was S5 (and Angel S2). And I was late for the Firefly party. So... I was even more excited. And it was as good as it gets for me. The long hours waiting for a way to see it (cause I'm in Brazil) were totally paid off.

Uh, I think I got side tracked... forgot what I was going to say...

Well, I'm very intrigued by the whole thing, I can't wait to watch and see where things go. And I don't think the "Personality of the Week" thing will be an issue. I think it'll set the situations between and for the deeper development of Echo (or maybe we could say Caroline...). And can't wait to find out more about Alpha!

And I guess I'm less picky than most of you, but... I don't mind motorcycle chase/dancing thing. It actually reminded me of Dark Angel, which was nice, and you know... as much as we, Whedon fans, are all a bunch of very very very smart (and very pretty) people, I don't see harm in a little of "futile" stuff here and there, as long as it doesn't take over the show and Joss' ideas (and maybe it's just me being naive, but I have complete faith that Joss wouldn't let it happen).

So yeah, I'm not worried. And I look forward to the painful hours waiting for it to be online every Saturday dawn.
3. Where do the personalities come from? Are all the people dead? If they're dead, WHY are they dead? If not, what would happen if imprinted Echo ran into the original?

I don't think they're all dead. Topher seemed to imply it was unusual that the woman the memories came from was dead, when he told she commited suicide. The fact that she committed suicide also seems to imply the "donors" of the memories die in more or less 'natural' circumstances.

The follow up questions are very interesting. Actually all your questions are very interesting BreathesStory! Nice to see how much Dollhouse gives us to think about.

All characters grey with the ability to go either way leaves me confuzzled and annoyed Well, I love it. But I like it even more when you know all characters will go all ways (yes I know this sentence might be completely meaningless), and I think that's the way Dollhouse is going to be.
I think that one of the primary attractions for clients of going to the Dollhouse would be, to paraphrase that brilliant student of human relations Charlie Sheen, that you don't pay them for what they do, you pay them to forget it afterward. (Charlie Sheen: "you don't pay a prostitute for sex you pay her to leave.") I think that the after-the-mission (sorry, after-the-engagement) mindwipe has to have a lot of value for people that want to hire someone to do something that they don't want anyone else to know about.

Oh, and I think the client from last night WAS a repeat client. I believe that was alluded to in the conversation when he placed his order for an active.
Just watched it. Really really liked it. I also would give it an E if this was an O.W.L. grade.
I think that the after-the-mission (sorry, after-the-engagement) mindwipe has to have a lot of value for people that want to hire someone to do something that they don't want anyone else to know about.

Except that I got the strong impression that the "mindwipe" process was storing the events of the engagement.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-02-14 18:54 ]
Not to mention the files at the Dollhouse, Customers, requests, amount paid, the handlers surveillance photos. Enough to guarantee repeat business.

[ edited by jpr on 2009-02-14 19:00 ]
Yeah, all those records kept and payments... that is what got Charlie Sheen in trouble. It could be that the 'Dollhouse' does a good business of blackmailing customers who think they can avoid being repeat customers.... The possibilities for corruption are really pretty endless.
Oh, and I think the client from last night WAS a repeat client. I believe that was alluded to in the conversation when he placed his order for an active.

He also seemed to have engaged Echo before. It's a subtle thing but his voice tone really suggested that when he was saying he was surprised they sent her as the negotiator and not a man.
It is like Echo redeemed Eleanor's life

Yes, and I loved the transition from that stirring redemption to the flash! wiped Echo. Eleanor gone. This show is going to create characters for us to care about & then kill them over and over. How Joss can you get?
When is the original pilot going to air? I thought it was turned into episode 2. What gives?
I enjoyed last night's episode. I read a few reviews days before and I thought that the episode was going to be weak but it ended up being really good. I did hate the motorcycle/club scene, but everything after that was entertaining. Also, I was impressed with Eliza's performance. I was one of those people who thought that Eliza might not have enough range to pull off all these different characters, but she definitely proved me wrong and I think she did an awesome job. I'm definitely excited to see more episodes of this show.

[ edited by ria on 2009-02-14 19:37 ]
I can just see it now. Joss is there, reading all the comments and thinking "They didn't like my motorcycle/club bits? But they were my favorite bits! I fought the network to keep them!"
I finally saw the show, and I like it. The love part will be growing I hope over the next episodes. Eliza does a wonderful job sofar, and the whole Dollhouse idea feels eerie to me. And what's up with Dr. Saunders??

The intro with the racing and clubbing was fun to watch :)

[ edited by Krusher on 2009-02-14 19:59 ]
The degree of exposition was downright intelligence-insulting, IMO (somthing for which I certainly don't blame Joss).

Except that if you feel this way about the exposition, you have to blame him, because he wrote it.
Reading some of the comments now...
I agree, Dichen is the one to watch. She had the awesome factor in all her little scenes.
Weird. I cringe at Lachman's line-readings when she storms into the house.
Really, b!x?

I thought it was very direct and almost robotic, but I took it as the way they'd programme someone to just finish the job and clean up the mess. Just "make" someone very down to the point. So I liked it.
A few comments the morning after, now that my brain isn't all "mushy-mush ready for Alex Baldwin-alien type to gobble on down".

I'm wondering if, since the imprinting procedure as we/Echo saw it, is so painful, what the repercussions physically/psychologically might be down the road, assuming the series goes several seasons (could what happens in Episode 2 based on what we saw at the very end of Episode 1, be a result of a science that isn't absolute? After all, we don't know that much about it yet).

What do you think about the premise mentioned by someone at another of my hangouts (which I didn't mention last night but actually thought was a daring move, jumping right into why Caroline might be there) that Adelle is Caroline's mother? I thought Adelle was much more headmisstress-y in a low-key way than motherly, but it kind of made me twitch a little.
Maybe. That would make sense, but it doesn't resonate in my ears as direct/robotic, it renders as uncommitted to the line. Maybe my ears are nearsighted.
Riker, the original pilot has been totally scrapped and will not be aired. Ever. From my understanding, certain portions of it will be recycled.
There were definitely a few moments of uncharacteristically expositional dialogue (the beginning scene springs to mind), but when I think of this less as Joss's new show and more as Joss's new attempt at making a show Fox will keep, it starts to look really good next to Lie to Me, the first episodes of Terminator (before its story got going), Prison Break, etc.

I think it was actually one of his strongest pilots to date. Buffy's first episode is a tad weak, of course suffering from Joss not directing yet. Angel had Buffy to build up its atmosphere, but was extremely expositional every time Doyle opened his mouth. Firefly's "Serenity" is still his best, but that was a two hour movie they didn't air, so I should really match this against "Train Job", which I liked okay, but which felt really anticlimactic after being built up for Serenity over the previous month.

Paul's stuff, though a conventional character for this type of show, was feeling very fresh for some reason. Come to think of it, Helo was a pretty standard character that Penikett played with such sincerity that you really cared about him like you hadn't seen this story before. I think I could watch Tahmoh cook spaghetti for an hour.

Lachman definitely had a cool arc through the episode, and though I knew where a lot of it was heading, I was pleasantly surprised with how they brought her back into the episode.

Eliza is a leading lady, not a character actress. I think many of the reviewers wanted someone pulling a vanishing act into these personalities. Admittedly, that would have been fascinating, but I don't think that's Eliza's job, here. Fox and Joss's primary worry is us getting attached to Echo, which means it has to be an "Eliza, if she were..." sort of performance, and I think that she did a phenomenal job.
Yeah I also liked the rather brief scenes Lachman was in. I just hope we get see a lot more of her and the other characters next week.

[ edited by Rhodey on 2009-02-14 20:49 ]
That's interesting, Tonya J, but at the same time is a bit of the "Darth Vader is my father" cliche.
Tonya J, I've had that thought as well for some time now. I'm not sure I actually believe it yet, but it is something that crossed my mind the second time through that opening scene between Adelle and Echo. "You're just loving this", to me, seems like the sort of line one delivers to someone one already knows, not just some random person you've pissed off.
Yes, I will 100% agree that it seems like Echo and Adelle know one another personally. But her being Echo's mother just seems so...been there, done that.
I think it was just that it was the most immediately obvious thing to pick if you think there's a previous connection.
I just rewatched the entire episode, which is always the test (for me), and I liked it even better the second time. The dialogue hints at all kinds of subtext and the filming is lush and beautiful. Most shows become very flat and boring the second time around, and here I can see the depth that Joss has always put in all his shows!

Loving it!
Disclaimer: I love Joss. Changed my life. My guess is that given the opportunity he (has or) will elevate this series, its characters, and its story telling to great heights.

That said, I really wanted to get away with just typing "genericy" (way back up there) not only because I was tired and because it really summed up my feeling, or lack of feeling about the episode quite well, but also because I didn't want to type out a list of disparaging comments and have it be confused with anything more than a list of disparaging comments.

But really the show didn't hit me much at all--either positively or negatively (Well, okay, I guess negatively, but that was both due to and offset by my faith in the auteur...). I mostly just thought "generic." That's why I typed just that. And then I added the "y" cause, Joss.

And, to be clear, especially in light of the couple of people who questioned my take, I wasn't referring to the concept but rather the execution. But, letting the pilot stand on its own, meaning Whedon and all potential aside, it almost bored me.

Granted the Foxified opening was what it was, but it didn't have to be. It could still have been a Jossian Foxified opening, but it wasn't. Or not that I could see.

We all might have expected that the opening scene would feature one of Echo's implanted personalities, but did she and the action have to be so dull (generic)? Shiny bikes, shiny windblown hair, and shiny legs? With all thanks to Seth and Amy, "Really?" A race? And on empty city streets? "Really?" Sexy dancing? "Really??" That's what one comes up with to lure the non-believers? Were we supposed to become invested in a three minute love story as a means of sympathizing with our girl?

What about an introductory vignette that stands alone but is really fascinating, or surprising, or exciting, and to all viewers, not just those who can't tell the difference between a Whedon and a Bruckheimer or an X-Box? I'm put in mind of the opening of "Raiders of the Lost Ark", a fast, brilliant, establishing scene, otherwise unrelated to the main plot, that stands alone as one of the most fun and memorable openings in all of movie history.

But I suppose shiny works too, Mr. Fox executive. I'm sure he was under a gun of some sort and I could never be sarcastic to Mr. Whedon...

As for Ms. Dushku's performance, if this episode was all I knew, I'd think this could be rough for her. She doesn't strike me as a chameleon. And it's not like she'll have a lot of time to flesh out characters. And her as Echo? Right or wrong, and maybe there's no other way to handle it, I found the doe-eyes and the slightly bewildered sense of peaceful wonder grating--and yes, generic. And please note I love--LOVE--her as Faith.

As for the rest of the episode, nothing about it wowed me. Or screamed Joss. Maybe it whispered. Or stated but while clearing its throat a few times. It did feel a little procedural as others have written. And I hate procedurals, Jock; I hate 'em! Raiders on the brain... For this reason alone I'd find it generic.

And I have questions. If the FBI can't confirm the existence of this organization in the however many years it was noted the guy's been trying, how do the clients know about, much less find it? And personalities, okay. But these guys can implant diseases? Granted stress-induced asthma might have enough to do with brain function and near-sightedness is a nervous system issue as well, so I can accept those if need be. Just as long as we're not asked to believe that diseases that function on a more physiological (other than the nervous system), cellular, or immuno level can be implanted and wiped clean. Also, I think Penn was made nearsighted in part not only as a red herring to surprise via the asthma attack but to justify her wearing glasses. And, speaking of generic--glasses and a tight bun? "Really?" Okay, I'll stop typing that...

The handler, already ambivalent? And still there? No one is worried? Anyone think his personality might get wiped clean at some point as a means of making him forget what he knows? And Echo walks right in on the programming of a new doll? Are we to assume that anything she sees, learns will be wiped out with the next treatment? If not, how will she retain enough information to piece together who she is?

Okay, guess I've been enough of a buzz kill. But I'm looking forward to next week for sure...in case anyone was somehow getting the impression that I wasn't. They're just (yes, critical) observations, and questions.

But it's still Joss.

[ edited by Brett on 2009-02-14 21:40 ]

[ edited by Brett on 2009-02-14 21:42 ]
Were we supposed to become invested in a three minute love story as a means of sympathizing with our girl?

I didn't get the impression that this was the intent of that scene. I think (as seems to be the consensus), this was Fox getting it's fast-action/hot-chicks opening scene.
I already see the potential of this show, which is what I didn't get from the Buffy pilot. I discarded Buffy when I saw it for the first time (although, thankfully, I got into it eventually)
So to me it looks hopeful. Makes me wonder about the original pilot though! It has a strange sort of quietness about it though, nothing like other shows like Terminator, I guess that makes it eerie somehow..
Below the surface, you can feel Joss's presence, but he needs to crawl out and get on top. Let the crawling beging the next episodes.
Brett, the contradictions/concerns you just described have to hinge on suspension of disbelief in a piece of entertainment. If we had everything explained to satisfy our discontent, it wouldn't be very good. In real life, how many times have we found out how something happened and just couldn't believe the details? However, we're pretty smart here, thus all the questioning and analyzing, and you brought up some excellent points.
I think you make a strong point about the first part of the episode Brett. If Foxified[tm], it still is done very badly. It's not even like the idea of showing how the concept can contain action, romance, sexuality was really that crazy, it's mostly the terrible execution that put me off.

However I do think after the first engagement the episode does pick off.

Something like this: Also, I think Penn was made nearsighted in part not only as a red herring to surprise via the asthma attack but to justify her wearing glasses. IMO is exactly the Jossian 'Foxification' that wasn't delivered in the begining of the episode.

