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February 20 2009

(SPOILER) Dollhouse - Why you shouldn't quit watching (yet). A TWOP pundit casts her eyes over the next few episodes and gives reasons as to why she'll be watching the show. In a similar vein, Zap2it's Korbi says you should watch Dollhouse cause "it is solid enough to warrant a decent trial period".

The Chicago Tribune says tonights episode is "excellent".
"Halfway through the season, you'll start seeing some of the main story lines and arcs developed in a more serious way, around the fifth episode. I think that's when Joss and his writing team really found their feet and said, 'OK, this is what we wanted. This is what we were aiming at and we've got it now,' " Penikett said.

I keep reading quotes from Joss and others like this. Too bad so many viewers in today's society don't have the patience to sit through half a season to get to, what sounds like, Joss' unfiltered, original vision for the show. The pilot didn't bother me at all. I found it entertaining and will not have a problem continuing to watch it, but I'm anticipating the second half of this season something fierce now.
Ah yes, but will FOX give us the opportunity to watch all those episodes? That's where my lack of faith lies. It's not with the show. It's with the network.
I think that they will, that that is and has been Kevin Reilly's intent. Feel free to link back to this post and laugh at me if they cut it without airing them.
*notes comment no. 289719*

Why you shouldn't quit watching (yet).

I haven't read it cos of the scary red tag but is the entire article "Cos it's only been on once" by any chance ?
Feel free to link back to this post and laugh at me if they cut it without airing them.

In that case I'll be too sad to laugh.
People are still hung up on the Actives having (specific) flaws. I do think the show needs to make it clear why someone would shell the bucks for an Active instead of a cheaper (less talented) "real" person. But I also think the complainers need to stop acting like a real person wouldn't have flaws too. (Or at least have Topher get defensive and mention that the programmed flaws weren't a problem on the last dozen missions.)

[ edited by OneTeV on 2009-02-20 15:26 ]
"Oh, and then Mindy mentioned yesterday that she thought it was odd that the "actives" were implanted with imperfections (as seen in the pilot), which now that she mentioned it, is really annoying." - Angel Cohn

Eleanor Penn, in her "former life", was nearsighted and asthmatic so, for continuity's sake, Echo/Penn needed the same afflictions. Also, the child rapist/murderer would not have given up the girl no matter what, so the asthma was not a factor in the deal going sideways.

[ edited by Barry Woodward on 2009-02-20 15:36 ]
I have no doubt the show will pick up and I already love the pilot, for all of it's flaws. I'm just sure we won't get a second season and I want it really bad.
People question why clients would hire an Active as a "fake" specialist vs. hiring a "real" specialist.

I don't have this qualm for two reasons:

1. We live in "the age of convenience" where people (including me, so this is not judgemental) prefer spending money on easy solutions rather than spending extra time searching/working for the BEST solution. There's something very appealing about thinking of the Dollhouse as a "one-stop-shop" for ANY skillset that you need. If they can provide people who are as good as real experts than it's easier to always use them vs. searching in different places for each skillset.

2. Actives are not really "fake" since they have the experience and skillset of a real person -- just TRANSPLANTED into their bodies. Therefore they are not really an inferior solution.
Eleanor Penn, in her "former life", was nearsighted and asthmatic so, for continuity's sake, Echo/Penn needed the same afflictions.


"Eleanor Penn" was never a real person, but rather constructed from several different people:

Topher: What happened at the dock, happened to Eleanor Penn...or, the people we made her out of.

and later...

Topher: The persona we developed...
Boyd: A bunch of different people?
Topher: Yeah...and one of them was abused by the guy she ran into.


I think what is unclear is whether the flaws were deliberately implanted by Topher, or if they simply "came along for the ride" when he pulled in the positive aspects of those personalities. His earlier conversation with Boyd about the flaws could be interpreted either way, I think, but I'm leaning towards Topher deliberately implanting the flaws. (I can mess up the neural connections to her eyesight, make her brain process the information it gets any way I want.)
Eleanor Penn, in her "former life", was nearsighted and asthmatic so, for continuity's sake, Echo/Penn needed the same afflictions. Also, the child rapist/murderer would not have given up the girl no matter what, so the asthma was not a factor in the deal going sideways.

In fact, I would say that if it wasn’t for Echo and her Miss Penn imprinted personality, Davina would probably have never been rescued. After all, Miss Penn was the one who figured out that the masked man was probably one of Davina’s teachers which led to the localization of the place where she was being kept hostage and her subsequent rescue.

Even Dollhouse’s head of security Laurence Dominic stated, that the mission was successful and that "both actives performed admirably".

