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March 02 2009

The Guardian on Joss' catch-22. Anna Pickard pokes at the notion that somehow his old work can be both "popular" and "critically-acclaimed" yet come any new work, "people (particularly TV critics) can't wait to call it a failure".

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I couldn't have said it better. This is almost exactly what happened with Firefly. Is it going to take DVDs for everyone to get it? By then it'll be canceled. Just watch, people, and have faith you'll start to see the arc move once you're no longer on an incline. I think I got lost in that metaphor.
Good points.

It does seem like many critics have no patience. I recall the one who said something like "I gave it 3 whole episodes to interest me!"

I hope that Dollhouse doesn't get canceled, because I really want to see how it unfolds :-(
Is it so wrong to give a show three episodes to see if it interests you??

I only give them one. But I generally know exactly what I will and won't like, and don't need too much before I can make the judgement.

But really, if you can't impress someone within three episodes, it's unlikely that it's going to change once it gets all arc-y, there has to be something fundamental that the person is reacting against.
Finally, someone says it. I'm still baffled as to why critics seemed ready to pounce on Dollhouse. Do they watch network TV? Look at the genre program Fringe... does that show have an ounce of the potential that Dollhouse has? Does it have half the acting talent? Take a look at Terminator. I'm sure after Dollhouse is shower-shanked into a one season run, it will be compared with Joss's other one season wonder--Firefly. However, while the studio made choices (such as airing episodes out of order) that prevented that show from finding an audience, Dollhouse will have no one to blame except the naysayers--some of whom may well miss it when it's gone.

I found the article's reference to the "hard sell" something of a mystery. Is it such a hard sell? The show may be a more serious endeavor than some of Joss's works. It may be less of a typical "genre" or "camp" show. It's also one of the sleekest, sexiest, and most thought provoking new shows on television. I know my Friday line-up consists of a Dollhouse Battlestar double-feature (never disappointed). I've been as harsh a critc of TV as anyone. I don't think anyone (Whedon included) deserves an "everything he touches is gold" mentality. Granted, the show hasn't quite settled yet--but we're only a few episodes in. Also, I think the only lacking material concerns the FBI agent B-story which has yet to intersect with the main action. Perhaps Whedon-ites need to consider the Whedon's past work. Obviously, the first episodes of Buffy are but a glimmer of the depth of the later episodes (see The Body for details).

Whedon certainly seems like the-not-so-man of the hour. Time will tell whether the hating of critics and bloggers will have be justified or simply an air of negative energy that took another great show off the air. (See Studio 60 and John From Cincinnati for detail). Might I add that Studio and John were both highly original, extremely well written, produced, acted, and presented programs. Both of them were met with a vicious (yes, vicious) sea of negative reviews. Studio was mocked as a "show about comedy that isn't funny." This pun is particularly curious since it is basically a restatement of the show's premise. It was a drama about people who work on a comedy show. Was that too much genre bending for the general public? The bidding war and hype only led to a pack of drooling mouths ready to sink their teeth in and tear it apart. (Is it naive to think that the fact that many TV critics might be failed writers, producers, etc. might have played a roll in the campaign to destroy Sorkin's creation?) Likewise, John from Cincinnati was mocked as being "the most confusing show on television." How far have we fallen? It's been 15 years since Twin Peaks. Have we gotten that much dumber in that amount of time? (Well, probably) Point being--anyone who seriously cares about scripted television ought to be out there supporting any show that is refusing to compromise or honestly presenting thought provoking work in networks that are without thought. At the same time we might want to stop calling that reality show a "guilty pleasure" and just turn off the set--read a book. I would recommend Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and the works of John-Paul Sartre.

So if you attack Dollhouse because it is a compromise, because it could be smarter, could strive for more--that's one thing. But if you attack it for being "cerebral" or "confusing" then please give it up. You just might be part of the problem.
Finally someone is talking about it. Now I can sleep a little easier.

Is it so wrong to give a show three episodes to see if it interests you??


Well, we wouldn't have any Buffy, Angel, or Firefly fans if everyone gave up that soon. I'm just saying. I don't know many shows that can hit it out of the park so early on.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2009-03-02 09:47 ]
In the past I never really started watching shows from episode one, and I didn't even know they'd be on in the first place. I would start watching a show 1. because I was channel surfing and caught a glimpse of something interesting or, 2. because a friend said 'have you seen this show?'. So I'd join in halfway through a season, or in S2 or S3. Now we know of new shows way too long in advance and are in nitpick mode before we've seen a single act. Shame, really.
I wonder if we'll see anything like this in the American press. Also three cheers to Caroline and SoddingNancyTribe for getting quoted.
Now we know of new shows way too long in advance and are in nitpick mode before we've seen a single act. Shame, really.

I think you're right, Caroline.

I found out about Buffy while it was already in the sixth season. The first episode I saw was the musical episode, because someone "forced" me to. After becoming a huge Buffy fan I then went on to watch Angel...and it took me about 7 0r 8 episodes to get into it. I really, really wasn't interested at first. Glad I didn't give up, because I love that show just as much (if not more, at times) than Buffy. I was also not as keen on Firefly for the first few episodes.
I agree, I came in on Buffy at the end of Season 4, with Restless. Sometime after 5, the DVDs came out. I then went back and watched season 1. A part of me cringed and laughed at the beginnings of the show, but the characters were all so lovable even then, and even the cheese was great. Most of my favorite shows were recommendations that I had to sit through the first few before I liked them. Battlestar, while an impressive change from the original, still took the entire miniseries to actually hook me.

The ONLY showrunner that has consistently grabbed me with pilots has been JJ Abrams. Alias, Lost, and now Fringe all had me with their first episodes, which felt like movies (the way Serenity would have had me completely hooked had it been the first episode). Then, he slowly lets out the weird. It always works. Joss is more character based than concept based. This is a concept show, like Fringe, and while JJ is better at selling a concept, Joss is better at giving us characters we relate to. In this case, because everyone is morally questionable except our blank slates, some people are uncomfortable with just how relatable these characters are.

Either way, character takes a little more time, especially when your entire setup episode is taken from you on a consistent basis. Remember, we need to give Joss more than three episodes not because he's Joss and blah blah, but because Fox refuses to let us see his first episode, again. This means he's been handicapped, and we need to give him...well, a handicap.

I don't care what anyone says, after Firefly, Drive, and Heroes have been essentially demolished by network interference, I can't not blame them. A lot. Don't let them destroy this. Give Joss till the 6th. Tahmoh says that's when it gets back onto the original track.
Yeah, I don't know about everyone else here, but whenever I'm even remotely interested in a show, I watch the whole first season. Unless the show completely loses my interest. If I hear about a show that sounds interesting, then I give it some time. It's really the only way that's ever made sense to me.
I wouldn't normally sit out a whole season of a show I'm not enjoying unless I've heard (from people I trust) that it gets much better. That's just too much time to waste. But when it comes to Joss Whedon I cut a lot of slack given that he's never failed us before (plus I already like Dollhouse)
I hadn't thought I'd enjoy a meta-review so much, but this really does address some strange behavior on the respective parts of the large class of reviewers who've been dissing Dollhouse.

I'm actually finding Dollhouse much easier to get into than either Buffy or Angel (though nothing's as good as Firefly to me), and haven't had any major problems with it so far. I wonder if I'm missing something so many of the reviewers independently see, or whether, perhaps, the idea that the initial three episodes were weak just made it into the collective consciousness of the reviewers and informed their reactions.
I think the early reviews of Firefly somebody posted in an another thread shed a lot of light on what's going on now and, unfortunately, set a very worrying precedent for how this is going to end. The irony here is that the network is apparently more willing to give Dollhouse time than some of the reviewers (and the audience). Given how so many of them declare their love for past Whedon's shows, I think they should know better.

But then, I'm in the "at least a season" camp too. I gave Enterprise 3 and a half seasons before giving up on it, though maybe that was a special case of trekkie obsessiveness. It took me one season and half to fall in love with Buffy and that has probably become my favorite show ever. I don't watch a lot of TV (especially on TV: it's either DVDs or the Internet) but when I do, I'm a very good watcher ;)

Besides, all this climate of doom surrounding Dollhouse has turned it into an underdog and that would make me root for it even if I didn't already like it and it wasn't from JW.
Well, finally.
I got a scan of the print copy, which I'll upload to Flickr, just cause I can.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/caroline/3321714623/

Download image

[ edited by Caroline on 2009-03-02 12:06 ]
Its the same wierd approach you sometimes find in feminist writings on Joss'es shows. More often then not he is critisised for getting it "not completely rigt", or not portraying females in the ideal-current fad-theoretical-way, and so on.