It's a bit hard to really know, but I don't think I'm just giving this a chance because of the attachement of the name Whedon. Maybe I would have been even more blown away without it and any of the attached expectations.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2009-02-14 21:53 ]
If there's one bad thing I can say about Joss Whedon it's that he seems to have been on the verge of doing a Battlestar Galactica or a Lost his entire career, and been talked into Buffys and Angels and Fireflys instead, every time. Those shows are wonderful, but you do realize some of our favorite things are due to studio "meddling"? Every time he's about to get dark, gritty, and mysterious, these networks, which I don't think have ever been worth a one of his shows (the WB? Fox? Come on, ABC and NBC at least show some understanding of genre) convince him to add more of this and less of that. The fact that we still get excellent content that straddles the line between monster-of-the-week and long form serial is a testament to how amazing and adaptive Joss is as a writer.

That being said, I think this was his most ambitious concept, and should not have been messed with. It's just not as flexible as the others were, because it's such a grand premise. the Fox-y scenes are going to be more forced. The noir feeling described in the original pilot sounded dead-on. Blade Runner! Dark City! Don't explain anything, Joss, I wanna be completely in the dark! This is clearly the inferior artistic achievement, but the show still looks like one I'll love by the middle of the season.
Tonya J said:

Other than that, I did have some fun with which characters in the show correlate somewhat recognizably to characters on Buffy or Angel. Good times: Tahmoh Penicott's agent = Mal; Topher Brink = Xander; Harry Lennix = Giles; Reed Diamond = an older Lindsey.


Re: Harry Lennix, I have to agree more with The Ninja Report --
Harry Lennix == Chiwetel Ejiofor,

and to add to that,

Topher Brink == a pale copy of Tom Lenk

Reed Diamond == a pale copy of Alan Tudyk

Olivia Williams == a potentially better version of Stephanie Romanov

I'm simultaneously afraid of an intrigued by the potential of all these interesting side characters. On the one hand, side characters are something Joss does better than anyone. He fleshes them out more than most showrunners bother to do. On the other hand, they're in danger of falling into the archetypes he's already set up in the past, especially when the casting produces such look-a-likes.

That said, I ADORED Amy Acker. Her character has more potential than all the rest, to become a deep, multi-faceted person.
--I didn't get the impression that this was the intent of that scene. I think (as seems to be the consensus), this was Fox getting it's fast-action/hot-chicks opening scene. I'M JUST TRYING TO FIND SOME REASON FOR/VALUE IN THE CHOICE OF THE PARTICULARS OF THAT OPENER, WITHIN THE CONFINES OF WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW THE NETWORK DEMANDED.

--I already see the potential of this show, which is what I didn't get from the Buffy pilot. I discarded Buffy when I saw it for the first time... THE POTENTIAL IS MULTIFACTETED THOUGH. FIRST, THERE'S THE POTENTIAL FOR STORY TELLING BASED UPON THE PREMISE, AND MOST PEOPLE COULD SEE THAT. BUT IT'S THE POTENTIAL FOR GREAT STORY TELLING THAT MATTERS, AND OUR VIEW OF THAT COMES FROM WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW AND BELIEVE ABOUT JOSS AND COMPANY. SO IT WOULDN'T SURPRISE ME THAT PEOPLE WOULD HAVE MORE FAITH (!) NOW, AS THEIR EXPECTATIONS HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED AND REINFORCED. THIS ALSO EXPLAINS WHY SO MANY CAME TO BUFFY LATE IN THE GAME...EITHER AFTER BEING EXPOSED TO POSITIVE WORD OF MOUTH OR BY STUMBLING ACROSS SOMETHING THEY'D NOT THOUGHT ENOUGH OF TO WATCH FROM THE START (AS I DID) AND FINDING OUT THEY WERE WRONG. MY POINT IS THAT I THINK AT LEAST SOME PEOPLE ARE BASING THEIR ENJOYMENT OF THIS EPISODE ON ITS POTENTIAL, NOT ON IT AS IT STANDS.

--Brett, the contradictions/concerns you just described have to hinge on suspension of disbelief in a piece of entertainment. If we had everything explained to satisfy our discontent, it wouldn't be very good. In real life, how many times have we found out how something happened and just couldn't believe the details? However, we're pretty smart here, thus all the questioning and analyzing, and you brought up some excellent points. AS FAR AS MY QUESTIONS AND SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF GO, I'M ALL WITH YOU. THE QUESTIONS WEREN'T PROBLEMATIC FOR ME REALLY, JUST QUESTIONS. IT WAS THE GENERIC BITS THAT BOTHERED ME.

AND IF I WAS THAT SMART, I'D HAVE BEEN ABLE TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO USE THE PROPER QUOTE THINGAMAJIG HERE.
This has La Femme Nikita written all over it. La Femme Nikita is one of my favorite television shows of all time... it is beyond incredible.

Completely ignoring that the hour flew by. It was dark and interesting and although I didn't love it, I did like it a lot. I'll definitely be back next week because it's Whedon, it's Eliza, it's Tohmoh and it was intriguing.
I thought that Eleanor Penn was made near sighted so that Topher would have an excuse to explain that this download is based on an actual person, with actual strengths and weaknesses. Which of course leads us (later in the episode) to learning that Eleanor had eventually committed suicide, which would seem (to me) to indicate that she was hard-wired for failure. I felt very strongly that the strength that resulted in rescuing the child came from Echo, not from Eleanor Penn. I also felt that there was some kind of karmic redemption of Eleanor Penn's failed life, because Echo had managed to fulfill her purpose and over come her weaknesses. At least this is one of the ideas that I'm finding fascinating about the episode.
Hhhmmmm. I'm not sure. Which is actually a fantastic sign because I'm never initially sure about things I end up loving.

I think Dichen and Enver are both going to be great. Sierra is the most kick ass mindwiped puppet of higher powers ever. Amy also looks like she has potential here although I hope they introduce some kind of subtlety with her. In fact, the lack of subtlety generally was the main problem I had, and I'll happily post that blame to Fox execs.

I also felt like Angel was going to walk on any second and go
"What...? Who...?" (turns to Wesley) "Who the hell are these guys?"
Wesley: "We appear to have been taken over by some kind of illegal and highly secretive yoga class."
Angel: "When did this happen? And where's my office? And who the hell are you?"
Echo-a-la-Buffy-bot "Parts of me are hurt. Will you be doing my special treatment in the shower now?"

Least believable part = that dress.
I'm intrigued that everyone assumes the opening was just inserted into the ep by Fox. I'm sure Fox were happy to hear that they were going to get Eliza and motorbikes and microminis and everything, but I think this was still essentially the same move as the opening scene of Buffy--we get the apparently completely generic (girl and boy in darkened abandoned building / boyish fantasy of "what I would do if I had a billion bucks") and then subverts it. The girl ain't the victim in BtVS, the boyish fantasy of "freedom" turns out to be a creepy scene of mind-control/prostitution.

That is, if you were put off by the scene, you were reacting in exactly the right way. You weren't meant to think "ooh, shiny, that's so cool!"

As for questions like "how come the FBI don't know about this"--well...that's just genre. "How come the Feds haven't closed Sunnydale High, which has a student die every week of the year?" If your response is "that wouldn't happen in real life" then you're not cut out for genre shows.
Wesley: "We appear to have been taken over by some kind of illegal and highly secretive yoga class."

Best line Wesley never got the chance to deliver.
I don't think the nearsightedness came from the woman who was kidnapped as a child. I think Topher just added it in because he thought she needed some physical weaknesses to counter her clear physical strengths. She's a negotiator in high-stakes situations, and as the conversations between Boyd and Topher and later between the client and Eleanor both emphasize, a gorgeous woman is not the obvious first choice in that kind of situation. Topher was trying to give her believable physical flaws. The asthma was a dumb choice though.

I also think Eleanor Penn is not that woman, but a personality Topher constructed drawing on multiple things, including the real memories of childhood trauma he got from one woman. I think Eleanor Penn was uniquely constructed for the engagement.

It's weird that people seemed to think Boyd had screwed up somehow when the negotiation went south. But maybe no one realizes at that point that it was Topher's programming choices and a twist of fate that put a trauma survivor with asthma face to face with her past abuser during a high-stakes negotiation.
I completely agree embers. And one of the main reasons this worked so well for me was that I felt for both Eleanor Penn and Echo.

I also agree with snot. "Things are not as they appear" and all that. But I kind of wish they had just started with that scene & then jerked us out of it. The beginning scene w/Caroline threw it off for me. I suppose they felt it was clearer this way.

And curlymynci, my husband had no problem suspending disbelief for that dress. :)
I'm watching Dollhouse again on Hulu. While this is a new series, and will take time to mature, I'm becoming more and more impressed.

I like the conceit that the "imprints," the composite personalities, require a driving force to keep them coherent. I'd imagine that the more focused and compelling the character, the more important this drive would be.

Perhaps, then, only certain minds could hold these imprints. Passion would require passionate proclivities, brilliance native intelligence, etc. Why else would they have recruited someone like Caroline as the raw material for Echo? Why not an amnesiac or a mental patient?

I really like Saje's thought that Caroline/Echo's character made the combined persona stronger, allowing her to avenge Eleanor Penn. I also enjoyed the look of peace and satisfaction on Echo's face afterward, as though she knew what she had done.

This is why I think it's fine that Eliza Dushku doesn't quite dissolve into each role (although I found her range more impressive than some.) A pure chameleon wouldn't provide the necessary continuity. I think the show works better if we don't quite forget the person underneath.

I also think it's fine that Echo should be a sleepwalker, not a "My Own Worst Enemy" or Angel Hell Dimension mundane personality. Not only does this make the contrast with her temporary imprints more dramatic, but it implies that a brain flexible enough to import these personalities might need to be kept pacified, that Echo isn't a lack of an imprint, but an imprint herself. (All of which has obvious implications for Alpha, if that subplot is going where it seems...)

So I'm happy to keep watching. Joss Whedon has a talent for building worlds, and I trust that he's thought all of this through. This is the rare sci-fi tv show where exposition isn't the enemy. Unlike Lost or Heroes, each season could be better than the last, if Fox gives it a chance.
Brett: please don't use upper case like that. It looks like you are shouting your head off.
I have to add that the fact that I am trying to sort out where Eleanor Penn ends and Echo begins shows that Eliza Dushku is very successful in convincing me of her various personas! Otherwise what would I be concerned about?
The best moments were right before Echo was due to be wiped after one of her engagements. It was heartbreaking how excited she was to get back to her date and how determined she was to get back to her rescuing the girl. Asking for her "treatment" was brilliant, and really well done on Eliza's part.
Yeah, I thought that was really creepy, just how naturally the character accepted her treatments.

"We have to do my treatment quickly, okay?"
Before I start my mini-review of the first episode of Dollhouse, I'll say how harsh I've been on new shows in the past. I didn't like 24, Heroes angered me as an X-men rip-off, Lost didn't impress me till well into its second season. Heck, I didn't even get blown away by Firefly till 'Out of Gas'.

Despite being a huge Whedon/Dushku fan I came into Dollhouse with low expections - I didn't like the concept, the trailers didn't interest me and the reviews made me expect the worst.

So what did I think of Dollhouse? It left me smiling, and one of the most enjoyable show premieres I've seen. The lack of action was concerning, but it didn't effect my attention in the show - I was gripped from start to finish. Loving the concept now - I'd carry on watching just to see who Alpha is! Exciting, promising, could be brilliant.

I hate to say I haven't been promoting the show much as I didn't think much of the promotional material, but now I've seen it I'll be telling EVERYONE to watch. I hope everyone else will do the same, as I could watch this every week if it keeps up its potential.

Expected rating - 6/10. Actual rating - 9/10. Cant wait for next week : D
UnpluggedCrazy, that is sad news! Something tells me I would've enjoyed it better since last night's pilot was the one made to please Fox.
Just watched again for the second time on Hulu, and I enjoyed it SO much more than the first time. The (60 second) commercials every 5 minutes thing on Fox just drove me so nuts I couldn't really enjoy it.

I have to say though, in my opinion I think this is (bar Serenity)the best pilot that Joss has done.
I really enjoyed the pilot ... don't think it's the best pilot Joss has ever done, but it doesn't need to be. (City of... holds that place for me.) I liked Eliza (always have) and it was good to see her streching her acting muscles. She definitly has the range and chops for this role. I thought Topher was appropriately sleazy/good. Hard to tell if he's good or not (and I don't think you're supposed to know yet). I liked the balance between action and dialogue - and Serena kicking a@@ at the end was great. Unfortunately, (and I know I'm in the minority here) I don't like the FBI guy - the actor, not the character (is that Tahmoh???). Just doesn't ring my bell. But it's not enough to keep me from watching.
Just doesn't ring my bell.

You're not the only one, resa. I'm hoping that that will change for me. But I found myself wanting to fast-forward through his scenes.
--Brett: please don't use upper case like that. It looks like you are shouting your head off.

Sorry, Simon. Is that like an understood thing here...or on posting boards in general? I only did it to distinguish between my text and that which I was quoting.

Some day I'll figure out how to quote properly...
It's generally understood that caps is considered the equivalent of shouting. To quote, either wrap what you're quoting in <em> </em> tags

like so

or in <blockquote> </blockquote> tags
like so
and you should be good.
I know people keep mentioning La Femme Nikita here, and yeah, I guess I can see how the set-up is sort of similar...but--and this is just my opinion--you can't get much more "genericy" than La Femme Nikita (awesome word, Brett).
I don't really have anything to contribute here, I just want to say: Comment number 500 ^^!
Wow, this must be the most-commented post ever, or what?
Nope. About 500 left to go for that record.
Fairly depressing. And a depressing amount of exposition as well.
Victor isn't really "Victor" yet, right? I mean, if they make actives in order of name, then Victor won't be a doll until a few episodes from now. If we saw Sierra created in "Ghosts", then he might be further down the line. I guess we probably won't see the first mission of "Uniform", since 99 % of the audience would think that's the oddest name ever.