The only negative thing that probably wouldn’t happen if Mr. Crestejo didn’t hire Echo but a normal negotiator is him being shot, but it would be at the price of the life of his daughter...
The Chicago Tribune article gossi linked to also says "If you missed last week's premiere, never mind: Friday's episode is better."
His earlier conversation with Boyd about the flaws could be interpreted either way, I think, but I'm leaning towards Topher deliberately implanting the flaws. (I can mess up the neural connections to her eyesight, make her brain process the information it gets any way I want.)

Yes, but he might have done that just to transfer her pre-existent perception of herself as a nearsighted person, which was an embedded part of one of the personalities that formed the resulting imprint, into reality so that there wouldn’t be any discrepancies between how she subjectively perceived herself and the objective fact whether her vision really is or isn’t nearsighted that might cause some confusion to her.
Don't forget that there will be the "how was for you?" thread posted later tonight (or early morning Whedonesque time) for our US chums .
I keep reading quotes from Joss and others like this. Too bad so many viewers in today's society don't have the patience to sit through half a season to get to, what sounds like, Joss' unfiltered, original vision for the show.

Be fair; why should they? I'm going to because I have faith in JW & company, but to be perfectly honest I don't think I'd watch another episode based on a lackluster first episode if it wasn't for that connection.

TV viewers are no longer facing the choice of 3 possible shows or a book at any given hour; between cable/satellite and digital recorders there's far more to possibly watch than even the most dedicated couch potato could manage. Asking them to invest half a dozen hours of their life on a show so they can get to the point where it gives them a compelling reason to keep watching is just silly.

Blaming that on the viewers is folly. A premier episode, like someone on a job interview, has to present enough compelling evidence to make it worth while to keep finding out more.
I'm with phearlez. Every so often, I'll watch a show's pilot and it'll be totally compelling and I'll be interested and/or invested straight away. That's the sign of a great show for me. Other times, I'll watch a pilot and I'll be a bit meh, and maybe check it out further down the line.
From what Joss is saying about the season finale in the link above, I can't wait to see it.
1. I liked the premier episode.

2. We know Joss was sort of bullied by Fox people into creating this whole new pilot on short notice because they think viewers are not smart enough to get the show. Perhaps they (Fox suits) are not smart enough to get the show. (Granted, many viewers aren't all that smart, but then the rest of us have to suffer through motorcycle races to pander to them.)

3. The "procedural" nature of the show is most likely Fox's doing, because look at all the shows they offer. If it's not reality crap, it's procedural crap. For Fox, there seems to be very little to nothing in between (or outside the box).

4. The only thing that's getting me through this day is knowing "Dollhouse" will be on again tonight. I just hope the local Fox News outlet doesn't do to it what it did with the first episode - run a spilt scene showing people walking around the scene of a crime on the bigger window, and Dollhouse on a screen about the size of an iPod.

[ edited by Nebula1400 on 2009-02-20 17:27 ]
I'm surprised we're going to find out about so soon. Do secrets usually come out this quickly?
Do secrets usually come out this quickly?

(trying to be careful not to say anything spoilery)

To me, that just means that that will be a catalyst to further development of that particular arc. Finding out about that secret isn't the big climax some of us might have thought. What's to follow it will be.
People are still hung up on the Actives having (specific) flaws.

There has been one episode. People are still going to be hung up on whatever bothered them in that first episode because they haven't had anything to change it yet. I think we need to remember that just because people have been obsessively enthusiastically discussing and debating certain points for a week, does not mean that other people have, or that those points have been resolved for people here or elsewhere.

I keep reading quotes from Joss and others like this. Too bad so many viewers in today's society don't have the patience to sit through half a season to get to, what sounds like, Joss' unfiltered, original vision for the show.

Be fair; why should they? I'm going to because I have faith in JW & company, but to be perfectly honest I don't think I'd watch another episode based on a lackluster first episode if it wasn't for that connection.
phearlez | February 20, 16:54 CET

I'm with phearlez.

gossi | February 20, 17:06 CET


Me too. My time is valuable to me. I give very few shows with the kind of promotion Dollhouse has been getting, a viewing at all unless someone tells me there is more to it than the ads imply. If I had watched it without someone's recommendation and without Joss's name on it, I would not have lasted past the first segment. If people are not attached to Joss, why should they give 5 or 6 hours of their time to a show that seems to have little of interest for them? Would we recommend they do that for any other shows on television?
Well, I'm not looking forward to this - oh if only I lusted after the cast like so many others seem to do, that might make it easier. Dreary and unfunny it was and that seems to be something not likely to change since I understand he wants to be more "serious" this time.

@newcj
". If people are not attached to Joss, why should they give 5 or 6 hours of their time to a show that seems to have little of interest for them? "

Something has to be making sounds here to dispel the solitude while I'm at the computer, it might as well be the tv, and for now it might as well be dollhouse - but could possible be a Leverage rerun, or Chuck.
Mercenary, tonights episode was original shot 4th as episode 3, however it's now episode 2. However, what you see explained tonight is just a piece of a much (much) larger puzzle.