One could think that the fact that he actually does -something-, compared to -nothing-, and fights probably hard and personal fights with the studios to be able to get at least some feminism in television would account to something? But judgeing from the aviable writings out there it dosnt. And that dumbsmacks me.
*Finally*. To be honest, I think not just critics are guilty of this, but a lot of Whedonesque posters as well. I've been lurking since I got Whedonesque on twitter and it is really depressing, how everyone seems to want to be the first to declare it's cancellation! I know people felt 'burned' after Firefly, but all the negativism makes this a self-fulfilling prophecy too. I almost started to feel guilty for liking the show! :s

Thanks for posting the article, and the more positive comments everyone.
THIS. Seriously! People's memories are so fickle.
It's easy to be all negative about something you don't (fully) understand. Hence the many negative reviews. For some reason they only look at the surface, not what's brewing below it. Or are Whedonverse people just trained enough to see what's going on?
Honestly, I don't care. If you like a show, fine. If you don't, then get some good reasons for it why you don't like it.
So am I the only one amused by reading a British columnist posting in a British newspaper about a TV show that can't legally be watched in the UK yet?
:-)
I almost hate to say this (almost), but I tend to think that this is the general state of the "reviewing" business in general nowadays. I've almost totally given up on even bothering to look at reviews of anything, because the reviewers all seem less interested in actually reviewing than in playing to their own fans; mostly each one just seems to outdo the next in seeing just how pretentious and catty they can be. It almost reads like a game of "Hey, let's see how many viewers we can scare into not watching even a single episode."
The columnist is currently a resident of San Francisco.
Well, Rowan Hawthorn, I'd disagree with that. Yes, there are some pretentious or overly catty reviewers out there. Heck, there's some sites that pander to that audience (and it sometimes is a lot of fun to find the right language to put down a good negative review of something), but on the whole, most respectable publications feature good reviews. I mentioned in another thread, a while back, that I was reading SFX's "five star" special: a collection of the best genre movies and television shows from the pages of SFX magazine (which - in my humble opinion - is one of the best magazines out there). It'll instantly restore your faith in critics - even if you find youurself disagreeing with one or two reviews.

To be honest, I think not just critics are guilty of this, but a lot of Whedonesque posters as well. I've been lurking since I got Whedonesque on twitter and it is really depressing, how everyone seems to want to be the first to declare it's cancellation!


Well, ankie, I'm not so sure about that. I think you're misinterpreting some of the negative comments here. There's certainly a few dissapointed people. I don't think Dollhouse started out as strongly as Buffy, Angel and Firefly did (the first two - contrary to many posters here - I liked from the pilot onwards. With Firefly, 'The Train Job' didn't do much for me first time 'round, but 'Serenity' blew me away once I saw the show on DVD and made me fall in instant love). It's all a matter of opinion, sure, but I don't think that here, where everybody shares a love of Joss Whedon's works, there's people trying to "be the first to declare it's cancellation".
I actually don't think that all the critical panning is a structural disease connected to their job. Basically, critics are viewers, and from my point of view Wax Banks kind of nailed the reasons why viewers don't like the show. All the "It's the darkest and morally grayest stuff I've ever done"-talk boils down to reactions that can also be observed here on whedonesque: There is nothing to be liked about this show. As Wax Banks put it so eloquently:

How could you possibly enjoy this story? There's no blinking arrow saying 'This Is Right.' Order is provisional, law is ad hoc, love is electrically-induced, pity is corporate, memory is false, the good guys are nuts, the bad guys mean well, and everything the lead character knows about her personality the viewer also knows.


Of course, this ethical mess is the reason some us watch it, and I know it is the reason why I am deeply in love with show already. But I totally see people going: "What is there to like?... No wait, Rationalization #13b sounds better!" And by extension, critics too.
a while back, that I was reading SFX's "five star" special: a collection of the best genre movies and television shows from the pages of SFX magazine (which - in my humble opinion - is one of the best magazines out there). It'll instantly restore your faith in critics - even if you find youurself disagreeing with one or two reviews.


Oh, but SFX is a magazine "inside" the fandome so to speak. There is a wast difference between such magazines and ones who concider them self's to be "normal" ones. Unfortunately much of Whedons show's are considered as nerdy, sci-fi or otherwise "genre" which tends to make people treat them rather smug. If Dollhouse had been a crimeshow or, God forbid, a docku-show Im quite sure many critics would have treated it very different.
That Wax Banks article/blog-thingie is great. No wonder I'm enjoying odllhouse so much - I like art that is not made to be liked at first or to satisfy easily (see e.g., modernist literature).
Joss' shows always blend genres, that's what makes them likable by so many people.

The critics aren't Fox's only problem. The network has serious funding issues that aren't helped by stuff like American Idol that was great at first but is too boring and repetitive to continue watching anyway.

Also, despite what critics have been claiming, any exec producer worth their salt can turn a movie-size storyline into a series. It happens all the time, people just seem to be picking on Dollhouse for some reason.

[ edited by sarahi on 2009-03-02 15:24 ]
wiesengrund:
I actually don't think that all the critical panning is a structural disease connected to their job.

Neither do I - in my opinion, it's connected to the personalities of people who hold those jobs. Frankly, I think most of them simply have a hugely overblown impression of the importance of their own opinions. I have a fairly defined view of what a critic's job is, and sitting back trying to figure out new and clever ways to say "This sucks" and take cutesy little jabs at actors, writers, and directors without actually saying anything of substance ain't it. If the whole purpose of a review is to say "I don't like this", that's useless for anyone looking for actual information about the show; frankly, I really don't give a rat's ass whether the reviewer liked it or not, what I want to know is, am I likely to like it? Obviously by this time, I've seen the first three episodes (sorta...), but if I'd paid any attention to the reviews, I wouldn't have even bothered.
Actually, Satai (with Punsch), I find that reviews in filmpublications like Empire or Total Film are also usually a joy to read. And outside of those, in the regular media, one can mostly find well-written, insightfull reviews. If you'd take a look at a site likte rottentomatoes for movie reviews or something like metacritic, you'll usually find perfectly competent, well-written reviews and only an occasional stinker (as well as the occasional gem).

But I'd agree that there's a rise in - especially - internet reviews that are lacking in actual content. As someone who writes for a Dutch internet publication myself, I think that's a great shame.

In the end though, I understand that there's a 'review backlash' going on in the fandom, because of the negative press Dollhouse has been receiving. As with most backlashes, I think it's not quite fair. Yes, there's badly written reviews out there, but there's also plenty of insightfull, well-written reviews. Now agreeing with them is another matter alltogether (because a review is, ultimately, nothing more than an well written opinion staved with a few arguments) ;).

are considered as nerdy, sci-fi or otherwise "genre" which tends to make people treat them rather smug


Actually, I think this is becoming less and less true, although it certainly used to be true. But the last few years has seen major, critically acclaimed genre shows and major critically acclaimed genre movies. In fact I'd say the atmosphere for a genre show is - at the moment - quite good. I do think there's a bit of a "Whedon = succesfull" backlash out there and some too-high expectations based on former work, but I actually have the feeling that the genre element is only of minor influence at this moment (whereas in the early days of Buffy there'd be a major influence of "basic set-up can't be serious, must not treat it as such" in the early reviews of the show).

I really don't give a rat's ass whether the reviewer liked it or not, what I want to know is, am I likely to like it?


And that, in the end, is a reviewer's job, Rowan Hawthorn :). He lets one know if they are bound to like it by giving his or her opinion and showing the reader how he came to that opinion by giving examples and explaining his subjective point of view. In fact, I think a lot of reviews of Dollhouse's early episodes did just that - whether you agreed with their conclusions or not.
I find that reviews in filmpublications like Empire or Total Film are also usually a joy to read. And outside of those, in the regular media, one can mostly find well-written, insightfull reviews. If you'd take a look at a site likte rottentomatoes for movie reviews or something like metacritic, you'll usually find perfectly competent, well-written reviews and only an occasional stinker (as well as the occasional gem).


Indeed, but both those magazines are also buissness-related, in lack of a better word. Unfortunately most people, that at least I come in contact with daily, never bother with such magazines or going online to find rewievs



are considered as nerdy, sci-fi or otherwise "genre" which tends to make people treat them rather smug


Actually, I think this is becoming less and less true, although it certainly used to be true. But the last few years has seen major, critically acclaimed genre shows and major critically acclaimed genre movies.


Sadly not in my world. I've come quite used to hearing stupid things like (about Lost anf BSG) "I liked it, but all those ships/strange things reminded me of SciFi so I had to stop watching".
But for ....#%!¤#!! Sorry, Im bitter and burned.

To me it seems that if a thing is popular, or presented as "the inn thing" the majority will like it. But if it comes of as a tad nerdy people acts as if it is supposed to be looked down on. >: (
Indeed, but both those magazines are also buissness-related, in lack of a better word. Unfortunately most people, that at least I come in contact with daily, never bother with such magazines or going online to find rewievs


Wait, weren't we talking about reviews instead of random real world people's opinions? Because there is a difference :).

To me it seems that if a thing is popular, or presented as "the inn thing" the majority will like it. But if it comes of as a tad nerdy people acts as if it is supposed to be looked down on. >: (


Well, certainly with Lost that has proven to be untrue, just take a look at the viewing figures. And BSG has gotten some quite nice reviews as well.

Sure, there'll always be people who'll dislike genre and dismiss it out of hand. I've known quite a few myself. But in professional reviews it seems that trend has declined. I don't see as many easy dismissels of genre products as I used to see - say - just 10 years ago.
I do think that all reviewers (in all media / art forms) are at risk of becoming hopelessly cynical about the material they write about. It's a rare critic who remains in love with the art form they critique. It's one thing to spend one's time endlessly dissecting TV shows or movies or architecture or operas or whatever for fun, but a much more complex thing to do it because you have a professional obligation and a deadline to meet. It's very hard not to slowly slip into "so what else is new"-mode in which you're constantly debunking the pretensions that inevitably pervade the world from which these works emerge.