Oh, in my effort to not spoil anything about "Dollhouse", I wasn't aware that Victor's character is dropped. Too bad, I was hoping for that since it would make the connection clearer of "Alpha" as the first doll.

[ edited by CaptainB on 2009-02-15 02:44 ]
CaptainB - oh! I don't know now... I just assumed he was and that Paul didn't know.
New here - but been a Joss fan since early Buffy in the UK. Annoyed that Dollhouse doesn't seem to be airing over here, and isn't on iTunes. Also, cos I'm not in the US I can't watch it on hulu or amazon - meaning I can't support the show.

Still, I managed to view it - and it's been said, but I really loved it and can't wait for more. Weekly Joss again will be SO awesome.

One final note, it was great to see a nod to The Bard (Shakespeare for you heathens :P) - Thanks Joss!
So that's how I understand the dolls. Topher can tinker here and there, but if he removes what he views as a potential flaw he's also damaging the strength that's created to overcompensate for that flaw.

I'm still of mixed minds here (no pun intended). What he says is
These personalty imprints? They come from scans of real people. Now, I can create amalgams of those personalities, pieces from here or there, but it's not a greatest hits. It's a whole person. Achievement is balanced by fault, by a lack. Can't have one without the other.
It remains unclear to me whether the flaws come from the same people the skills come from or indeed if Topher specifically constructs those as well. That quote doesn't actually come down either way on that point.

When he says "it's not a greatest hits" and "it's a whole person", I'm taking that to mean that the amalgam is a whole (albeit artificially constructed) person consisting of both achivements and faults, but he's not explaining (yet) whether any given scanned achievement brings along a fault from the same scan, or if Topher gets to pick flaws himself.

All of which is the long-winded way of saying: I was certain of my view on this before, but now because of this thread I have to reset myself to uncertain, and just wait and see what the show tells us. Heh.

ETA that either way, Topher's line in the preview -- "This is art, not an oil change." -- made me giddy.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-02-15 03:30 ]
Wow this is a long thread. I loved the episode. It seems that there are enough good guys mixed in there to outweigh the bad ones. I got the impression that the masseuse (the one played by Amy Acker, I forgot her name) is more on the humane side, but just isn't as outward as Echo's handler. I'm really bad with names when I first start watching a show. I had a little trouble understanding what was going on in the end with Alpha, but it's not the first time a pilot has ended on a cliffhanger.
Hey Sarcyn

You actually can support Dollhouse by watching it on Hulu. There's a thread a few above this one explaining how. But this is the gist of it: google Hotspot Shields and download the programme you'll find (it should only take a few minutes) and that programme will trick Hulu into thinking your computer is in America. Then head over to Hulu and watch the show and you will be counted as a viewer (and FOX will receive advertising revenue)
Thanks Let Down! And HotSpot actually works on OS X as well! So many of these free things don't. When will the world learn that Max OS X is superior, or at least not inferior, and thus should have equal or better support than Windows...

/Apple fanboyism
I'm a little surprised that no one's mentioned this: Joss created a strong female character who saved the day in a way completely unlike Buffy's or River's methods.

But yeah, Joss gets to kill a character every week this way. He must be humming with joy.
True . This heroine was more ....human , and less of a Rambo .

I loved all the parts , all the seconds . I´m a fairy but I have to say that I loved that Dress from the party . Eliza was smoking hot on that.

Mr Penikett has such fishylips . Kinda cute on the tely . I really liked the fight scene . Not overdone , contextualized and he did it beautifully .

I loved the lines . I´m really in love with this episode . Gonna watch it again .
Just watched it (TiVo) and I've got very mixed emotions. I wanted to LOVE IT like I loved Firefly from the very first second. I just didn't feel emotionally engaged.

I freely confess that I am blinded by all things Joss; but, this pilot absolutely didn't grab me. If this were just some random TV show, I probably wouldn't watch it again (I don't watch much TV.) Since it is Joss, and since I know he has a plan and I know that his original pilot got crapped all over by FOX, I will certainly stick with it.

I thought this was supposed to be more of an ensemble show? I have very little sense of the other characters and more than enough sense of what Echo looks like in a very short dress. (I realize that is all FOX; but, all the fluff kills so much time that we could have been getting to know the characters and their world.) I hope that FOX gets the heck out of the way and lets Joss tell his story.
Can I ask an operational question in this thread? I, too, have never been part of watching a Whedon show 'live' so I'm not sure what's to be expected. How do we follow discussions for an episode that has (just) aired without being spoiled for future eps? I un-hid spoilers to read this thread but now I've been spoiled for future Victor developments.
Sorry, Slipping About, I'm guessing that's directed toward what I said above, but I am completely UNspoiled about future eps from that deduction, just based purely on character names and the premiere episode. Speculation. But, since I just found out that "Victor" as a character is not even part of the show now, you can "unhear" my last comment.
Echo of a Buffy story. I don't remember the episode name, but remember the damaged potential who was harmed by being held prisoner and abused by a maniac. That story was evoked in this episode's story of Ms. Penn's background. Even though we saw no visual depiction of her suffering, my mind was filling with memories of that Buffy episode. A kind of Echo...
It was a season five Angel episode called Damage, I think.
No problem, CaptainB. I did choose to read a thread that is Spoilery-red but I would like to know if spoilers for future eps are banned from discussions for already-aired eps.
Victor's been dropped from the show? I did not know that.
I'm pretty sure noone is supposed to reveal any spoilers for any upcoming episodes. I'd be the first to rush out of this thread otherwise
Who are those two dead bodies at the end? Anyone important or just story fodder?
Who are those two dead bodies at the end? Anyone important or just story fodder?

Since we've only had the one episode so far, we don't know yet.
I'm just guessing here, but I betcha they're Echo's ( Caroline's? ) parents.
I have to be honest: I liked the episode fine-enough but it was certainly in my own personal estimation the weakest pilot that Sir Whedon has ever done. I am certainly holding on for more, but I was somewhat-disappointed as it just did not grab me or hold my attention quite as much as any Joss and Co. show usually does so well.


The strength of most of the cast was what ultimately got me through the pilot. Also, I agree with whomever else has expressed some dislike (or, at least general indifference) for the show's theme.

[ edited by J Linc on 2009-02-15 08:25 ]
I started actually reading everything, but when I got to the bottom, then reloaded and the amount of posts doubled, I lost the ability to keep up...

We had a fairly large group over last night, there was champagne and we made a toast to Joss's success ^_^ There was major cheering when "Created by" came on the screen, and the GRR ARGH. I was on so much of a high about just being able to watch a new Joss show that I didn't really take in much of what was going on, so we watched it again on Hulu today. Things made much more sense then! I'm so hooked on this show.
I didn't go into it expecting or wanting it to be like Buffy or Firefly, so I wasn't disappointed at all really. I wasn't all that thrilled with the theme song, or the boxing thing, but otherwise I was quite pleased.

I know a lot of people didn't care for the Fox touch of the opening scene, but it played into my base need that combined nicely with the champagne and the general revelry that was going on (and I quite liked the line about ropes...). And the rest of it made me go: holy crap, I love Joss!
After reading this site for years I've finally got an account so this is my first post.

After watching I was actually quite surprised that it got such a mixed response. On a purely superficial level it was great story that moved at a good pace. Before watching, one of my concerns was the extra length of the show, which on Fringe I've often found slows the whole thing down. As though they've written a 45 minute show and just stuck in some unnecessary extra scenes and long takes to make the time up. This wasn't the case here.

But above (or below) that superficial level, I loved the ideas. Specifically the idea that a person could have an emotional resolution to an event which caused them to kill themselves, after their physical death. As soon as it was revealed that the personas were taken from real people (which was information I didn't know before watching) I started thinking about who these people were and if any of them were dead. Then I thought of the Friends gag with Ross talking to Elle McPherson about computers developing to the stage that they could replicate the human brain so we could be downloaded and live for ever as a machine. That Echo's Ellie character was able to make peace with the events which caused her to kill herself I found incredibly profound.

Bring on the next episode.
I liked the episode fine-enough but it was certainly in my own personal estimation the weakest pilot that Sir Whedon has ever done.

I have to disagree, and I know this is only opinion vs opinion but, in my estimation the Buffy pilot was the weakest. This is looking back on the four. Angel's pilot was very strong. Firefly's pilot as Joss intended (i.e. the double-episode Serenity) was the strongest. Which leaves Buffy and Dollhouse.

When I was younger, the Buffy pilot did enough to just hook me into the show, but if I was watching it now - I may well dismiss it. Of course, Buffy as a whole I love! :D But I think most fans would agree the show really picked up the quality in season 2.

Now Dollhouse. To me, this pilot did an excellent because it covered all the areas a pilot should, whilst still being interesting as a standalone story. It introduced all of the characters and we have a decent idea of their personalities (obviously Echo is sort of the exception as her's keeps changing). It set up a lot of the other important parts of the show, such as the fact that Echo starts getting flashes of life in the House whilst she is Active. Also, the fact that Boyd is of the 'mission' not 'engagement' mentality which I can see being important.

So, in conclusion, I think this pilot was very strong and set up the rest of the season very well. I can't wait for more and my only frustration is that I don't have a Dollhouse Seasons 1-20 boxset so I can just watch them all :P.
The degree of exposition was downright intelligence-insulting, IMO (somthing for which I certainly don't blame Joss).

Except that if you feel this way about the exposition, you have to blame him, because he wrote it.
The One True b!X | February 14, 20:10 CET


Haven't read beyond this comment yet, but I'll answer it because it's short.
How many times was Joss forced to do re-writes? That was my point.
All the interviews he did, as much as he tried to put a positive spin on the changes that were demanded by Fox, made it really clear to me that this was the kind of thing that we wouldn't have had to endure, if we'd gotten the "pure Joss, un-tampered with" product.
So no, I don't blame Joss for this.
IMO the Train Job is the weakest pilot (least good that is) Joss has done. I really wasn't sure how much further I would watch after that one, I even missed the next one (Bushwacked) because I had lost my interest. Then ofcourse the rest of the series was excelent. Agree about City of, not only the strongest pilot of Joss' series, but also one of the best episodes in any series). Dollhouse started out pretty badly, even worse than the Train Job, but made a recovery very quickly. In my ranking it's propably just above Welcome to the hellmouth and below Serenity.
Sorry, ... somehow I double posted, well I guess one comment more or less doesn't hurt in here. Still, if someone could delete this, that would be great.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2009-02-15 11:38 ]
So I watched it again and liked it a lot more. I'm just totally put off by the sexist, exploitative nature of the Summer/Eliza promos, to the point that (in addition to the over-the-top first sequence with the dress that almost wasn't), it colored the entire experience for me in a negative way.

And it isn't just me. In addition to some along the same lines comments on this thread, there are some much stronger comments on the same subject, on the "A Valentines Day Gift from Fox" thread. There's sexy, and there's sexist/exploitative, and the Summer/Eliza promos crossed that line in a big way, IMO. So now I'm waiting to see where it goes from here. But I'm wondering if this wasn't some of what Joss has mentioned being uncomfortable with, in several interviews.
One more comment before getting off this subject .....

I can't help but feel that the people who are getting all hung up on the opening sequence (that dress! the cheesy motorcycle bit! etc) are doing roughly the equivalent of bitching after the opening of the BSG pilot "well, it's all just an excuse to show cliched "hot alien sex."

snot monster from outer space | February 14, 16:08 CET


Not at all, for me. I loved the beginning of the BSG pilot. The "hot alien sex" was an integral part of the plot, that was made clear from the start. And it was a sex scene between a man and a woman, not just a woman dancing in a dress that would embarrass Britney Spears, shortly after a "hot chicks" promo that was so cringe-worthy that a number of others have commented on it, as well.

So for my re-watch impressions (fast forwarding through the sexist promos helped). I still feel that the opening "sexy action" sequence seemed awkwardly cobbled into the rest of the show, which is so not Joss. I would so love to see his original pilot.
Otherwise, I liked it a whole lot more, the second time around. What impressed me most the first time is still the most impressive to me, the acting.
Eliza was simply amazing. I love the way they're handling the "vacant, in-between-imprints" parts. That could so easily come across as cheesy, but I totally bought it. Now I'm impatient to see if the other actors who play actives, will play it as well as Eliza.

Amy Acker was amazing. So little to do and such a strong impression. The casting so far seems to be vintage Joss, that is, pretty much perfect.
Hoping for more Tahmon, soon. He has an amazing presence and I didn't once think of Helo, although I'd just watched BSG a couple of hours before (weird satellite channel time-zone issues, on Hawaii time, I get BSG an hour before T:TSCC starts).

The seeds of an intricate, multi-layered plot are definitely there. I just hope we get to see it unfold.
Three things I loved the most about this episode (lots of spoilers):

1. References. When Topher says "The New Moon has made her virgin again" he refers to the legend of Persephone, who upon leaving the underworld bathes with her mother in order to become virgin again (a word which, for the ancient Greeks, meant to be in control one's body).

Then he references Hamlet, in the scene where Hamlet talks about Denmark as a prison. So from those two allusions, we get some crazy "girl coming out of an underworld into a prison" system going on. Also: Rambo reference later in the show? Gold.

2. Language. All the dialogue relates to memory and forgetting, but I especially loved three of Echo's lines: "She's not asleep," "Forget it," and "We were coming out." The first was said when Echo entered Sierra's room, the second when Echo had a flashback to 'her' rape/her initial torture at the Dollhouse, and the third when Sierra barges into the kidnappers' lair. All three can be read as Echo talking about herself and her own condition at the time, which is just a fantastic (River-like way) to have a character repressing memories talk about those memories.