Nebula1400, whilst "Echo" feels like a Joss pilot, I didn't think it worked as a first episode. I mean, the first 5 minutes is just random. It's good (great, actually), but only if you're already invested. Also, the show was originally sold as a procedural, go back to Joss's original comments on it.
If Topher can take pieces of personalities and memories to make a whole new one, I think it's safe to say he can choose wether or not flaws go along with. He's already picking and choosing, why not be able to pick and choose flaws?

Thanks JMalony for those quotes, I posted about them in a previous thread but was too lazy to go grab them.
I took Topher's comments about strengths and flaws in response to Boyd's question about Eleanor's glasses to mean that he does in fact make deliberate choices about such things.
Joss wasn't bullied into re-making the pilot. From what I remember, wasn't it his idea?
Well, I'm not looking forward to this - oh if only I lusted after the cast like so many others seem to do, that might make it easier. Dreary and unfunny it was and that seems to be something not likely to change since I understand he wants to be more "serious" this time.

Joss, and others connected with the show, have commented that there's lots of silly and lots of funny in the episodes to come.

I'm pretty sure, in fact, that there was an interview a while back with one of the main cast members who was asked "what surprised you most about the show" and the answer was how funny it was: anyone remember that?
That sounds familiar, snot, and I wanna say it was Tahmoh or Dichen. But I can't help you beyond there. Also, I could be wrong.
I took Topher's comments about strengths and flaws in response to Boyd's question about Eleanor's glasses to mean that he does in fact make deliberate choices about such things.

Yeah, me to. Also, I thought the point he was making was that in order to make a super-over-uber-achiever you need to give them flaws that they're "overcompensating" for. So it's not "why would you hire someone with flaws" it's "you're hiring someone with the right balance of flaws and abilities to get the job done."

The implication being that anyone out there in the "real" world that you'd hire would also have flaws. And, really, isn't that a fundamental principle of TV Character? I mean, presumably if you're in TV-Land and want to hire a brilliant diagnostician, you could go hire House--but that doesn't mean you're getting somebody "without flaws" does it? Are there any overachievers on TV who don't have wrecked marriages, half-controlled drinking problems, an inability to "work within the system" etc. etc. etc.? That's our basic TV-Land understanding of what an overachiever is, right?
Esg, correct. Joss suggested they shoot a new opener.

Also, one of the later episodes is, basically, a comedy. But the show isn't.
Have you seen all the episodes now, gossi? You talk about the entire series with such authority.
gossi is just Joss but then imprinted ;)

I'll be along for the entire ride. They have to drag me away to get me stop watching Dollhouse.
I've always thought gossi was rather Joss-y.

And I'll go now.
I get tired of reading comments after these articles, no more spoilers or negativity for me.
Why hire an Active at such high cost? Because you trust The Committee (or whomever is running the Dollhouse) to keep the secrets you tell them and the Active better than you would a real helper, even one you'd kill after they helped you. At the end of the engagement, the Active's memories are wiped, and you can trust The Committee.

Maybe you should rethink this hiring of Actives?

Maybe most customers don't know they're hiring Actives, they think they're hiring real helpers.
I doubt that. The date in the opening scene knows Echo won't remember their weekend later, and Adelle tells the guy whose kid is kidnapped not to confuse the Active by mentioning the Dollhouse. She also suggests that they have some kind of programming that gets them to return to the Dollhouse if the client does ask them about it.

I think the Dollhouse is meant to be so exclusive, so difficult to know about or get access to, so very very specially creating whatever thing it is you want just so, that it is meant to cater exactly to the kind of people who hear about imprinting a personality and think yes please, where do I sign.
Topher argues that strengths need flaws in order to be balanced. I would imagine the client, who got shot in the chest because the Active he hired for an undisclosed sum doubled over due to an asthma attack, would beg to differ.

This is actually an area of the story that I want to see fleshed out more. I want to see Topher's boss chew him out for making the Actives "flawed." Then Topher warns that without the flaws, the Actives have a higher chance of discovering, in the field, they are TOO perfect and therefore not real - which will make things worse. The boss lady dismisses his warning. He does what she tells him to do in order to keep his job, and that's when Echo and the other Actives begin to get ..interesting.

As for the Eleanor Penn: am I the only one who figured this out? The "real" Ellie Penn did not train at Quantico or do any study of child molesters and kidnappers. Topher took the knowledge of a half dozen or so more boring dead people who did go to school, and added those memories to a personality who would be ideally motivated to use them to save young girls. Then he put the combined patchwork into a single mind.

The Actives are a combination of other people mixed into the same head. Think Frankenstein monster but with grey matter.
Topher argues that strengths need flaws in order to be balanced. I would imagine the client, who got shot in the chest because the Active he hired for an undisclosed sum doubled over due to an asthma attack, would beg to differ.