Combine that with the fact that it's always much easier to pan than to praise (negative reviews practically write themselves; they offer you endless opportunities for easy zingers--which, of course, also makes them effortlessly entertaining for readers) and the fact that no critic ever loses face among his/her peers for being overly negative, but very easily loses face for being overly positive (you're a "shill" for the industry, you have no critical judgment, you're a fan not a critic etc. etc.) and it's a wonder that there's as much serious and intelligent commentary out there as there is.
This columnist perfectly sums up my feelings on the fan/critics reaction to dollhouse so far.
I would be interested to see how many people loved Buffy/Firefly after watching their first episode of the show. I reckon the percentage of people that fell in love with it straight away would be in single figures. The nature of Whedon shows are that they take a while to become involved in, but once you do, you become more involved with the world and the characters than any other shows on television.
If it takes Dollhouse 5 episodes to become as good as the rest of his shows, I have no problem with that. I have every confidence Dollhouse will be just as emotionally engaging as his previous shows come the season finale. And if it is cancelled, I currently blame anyone who's been so quick to jump on the Dollhouse-sucks bandwagon, as I do the Fox execs. How a bit just a little leeway for the guy whose brought us our favourite television series ever?
Of course, if the show does stumble (or worse, gets cancelled) the same people will be among the first to decry the tragedy, and hail it a neglected classic - without mentioning that they killed it in the first place.


Ouch, that stings.

For me, it's not that I'm delighted with the show (I'm still reserving my "yet"). It's more that I have trouble indulging in what value I do find, when so much of what I read about it, from professional critics, to online chit-chat, even the chit-chat appearing on this site, seems chiefly interested in drawing negatives.

I actually kindof miss this group being a haven away from all that. Would it be awful if we were all a little too vehemently optimistic about the work created by this site's namesake?

Regarding my "yet" above, I think I may have fallen a little in love with Dollhouse when Echo shook her head at Sierra.
I do think that all reviewers (in all media / art forms) are at risk of becoming hopelessly cynical about the material they write about.

Computer/video games reviewers seem to be a notable exception. In the ~15 years I've been reading such publications, the lust for ever-prettier graphics hasn't diminished in the slightest.

Or look at two of the highest-rated PC games of all time, Half-Life 2 and BioShock. As games, both are thoroughly average first-person shooters, but they've bolted on a decent story and high production values, and thus somehow they're universally beloved.

In that industry, a little honest cynicism would be a breath of fresh air.
To me it seems that if a thing is popular, or presented as "the inn thing" the majority will like it. But if it comes of as a tad nerdy people acts as if it is supposed to be looked down on. >: (


Well, certainly with Lost that has proven to be untrue, just take a look at the viewing figures.


Lost's viewership has fallen off quite steeply as its mythology has gotten more involuted - and the writers have clearly taken the shrinking, increasingly dead-ender audience as license to get even more hermetic and self-referential and non-outreaching and...(ad nauseam).

Same thing happened with Buffy, of course, and remember: the critics turned on the show near the end, only jumping back on at the very last to sing praises for what the show (once) was - which is all some critics can understand. The premise. They missed the 'Welcome to the hellmouth' premise. Same with Lost, to an extent - now it's all about its own mythology. Remember when it was about being marooned on an island with a monster?

Wasn't that great? When we knew exactly how to respond?
Like sleeper, I, too, miss whedonesque feeling like a haven. A place of thoughtful criticism it has always been, to be sure. As well it should be. But there's been so much picking apart here over Dollhouse since before it began production. At some points, it has felt to me, a little bit of bile and negativity that I'm unaccustomed to here has crept in and altered the atmosphere. Only three episodes in and I feel like I've lived how terrible this show is for a lifetime. A long, tortured, riddled with "oh, this show has BIG PROBLEMS, it's fundamentally unsound, its very premise is flawed, there's no one to root for!" lifetime. Only three episodes in and I'm sick to death of the discussion. That's a sad thing to feel on whedonesque. Only three episodes in. To quote waxbanks on his upthread-cited blogpost, "Give the goddamn thing a chance."

Yes, this Guardian piece was a nice meta thing to read. A bit of sweet relief.
Well one test is to see if any new fans are coming through as a result of Dollhouse. Has anyone seen any posts along the lines of "I like the show, I must check Joss' other stuff"?
I saw two people write that after 'Ghost', Simon
I also saw people joining Dollhouse-forums that have never seen any Joss-show before. I guess 4 million is quite bigger than Joss' fanbase in the US. There are definitely non-Whedonites out there enjoying the show.
A long, tortured, riddled with "oh, this show has BIG PROBLEMS, it's fundamentally unsound, its very premise is flawed, there's no one to root for!" lifetime.

Although looking over the "Discuss the nth Episode of Dollhouse" threads, I see a lot more positive comments than negative ones. The negative ones tend to be a bit defensive (understandably, given the nature of this site), so perhaps that makes them stand out. But so far I'd say that the majority of people posting to whedonesque.com are very pleased with Dollhouse. I wonder if we should do a "whedonesque.com poll" and see what people are actually feeling? You know, click 1 for "hooked," 2 for "like it, but still waiting for that 'wow' moment," 3 for "meh," 4 for "only watching because it's Joss" and 5 for "hate it."
"Wasn't that great? When we knew exactly how to respond?"

That was sarcastic. Right? Please tell me that was sarcastic.
"And if it is cancelled, I currently blame anyone who's been so quick to jump on the Dollhouse-sucks bandwagon, as I do the Fox execs. How a bit just a little leeway for the guy whose brought us our favourite television series ever?


This sounds very similar to conversations I've been having with local Whedonites....

Firefly grabbed me from the first episode. I liked the setting, the characters were interesting, and I absolutely loved the language. Buffy not so much. In fact I gave up after 4 episodes and didn't get back involved until I was forced to watch 4th season's "Fool for Love". I gradually worked my way through all of the earlier episodes, and though it has become one of my favorite series, season one is still a... challenge. Angel also caught me from the starting gate, but in fairness the characters had three years to evolve on Buffy first.

Three episodes in, and Dollhouse hasn't really spoken to me. The pilot felt sloppy, the characters ranged from unengaging to downright unlikeable, and I found it largely joyless, except for a few unintentionally funny, groan inducing moments that outnumbered the few moments of interest. Episodes 2-3 have been better, but the main stories have been unremarkable and I'm only drawn to the 5-10 minutes of back story and arc that are stingily doled out. The show has potential, but won't live up to it as long as it remains the "Eliza Show" where each week we tune in to hear her say "Look what I can do!" The whole show feels like a series of auditions for future roles, wrapped loosely around a central premise.

Look I love me some Whedon and Eliza, but I'm not masochistic enough to waste an hour of my life watching a show I hope will get better. Dollhouse isn't quite that bad to me, but it has yet to become "must see". I don't watch that many shows, so just the fact that I watched at all is a testament to my Whedon faith.

Blame me if you like, but if I don't get some kind of "OH MY GOD!" moment by the end of the season,(or two such moments if it's a full 22 episode season) I won't be back for S2.
But so far I'd say that the majority of people posting to whedonesque.com are very pleased with Dollhouse.


I would be surprised if they weren't. But I would rather see what the inhabitants of a general scifi blog thought of it or the posters of a US TV webforum.
It's easy to be all negative about something you don't (fully) understand. Hence the many negative reviews.

Please, not enjoying Dollhouse is now just because you don't fully understand it? It's not about not being engaged by the premise, or not thinking the acting is good enough or not finding it enjoyable to watch to name but three possible reasons?
I would be surprised if they weren't. But I would rather see what the inhabitants of a general scifi blog thought of it or the posters of a US TV webforum.

Well, sure, that would be more telling in terms of it's overall chances of survival. But phlebotinin was talking about the conversations he's had on this site.
Please, not enjoying Dollhouse is now just because you don't fully understand it?

I would say that none of the professional (paid TV critics etc.) reviews that I've read have shown an adequate grasp of the show's premise, and none of them seem to have even bothered to read any of the press-kit material to get some idea of the show's larger ambitions.

Of course it's perfectly possible to completely "get" the show and not enjoy it, but it's demonstrably the case that many of those criticizing the show don't fall into that category.
I'm just googling non-fan or genre websites now to see reactions. A surprising amount of people think Echo is a robot.
Of course it's perfectly possible to completely "get" the show and not enjoy it, but it's demonstrably the case that many of those criticizing the show don't fall into that category.

This.
People who have seen the show?
Let Down - if you're talking to me, yes. I'm reading actual viewer feedback on generic websites. Most people seem to think the second episode is better. Nobody is really that keen yet. A lot of people talk about Echo being a robot. There are also comments like this: "Echo needs to be imprinted with the personality of a pole dancing exhibitionist nympho stripper for the rest of the season."

Personally, I like Dollhouse, but I think Joss is walking a very tight rope here.
Also, however, I should cop to the fact that it's become difficult for me to disassociate critics with legitimate and comprehensible criticisms from the ones who are phoning it in from Neptune or some such.

When you end up with reviews like that one that claimed they couldn't even tell blank slate Echo apart from engagement Echo (one of the few things one can show to be objectively false), it starts to become impossible to take any criticisms seriously. It's not fair to start lumping all criticisms together, of course. But I've definitely, personally, gotten to the point where I can't help it anymore.
Personally, I like Dollhouse, but I think Joss is walking a very tight rope here.
Unfortunately, Joss, no prophecy, shadow space government, or super hooker company will ever make a woman completely and exactly as awesome as your mom.
They really went there? Jesus.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-03-02 20:17 ]
Thanks gossi. It defies belief that someone could watch the show and think she was a robot.

A big groan to that article you linked to; the author is wilfully missing the point. I do think, though, that many similar criticisms would have been partially neutralised if viewers had known Victor was an active from 'Ghost' (or if another male active had been shown) and he had a few shirtless scenes.