3. 'Cutting' Shots. These are shots that use cuts between two characters to cut up their bodies for fabulous effect. One great instance of this is the 'Sierra gets needles into her scene'. In the former, the cuts between Echo and Sierra make us only see her body in pieces, showing us an objectified image of a woman (legs, breasts), and then the view Joss wants us to use to reevaluate this position of women (Sierra's face, looking back at us in pain, begging for help). I'm really excited to see other ways this show will subvert traditional views of women in film.

Overall, I'd say this is a great first episode that is doing everything I wish Joss had time to do with Inara in Firefly.

(sorry for the longish first post, I'm new. hi!)
Some very great points, ebb_of_laughter! And welcome! :)

Adding to the references, we have a strong undercurrent of fairy tales, in line with the general idea of exploring childhood. We have the "carriage-pumpkin"-monologue in the beginning (and I still wonder, why people dismiss the beginning as completely foxified standard-mainstream-TV-fare... I can't imagine another writer capping that scene off with such a weird but hilarious dialog...), the FBI mentioning the Dollhouse is a fairy tale, and we have Jane Espenson writing episode 11, titled "Briar Rose".

I also liked the dialog between Divina and Gabriel, talking about TV, and how "that reality crap" is helping melting brains. Oh, that reality crap really is. Very nice layers of meta-text (TV/Media is imprinting us), but at the same time, fiction equals sanity. Connect it back to the Dollhouse, you get Joss/Topher saving us. Or is he?

I think the scene I liked most (after repeated viewings, not initially) was the balcony scene with Ellie and Gabriel. This is just neat, how he ties up the whole premise of the show to the case-of-the-week, letting him talk on both levels, mildly disobeying Adelle and thus proving her right, since Echo really did become confused. It's also nice to see the pilot taking off where "Serenity" stopped: Hidden transcripts. Like there was a signal, a message that triggered the weakening of the Alliance, there is a message, a topic, a discussion that triggers the weakening of the grip the Dollhouse has on Echo.

I totally agree about the cutting shots and how he fragmented the whole experience. The episode constantly thinks about the camera which is an aspect I always saw Joss being very ambivalent about. On the one hand, he likes a silent camera that doesn't demand much attention (and the visual brilliance of Firefly is, imo, proving how good this can work), on the other hand, he is a nerd, even as a director, and loves to do stuff like "The Body", where the camera basically becomes a character in the plot. "Ghost" seemed to play nicely on both levels, keeping it low when it should (motorcycle race, dancing, Sierra's big entrance, the docks), but amping it up where there is a point to be made about viewing, looking and observing. I am still amazed about the very first second of the new Joss Whedon show being the weirdest unexplained someone-is-watching-you trope I have ever seen someone pull off. He comes right out of the gate saying: This show is about watching, observing, closed spaces with cameras, and B-cameras. We never get a sense of who is actually watching Caroline and Adelle (except us, of course). We start with the impression of someone watching Caroline on TV. And we end up with someone watching Caroline on a TV. Scary, very.
Excellent comments,ebb_of_laughter. Greetings and welcome.

And wisengrund, that was pure gold and made me thing from a different perspective, on a couple of levels. Also love the technical comments on how Joss uses the camera and 'space'. This is stuff I've noticed and never been able to articulate nearly as well as you. Do I detect some professional experience? ;)
Not at all, just a fanboy trying to pick, pick, pick it apart. ;)

There was an interview with Joss in my favorite German pop-magazine (Spex) back when Serenity was released, and in that interview he talked about his approach to camera-work and acting, and that interview basically sold me to this man I had never heard of before. :) I'll try to find it, so that I can translate some quotes about the camera-work.
Dollhouse started out pretty badly - the Groosalugg

See, I disagree. Yes there was the cold open, and then the overly-cheesy/actiony-crap motorcycle race and dancing but, unfortunately, this was necessary as the show is airing on F*X. Can you imagine a Brothers & Sisters (fantastic family drama series) style episode ever airing on F*X? It just wouldn't happen. But that's not something that Joss et al have any real control over, now that they've signed the show to F*X...

And even in the opening section, we had some good moments, especially the


Echo: "You're good people"
Boyd: "Right" looks dejected


and the following introduction to the House and it's staffers. In fact, I'd say the whole thing picked up after that. So you had a non-great seven minutes or so and then what I consider to be a pretty awesome pilot.

In my own personal rankings, this is up there with Serenity (not living in the US means I never saw The Train Job as the Firefly pilot). And Serenity was a 2h/1h20m episode.

As for the exposition, although there's no denying it was there I thought generally it was fairly well handled. At no point did I think to myself "Bored now." And that goes for the whole episode.

Think that's all I wanted to say, but I'll probably think of more, especially as I watch it more (done one complete viewing and a partial so far).

Oh, the theme. Although I'm not a big fan of the 'non-song' I like the tinkering at the end and generally think it fits the mood of the show fairly well. Sort of childlike and vaguely psychedelic. As for the score in general: A+
I already see the potential of this show, which is what I didn't get from the Buffy pilot.

Exactly!
Hi all! I've been lurking here for years, but I just got a log in pretty recently and this is my first post. It's good to finally talk to you all (even if I'm really late for this party!)

I just wanted to comment on this post of Shay's:


"And it isn't just me. In addition to some along the same lines comments on this thread, there are some much stronger comments on the same subject, on the "A Valentines Day Gift from Fox" thread. There's sexy, and there's sexist/exploitative, and the Summer/Eliza promos crossed that line in a big way, IMO."


I didn't watch this promo (thank god b/c i think it REALLY would have pissed me off) but I'll have to say I'm really intrigued about where all of this seeming totally sexest/exploitation of Eliza stuff if going. B/c on Buffy the whole point of the show (at least initially) was about putting this cute little vulnerable blond girl in an ally with some threatening baddies and then watching her completely defy the expectations for what a cute, blond, valley girl can be.

I wonder (hope, expect) that something similar is going to be going on in Dollhouse.

That we'll start with Eliza as some type of a cross between Sidney Bristow and the Buffybot. Someone who can dance around in a not!dress and look hot while kicking ass but has no control over her own actions. No power of her own. But then over time will completely reinvent what it means to be an ass kicking female action star in a way that allows her to regain power. B/c really it's all about power- who has it and how you get it.

That's what I think (hope) will separate this show from all the other "post-buffy" shows that show women as tough but never really break out of sexy/sexist charlie's angels type stereotypes (I'm definitely thinking Alias here).

In other words, I almost like that it starts from such a low point b/c it gives you somewhere to go. It's gonna be a long journey- which is what makes all of Joss's shows so great. : )

Now I can't believe I have to wait another week for the next episode. This watching a Joss thing on actual TV is going to be really hard!
The commercials annoyed me---I barely got a chance to get a snack or go to the washroom!!

If Joss Whedon gives me a bladder infection, so help me God, he'll hear about it!
I wasn't sure how I felt about the theme song at first. But it is definitely growing on me/getting stuck in my head. Same thing happened with the firefly theme song. I think I actually started to laugh the first time I heard the firefly theme song.. but now I can't imagine a more perfect theme.
i'm reading none too positive comments at Alan Sepinwall's blog and I'm reminded, when the little girl (who is the only character other than Echo and Sierra whose name I actually remember) was being kidnapped, at first I though it was a flashback.
Welcome maybebaby78 and ebb_of_laughter and unrecognizedlongtimelurkersfirsttimeposters!
Man, the Whedonhate is heavy at Alan Sepinwall's blog, even with them saying oh, we'll give it a chance. I'm seeing I planned on hating this going in to it and I hate it, so I proved my point.
I just posted this in the chat, but want to put it out here too: Is there a video anywhere of what Joss shot as the original pilot? Because in light of all the criticism of Fri's show, not just here, I would be very interesting in seeing what he intended (even though someone just said on the chat that the re-shooting was his idea).
I don't believe video has ever surfaced, just the script.
Don't have much to add other than joining in on the "liked/loved it" chorus. It easily surpassed my somewhat low expectations. So did Eliza. I'm in.
I'm in too. I've watched it twice already and went through the full gamit of emotions. Hate Topher - in a good way. Again, I didn't have high expectations. I'm going to get pissed off with the wiped personalities that are in the dollhouse. The only thing I didn't like was the "she hurts" moment.

The thing that I really got me was the set up and that moment after Ms Penn is wiped. To have that moment of the anxiety and all the badness is just gone now - I wanted to be a doll - even though logically that's insane - the fact that I had the moment, gripped me.

In terms of a rogue doll - there is soooo much scope. A botched up "wiping" could leave a doll with an intake of personalities & memories. Their own capabilities could be incorporated with a those of a assissin or a frikkin ice skater or anything. I'm definitly sticking around for more.

Also
Dear Joss
If you could include a Battlestar reference in every episode I'd be ever so greateful ;)
I promise to eat all my vegatables and will donate to equality now every time you do it.

Yvonne. x
Something else I love... From my work life I've learned that you can learn a lot about an adult by the way they interact with a small child. Echo is "childlike" when she is wiped and you learn a lot about Dr. Saunders and Topher by their different ways of interacting with echo. Can't wait to see Adelle in a scene with a wiped echo.
Complaints about the fact that Dollhouse is 50 minutes rather than the normal 42/43? Really? That is the strangest/most ridiculous thing I have read all day.
I am so in love with the idea that Adelle has no contact whatsoever with the Actives till now. I mean, we see here interact with Caroline, with Clients, with her little proxys, but never with an Active.

Oh, this is "Never Let Me Go"-inspired, and rightly and wonderfully so.

That's also why I can make sense of that shot of Boyd running towards Echo through the Dollhouse. They do have phones in that house. There is no point in doing that scene that way, no point in building up the tension, except to show that he is willing to go that distance, to bridge that gap that Adelle is unwilling to bridge.

And on fourth viewing: The worst dramaturgic cop-out was that roadblock. I mean, Joss has to know some better ways to end a phone conversation. But it's so minor I really don't bother. :)

And I love the 50 minutes. The pacing was wonderful and it had such a great, un-rushed breathing space.
Maybe the roadblock was a fake cop. We only saw three of the four kidnappers actually take Davina.
They would send a recognizable part of the team to stop Gabriel on the road which requires presumably a lot of work... to do what? To tell him the ransom?
Coming in late to the party so I'm sure a lot of my observations have already been stated much more eloquently but my thoughts on the episode...

Not great, but good. The first ten or so minutes really didn't grab me. I've always thought that Joss is brilliant at that pre-credits teaser that gives a hint of the plot while also being humorous and working by itself. The strange scene with Caroline (though probably very important) felt out of place this early on and wasn't as good as the gang having a bar fight, Angel staking vamps but being tempted by blood or the little blond girl turning into a vampire. The first assignment was pretty dull but perhaps if I knew nothing about the show it might have been okay as the twists were there (i.e. scary motorcycle chase becomes dates becomes girl leaving mysteriously in black van). It became more interesting from then but still didn’t really grab me until Echo walked in on Sierra getting mind-wiped. That pretty much hooked me and the rest of the episode I found quite enjoyable.

I was semi-unspoilt for the first episode but I knew who the characters from reading about it when people were getting cast. I was expecting to really love Adelle but Olivia was really given the hard job in this episode and didn’t get a chance to display much individuality. The character who actually grabbed me more than any of the others (and who was actually the character I thought I’d be least interested in) was Boyd, Echo’s handler. When he was quizzing Ms Penn in the van and when he barged in on Adelle I was riveted. I’m sure the other characters will grow on me soon enough but he’s the one after finishing the episode that I liked the most. (I also have an irrational love for Sierra and Enver’s character but as we only saw a few moments of those I have to assume I am either being pre-judgey, predictive or very shallow ;)) I thought the performance evaluation scene/boxing with Paul worked even if it was perhaps a little heavy handed (plus shirtless Tahmoh and cool marshal arts moves!), I had expected something much worse from various reviews.

In brief other stuff I liked:
1. The bathroom scene with Enver and Tahmoh. There was precious little humour in this episode but this scene was probably the one that felt the most Jossian out of the lot.
2. The Edward James Olmos reference!
3. When the girl was rescued from the fridge was anyone else getting huge River flashbacks? Brunette girl in foetal position saved from white box?
4. Arc stuff. For something that is supposedly stand alone there was a lot of stuff there.
5. Already some interesting stuff about imprinted memories (the asthma etc.) and I found the whole Ms Penn storyline compelling and well acted by Eliza.
6. A nice amount of Shakespeare.

Other stuff I didn’t like:
1. Lack of humour. There was some of it there but not enough to distract from some of the dull expositiony scenes or make some of the characters more likeable.

My rating: B. Iffy start and not enough humour but a much better finish. Potential is the word. No way as bad as some reviews would have it seem.

Now I want more!

[ edited by Leaf on 2009-02-16 02:06 ]
They would send a recognizable part of the team to stop Gabriel on the road which requires presumably a lot of work... to do what? To tell him the ransom?

Um, no. To help delay his arrival back home. I'm not saying it's what happened. I was just spitballing explanations for anyone who might need one.
I'm looking forward to watching this ep at least a couple more times, beginning with an airing tonight. My only comment on it so far in this thread has been the "LOVED IT!" variety. And I do. Oh yes. (My husband, too, which is not a given - at all. I breathed a big sigh of relief when he gave his thumbs' up. Agreeing on everything is boring in marriage, but agreeing on things near and dear to the heart is muy gratifying.)

Here's what's been percolating in my brainpan aside from "LOVED IT":

1. I was surprised, after all the reviews, how convincing I found Eliza to be as the hostage negotiator. Her "Yo!" persona was totally gone. (Thankfully, too, the bun and glasses were humorously explained away. Otherwise that beaten-to-death trope would have niggled.) I also found Eliza convincing in her other personas, including her blank slate Echo. One key point was when she had to signal to us that she was still Ms. Penn. She nailed it.