I imagine he might. But I don't see DeWitt chewing out Topher because of this (or a similar) incident. "Ellie Penn" had her massive asthma attack because of the bizarre coincidence that one of the kidnappers of Davina happened to have been the very same guy who kidnapped the person who contributed an important chunk to her personality.

I assume that DeWitt knows perfectly well how Topher gets the Actives to work--this was just one of those crazy accidents.
"I assume that DeWitt knows perfectly well how Topher gets the Actives to work--this was just one of those crazy accidents."

Agreed. However, if the writers need to have "crazy accidents" every week to keep the show interesting, we might have a similar problem here to what Star Trek often had regarding technology going haywire. I mean how many times did the Holodeck malfunction for purposes of plot? That gets old kinda fast.
Agreed. However, if the writers need to have "crazy accidents" every week to keep the show interesting, we might have a similar problem here to what Star Trek often had regarding technology going haywire. I mean how many times did the Holodeck malfunction for purposes of plot? That gets old kinda fast.

I agree with this to a point. I think crazy coincidences like the Ellie Penn/kidnapper one should be kept at a minimum; I'd rather not see another one this season. I do, though, think that the "implanted memories causing interesting mission kinks" territory is interesting and potentially rich, and I'm willing to suspend disbelief if they go there a bit more often than realism would allow. I mean, it's like on Angel: whenever anyone mentioned an "incredibly rare mystical whosit" it would turn out that the last known one in the world happened to be in a junk shop in LA, or sitting in Cordy's desk or what have you. Genre storyspace is always a little more coincidence rich than reality.
"...Genre storyspace is always a little more coincidence rich than reality."

I know this ain't reality but it should offer at least a vain illusion of surreality. It's hard to suspend disbelief if Topher doesn't lose his job over this. A mistake like that on the field and you should either be fired, or turned into an Active, and replaced by someone else. This could be like the "number two" character in Patrick McGoohan's Prisoner series. High turnover rate.

If I were DeWitt, I woulda had Topher raked over the hot coals and then licking my boots over such a fantastic mistake. Whether it was actually his fault or not, I'd BLAME him to cover my own snakey hide.

They LOST a client; a very high end client with lots of money who will never call upon them now because he's slightly allergic to bullets. I doubt they have a wide range of clientele, because they have to be so hush hush about it all, and if one client is unhappy, word of mouth would get around and seriously effect the profit margins for the next quarter.

I know it's JUST a show, but if something that big happens and no one suffers for it, it kinda makes the whole cause and effect thing irrelevant. They could have at least brought the client in, dressed his wounds for him, give him a "treatment" that'd make him forget the gunshot was the Dollhouse's fault, and sent him on his way.

Frankly, why they don't sometimes just offer "treatments" to give their clients the memories of a good time is beyond me. I think that'd be more cost-effective, and how would the client know the difference?
ZachsMind, Who says they lost a client? It's not said wether or not he died. For Davina's sake and the happy ending, I like to assume not. Dude got shot because he ran after the kidnapper. That could have still happened had he run after them after figuring out he wasn't getting his daughter, but even if not, Penn would have been able to track down the location and they could have still gotten Davina. My hypothetical only differs from what happened in the show by the Ghost kidnapper not being the one from Penn's memory, or her not remembering his face, so Penn in that case would have the exact same capabilities to track them down.

Looks like she was perfect for the job.

But if he died, yeah, they lost a client. So who's Adelle gonna replace Topher with? It's not like he's a fry cook!

ETA: After
The original Firefly pilot "Serenity" is perhaps the greatest TV pilot ever, on my list of tops.

Ghost felt just like The Train Job.

I must re-watch the second episode on Hulu now. Due to re-making the pilot, there were some obvious disconnects in the narrative. Both episodes seem to serve as pilots... but whatever.

Right now I'm feeling network interference more than anything is to blame for the bumps.

Even if it has been difficult for Joss & Co to find their footing, so what? in the long run. Dollhouse is an entirely new beast.

Buffy Season One was rough.
Angel Season One almost as rough.

Firefly Season One was genius.

I'm okay if Dollhouse Season One isn't perfect. Given that it's airing on Fox, I'm just praying for a complete season (story) at the least.

ETA: Zachsmind, you said:

Frankly, why they don't sometimes just offer "treatments" to give their clients the memories of a good time is beyond me. I think that'd be more cost-effective, and how would the client know the difference?

Strange Days flashback. Remember how Gunn got that lawyer download at W & H? The show's premise so far has been that this company creates these Actives for one's very expensive pleasure. Methinks what, who, and how they affect people goes well beyond the Actives and that's why the stories will get oh-so-much better mid-season.

[ edited by April on 2009-02-21 16:35 ]

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