Edit: They really went there? Jesus.

Woah, I didn't bother reading that far. Well out of line

[ edited by Let Down on 2009-03-02 20:26 ]
Only three episodes in and I feel like I've lived how terrible this show is for a lifetime. A long, tortured, riddled with "oh, this show has BIG PROBLEMS, it's fundamentally unsound, its very premise is flawed, there's no one to root for!" lifetime. Only three episodes in and I'm sick to death of the discussion. That's a sad thing to feel on whedonesque.


Exactly.
That Something Awful piece is a pretty crappy piece of aimless snark. So a "real" feminist wouldn't write about sexual exploitation, then?

What's really odd about this line of criticism is that it sounds like what they're really calling for is the kind of TV that "Focus on the Family" or suchlike moral crusaders would approve of. All the women modestly dressed (no bare ankles please!) and the only sex between married heterosexual couples. I guess that would be a great step forward for gender equality.
"Of course it's perfectly possible to completely "get" the show and not enjoy it, but it's demonstrably the case that many of those criticizing the show don't fall into that category. "

Demonstrable how? You now can tell whether someone gets the show simply by reading their comments and seeing whether or not you agree with them? Or of using some criteria of "getting it-ness" that can be quantified to support this contention? Or is the reality really that because this is a new Joss show we're just upset that it is not getting all the props we think it should?

The real question I have is: if- and of course this is a straw man that cannot be addressed- if we were watching this show new and knew nothing about it and had never heard of Joss Whedon, would we be definding this as strongly as we are right now? I'm going to say, not.
Unfortunately, Joss, no prophecy, shadow space government, or super hooker company will ever make a woman completely and exactly as awesome as your mom.

They really went there? Jesus.


I know. I feel sick reading that.
They really went there? Jesus.


Yes. That sums up my feelings quite nicely.

I'm also baffled at "Echo is a robot", to be honest. Look at it this way: at least there's no professional reviews claiming that just quite yet.

I actually kindof miss this group being a haven away from all that. Would it be awful if we were all a little too vehemently optimistic about the work created by this site's namesake?


Well, in all fairness, whedonesque has never been a slavish fansite. We're usually a pretty critical down-to-earth bunch and the fact that there's people confessing to not quite liking the show (yet, in some cases, ever in others) is one of the strong points of this site, I'd say.

I can't quite compare it to the reactions to Firefly at the time as I wasn't a poster here then (and kept confined mostly to Buffy fandom in those days), but I am quite surprised at the amount of people who got into Whedon's shows halfway through. I watched both Buffy and Angel from their respective first seasons. Buffy's pilot was a pleasant surprise (much better than that strrrrange movie I'd seen on video), and by "Angel" I had fallen completely, unreservedly in love with it (but then, I was Buffy's age and a hopeless romantic when seeing it first). Then when "Prophecy Girl" came along and kicked it up a notch I became a proto-fan, and by S2's Surprise/Innocence I never looked back and I became very involved with the growing online fandom.

As for Angel, its first season wasn't instantly great in my mind; I had reservations, but I still really liked the show, despite some issues I had (like: the show being a bit too MotW making us less involved with the main characters than we should be. Something I'm now feeling again with 'Dollhouse').

Same thing goes for Firefly. 'The Train Job' dissapointed, but the next episodes revealed themselves to be good. Things didn't quite "click" though, untill after watching the actual pilot on DVD and the rest of the episodes in the intended order. I'm quite certain I'd have fallen in love instantly - like with Buffy - if 'Serenity', one of the best pilots I've ever seen, had gotten aired first. And I can only imagine the heights Firefly would've soared to if it ever had gotten to the big arcy episodes that were undoubtedly scheduled somewhere in its future.

Dollhouse so far is leaving me a bit cold, with the exception of a few small bits here and there (like the head-shake, which - depending on the next few episodes - might be the show-defining moment for me). The IotW-bits seem weak-ish so far and a couple of character are failing to "click" so far (which might be for a myriad of reasons already discussed on site).

All this is not to say that - as a very big Joss Whedon fan - I'm not giving it the benefit of a doubt or that I hate Dollhouse and want it to fail. On the contrary: the ratings news hurts and I'm still really hoping for a second season, despite not having fallen completely in love with it yet. Because I know the heights Joss can get to in his writing, especially if he's had some time to flesh out the characters.

So I don't instantly-love it, like I did Joss' other shows, comics and DHSAB. Having said that, I did instantly fall in love with the original pilot script, so I'm pretty sure Dollhouse can reach that level of awesomeness as soon as the first few episodes are out of the way.

But all in all, I'm still not very surprised that the first batch of reviews isn't exactly raving, as those first few episodes are simply not all that great. I'm glad I didn't have to professionally review them, because my review would've been lukewarm, just like a whole bunch of others out there. Although, unlike many, I would have pointed out the massive potential of the premise and the track record of everyone involved to end on a hopefull note.

So far, though, Dollhouse is engaging, layered, but also still basically flawed in a few places. And saying that isn't so bad, I'd say. In fact I'd say that being critical is a very welcome part of this site. What I am sorry about though, is that our replies have become a bit more harsh. Still within acceptable boundaries (if not, we have very capable moderators to point out where lines have been crossed), but people seem to be taking "sides" in this discussion and the posts are getting just a tad more irritated and negative. Not on the show, but towards each other, which is something I've rarely seen on whedonesque. Here's hoping that by episode 6, almost all of us are in total love with the show or at the very least we've found that we are able to discuss it without the edge we're seeing from time to time now. I won't be sad to be rid of that.
Re: the end of the article gossi linked to

That's just being vicious for the sake of...I don't even know why. I guess by going for the jugular they felt they would make their point more effectively ? Or they think they've cleverly pinpointed the personal bit of history that drives Joss' feminism (as if only one personal event in any one's life is the sole reason they pursue something) and feel they come off as a cool internet writer by being smug about it ? And yeah, they aren't getting it at all. The subversiveness of the show isn't even something viewers have to wait for, it's there and being hinted at alongside the superficial aspects of the show that make this look like just another Fox romp on the surface. I know not everyone is gonna stick around for the big moments, for the jaw-dropper episodes, but some viewers/reviewers seem to want the awesome reveals and grand points about human nature to be featured early on, when patience is the only way you're gonna get to them.
just to be clear, Something Awful absolutely exists to be a den of unjustified snark. Everything is mocked there. It's also largely adolescent (or post-adolescent, but not really past-adolescent) boys. So, it's not surprising that they went there.

(I think what Snot Monster meant about "getting the show," was mor elike "understanding the premise" and "understand what is going on" (and still disliking the show) than "getting the deeper understanding of the greater intent of the show" or something. But, you're right, of course, Kris, we would absolutely not be defending it as much if it were not a Joss show. Of course, I think that it makes perfect sense to think that someone who has produced stuff one likes in the past can produce it again and to therefore give that someone a little more time to make his case.)

[ edited by Septimus on 2009-03-02 20:57 ]
You now can tell whether someone gets the show simply by reading their comments and seeing whether or not you agree with them? Or of using some criteria of "getting it-ness" that can be quantified to support this contention? Or is the reality really that because this is a new Joss show we're just upset that it is not getting all the props we think it should?

No, Dana5140, you're being quite unnecessarily defensive. It's "demonstrable" when they make a claim about the premise for the show that is simply untrue. If, for example, someone says "the show is going to be boring because there's no possibility of character development in the heroine" then you can tell that they simply haven't understood the premise. If they say "the show is boring because I just can't get interested in this 'Caroline' person" then all you can say is "well, we see it differently." Fair enough?

Many of the professional reviews (and please note that my comment was explicitly limited to the pros--it wasn't addressed to anyone commenting on this site) that I've read make the former kind of errors.
The real question I have is: if- and of course this is a straw man that cannot be addressed- if we were watching this show new and knew nothing about it and had never heard of Joss Whedon, would we be definding this as strongly as we are right now? I'm going to say, not.

Well, to counter straw man with straw man (actually, I think these are more 'imponderables' than straw men exactly): I suspect that it's exactly the opposite. I think if this weren't a Whedon show the reviews would be more along the lines of "a fascinating new show rather in the Whedon genre-mixing mode; this is clearly one to keep an eye on." I think it's suffering from "everybody goes on about that Whedon guy, I'm going to cut him down to size" syndrome, myself. As, indeed, did Firefly--as those reviews I gathered together in another thread showed, the critical reception of Firefly was strikingly similar to what we're seeing for Dollhouse--and yet now all the critics are happy to lump it in with those "great Whedon shows of the past" that Dollhouse supposedly fails to measure up to.
I’m confused. Maybe I have misinterpreted her meaning, but Anna Pickard writes that, “And yet every time he comes up with something new, people (particularly TV critics) can’t wait to call it a failure.” Is that true? I know he struggles to find an appreciable audience beyond his core fan-base. I also know there is a tendency amongst some factions (quite vocal, but not necessarily widespread) outside of this fan-base to be rather anti-Joss Whedon. However, in my experience, critics have generally been very supportive of his work. For example, I do not recall a negative critical reaction to either ‘Firefly’ or ‘Serenity’ (the latter not television, I appreciate). I guess it depends on how we interpret Ms Pickard’s meaning when she writes “failure”, but again I am not aware of critics actually wanting JW’s work to fail; be prematurely cancelled or whatever.

‘Dollhouse’ has certainly received mixed reviews, perhaps veering towards negative so far in some quarters, but he is hardly a whipping boy of critics in general. Surely the opposite is true?