2. I loved seeing Amy Acker. It's thrilling to contemplate what her deal is and what her relationship with Topher is. Seems...complicated.

3. Topher: the actor was great. I didn't find him at all Xanderian apart from some superficial similarities. I don't know where people are getting that impression. Where Xander was all about heart, Topher appears to be about everything else - a careless, breezy, self-satisfied approach to other peoples' souls! Shudder. I found him terrifying, funny, and compelling.

4. Loved the Handler. His relationship with Echo and with Dollhouse was humanizing and sad.

5. Adelle is indeed "cold as an alp." Knowing Joss's stories, she'll become more complexly not-cold as time passes. I'm not sure yet what to make of her blond assistant.

6. Two things I absolutely loved because they made me uncomfortable and sad: One, when Echo had her breakdown over a memory that wasn't even hers. It belonged to a composite "Ms. Penn." That killed me. The idea of these composite, created personalities is freakish and troubling. She was devastated and it wasn't real. Or was it? What is real here? Two, the other thing that slayed me was that the two clients both remarked on the fact that she wasn't "real" - their focusing on that made a good proxy for me for feeling the weirdness of Echo's situation. Oh, and three (can't resist) how sad was it when she was eagerly returning to her "treatments" while still in character?

7. Finally, this isn't necessarily good or bad, just different: This is the first time in a Whedon show where I don't feel straight off that cozy "found" or "created" family vibe. There's no Scooby gang, no Fang Gang, no crew and passengers banding around Mal as they make their collective way through space. Sure, there were always interesting fissures in these groups, but groups - bands of "brothers" - they were. Nothing like that yet in "Dollhouse." I suspect that will shift as some of the Dolls form into groups, or Echo develops a tighter relationship with her handler or with Amy's doc character...or...we shall see.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-02-16 03:37 ]
I'm not sure if anyone is still in this thread but I need somewhere to unload a few more thoughts.

Did 'Ghost' remind anyone else of 'Conviction' (the Angel season 5 premiere)?

Why is Topher so well read?

And, also, Amy Acker is really beautiful in Dollhouse. Her look never really worked for me in Angel but she's pretty much wow now. I guess that's just my scar fetish coming through
Weirdo ;-).

Why is Topher so well read?

Why wouldn't Topher be well read ? He's clearly hella smart.

(also, wasn't it mostly Shakespeare ? So kinda on the obvious end of the 'well-read' spectrum)

5. Adelle is indeed "cold as an alp."

Y'know, i'm not sure about this. Olivia Williams does something brilliant when Boyd is reasoning with her about "what she likes to tell herself", there's genuine human warmth behind her eyes, just for a fraction of a second, and then her face changes subtly and suddenly she's the ice queen again and it's all business.

So I guess i'm saying there're already 'cracks' in her facade IMO. Reed Diamond's security guy is still just a cut and dried baddie though (even then though, he threw Adelle a couple of "looks" that might suggest some human feelings for her).
(also, wasn't it mostly Shakespeare ? So kinda on the obvious end of the 'well-read' spectrum)

Yeah, Shakespeare, plus the 'new moon' reference to the Persephone story

Actually, I think his references to literature fit in quite nicely with the possible theme of Topher as artist

Reed Diamond's security guy is still just a cut and dried baddie though (even then though, he threw Adelle a couple of "looks" that might suggest some human feelings for her).

When Boyd said Adelle likes to think she's doing good work Reed Diamond's character shot Adelle a very quick look that showed he knew Boyd had hit the mark and that he thought Adelle might have some (small) reaction. I suspect those two know each other pretty well and have some history.

At the moment, his security character is the one I think I'll have the most trouble getting invested in but I'll need a few more episodes to see
As excited as I am by a new Joss show to watch, love, dissect I'd forgotten how many anti-Joss people there were out there - reading through message boards/blogs has thrown me back about six years and I'm not sure I like it all that much.
When Boyd said Adelle likes to think she's doing good work Reed Diamond's character shot Adelle a very quick look that showed he knew Boyd had hit the mark and that he thought Adelle might have some (small) reaction. I suspect those two know each other pretty well and have some history.

I'm glad someone noticed that this shot seemed to be very specifically there.
I'm so geeked for a new Joss show, like others, wasn't expecting the world when watching this pilot. Especially with the monkeying around by the network that was so obvious. I do remember having a small "EEK!" moment when I first saw Amy Acker on screen, followed by a slight disappointment that she again is in a lab coat and holding a clip board. Scars and all, it's a little too Fred-ish for me.

The "Grr Argh" just made me smile. *sigh* I can't wait to see what will happen next.
I just...I dunno.

Really.

People have heard me say this: We as a species are hardwired to want stories about us. The best writers do just that -- tell us who we are. And in the past, Whedon has done just that.

And, 'swelp me, I'm just not getting that out of Dollhouse. I found it cold and distant. Even as we start to see who Echo was before she became a Doll, she really only came across to me as just that -- a doll. Not Eliza Dushku's fault -- she did a good job with what she was given -- which really does make it a writer's issue.

Nevertheless, I find myself really on the fence about this show. The concept is intriguing, I will give it that. But I wanted a story about me...a story about who we are as humans. And it just didn't get there.

Which, if that is the point -- who ARE we actually, if our identities can be erased with the push of a button -- I guess that's what Whedon is getting at.

But for me, it just did not connect as I hoped it would.

On a meta-level...No, I really was not set to hate this show. I was set for Whedon to prove himself, as I think all good writers should do. Prove yourself to me and challenge me and DARE me each and every time you have something new. Because that tells me that you are pushing your creative envelope.

So far, I'm taking a wait-and-see attitude.
I wanted to like it and tried to go in with no expectations.

I did not like it. If it were not Joss, I would probably not have made it through the episode.

I have been surprised that the issue of this being about coerced body and mind prostitution is not bothering people. i am surprised that no one here seems concerned that the moral issues here are not ambiguous. I saw nothing that gave what they were doing any positive moral spin. It may as well be set in any number of real places where people are prostituted against their wills. The people in charge are evil and the people who pay for it are supporting evil.

I had gotten the impression that we were supposed to think these people were volunteers and then have doubt come into it about whether they were truly volunteers. It was made clear in the first moments that Echo does not want to do this. She is being coerced.

Joss asked in an interview if prostitution was necessarily wrong? If that question is being raised in this series, it would be is coerced prostitution necessarily wrong? i can't believe that that is Joss's intent. If it is supposed to be exploring identity, he is going the long way around the exploitivness trail to get there.

Anyway, I will watch it because it is Joss, even though I saw no Joss in it.
I have been surprised that the issue of this being about coerced body and mind prostitution is not bothering people.

Who's not bothered? Joss has said all along that people would find this situation very upsetting. We're clearly meant to be extremely bothered by all of this. Do you think that that pleading, distraught look on Dichner's face as she's getting wiped was meant to make us think "oh, good, as long as this is all being handled professionally then there's no ethical problems here?
My point is that I am not seeing much mention of it at all on Whedonesque in the context of whether it is successful in making a point at all rather than being flatly evil to no purpose. Maybe I missed it in all the comments, but mostly people are talking about the characters being intriguing and whether they liked specific scenes.
I saw nothing that gave what they were doing any positive moral spin.

They saved Davina's life.
Which they did only because the woman in charge was convinced to follow through even though she was apparently not smart enough to understand the problem that word of mouth might cause if she allowed a client's child to be lost, due to their own error after also allowing the client to be shot. Meanwhile, what was the added value of having an active do the job rather than a trained professional who actually does it for a living? I have not seen them do anything that could not be done by people who actually signed up for the real job of their own free will.

I'm not used to plot depending on people who are supposed to be smart being stupid in Whedon shows. That bothered me a lot too.

[ edited by newcj on 2009-02-16 23:49 ]
The only complaint I have on Dollhouse is the set. Or the set directors Joss hires. All I can think about while watching Dollhouse is - "Why can't Joss hire a more environmentally friendly set director for his shows". Was a whole forest cut down just to make that ugly set! I hated it when they used endangered Redwood on the W&H set during the filming of the 5th season of Angel. I have seen first hand what is happening to our North American Forests. I'ts not a pretty picture.
Is it only the independent studios, and WB the only large studio, in showbiz that recycle their sets?
Which they did only because the woman in charge was convinced to follow through even though she was apparently not smart enough to understand the problem that word of mouth might cause if she allowed a client's child to be lost, due to their own error after also allowing the client to be shot.

Of course, bad plotting (if it is that) has nothing to do with the ethical questions you raise. That is, saving the child was a "moral good" that resulted from the actions of the "Actives" whether or not you believe that those actions were plausibly motivated.

As to whether this was bad plotting: they made it clear that they thought that the guy who hired them was probably going to die. It would have been a plausible decision to decide to cut your losses at that point. His death wouldn't go unnoticed by the authorities, it would be bad news for the Actives to still be out in the field if the cops started nosing about. If he's dead he can't badmouth them (and, after all, how much "word of mouth" can there be about an operation which is so completely underground. He's not going to write a bad review on Yelp, after all). All things considered, I don't see that as a one-sided "smart people doing stupid things to keep the plot moving." (And I agree, by the way, that that is something I hate.

Meanwhile, what was the added value of having an active do the job rather than a trained professional who actually does it for a living? I have not seen them do anything that could not be done by people who actually signed up for the real job of their own free will.

I agree that that wasn't adequately explained. I'm thinking that this might just be one of those things they choose to leave unexplained (like "how come those Firefly people are all obviously not very rich, but can afford to pay for interstellar travel?" or "Why don't the authorities close down Sunnydale High when it has such an appalling death rate?"). Genre shows ALWAYS require some key suspension of disbelief. Either you can get on board with that, or genre fiction ain't for you.

That said, we can fanwank some not-bad explanations. He could have been worried that a legit organization would have notified the authorities. Also, he's obviously used the Dollhouse's services before--perhaps he has a very high opinion of their abilities--and would rather go with an organization he trusts than a legit one he doesn't know about. I mean, after all, once you've decided that you don't want the police involved, what are the legitimate freelance hostage negotiator companies that you would turn to?
I don't think Adelle was being stupid, just risk-averse. It seems like she accepted the job because a frequent client had a dire need. It seems like no one except the client (who at that point seemed unlikely to survive) and the Dollhouse would know of the connection, and immediately pulling out to make sure it remained that way was the smartest, least risky thing to do.

It wasn't the best thing to do. For that insight there's Boyd, whose decision-making is very different from Adelle's.

I think it's worth taking into consideration what Agent Mulder Ballard said about why crazy-rich people would bother with Actives. The client here went to the Dollhouse because he knew them and trusted their discretion, he couldn't go through law enforcement channels (and that's where experienced hostage negotiators are), and he wanted a large degree of control over this. He wanted the best, and he wanted it all handled like clockwork. It's a reasonable choice given his position and his character as a rich control freak. Did you see his house? See his parenting style? He seems like a decent guy, but one who really values control. Which makes it darkly funny when Active who shows up is the last person he'd have asked for.

And people thought it wasn't funny.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-02-17 01:04 ]
one who really values control. Which makes it darkly funny when Active who shows up is the last person he'd have asked for.

I agree with this, but to me this was actually much more of a "how does that work, again" than the mere fact of him going to the Dollhouse for his negotiator. I mean, why wouldn't the Dollhouse simply give him the negotiator of his dreams? They're not in it, after all, to save little girls, they're in it to satisfy rich people's fantasies/desires. If he comes to them and says "I want a Morgan Freeman type" (which seems to be what he had in mind), why don't they give him a Morgan Freeman type--even if they disagree with him that that is the most effective negotiator?
Maybe sometimes clients think they know what they want, but whatever they "enter ... into the Confessional" reveals to the Dollhouse what they really want.

ETA: Or, in a case such as this, the client might think they know what "the best" is supposed to be, but the Dollhouse actually knows what "the best" for the situation is, and since the client asked for "the best", that's what the client was given, regardless of the client's preconceptions on that count.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-02-17 01:20 ]
He just wants it to go like clockwork. That's not the same thing as knowing what to ask for to make that happen. It just happens that what he thinks he needs and what the Dollhouse thinks he needs are different. That's probably a reflection of Topher knowing a truckload more about personalities than the client. Although as we see what Topher comes up with still has a lot of unknowns once it's out in the real world.

Or what bix said. Hey so what is this confessional thing? That line puzzled me.
Hey so what is this confessional thing? That line puzzled me.

I'm wondering if there's a price beyond money for the services of the Dollhouse. Like, perhaps a client needs to give up something about themselves -- either just informationally (which amounts to having something to keep clients in check) or maybe so far as to have some part of the client's personalities scanned for use by the Dollhouse.
Hmmm interesting. I do wonder how they get those personalities. It seems given the Actives' pained reactions to various procedures in Topher's chair that giving them your memories would be painful.
He just wants it to go like clockwork. That's not the same thing as knowing what to ask for to make that happen.

Well, yes and no. Obviously he wants it to go like clockwork. But he is pretty bluntly skeptical that Echo is the right person for the job--in fact, IIRC, he comes close to calling up the Dollhouse and sending her back. He does have a specific idea of the kind of negotiator that he thinks would be best for the job.

Now, if I'm in the Dollhouse business, how much do I care about the outcome, how much do I care about giving the client what he says he wants? You might say "well, as long as he gets the child, he'll be happy and that's a potential repeat customer." Well, perhaps that's right--on the other hand, with the scene as it played out, he got shot, the girl got kidnapped and that much more traumatized...I'm not sure how thrilled he'll be about the Dollhouse's judgment.