Moving on and following the discussion as it has developed, I have always felt rather uneasy about the suggestion that not liking Joss Whedon's work, all or some of it, is an indication of somehow not getting it, an argument that was also used in relation ‘Firefly’ and ‘Serenity’, as I recall. Is his oeuvre so incredibly complicated that it requires some degree of intellectual superiority to understand it? I don't see that. I must admit, if I am being honest, that it has put me off a little bit, to the point where I start to question how much of a fan I really am.
I felt sick reading that, too, esg.

alien lanes, regarding reviewer reaction to Firefly, see snot monster's extremely illuminating round-up of early reviews of Firefly in another thread. It was widely pronounced to be a failure, crappy, etc.

As for your straw man, Dana5140, I'd like to consign him to the attic. His only other use is as a prop in repetitively articulated negativity.

Perhaps that is what I'm not getting. I get that this is not a slavishly devoted fansite and that not all posts should be drooling love letters to Joss Whedon. I've always really liked that. Furthermore, if Dollhouse is bad to you, if you dislike it and have written it off after three episodes, then that's fine. Different strokes for different folks. But it would sure be nice to read more and new ways of saying why the show is so terrible and flawed if one feels compelled to keep posting about one's dislike of the show. Instead, I'm reading the same things, over and over and over and over, endlessly posted after....three damned measly episodes of television. This is why I find the Great W has recently become a far less fun place to visit. I realize that is is my own reaction, my own thing. Others might thrive on the new atmo. They are not wrong. Neither am I. Maybe the .org is the new place for me?

TamaraC, the statement waxbanks made was most definitely sarcastic. See the link to his original blog post somewhere way above in this thread.

Oh, and snot, not that it matters much to the discussion, but I'm a she.
alien lanes: here's a link to that roundup of Firefly reviews. I do find it fascinating that everyone has forgotten how much the early critics panned Firefly. Sure now it's a critical favorite. I'm pretty sure that in a couple of year's time Dollhouse will be too. Whether or not it's still on the air then is another question.

phlebotinin: sorry about the gender trouble. Damn English and its lack of a good gender-neutral pronoun.

Moving on and following the discussion as it has developed, I have always felt rather uneasy about the suggestion that not liking Joss Whedon's work, all or some of it, is an indication of somehow not getting it, an argument that was also used in relation ‘Firefly’ and ‘Serenity’, as I recall

Again: let me be clear: I was specifically referring to people who literally misunderstand the premise of the story. I was not either directly or by implication saying that people who dislike the show are just too thick to understand it. Nor, indeed, am I suggesting that the premise is amazingly complicated: it's a bit depressing to see professional TV critics simply failing to follow aspects of the Dollhouse world that most of us are feeling have been, if anything, a little heavy-handedly rammed home in these opening episodes.
It seems that JW is a victim of his own brilliance, and the fan reactions largely borne of anxiety ['oh dear god we can't experience another loss like Firefly']: I kind of like not caring so much about the characters yet for this reason. I also cannot find my objectivity at the moment.
Is he sneaking in a quality show through the back door during a time of cultural and economic fugue for the networks? Would be a pretty sassy strategy. I am hopeful that we all get the time to see how that plays out.
Thanks for the link snot monster.

I must have somehow cherry picked reviews to read, or my memory is very suspect, because I recall 'Firefly' receiving a generally favourable reaction from critics (not saying that all critics were positive). Are these examples typical of the response in general at that time?
it's a bit depressing to see professional TV critics simply failing to follow aspects of the Dollhouse world that most of us are feeling have been, if anything, a little heavy-handedly rammed home in these opening episodes.

A friend of mine hated the first episode, based in large part on not understanding something that had actually been explained, I think, like three times just in that one episode. I realized later that they don't really watch TV -- they call up a Hulu stream while also doing other things.

Personally, I'm not sure anyone who "watches" television that way gets to have an opinion on the quality of the shows they watch, since they aren't actually watching them.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-03-02 21:37 ]
Are these examples typical of the response in general at that time?

They were pretty typical of the reviews I could find (I looked about a month prior to the first aired episode and a month after on Lexis Nexis). There were, to be sure, a couple that were more straightforwardly positive. But there are, I think, three of the ones I did excerpt which mention how the general critical response has been negative.
A friend of mine hated the first episode, based in large part on not understanding something that had actually been explained, I think, like three times just in that one episode.

What was it?
Eh, I don't remember anymore. It would probably come back to me if I sat down to rewatch the episode.
I am baffled by some people's want to have clear good guys in a show. I love moral relativity and greyness. And wouldn't the majority of people's love for bad guys, be it Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Spike, Badger, or whoever argue against the desire for clear good guys? Or is it that people want to root for the "correct" side, thus justifying somehow there like for the bad guys?

I mean when taken in context, the bad things that the folks at Dollhouse do can't really compare to all the people Spike killed (though he did have longer to do it), and certainly not the amount of people Vader killed. Another example is Deadwood, where there is sort of a good guy, but everyone likes the cruel, crude, violent guy who whores out women.

In a less well known example, the Hound from Song of Ice and Fire is a very popular character, and he's introduced by running down a small child on his horse. Of course ASOIF is a very very morally grey book series, has very strong female characters, and has lots of beloved characters die... hmm I think I've heard some of those things before...

I guess I cannot understand why any medium, including TV should present a white washed happy fun time world that doesn't make me think (unless its a comedy or something, but even then I prefer HIMYM for example). Just because there are characters who are questionably (or even obviously) immoral, that doesn't mean they are good characters. To go back to Star Wars, who do people like more, Han Solo or Luke Skywalker? Han, because of his checkered past.
I am baffled by some people's want to have clear good guys in a show.

I don't mind shows where that's the way it is, or mainly the way it is. I just don't need every show to be that way. Chuck, for example, is for the most part pretty straightforward, and it's the single greatest just-for-the-joy-of-it show I watch. But I don't watch Dollhouse, or BSG, for Chuckness. I can watch Chuck for Chuckness.
This is all true, SteppeMerc, but it's not about good/evil so much, I think, as likeable/unlikeable. HIMYM is actually a good example of a show with many likeable characters. As were Joss' previous shows. The fact that they're likeable doesn't mean they then become shallow or can't have checkered pasts or sometimes on occasion dabble in moral greyness.

I, for one, was a huge fan of The Shield. The main character was arguably completely evil and should be put away. But then he kept combining good, sometimes even great acts, with reprehensible ones. The character kept me glued to the screen and his cameradery with his fellow 'strike team' members kept me there, drew me in. When that broke down, I found it more and more difficult to watch, as I'd lost the point I'd invested it. Still incredible television, though.

Same thing happened with BSG. First two seasons: loved it to bits, couldn't wait for the next episode. Total fan-mode. Last two seasons: still a great, sometimes even jaw-droppingly good show. But I'm watching with reluctance from time to time. Watching is tiring, less entertaining. The show has gotten so godawfully depressing and the characters so very grey and flawed, that I've lost the few guide points I had left (Adama, for instance. Or the Chief. Hell, even Gaeta (is that the correct spelling?).). Does that make it bad? Nope. In fact, BSG is great television (and it still completely and utterly thrills me on occasion, which is why I'm masochistically still coming back for the punishment).

In Dollhouse this lack of likeable characters, so far, is not an issue for me. I see more than enough characters to latch onto and like. But I can see where it could be a problem for others. There's a lack of comfort there, built into the premise. Buffy, Angel and Firefly had a feeling of "home", the "constructed family" aspect with likeable characters. Those kind of shows become my favorites. There's a reason I love Joss' shows, The West Wing and sitcoms like Friends and HIMYM and it's not all just in the writing.

But I can certainly get past that if the writing's there and the story's there. So far: it's hinting to greatness just beyond the horizon, as far as Dollhouse is concerned. And I'm pretty sure we'll get there in the end. Because, all being said and done, this is still Joss. Freaking. Whedon. ;) we're talking about here :).
One funny thing about Dollhouse. The first episodes were filled with fox-execs, so much that it really really showed. And there was a mild let-down feeling, after the long-awaited Joss return-to-TV. But, at the end of week, I still want to watch Dollhouse before even considering other shows. To me there was that much drive, that much goodness, though mostly hidden below the surface.

So yes, I do get the feeling of  'it could be better', but it still is better than most other stuff on TV right now. Even now, before the things really start rolling.
Hmm... that's true. I didn't mean to imply that all shows should be as dark as BSG or Dollhouse. But I guess I meant that I don't understand why people seem to be dismissing it for those reasons, that to me are so very appealing. Especially the critics... maybe its because they are TV critics, but aren't some of the most critically acclaimed movies and books very dark and morally ambiguous? Perhaps with a movie you don't have the time to pick it apart as much, you see the whole story rather than one episode at a time.
Nice jobs, Caroline and SoddingNancyTribe.

And yeah, Something Awful went to a... well, a place that was Something Awful. Below-the-belt criticism like that doesn't really cut it for me. Ya know, ya don't hafta just make "I" statements or whatever, but please don't think you're remotely qualified to jump in someone's psychological shit like that.

Going there - to Joss' mother - was like taking a sentiment someone shares with you in an intimate moment, and wielding it like a weapon when you're pissed or fighting. Not cool.

But, speaking of the psychological... I've been thinking about the show over the past couple of days, and I'm kicking around some notions of identity and its exploration and wanted to raise them with you'all. I posted a bit about them on twitter yesterday (it starts here) but thought I'd raise them here... They're not earthshattering nor original, but I don't think I've heard them discussed in relation to Dollhouse in quite this way.

Psychologists, writers and folks in general all have a number of ways they view the notion of "personality" or "identity." Some people view their selves - or the ideal, desirable personality - as being one, fairly stable, "solid" state.

Psychology has a number of ways they posit or visualize the "self" or "psyche" - with a structural apparatus of id, ego, and super-ego, or Persona/Unconscious/Ego/Shadow/Animus, etc. Different spiritual teachings see identity as: 1) an amalgam of sensations, memories, perceptions and concepts manifesting on a ground or web of consciousness or 2) a wheel-like structure with different spokes extending out from a central Tao or space. (Etc., etc. I obviously can't even go into the many ways different religions, philosophies, schools of thought view "identity" or "the psyche" or "the self."

But suffice to say, it may be a bit more fluid or fragmented or constantly changing than most of us like to think about on a daily basis. For the most part, we have to operate as if our identity is one solid thing, so that we can have a throughline, or a solid base - whathaveyou - so that we can function through our day and have integrated knowledge of our experience.

I don't mind identifying with and caring about Echo in her current fragmented, unsubstantial and changeable state - but maybe folks who tend to think of themselves as "one thing" find it more difficult to relate to her?

And possibly this is one aspect of humanity's notion(s) of identity that the show is exploring? That we are maybe all not "one thing" but made up of different layers of consciousness, or different aspects of ourselves that appear as the environment/situations require?

I don't know if I've said this well. I've often thought about Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder (not getting into the particulars of the controversy of whether or how it may or may not "exist" in the way some psychologists have defined it) - and whether it is just a very extreme condition of an aspect of humanity that is fairly universal - that different aspects of our consciousness handle different parts of our day/lives.

It's possible that one's understanding or opinion of or belief in this more fluid definition of identity affects whether or not one is comfortable identifying with Echo in her unstable/fluid state.


ETF: typo.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2009-03-02 22:20 ]
QG: I think you could well be onto something. I find the Dollhouse premise just fascinating, and I'm equally fascinated by all those Oliver Sacks-type studies of the ways in which our sense of "self" is such a bizarre patchwork of post-hoc narrativization of processes that are largely autonomous.

It may be, though, that the audience divides up pretty randomly on these lines. Maybe some people who understand the composite nature of "selfhood" perfectly well still find a fictional exploration of these matters kinda pointless, and others who are deeply invested in a homogenous self find Dollhouse all the more delightfully creepy for that reason?
This is why I find the Great W has recently become a far less fun place to visit


I for one am sorry to hear that, phleb. I'm not seeing an enormous amount of negativity here, only the views of a certain (fairly small) number of members who seem to be quite disappointed, perhaps even surprised, to find that they are not enjoying DH as much as they might have hoped. That's probably in part down to the insane amount of build-up we've been through. I think there have been repetitive arguments - but on both sides, and inevitably that leads to some "you just don't get it" accusations - again, from both sides.

Like GVH, I've always enjoyed the diversity of opinion here. Just so long as we refrain from beating each other over the head with our own point of view, I think we'll be OK. Personally I like to take a couple of steps back and think, "hmm, what makes them react like that?". But I'm an empathetic softy that way. :-)
For the last four years, we've had it pretty easy. It was the wilderness years for the fandom and it got nice and cosy and safe. But we're now out of the desert and have now resumed our normal fandom wangst. This is what it is going to be like from now on. Drama, angst, YAGEs, flounces, flame wars, epic long pointless posts and schisms. Much like the old days only now with blogs.


Though I do think that TV reviewers know what they are talking about.

No, Dana5140, you're being quite unnecessarily defensive.


And that could be construed as a jibe at another poster, so take it down a notch snot monster.
That Something Awful piece is a pretty crappy piece of aimless snark. So a "real" feminist wouldn't write about sexual exploitation, then?

What's really odd about this line of criticism is that it sounds like what they're really calling for is the kind of TV that "Focus on the Family" or suchlike moral crusaders would approve of. All the women modestly dressed (no bare ankles please!) and the only sex between married heterosexual couples. I guess that would be a great step forward for gender equality.

"Real" feminists write about sexual exploitation all the time. But don't be surprised if they're a little skeptical of those who promote purportedly progressive social viewpoints with campaigns comprising variations on the classic theme of "Tits and Ass."

By the way, exactly which feminists are you reading, SMFOS? I read quite a few, but haven't come across too many who are fans of Focus on Family or Phyllis Schlafly. You might be surprised to find that many are actually big fans of sex (including the "wierd stuff").
One thing that this article draws me to think that professional critics are faced with is how to review a show that aspires to being an "arc" show. I think of Buffy as one of the earliest shows in the current trend towards a number of shows that depend on season-long (and multi-season-long) arcs. I am not sure how a critic can best address this when they have to respond to two or three shows. It is my impression that those critics who came late enough to Firefly to see it as an arc liked it a great deal more. And I recently read an old New Yorker positive review of BSG that was written mid-second season, which must have been quite a luxury (and I wonder how many episodes had aired before that critic even discovered it!).

I think two things might be required of the critic in this case: 1) humility, of course, admitting to their audience that they are speaking from a perspective of limited knowledge in a way that wasn't really true for those viewing the first episode of Fantasy Island. 2) (and this, for me, has always been a hallmark of good criticism) a focus less on "it's good/it's bad" or "X stars out of 5" and more on trying to tease out what sort of themes or background or stylistic hallmarks might help a new viewer to have a "way in" from which they can possibly have a better chance of figuring out if something might resonate with them. I always enjoyed the back and forth between Siskel and Ebert as they tried to pin down why they agreed or disagreed about a movie much more than the thumbs up/thumbs down at the end, and often found myself having an idea of why I might be interested (or not) in a movie that came from their discussion even when it was obvious my opinion was likely not to be in line with either of theirs. Since their heyday, the thumbs up/thumbs down and similar has become something of an expectation of popular media critics, but those critics who rely too much on this approach have always been and will always be nothing but pathetic hacks.

As for the viewers, I am not sure what the obligation is. One thing to point out: unlike movies or DVD's (or cars or microwaves), Network TV is still free (even for those who have cable or whatever it is basically the freebie that came with the fancy stuff), and so I don't know that the viewer is owed some huge immediate pay-off so they don't feel like they've "wasted" an hour. Of course, mbeauparland and others are absolutely correct that there has to be a payoff within some reasonable time to keep their interest (and, for an arc-interested show, I think this can't be longer than, as mbeauparland suggests, some large fraction of one season). But, really, what else was the viewer gonna do with that hour? If they purposely skipped their workout at the gym or stayed away from your usual shift volunteering at the homeless shelter to watch some new show, well, they need a lesson on time-shifting technology. For all the rest, I'm not sure what it means to say that they "wasted" an hour watching a show, so I'm particularly clueless as to what sort of consumer service the snarky review written on viewing 2 or 3 episodes is actually providing to them.

P.S.: QG, I agree with smfos that you are hitting on something, but another time for elaborating on that.
But I guess I meant that I don't understand why people seem to be dismissing it for those reasons, that to me are so very appealing. Especially the critics... maybe its because they are TV critics, but aren't some of the most critically acclaimed movies and books very dark and morally ambiguous?


Well, I can only talk for myself, SteppeMerc: dark, morally ambiguous movies can be very powerfull and I have no problem watching them. In fact: I enjoy them. That's because they're also quite short. They don't take a weekly investment. Coming back week after week to something that - to you - is depressing, is hard. Television needs a bit of a comfort-zone to get people coming back, to make a show a part of their lifes. One can totally mess with that comfort-zone - as Joss often does, killing off beloved characters left and right and messing up the status quo - but is still "has" to be there. And I place has between quotes, because there's no actual rule that says that and a show isn't less good if it's not the case. It's just something I'd enjoy watching a bit less.

And that "comfort zone" can be small. In BSG it was the common mission, the fact that Adama cared for his crew above and beyond the call of duty. Another quite depressing show I used to love was "Space: Above and Beyond" (in some ways the 'parent' to current BSG), where there was a bonding with between the soldiers that gave me a centre, something to hold onto while the universe was crumbling around them. I need those points. Others don't.

As for critics: no they shouldn't judge a show on that reason alone. On the other hand: having a main character that fails to engage is a problem. If that is the reviewers honest opinion after seeing the episodes, I'd say it's their job to point it out. I'd then disagree with their assessment, but that's a whole other deal. It's written nowhere that all critics have to be, y'know, right all the time :).

This is what it is going to be like from now on. Drama, angst, YAGEs, flounces, flame wars, epic long pointless posts and schisms. Much like the old days only now with blogs.


Yikes, Simon, way to be optimistic there ;)

ETA:
a focus less on "it's good/it's bad" or "X stars out of 5" and more on trying to tease out what sort of themes or background or stylistic hallmarks might help a new viewer to have a "way in" from which they can possibly have a better chance of figuring out if something might resonate with them.


Yes, this is exactly the reason why the website I write for doesn't do grades at the end of our reviews. We feel it detracts from the opinion/analysis and oversimplifies things. Having said that, when reading magazine or newspaper reviews, I often read the grade and concluding remarks that go alongside that grade, before I read the entire review. So I guess that's kind of double ;).