If, on the other hand, they'd given him a Morgan Freeman type, there's no reason to think that that means destroying the possibility of a successful outcome (after all, what screws up the case as it is is something that no negotiator could have foreseen, and which Echo is actually singularly badly placed to prevent). And if the case does go wrong, then at least their client will say "well, they gave me exactly what I asked for."
Hmmm interesting. I do wonder how they get those personalities. It seems given the Actives' pained reactions to various procedures in Topher's chair that giving them your memories would be painful.

There's a ROM/RW difference in there which might be crucial. The painful process is the memory wipe (preparing the mind to be imprinted), it might be that merely copying chunks of the client's personality/memories isn't so bad.

Mind you, I'd find it pretty hard to imagine billionaire clients being willing to let the Dollhouse people roam around in their memories unless they were really, really, really life-and-death desperate.
Mind you, I'd find it pretty hard to imagine billionaire clients being willing to let the Dollhouse people roam around in their memories unless they were really, really, really life-and-death desperate.

I'm just spitballing theories of the Confessional. And it would help (although, so would simply "share a secret with us") give more explanation to why clients don't seem to out the existence of the Dollhouse to the authorities.
They gave him exactly what he asked for. He didn't say "I want a hostage negotiator who is a fatherly figure just like Edward James Olmos." He said "I want the best person to do this" and pictured what that person would be like. His expectation didn't match what the Dollhouse delivered, but they delivered what was in their judgment the best person for the job. Not what he had in mind, but what he needed.
"how much "word of mouth" can there be about an operation which is so completely underground."

If they are not known through word of mouth, how are they known? Word of mouth as in people who know each other recommending services, not annoucing something over the internet.

As far as Adelle's actions. Admittedly the amateurish way they handled things when the plan went wrong, indicates that this might be an unusual job for them. if so, making that clearer might have been a good idea.

That said, usually businesses have a general default way of doing things. This company's only plan seemed to be, we mess up, we grab our person and get out. To hell with the client. The stupidity comes in with that being bad business and her not seeing it. The bad ethics and morals are inherent in that apparently being their default.

They don't have a hospital set up for the actives that they could have quietly whisked the client to while they did damage control? They don't have a clean-up plan for if things go wrong? What kind operation is this? Are they evil bunglers? If they are just a high priced whorehouse that got out of their league, it would have been nice to have a sense of that. Otherwise, it just seems like a pretty normal unthoughtout trashy show, and that does not match with what we all know of Joss Whedon.
What kind operation is this?

Seems precisely like the sort of question an entire series, rather than merely just the series pilot, might answer.
What kind operation is this?

Seems precisely like the sort of question an entire series, rather than merely just the series pilot, might answer.


:-D True, if it is something interesting and not just a group of pimps with high tech toys who are unable to manage anything else. That would just be a drag.
They gave him exactly what he asked for. He didn't say "I want a hostage negotiator who is a fatherly figure just like Edward James Olmos." He said "I want the best person to do this" and pictured what that person would be like

I must be forgetting a scene. We know exactly what he asked for?
They don't have a hospital set up for the actives that they could have quietly whisked the client to while they did damage control?

Do we know they didn't do this? I don't remember that being made clear. They certainly seemed up to date on his condition.
I think the assumption is that he was in a public hospital, given "this is becoming news". Presumably it wouldn't be becoming news if he were in some private Dollhouse hospital.
If they are not known through word of mouth, how are they known? Word of mouth as in people who know each other recommending services, not annoucing something over the internet.

I imagine they make the initial approach to many of their clients. I'm sure they would prefer that their clients are extremely discreet about who they talk to about the Dollhouse.

All in all, though, that is simply going to be one of the areas that won't hold up to too much scrutiny. There's a reason that a place like this can't exist in the real world (not, at least, operating out of a basement in Los Angeles). Again, that's the nature of genre fiction. If you're going to say "but there's no such thing as vampires" or "you can't exceed the speed of light" then, again, it just ain't your genre.
this is becoming news

Maybe--but if a billionaire is in a public hospital with gunshot wounds isn't that just "news" not "becoming news"? I'd have though "this is becoming news" could mean "one way or another this is going to generate publicity." I mean, if he dies, then it's news. Even if he lives, he's suddenly appearing all covered in bandages etc.
snot, he tells Adelle what he wants, and then goes off to the confessional-whatsit. We don't know the specifics after that but the general need we hear him tell Adelle is pretty plain. The only specific thing he says there is that it should be a negotiator, "not Rambo." It's also pretty clear when he's talking to Eleanor that she isn't at all what he expected, but he doesn't quite have the attitude of someone who didn't get what he asked for, either. It's a subtle difference but it's there. Plus she and Topher in different scenes are more or less feeding back lines that emphasize how she's the expert and the best person for the job. It's echoed enough between the client, Topher, and Eleanor in 3 different scenes that we don't need to have overheard while the client told them what he wanted.
I find it interesting that there was no wrap-up scene with Gabriel. I mean, I actually cared about his story.

It's kinda like jumping straight to "Eternity" in S1 of Angel.
They say he's stable and they've obviously rescued the wee girl so i'd say his is a happy ending, even if we don't explicitly see it (I liked his story too though - for an unknown, to me, guest star the guy did a great, emotive job, especially when he was talking on the phone IMO).

If, on the other hand, they'd given him a Morgan Freeman type, there's no reason to think that that means destroying the possibility of a successful outcome (after all, what screws up the case as it is is something that no negotiator could have foreseen, and which Echo is actually singularly badly placed to prevent).

Err, what ? If Echo wasn't there (or Ellie Penn rather) then the boat would have pulled away and the little girl would've been repeatedly raped and then killed. A "Morgan Freeman type" would NOT have been kidnapped by the older guy and would NOT then know that he never intended to give the girl back, no-matter what they paid - the boat then pulls away, the child (and money) never to be seen again. Her asthma was incapacitating but assuming she and the father were both unarmed (as seems reasonable) she wouldn't have been able to stop them anyway (not to mention the possibility that Ellie Penn may never have even held a gun before).

So Echo/Ellie was not only the best person for the job, she was actually the only negotiator (or one of a select - in the worst way - few) that would know what was going to happen and could do anything to prevent it.

As to the rest of the doubts etc. i'd only say that this is episode 1 folks. Who knows, maybe the guy that's always delivered in the past will end up explaining some of these holes in the coming weeks.
All in all, though, that is simply going to be one of the areas that won't hold up to too much scrutiny. There's a reason that a place like this can't exist in the real world (not, at least, operating out of a basement in Los Angeles). Again, that's the nature of genre fiction. If you're going to say "but there's no such thing as vampires" or "you can't exceed the speed of light" then, again, it just ain't your genre.

snot monster from outer space | February 17, 02:22 CET


I think I can decide what my genre is for myself, thank you.

The suspension of disbelief is necessary in any fiction. That does not mean the author can do anything he/she wants and insist that the audience has to accept it. Something being termed "genre" also does not give the work a free pass to do anything at all with it being the audience's responsibility to make it make sense. It is still the author's responsibility to suck the audience into that world and create a sense of reality in as strange a world as he/she dares to create. Obviously Joss has succeeded for the majority of people on Whedonesque and that is great. He has not succeeded for me at all yet, and I'm afraid most people who are not Whedon fans will not wait around for him to succeed with them.
Wow, I'm surprised to hear such disappoitned sibelief, newcj. I mean, there are a LOT of shows on TV right now that require typical suspensions of disbelief (and not just about typical genre things, but about everyday common sense understandings), like Lost or Chuck. I think even if this were not a Joss show, it would fit relatively well into the current TV landscape (there are a lot of supernatural-y/sci-fi-y shows, a lot of spy/action episodic shows going on right now). I don't see audiences being that unable to suspend their disbelief in order to "get" Dollhouse.

That being said, snot monster, you're totally wrong and saje is totally right about the uniquely qualified nature of Echo/Ellie for this job. It may not have turned out ideally (what with the client getting shot and everything), but this was actually the best-to-be-hoped-for outcome of the kidnapping, and Ellie was the ONLY person who had the insight necessary to make it happen.

[ edited by Septimus on 2009-02-17 16:09 ]
hey Krusher (she says a few days late) I saw 1234567890! Well, I saw the screen flash in front of me as i was trying to explain time servers to my roommate, anyway.
Wow, I'm surprised to hear such disappoitned sibelief, newcj. I mean, there are a LOT of shows on TV right now that require typical suspensions of disbelief (and not just about typical genre things, but about everyday common sense understandings), like Lost or Chuck. I think even if this were not a Joss show, it would fit relatively well into the current TV landscape (there are a lot of supernatural-y/sci-fi-y shows, a lot of spy/action episodic shows going on right now). I don't see audiences being that unable to suspend their disbelief in order to "get" Dollhouse.

If I had a problem with suspension of disbelief in general, I don't think I would be on this board. I don't have a problem suspending disbelief for the premise. I just had a problem with the things I stated up thread getting in the way of wanting to spend time in this world. Snot Monster indicated that that meant that the genre was not right for me. I am just saying that having a premise that is not realistic does not mean that you can do anything you want. You still need to create the illusion of reasonableness so the audience is encouraged to suspend their disbelief. That was made difficult for me because this group of supposed high level operators seemed amateurish and in some cases stupid. The fact that the actives are shown to be coerced also pulled me out of it, making me have little desire to spend a hour in a world with no redeeming qualities I could see.
Err, what ? If Echo wasn't there (or Ellie Penn rather) then the boat would have pulled away and the little girl would've been repeatedly raped and then killed. A "Morgan Freeman type" would NOT have been kidnapped by the older guy and would NOT then know that he never intended to give the girl back, no-matter what they paid - the boat then pulls away, the child (and money) never to be seen again. Her asthma was incapacitating but assuming she and the father were both unarmed (as seems reasonable) she wouldn't have been able to stop them anyway (not to mention the possibility that Ellie Penn may never have even held a gun before).

But the boat does leave with the girl on board. All Echo/Ellie's warning achieves is to get the client shot. Had she not seen the rapist guy, they'd still have handed over the money and had the bad guys drive off in the boat with the money and the girl. At that point I would think they'd have moved to pretty much the same Plan B that they went to in this case. There's clearly no point in continuing ransom negotiations with people who won't act in good faith.

Even Echo/Ellie's use of her private information to get the bad guys to neutralize the rapist guy turns out not to have mattered. It actually would have been less traumatic for the girl if the commandos had just gone in and shot everyone while she was still safely in the fridge.

Admittedly, I've only watched the episode once so I could be forgetting something crucial here. Is there something about what Echo/Ellie remembers that allows them to figure out where the bad guys have holed up? I remember some discussion about the range of the motorboat (it was "riding high" so presumed not to have much fuel)...but I can't now recall exactly how they pinpointed the hideout. Although--seeing as the rapist guy wasn't the "boss" of the kidnappers, I'm not sure how he would have determined which hideout they'd go to.
Wasn't it that the guy in the mask was the girl's teacher? I don't remember if the house belonged to him or what, but once Echo figured out who he was she knew where to go.
That's actually a good point, snot monster. The hideout was the cabin of the sister (I think) of the school-teacher/kidnapper. So, I don't think that Ellie's particular backstory clued them in on that.

Arguably, at least, Ellie's knowledge about the baddest bad guy gave them some insight as to the real motivation and the futility of continuing to deal with them. And it caused the kidnappers to turn on each other which made the rescue go the way it did.

I think one thing we should learn from this is that the Dollhouse does NOT necessarily provide the absolute best person conceivable for the job. They provide the best person that they can. In this case, for instance, the super-duper negotiator was also a traumatized former victim.
I am just saying that having a premise that is not realistic does not mean that you can do anything you want. You still need to create the illusion of reasonableness so the audience is encouraged to suspend their disbelief. That was made difficult for me because this group of supposed high level operators seemed amateurish and in some cases stupid. The fact that the actives are shown to be coerced also pulled me out of it, making me have little desire to spend a hour in a world with no redeeming qualities I could see.

Actually, newcj, it was a propos of two specific questions that you raised that I said "that's the nature of genre." The "amateurish" one wasn't one of them and nor was the "no redeeming qualities" one. Please, go back and look at what I wrote. I was responding A) to the complaint that there was no "added value of having an active do the job rather than a trained professional" and B) to the question you raised about "If they are not known through word of mouth, how are they known?"

I agree entirely that genre fiction doesn't give you a license to do anything at all. What I said was that all genre fiction entails some fundamental suspensions of disbelief. I think that the mere existence of an institution like the Dollhouse is not a real-world possibility (for all sorts of reasons). If you are going to object to the premise of the show on these specific kinds of "how would that work in the real world?" ways, then the show simply isn't ever going to be able to satisfy you.

Obviously, though, that doesn't apply to objections like "why would he hire such an obviously amateurish crew to do this." My disagreement with you there was that I didn't think that the job they did was so self-evidently "amateurish." As for the moral bleakness of the setting, we agree about that. You find that it makes the show unappealing to you, and I don't. That would just be a case of de gustibus non est disputandem (sp??).
The hideout was the cabin of the sister (I think) of the school-teacher/kidnapper. So, I don't think that Ellie's particular backstory clued them in on that.

Ah, yes, I remember now--thanks Septimus. So it remains unclear to me why Echo/Ellie was the best person for this job. She was the best person for Joss's purposes (she gave the audience vital inside knowledge that ramped up the suspense), but from the girl's father's p.o.v. the only thing she added was getting him shot--no doubt an interesting detour on life's highway, but probably not one he considered overall to be a bonus.
Now, if I'm in the Dollhouse business, how much do I care about the outcome, how much do I care about giving the client what he says he wants?