[ edited by GVH on 2009-03-02 23:25 ]
Like GVH, I've always enjoyed the diversity of opinion here. Just so long as we refrain from beating each other over the head with our own point of view, I think we'll be OK. Personally I like to take a couple of steps back and think, "hmm, what makes them react like that?". But I'm an empathetic softy that way. :-)


I'm not at all sure that my comments (way) above were a problem with whedonesque, so much as a problem with myself. This is certainly still my favorite (and only reliable) source of anything whedony on the web, and it is absolutely wonderful how much the community thinks, and makes me think.

It's more that I've become so used to this site adding depth to the material, especially via criticism, that I've had trouble knowing what to make of the criticism over Dollhouse, which I've had a much more difficult time than usual applying to constructive thought on the show itself.

Run-on sentences aside, whedonesque as a site and community is succinctly awesome and I have no intent of starting any rumors otherwise.
By the way, exactly which feminists are you reading, SMFOS?

I wasn't characterizing an argument made by "feminists" BB, I was characterizing an argument being made by SomethingAwful.

We've hashed over the ad campaign for Dollhouse in sufficient detail elsewhere. That wasn't what the SA piece was about.
So what exactly is the SA piece about? Where are you getting that (1) the writers aren't feminists because they write about sexual exploitation, and that (2)"they're calling for is the kind of TV that "Focus on the Family" or suchlike moral crusaders would approve of."
Where are you getting that (1) the writers aren't feminists because they write about sexual exploitation, and that (2)"they're calling for is the kind of TV that "Focus on the Family" or suchlike moral crusaders would approve of."

1) the piece is suggesting that Joss Whedon is a hypocrite when he claims to be a feminist. Their main "evidence" to support that claim is that Dollhouse is full of cases of women being sexually exploited. Seems pretty straightforward.

2) is my extrapolation from the intense focus in the SA spoof on the outfits that Eliza wears. Clearly the writers of the SA piece would consider Joss's feminist credentials to be more soundly established if his characters were more modestly dressed. It is just a teensy weensy bit possible that my comment on "Focus on the Family" was humorous exaggeration. On the other hand, it is certainly true that if the women in Dollhouse were wearing floor length dresses with high necks and long sleeves, SA would have been deprived of one of the barbs that they throw at Joss here.

ETF: redundant word.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-03-03 01:19 ]
Something Awful's job is to be ridiculous, offensive, and over the top. Sometimes its funny, even to fans. Other times, not so much. This is definitely one of those times, obviously. I would be far more worried about the reviews by people who get paid for it, for example.
Sometimes its funny, even to fans. Other times, not so much. This is definitely one of those times, obviously.


Well, um, yeah. But *which* of those times is it? ;-) J/k.

The offensive spoof could have been a funny offensive spoof - but it was a little too obsessed, even by its own offensive lights, with bottom and cleavage references. Sort of like a "Carry On Up The Dollhouse," but not funny.
I find a number of characters likable, so I don't know why anyone is having that problem. And I can definitely identify with Echo, but I usually do empathize with Joss' protagonists anyway.
QuoterGal, you've posted what I've been thinking in a much more eloquent way, thank you! (Mine was something along the lines of "you can't put Echo into one box because she belongs to many boxes"... see why that is not as clear as yours...)

And to tie in your acute observation into this thread...

I think what I miss (the "easy days" as Simon mentions) is that we would discuss the episode much more than the reviews of the episode. With all of these reviews coming out, people are responding with their reaction to the review... which at times comes out as a feeling rather than a reference. It's hard to tie a discussion together without reference.

Now, if the reviewer used references to the show to support the review, I think it would lead to a much meatier discussion. Or, if we as fans took the review and added our own references (I agree with Author X because we see Echo do this in that...), others could have a point of reference to examine and add their own conclusion (and references) to the discussion.

My English teacher never let me get away with "I agree with the reviewer's dislike over Lord of the Flies"; I always had to have some center to make my own opinion on. Maybe we could benefit with an engagement of the piece we're forming opinions on.

... back to QuoterGal's insightful thought...

This unease can also be traced to the employees of the Dollhouse. It seems that those people (especially Boyd) are our audience-link; while we "observe" Echo on her assignments, we rarely know what's going on in her head. Even her "visions" in Ep 2 are blurry and confusing even to Echo... her reality is not something we can get a clear picture of. The Dollhouse employees, the humans, are easier to read their thoughts, body language, and facial expressions because we are ourselves human. (Echo's view, however, seems to be getting clearer as we see her progress to her own actualization- her realization that she is also human.)

So, as our audience-link, let's focus on Boyd. When he first arrives at the Dollhouse (ep 2 flashback), he seems confident that he is the watcher of a thing (non-human; a "hat before the rabbit"). But, when faced with providing emotional connection to this thing (holding hands and making promises), he's clearly perturbed- the "thing" box he had put Echo in no longer applies. At the beginning of each assignment, Boyd asks Topher "who does she think she is" (which box do I place her in). The need to assign a label to an entity, which is all and none, seems to be a trend with other employees (see Sierra's Handler & Dominic & beginning-Boyd).

However, there are those that seem to accept the fragments as pieces of a shattered diamond (not complete, but still pretty). Topher, being an artist, a creator, doesn't seem to have much trouble with the doll's fragmented identity because he views them as tools to do his job. But when his tools ask him questions (why does Sierra hurt, for example), he seems at a loss for why the paintbrush understands what the paint is feeling.

Boyd is also at a loss for Echo's questionable responses (see "trust" in ep 2), but being an ex-cop, he thinks on his feet and works his way through questionable situations. That doesn't mean there aren't still questions that disturb him. Instead he seems more than ready to call Echo a "person under there" which I think is going too far in the other direction. A person without a bank of thoughts and emotions is giving too much credit in hoping to contain Echo's essence in the "human" box. I think QuoterGal is right in pursuing the "fragmented human" theory. She is parts of a human, and those parts belong to many things, but do the parts add up to a whole?

One of the aspects I love about Dollhouse is that I am able to understand Echo through the unease she puts her human counter-parts though. By not knowing what she is, or how to deal with her imparts the humanity of their anxiety onto her. She is more than what she appears to be to them. And, because we view our Echo mostly through human-Echo interaction, we ourselves impart some of our own humanity into trying to find out what lies below Echo's surface (if anything).
korkster, enjoyed your post. There is sort of a radical notion hidden in there, as an elaboration of QG's original bringing the psychology of identity into the discussion: leaving aside what identity means to the charcters WITHIN the show (what my film studies class in college called diegesis), it is odd for the SHOW itself to be structured around a largely unknowable central character. In Buffy, the starting point of our identification is Buffy, even if we later grow to identify more with Willow or Xander or whoever. Is Dollhouse intentionally making the central character difficult to do this with as a way of consciously forcing us to sort of unstably switch who we mainly identify with (Boyd or Ballard or Dr. Saunders or, potentially, Topher or Adelle) while also frustrating our urge to identify with the central character by stripping away the very persona we identified with in each individual episode? Mmmmm! tasty Meta!

edited to make link work
[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-03-03 21:43 ]

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-03-03 21:44 ]
@ doubtful guest :D. I'm glad my rambling lead to some sort of coherent thought. :)

Is Dollhouse intentionally making the central character difficult to do this with as a way of consciously forcing us to sort of unstably switch who we mainly identify with (Boyd or Ballard or Dr. Saunders or, potentially, Topher or Adelle) while also frustrating our urge to identify with the central character by stripping away the very persona we identified with in each individual episode? Mmmmm! tasty Meta!

From whispers of others who have seem/read the original pilot, I thought this is what Joss was intending to stretch out (further frustrate) with the audience. But for the need to not totally piss off the "solid" audience figures out there, the heroine's journey is evidently seen to "us" and not the Dollhouse employees, which is probably one of the only differences (in point of view) between "they" and "us" (see Echo's unseen response to Dominic in regards to being placed in the attic- the shoulder to the wheel of "kill or be killed").

If Echo's development towards potential humanity has been fast-forwarded, I think it's a good thing. It almost (falsely?) reassures the audience that there IS something beneath the surface... a claim I have been making since Ep 1, but receive no real confirmation on until Ep 3 (the scene between Echo & Sierra). Which becomes very meta indeed. We (or just I) want Echo to succeed in becoming human; we push our desires, our dreams of her/our humanity on her... much in the way the Dollhouse itself programs her. And when the audience and viewers are disappointed because there is not their desired connection with Echo (she isn't human enough), is that the fault of the active or ours for hoping that she's something that she currently isn't?

Which plays to the heart of Joss & Eliza's brain-child. Eliza, who is quite human, has had requests/desires/needs for her to be a particular piece of a person, which she fulfills as part of her job. But we do that in everyday life as well. The person I am at work is slightly different from the person I am at home. My college buddies know a different side of me than my grandmother will ever see. Is that to say that I'm only one or the other? Or can I be both, but only show traits/fragments of a particular persona when needed.

QuoterGal, you make a reference to DID. And I believe you follow US of Tara. Without getting into whether DID is real or not, just following the storyline... Tara is a clear (extreme) example when fragments are selected/needed/shown to handle a certain circumstance. Whether it be a fist fight, or when faced with a horrifying reality a need for a "controlling" alter to arrive to try to maintain some sort of "stable" life. Or what their version of a "stable" life is, or is believed to be.

But I don't think Alice only exists in Tara. How many times do we find the need to clean/organize/build in times of stress? A way to gain focus, to maintain order, in events that we can't control. The flip-side being that some people who are stressed feel the need for chaos (like myself), which can been seen as a control move as well- if nothing is going right, then nothing should be deemed "right".

...