You have to care about both. You give a customer what he thinks he needs and the "engagement" doesn't have the outcome desired, he isn't going to return and might do what he can to end the Dollhouse. Give a customer what is neccessary for the job and he won't care that the doll wasn't what he was expecting. As I'm sure is the case with the first episode.

As for Echo/Ellie's private information, it did matter. If she didn't have those memories, then they would have wiped her and let the chips fall where they may with the client. Because she had those memories and her handler recognized that, he knew they could find the girl and was able to press that with the higher ups. Without that knowledge, who knows if they would have figured out the rest and found the girl ever.

ETA: people got to it first.

[ edited by NYPinTA on 2009-02-17 19:18 ]
Well, as I think about it more, it's kind of hard to know what would have happened had Ellie not had her breakdown/insight. Would the kidnappers have driven off in the boat with the girl and the money? Probably. How exactly would that work, since the other three guys were expecting to give back the girl at that point? I don't know. Would they have left the father alive? That's unclear. Maybe the baddest bad guy would have killed them all right away (no need to keep them around once the illusion of returning the girl is gone?)? This sort of counter-fictional guessing is usually pretty unclear.

I do think that if it had not been for Ellie's past, Boyd and Ellie would not have been as determined to get her back - and maybe would not have been as convincing in getting the Dollhouse not to follow procedure. It seems like the modus operandi wouldhave been to take the more cautious route and continue trying to negotiate...
Honestly, I don't really think the people at the Dollhouse are any better at deciding who is the best person for the job as the client is. In this case, they got lucky actually. And as it turned out, the best person for the job wasn't Ellie. It was Boyd.
They get hired to create a personality to complete a particular task and do that to the best of their ability, with the bonus of the person who does the job won't be around later to cause problems for the client. How it turns out is as up in the air as anything in life.
And as it turned out, the best person for the job wasn't Ellie. It was Boyd.

Awesome.
You have to care about both. You give a customer what he thinks he needs and the "engagement" doesn't have the outcome desired, he isn't going to return and might do what he can to end the Dollhouse. Give a customer what is neccessary for the job and he won't care that the doll wasn't what he was expecting. As I'm sure is the case with the first episode.

Well, I agree that you have to care about both. My question was "how much" each factor would be weighed. Oddly enough, you seem to go on to say that you should really only care about the outcome and not care at all about how the client thinks that outcome would best be reached ("give a customer what is necessary, and he won't care about the rest").
Well, it varies with each engagement. In the case of the abduction, the outcome was more important. And as was stated, he wasn't really that specific in who he wanted, just what he wanted. He wanted it to go smooth. But there is no guarantee of that no matter who they sent.
And in the first engagement that we see Echo, as the perfect date, the clients expectations had to be met and the outcome is less a priority. (Him getting a crush.)
Ex-cop heroics saved the day! He even convinced Adelle to change her decision which, you know, doesn't seem like a normal thing. I'm guessing.

She's a little scary.
As for Echo/Ellie's private information, it did matter. If she didn't have those memories, then they would have wiped her and let the chips fall where they may with the client.

Well, maybe. I mean, if what Joss set out to write was a story in which the Active's implanted memories are essential to saving the client, then you'd have to say that he failed. It would, after all, have been a piece of cake to make something in all of this absolutely depend upon Ellie's memories (have the rapist guy be the gang leader, have her remember his fondness for a particular kind of hideout and have that be the clue that leads them to find the gang--whatever).

Me, I don't think that that was the story he was trying to tell. The story we got was one in which Ellie's memories allowed us to understand A) that the Actives get implanted with surprisingly 'whole' personalities, B) that the little girl was facing a specific (rather than a generalized) threat, C) that the threat facing the girl (abduction/rape) was eerily similar to the fate Echo is undergoing D) that, in a sick and morally-disturbing twist, Echo-as-brainwashing-victim could get to act out the cathartic/redemptive act of standing up to Ellie's oppressor that Ellie herself had never been able to do.

As to what the girl's father would have asked the Dollhouse team to do once the kidnappers had absconded with his daughter AND his money: I, myself, would find a "well, let's just renew negotiations" approach utterly unbelievable. I think the "well, we tried negotiations, let's go for the commandos" approach would be the obvious next step. Now, clearly we're into the realm of speculation about possible fictional worlds, here, so nothing is provable, but what is clearly true is that there is nothing in this case that depended upon Ellie's memories. The sequence of events could have played out pretty much as they did with or without Ellie.

Oh, and as regards the specific rejoinder that "it was the--otherwise unknowable--threat to the little girl that made DeWitt stay in the case": that may or may not be true, but it was Echo getting the client shot that made her want to drop the case in the first place. And although Ellie's memories give us a very concrete sense of the threat the little girl faces, I don't think that anybody faced with a situation in which kidnappers have absconded with the ransom money thinks that the kidnappee is sitting pretty.
And as was stated, he wasn't really that specific in who he wanted

I thought the upshot of that discussion was "we don't know how specific he was."
Echo-as-brainwashing-victim could get to act out the cathartic/redemptive act of standing up to Ellie's oppressor that Ellie herself had never been able to do.

Hey: I'm sure this has been commented on before, but aren't we getting deep into the territory of "I Only Have Eyes For You" here?
I'm sure I'm mostly preaching to the choir by this point, but if anyone's only seen the episode once, I highly recommend re-watching it. I watched it for the second time today and enjoyed it so much more.
Echo-as-brainwashing-victim could get to act out the cathartic/redemptive act of standing up to Ellie's oppressor that Ellie herself had never been able to do.

FWIW, there is no "Ellie". Eleanor Penn was a construct. We don't know who the abuse victim was, or what she was named.
Actually, newcj, it was a propos of two specific questions that you raised that I said "that's the nature of genre." The "amateurish" one wasn't one of them and nor was the "no redeeming qualities" one. Please, go back and look at what I wrote. I was responding A) to the complaint that there was no "added value of having an active do the job rather than a trained professional" and B) to the question you raised about "If they are not known through word of mouth, how are they known?"

I actually did not have a problem with them being known by word of mouth. I had assumed that that would be the case, you in fact were the one who assumed they could not do business through word of mouth. See below:

If he's dead he can't badmouth them (and, after all, how much "word of mouth" can there be about an operation which is so completely underground.

So you created the question, not me.

I do not understand why there being no added value in the use of an active would be something that one would have to accept as part of the genre, however. Things usually exist for a reason.Vampires in the world mean vampire slayers make sense. A group of developing worlds means that low cost transport ships make sense. I am hopeful that this Dollhouse will somehow make sense.
FWIW, there is no "Ellie". Eleanor Penn was a construct. We don't know who the abuse victim was, or what she was named.

Is that right, b!x? I honestly don't remember. I know that the "Ellie" that we saw was an amalgamation of personalities/memories. But, what does Topher say about the woman who killed herself? Does he call her "Ellie?" I thought he did, but may very well be mistaken.

All in all, I didn't think there was as much emphasis on the amalgamation/art of combining personalites in this episode as on the personalities-have-inherent-flaws issue, so they may not have been emphasizing the details.

Newcj, obviously one person's reasonable question is another person's moment of required suspension of disbelief. In a world with vampires, vampire slayers make sense, but a world with vampires and demons that (aside form the existence of vampires) seems to look a lot like our world and in which most people are ignorant of their very existence kind of doesn't. that being said, I do hope that it all comes together more coherently than we have seen it do so far.

[ edited by Septimus on 2009-02-17 20:26 ]
Vampires in the world mean vampire slayers make sense

Not really. One slayer to fight a world full of vampires? That makes the kind of sense that's...not. Armed squads of highly trained humans (look how well Riley can do, how well Principal Wood can do, how well Giles and even Xander can do) would make far more "sense." You're just willing to swallow that particular enabling fiction (as am I)--presumably because we just don't have to care about the havoc the vampires are wreaking unopposed in Bucharest, Paris, Lagos, Sydney, New York, Birmingham, Beijing (etc. etc. etc.) because it doesn't get into the storyworld of the series.

As for the "low cost transport ships"--no, none of that makes the slightest lick of sense. Transporting a ship from one star to another takes an ENORMOUS amount of energy. And yet energy is clearly not "cheap" in the Firefly universe (people ride around on horses, employ slave-like laborers to quarry "mud" etc.).

Again--for the purposes of enjoying the story we need to just bleep over what we know to be fixed truths about physics and economics.

Now, you say you're happy to do that in Dollhouse's case, so my comments about "if you're not willing to do this then this isn't the genre for you" clearly don't apply to you, do they? But surely you'd agree that they do apply to anyone who isn't willing to suspend disbelief in that way?
But, what does Topher say about the woman who killed herself? Does he call her "Ellie?" I thought he did, but may very well be mistaken.

Yeah, that was my memory too--but obviously I could have just applied the "composite character" name to the real woman that Topher left nameless.
He says something like "Ellie, or the people we made her out of." Ellie's the personality he gave Echo. We don't know the name of the woman who killed herself.
And as was stated, he wasn't really that specific in who he wanted.
*****
I thought the upshot of that discussion was "we don't know how specific he was."


But we know this: when Echo showed up he wasn't surprised because she wasn't what he ordered, he was surprised because she wasn't what he was expecting. If he had specifically requested a fatherly type negotiator he would have said that. He didn't. So we know based on what he states is his only objective, that it go witout a hitch, and his reaction to mean he only asked for a doll to do what he needed without being specific enough to ask for a particular sex or age.
I think Eleanor Penn/Ellie was the best person for the job because on top of being implanted with all the necessary expert training (possibly from multiple sources) she had the single minded motivation to succeed in the 'engagement' no matter what the cost. She was specifically constructed for this to be not just a job but her life's mission. That's combination of dedication and expertise that only the Dollhouse can provide. As for providing a fatherly type do any of the actives look EJO-like? They all seem to be very pretty young things.
Admiral Adama is the Ultimate Active secretly held in wait for the Ultimate Engagement. Which I hear involves a battle with killer robots. Sweet!
I'm sure one of the final five actives is fatherly looking...
Ellie, or the people we made her out of.

But does he give a name to the one specific one who was raped by the hostage taker and who subsequently killed herself? I assume there was only one with that story?

I think Eleanor Penn/Ellie was the best person for the job because on top of being implanted with all the necessary expert training (possibly from multiple sources) she had the single minded motivation to succeed in the 'engagement' no matter what the cost.

Topher didn't know that the personality he dropped into Echo had been raped by one of the client's daughter's kidnappers. Yes, she had, in general, motivation to make sure that little girls get sprung from hostage situations, but "motivation to complete the job," would, one thinks, be a characteristic given to any possible kind of Active.

As for providing a fatherly type do any of the actives look EJO-like? They all seem to be very pretty young things.

Yeah, I wondered about that. Leaving aside the question of whether he was "surprised" or "disappointed" that Echo rather than EJO showed up at the door (which seems to me to require a lot of reading between the lines), I wonder what improvement he hoped to get if he did call the Dollhouse and say "send me another Active." Are there any older Actives? Not that he, necessarily, would know that there weren't.

ETA: also, I wonder if Topher can just "drop" a name into the Active? I mean, your name goes pretty far down into your personality, doesn't it? It's tied up pretty tight with many of your most powerful memories. Does Topher have the ability to just "write over" the name memories in the personalities he's implanting with a made-up name? Wouldn't it be easier to draw on the name of the "primary" source for the implants?

I'm sure this will be settled in upcoming episodes. Someone will come in wanting to hire an Active called "Ermintrude" or something.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-02-17 21:24 ]
We don't know the name of the woman who killed herself. Topher never says it.
Topher: "The persona we developed?"
Boyd: "Bunch of different people."
Topher: "Yeah. And one of them was abused by the guy she ran into."
Boyd: "I know."
Topher: "I looked her up. She killed herself."

FWIW, we don't know whether or not Topher knew one of the persona's component people had been abused (although even if he did he obviously wouldn't have known it was by one of Davina's kidnappers). All we know is he didn't know that person had killed herself until he looked it up.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-02-17 21:36 ]
Which for me was as much about Topher being short-sighted and a bit callous as it was about moving the plot or potential themes forward.

Even Echo/Ellie's use of her private information to get the bad guys to neutralize the rapist guy turns out not to have mattered. It actually would have been less traumatic for the girl if the commandos had just gone in and shot everyone while she was still safely in the fridge.

Maybe, as it turns out. Then again, without her insight into the older guy's MO, they wouldn't even know she was probably in a fridge (even Morgan Freeman doesn't come with that knowledge built in ;) so even the "commando" approach would've been pretty hit and miss. And by the time "SWAT" arrived the bad guys had had a gun fight with one dead, maybe it goes down differently without that. It's certainly true that we don't know another negotiator wouldn't have been just as successful and just as able to make the deductions that Miss Penn makes but then she made the deductions right in front of us, for me that's worth more as evidence than the possibility that someone else might have.

Fair points though, it's not cut and dried and we're not given an incontrovertible fact to tie it all up in a watertight logical bundle and make it definitive that without Ellie Penn it definitely would've gone pear shaped. Again though, as with previous discussions we've had along these lines, we're given the overall impression that that's the case IMO (as i've said before, in fiction - especially Whedonian fiction IMO - it's not about putting it beyond nit-picking or beyond a shadow of a doubt, it's about the balance of evidence and whether it carries the viewer with it - for me it did).
Fair points though, it's not cut and dried and we're not given an incontrovertible fact to tie it all up in a watertight logical bundle and make it definitive that without Ellie Penn it definitely would've gone pear shaped. Again though, as with previous discussions we've had along these lines, we're given the overall impression that that's the case IMO (as i've said before, in fiction - especially Whedonian fiction IMO - it's not about putting it beyond nit-picking or beyond a shadow of a doubt, it's about the balance of evidence and whether it carries the viewer with it - for me it did).

Well again, though, as in that other argument, if it really was important to Joss that we understand that Ellie/Echo's imprinting was crucial to the outcome of the episode, they why not write it that way? It would have been absurdly easy, after all as I've shown--it only takes a change in dialogue: hell, they could do it in post.

As for the fridge: you think if they'd just sent the commandos in to kill the guys they'd have poked around the house a bit and said "hey, we can't find her: there is this large boxlike thing with the door roped shut lying on the floor in the kitchen, but we decided it wasn't worth looking in there"? The only purpose the fridge-thing served was to prove to the less-evil kidnappers that Ellie/Echo knew what she was talking about when she accused the other kidnapper of being a perv.

This isn't "nit picking" or wanting things to be proven "beyond a shadow of a doubt." What we see is Ellie/Echo getting a monster-attack of asthma and telling the client "Don't let them leave," thereby getting him shot to no purpose whatsoever--because the kidnappers do get away with both the money and the girl. The one neat thing she does manage to do as a result of her special knowledge is to get the less-evil kidnappers to turn on the ultra-evil kidnapper. Now, again, if Joss wanted us to go away thinking "aha, special implanted memory saved the day!!" why write the scene that follows, where the commandos come in and render that neat bit of negotiating pointless? Again--I felt the irony of that moment was very deliberate and it's right there on the screen, not some vague hypothetical alternative.

And, in this case (unlike the other) I actually think the story is better for this ambiguity. It would have just been absurdly deus ex machina for the successful outcome of the mission to depend on the bizarre fluke that Ellie/Echo has memories that happened to come from someone who had been a victim of one of the villains-of-the-week. That would be cheesy improbability, in my view. I think the think that's cool about what Joss did is to tease us with that cheesy plot line, and then negate it. The memories don't actually help solve the case--the only thing they do do is allow Echo to bring "closure" to a ghost. It's a niftily disturbing moment, really, where the audience gets to think "yay, the once victimized girl is standing up and fighting back against the monster that oppressed her" and then does a series of double-triple-quadruple takes ("no wait--the only thing that makes this possible is that this girl is a victim of evil brainwashers; no wait again--the girl getting 'closure' is dead anyway, what good does it do her?; no wait again--not even Echo gets to enjoy this vicarious 'closure' because she's about to be wiped..." etc.).

In other words, I think that clinging to the idea that "Ellie's special knowledge allowed her to save Davina" is trying to force the show into a less morally problematic space than the one Joss is exploring. I think that's the attempt to seek a "watertight logical bundle"--what I'm looking for is (interesting) moral ambiguity.
We remember and Boyd remembers. That's not the same as the abused woman living on or Echo remembering she saved someone like she always wanted or Ellie being real and her closure lasting beyond the mission, but it is something that we walk away with.

And yeah, it's immediately countered by the mind-wiping hey kids Echo's this guy's dream date and won't remember it stuff. Whedony.
I think there will always be a need for the Active to convince the client that she is the right person for the job. Of course. Eliza has said that one of the things that they got rid of in the later episodes are these "convincing"-monologues where she tells a bunch of guys that she's right for the job. But for me the satisfaction of Gabriel is achieved in the balcony-scene. There he gets it.

What happened on the dock is the crazy random happenstance that noone could have predicted. Bad luck, sure, but it has nothing to do with whether Ellie was "perfect" for the job. (Also, that "bad luck"/"cheese improbability" reminds me of Fringe. I don't like it there. But I think it's okay here.)

In other words, I think that clinging to the idea that "Ellie's special knowledge allowed her to save Davina" is trying to force the show into a less morally problematic space than the one Joss is exploring. I think that's the attempt to seek a "watertight logical bundle"--what I'm looking for is (interesting) moral ambiguity.

And "Amen!" to that.
Topher didn't know that the personality he dropped into Echo had been raped by one of the client's daughter's kidnappers. Yes, she had, in general, motivation to make sure that little girls get sprung from hostage situations, but "motivation to complete the job," would, one thinks, be a characteristic given to any possible kind of Active.

Which is all I meant to convey. Topher didn't know that one of the kidnappers was the guy who raped part of his Miss Penn personality but that rape was *how* he gave her character the motivation to complete whatever the job turned out to be. Topher sounds rather like a writer creating a backstory here, which is maybe the point.
We remember and Boyd remembers. That's not the same as the abused woman living on or Echo remembering she saved someone like she always wanted or Ellie being real and her closure lasting beyond the mission, but it is something that we walk away with.

Yes, we do. And to some degree that is uplifting. On the other hand it's also kinda hollowed out by the knowledge that the girl didn't actually face her demons and triumph--she committed suicide. And Echo isn't sadder/wiser, she's back to square one--and so on. This, to me, is what's fascinating about the terrain that the Dollhouse storyspace opens up. In many ways, of course, it's a meditation on the nature of genre fiction (you keep telling the stories, but they never get resolved--it's one of the points about 'haunting,' of course, that's alluded to in the pilot's title: genre storyspace is a haunted space--all the stories are there, all waiting to be embodied by your characters, never getting finally put to bed).

Anyway, it's all the ways in which Joss is working to undermine our conventional story-payoffs that I find so intriguing here.
You just know Paul's gonna get to punch a bad guy though. It's not meandering so far away from the usual storytelling techniques that we lose a great bad guy punching. Or Boyd heroics. The day will be saved somehow, someway. But yeah things going back to the usual at the end means things going back to a very creepy place where Adelle and Topher create zombie slaves.
What we see is Ellie/Echo getting a monster-attack of asthma and telling the client "Don't let them leave," thereby getting him shot to no purpose whatsoever--

The purpose is simple. To point out that manufactured people are about as reliable as real people. The father didn't go to the Dollhouse because they are the only ones that could produce a negotiator. They are the ones that could produce a negotiator that wouldn't exsist after it was done. It gives the clients the (false, really) sense that their deeds don't exsist if the other person culpable in those deeds can't recall the action anymore.
I did question how successful the engagement actually was at first, since the client asked for someone to make it go "like clockwork" which it very much didn't. But in the end, they got the job done. Just not the way anyone would've preferred. I think it goes along with what Topher talked about with making a complete personality, flaws and all. The perfect person may not be perfect as one would perceive. It's because of the flaws that things worked out as they did. Doesn't mean there could only be on solution to the problem. People are complicated and sometimes they just get things right. Sometimes they don't. I wonder if the Dollhouse has a refund policy.
Also it gives true control freaks a made-to-order person. I'm surprised people aren't talking about the guy in the first scene more. I mean sure it's a common fantasy to have a whirlwind sexy fun weekend with a total stranger who falls in love with you. It's another thing entirely to order it off a menu. That dude's Warren if the mind control thing hadn't worn off.
The purpose is simple. To point out that manufactured people are about as reliable as real people.

Oh, it serves a purpose on the level of "why did Joss include it"--you're misreading me if you think that my point is to criticize the episode. I loved it. I think almost all the choices Joss made for this pilot were the right ones--including the creation of asthmatic, nearsighted, possibly-suicidal Ellie. I meant solely "within the world of the episode, this didn't do anything to make the recovery of Davina any more likely."

The father didn't go to the Dollhouse because they are the only ones that could produce a negotiator. They are the ones that could produce a negotiator that wouldn't exsist after it was done. It gives the clients the (false, really) sense that their deeds don't exsist if the other person culpable in those deeds can't recall the action anymore.

The "wouldn't exist after it was done" thing is entirely unknowable as yet. I mean, not that Ellie will carry on existing as a character (although we don't yet know if Active characters can be recreated to pick up from where they left off), but that this is the client's motive. It's possible you've seen more than the first episode, and if so, don't give me any spoilers, but from what we currently know, there's no way of knowing if the client's motivation is primarily (or even in part) the Dollhouse's discretion.

I took it from the scene in which Topher "wipes" Echo after the first engagement of the episode that he was "storing" her memories of the engagement in that disc/hard-drive thingy that he picks up (hot hot!) from out of the imprint-relaxy-chair thingy. If the Dollhouse stores the Actives' memories from each engagement, then clients who think they're buying "erasure" are barking up the wrong tree.

In this particular case, of course, the guy's doing nothing illegal (other than hiring the Dollhouse)--so it's hard to see why he would care what his negotiator does or doesn't remember of the case.
That dude's Warren if the mind control thing hadn't worn off.

Did anybody else get a strong Warren-vibe off Topher? I was very surprised to see Topher getting compared to Xander and to Andrew in various review threads. He struck me as far closer to the Warren end of the nerd spectrum, and even seemed to have some of his mannerisms.
I think not reporting a crime is illegal. But don't quote me on that.
I think not reporting a crime is illegal. But don't quote me on that.

No, it isn't. (ETA: I know this because it got discussed to death in political circles when the Blagojevich thing first broke. Those on the right were very keen on the prospect of some member of the Obama circle or Obama himself being guilty of 'misprision of felony' (as it is technically known). Turns out, though, that you have to have actively worked to conceal the crime from the federal authorities to get charged (more like being an accomplice after the fact)--simple non-reportage is neither here nor there).

And even if it were, can you imagine the DA who'd bring the charge? "Yeah, sure you were raped and we're all sorry about that, but as soon as you decided not to bring charges, you turned from victim to villain. Book 'er, Dano!"

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-02-17 23:22 ]
What we see is Ellie/Echo getting a monster-attack of asthma and telling the client "Don't let them leave," thereby getting him shot to no purpose whatsoever--

The purpose is simple. To point out that manufactured people are about as reliable as real people.


Or that sometimes, a flaw is just a flaw. Or that sometimes, Topher is too clever for everyone's own good. Or to point out explicitly (and visually) that there's a concrete link between mind and body (surely one of the issues at the heart of the show).

In other words, I think that clinging to the idea that "Ellie's special knowledge allowed her to save Davina" is trying to force the show into a less morally problematic space than the one Joss is exploring. I think that's the attempt to seek a "watertight logical bundle"--what I'm looking for is (interesting) moral ambiguity.

Yeah, I don't hate the idea that it's deliberately ambiguous either, that also works. Maybe when I rewatch it that's more how i'll feel (it's just not now). How about though, you make an effort to avoid words that imbue me with thoughts or intent that you can't possibly know I have snot monster, ta ;).

(i.e. i'm not forcing the show anywhere or clinging to anything, anymore than you are, this is just how I see it. It's not like I was sitting on the fence because the writing was so muddled and then to make myself happy - or conversely to make things less happy/clear-cut - I consciously decided to adopt the "Ellie was the right person at the right time" mindset, anymore than i'm assuming you did the opposite)

As for the fridge: you think if they'd just sent the commandos in to kill the guys they'd have poked around the house a bit and said "hey, we can't find her: there is this large boxlike thing with the door roped shut lying on the floor in the kitchen, but we decided it wasn't worth looking in there"?

I brought up the fridge thing to make the point that going in blind (as they appeared to) would've endangered the girl i.e. if they didn't know she was in the fridge then she could've been anywhere, including places where she might get shot by one side or the other. Course, maybe they didn't know she was in the fridge, maybe Echo didn't tell anyone and Sierra was adopting a semi-scorched Earth approach, just "cleaning" the situation in the way best for the dollhouse. Or maybe they had e.g. thermal imaging that we weren't shown *shrugs*.
I commented elsewhere on Topher's creepy character. I think Is aid he seems to be a mix of Xander (geeky, funny), Andrew (geeky, well-intentioned), and Warren (geeky, downright creepy).

Let's face it, Joss keeps revisiting the character of the geek with at least as much regularity as he visits the strong-female-character. And, I think it's pretty clear why: the geek is Joss and he is working through what that means. (Did anyone listen to the Fresh Air interview where he said that when he was taking women's studies courses he found it much easier to grasp things like misogyny and objectification than the female students because it was all right there in his head? I'm not saying he's a misogynist, but he knows about those tendencies in even the most feminist and enlightened man.) This all goes back to my latest hangup: the Topher-is-a-figure-for-Joss-the-guy-who-writes-and-directs-these-fantasy-(female)-characters thesis.
This all goes back to my latest hangup: the Topher-is-a-figure-for-Joss-the-guy-who-writes-and-directs-these-fantasy-(female)-characters thesis.

Yeah--I think there's a lot of that going on. The Dollhouse IS a genre-fiction story-generator. (That, again, is why I think the criticism of the bike-dance-minidress sequence as being cheesy and Fox-y is so off the mark. It's precisely the point: what would jerks with billions of dollars do if given access to something like the Dollhouse? They'd act out braindead fantasy sequences like that. It's as if people are somehow upset at the program suggesting that billionaires can be jerks: "Why doesn't he pay them to provide him with someone who can discuss Shakespeare with him while teaching him calligraphy?").
Because those of us who can discuss Shakespeare with him while teaching calligraphy sadly command a far lower price tag... ;)
I don't see the Xander in Topher. It is to his credit that he was clearly disturbed by what was going on with Echo once he realized it, but he's got a whole new kind of creepy going on. I sort of think he could make Warren look amateur (which, let's face it, Warren is) by the time this is over.
I dunno, i'm still more on the "unthinking" side with Topher. He's a dick but I suspect when he works that out he'll feel bad and try to change, rather than, y'know, throw a temper tantrum and shoot someone to death or try to rape his ex-girlfriend.

But then "not evil people that make bad decisions and so do evil things" isn't exactly a brand new idea in Whedonia.
I think Topher is exactly like a writer,with some deep understanding of human nature .He understands the dynamics of mind,how shortcoming can become a person's greatest motivation.He also works with great material,the only mistake he made is that he did not look deep enough into those specifics .The memories are what Ellie was running into and running away from,not the nearsightedness.
He's creative ,more an artist than a computer geek.he builds people from different scraps,he also has a sense of humor.He's handsome, and EVIL!
Handsome and evil writer?...well,that really sounds like someone familiar...

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