Bringing this comment back from the "de-rail" status, I think it's a fair opinion that the audience is to "know" Echo through our other characters' views of Echo (Topher's view is quite different from Dominic's, and yet each "know" Echo). And while these views of Echo are valid, none of them actually identify Echo (and I'm not sure added parts fully do the job either). Which is a rich field to play in, in my opinion. And, on the turn, without these "views" completely molding Echo (no real memories/emotions/human connections to shape her), she becomes free to be whatever she wants.

Since Echo is a character arc as well as a character, I think we will see what directions she decides to pursue in identity.
It almost (falsely?) reassures the audience that there IS something beneath the surface... a claim I have been making since Ep 1, but receive no real confirmation on until Ep 3 (the scene between Echo & Sierra).

I actually am wondering about that aspect of the show: There seems to be one thing in Joss' work he never meant to touch upon, and that is his humanist leaning. Joss likes to toss the words "human condition" around. When I heard about the premise of Dollhouse, I assumed, he will finally have a vehicle to make this undercurrent explicit, to show us what he means by the word "humanity". And it is quite telling that everyone assumes that there is "journey" or a "path" for Echo, a clear destination towards which she is "evolving". Her "human nature". Her "self".

But the more I watch the show the more I come to question my initial assumption. Maybe Joss is really messing this up and starting to tackle his own, his most solid and fundamental assumptions about people. Maybe Echo's "journey" is a projection by the audience, and he will twist it again, to come up at a completely different notion. The main question then will be: How can he pull this off, without damaging any marxist/feminist/egalitarian comment on society? Isn't Echo's growing awareness, her journey towards a coherent self that can break it's chains and take the Dollhouse down, the thing we invest in from the beginning? Isn't the head-shake the one scene that even the people that didn't like "Stage Fright" that much agreed upon liking?

I find the consensus and the somewhat silly notion that everyone is already "knowing" or "feeling" where Echo is headed suspicious. Maybe Joss is playing that very consciously. Since we could definitely not agree on how this "destination" looks like (since everyone will have a different view of identity, coherence and the self), how can Joss portray it in any way that is not silly, unacceptable or offending to most of the people out there? So maybe the journey is a myth.

Which is the reason, why I am really really excited about this first few episodes, because, honestly, maybe herein lies the true message of the show. Maybe that is the reason why Joss decided to do this show this way around: He gets to deliver Fox there clichéd plots-of-the-week, but at the same time he can play with the notion that multiple stories create and need multiple personalities, and that it is the narrative, the audience that demands Echo's awakening. Alpha. Yes, the show is in itself silly for having nothing likable in it, and how much it forces us to accept very bad things as our weekly narrative, but having Echo's awakening tied to Alpha is maybe the most blatant silliness. We are actually rooting for a journey that was foreshadowed/initiated/planned by a mass-murdering psychopath. Joss is actually telling us very honestly that this journey is not cool per se. He identifies us with Alpha, as he is sitting in Front of a TV, watching Eliza "doing everything".

So I keep wondering, why it is the first thing that springs to our minds when we think about the arc of the first few episodes.

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-03-04 13:58 ]
We are actually rooting for a journey that was foreshadowed/initiated/planned by a mass-murdering psychopath.

Well, we've kinda been down that road before when we discovered that most of what we'd rooted for in Angel's journey had been part of Jasmine's plan for world domination.
Yes, the show is in itself silly for having nothing likable in it, and how much it forces us to accept very bad things as our weekly narrative, but having Echo's awakening tied to Alpha is maybe the most blatant silliness.

I'm not sure if your "nothing likable" is based on personal preference or the tone. If it's the tone you speak of, I wouldn't say that it isn't likable, but darkish gray- in a bleak world where people trade their freedom for peace, there is still good intentions, laughter, and friendship that can be found there. And the mission of the Dollhouse itself is rooted in good ("helping people" vibe). As Topher says "we're great humanitarians... we also misunderstood". The engagements that we've seen provide humans with comfort, protection, friendship, and love... it's hard to find that not likable. Actually I find Topher's line in the pilot (re: humanitarians) to sum up the show quite nicely.

We are actually rooting for a journey that was foreshadowed/initiated/planned by a mass-murdering psychopath.

I love your take on Echo's journey. ;)

We've rooted for psychopaths before (see Angel & Dexter), but it is funny how we place our trust in (or identify with) someone who literally cannot be themselves. He's everyone and no one, all the time. I find Alpha to be a good shadow to Echo; what empowers her about shaping pieces into a whole has destroyed the pieces that make Alpha who he is. It's definitely a journey into the Heart of Darkness aspect. I don't know if you've read this, but a clean-shaven man is lured into the jungles of chaos to meet the person he could be, he is, if he made the choice. I don't know how much of that is "spot on", but it's the jist of what I remember from high school (may actually re-read that just for this series).

Maybe you're right. Maybe we are the Alpha watching Echo (how very meta!). You're also right in assessing that if Echo is lead down the rabbit hole of self-identity, the conclusions she draws may not (or will not) be satisfactory to us/Alpha (they weren't in Heart of Darkness). Which may be the REASON for the warning we receive from Joss in the first line said in the Dollhouse ("nothing is what is appears to be").

Maybe the real goal is to weaken our Alpha (us); to steal our own perceptions of identity as Echo "discovers" hers. Maybe at the end of this season we'll find ourselves very much like the dolls themselves, having been wiped clean of our concept of identity.

Pointy brings up an interesting concept that I hadn't considered but am liking more and more: what if Echo only seems to be getting better, but is really becoming the essence of what the Dollhouse stands for? (This being what you have pondered wiesengrund, but reached from a different point.)

Pointy's idea, summed up by me: Echo is singing/fighting for "freedom", liberation of her blank-canvas state. This state was brought on by the Dollhouse who makes the choices on how to fill up that state... removing free will, so to speak. Echo, does the same thing in Episode 3. She takes Rayna and forces her into a situation where she has to make a choice... but the choice was already made by Echo (Echo pushes Rayna over the edge to face her desire to die, but has her tied because Echo decided that she will live).

She did an even better job with the parameters than the Dollhouse would have hoped. Now, did she do this because she wanted to protect her real friend Sierra, or was she really carrying out her mission? And we, as Alpha-viewers, are we lead to believe that her decision was based on Sierra's survival, or is Echo really the perfect tool of the Dollhouse?

Loving this.
snot monster from outer space:

Well, we've kinda been down that road before when we discovered that most of what we'd rooted for in Angel's journey had been part of Jasmine's plan for world domination.


Thanks, I've just started Season 2 of Angel. ;)

korkster:

We've rooted for psychopaths before (see Angel & Dexter)


I totally agree, we've done that. And I very much like the Dexter-connection, since we see her sitting in a pool of blood after a brutal slaughtering with a person besides her that has no face, whose identity she cannot know. A childhood-trauma which she can't remember. Awwww.

Dexter seems to be really the closest I can get to that felling I have about Dollhouse. The end of Season 3 (skip the paragraph if you haven't seen it, spoiler ahead) seemed to take a lot of beating from fans and critics (much like Dollhouse did). I really didn't get it, the people were angry about the notion that Dexter goes out on a humanist note, engaging in a very clichéd, normal social institution, a concept he has been good at faking it the whole time. In the same way this questions the "faking", Dollhouse questions the "faking" their actives need to do, to be in very clichéd, normal social institutions. And the relationship between Alpha and Echo is probably very close to the one between Dexter and Miguel, because there we have a proxy to the psychopath, the notion that his actions have very human consequences, consequences explored through the people he is surrounded with. Of course, we could argue that Miguel's journey is quite the opposite of Echo's, but we can also learn that his path involved going to far ahead of his master and becoming an enemy. Which Echo will probably face too, with Alpha (and not the Dollhouse, at least not in Season 1, I guess).

As for Angel, I've never much cared about the character, so I didn't "root" for him, but when I felt rooting for him, it was definitely not his psycho-side. Angel had a soul and a redemption to work for. I don't think Alpha is going the same way. But I haven't watched all of Angel, so I can't really say much about it.

Just to throw in a different kind of psychopath: Rooting for Echo's journey is like rooting for John Doe's "message" in "Se7en". And talk about a movie bleak and unlikeable. :)

I'm not sure if your "nothing likable" is based on personal preference or the tone. If it's the tone you speak of, I wouldn't say that it isn't likable, but darkish gray- in a bleak world where people trade their freedom for peace, there is still good intentions, laughter, and friendship that can be found there. And the mission of the Dollhouse itself is rooted in good ("helping people" vibe). As Topher says "we're great humanitarians... we also misunderstood". The engagements that we've seen provide humans with comfort, protection, friendship, and love... it's hard to find that not likable. Actually I find Topher's line in the pilot (re: humanitarians) to sum up the show quite nicely.


I was actually thinking more along the lines of Wax Banks in terms of how everything we can construe as likeable in this show is a rationalization, much like Topher is trying to rationalize it to Boyd. Boyd also reminds Adelle that she likes to tell herself that what they do help people. I never bought the good intentions of the Dollhouse (or the show). It takes a moral force (like Boyd) to stand up and say "We have to save this girl", otherwise Adelle would have let her get eaten by the wolf. The only client that got away alive, comforted and trauma-free is probably Matt, the teaser-client. All the other suffered quite a lot through their engagements.

Maybe the real goal is to weaken our Alpha (us); to steal our own perceptions of identity as Echo "discovers" hers. Maybe at the end of this season we'll find ourselves very much like the dolls themselves, having been wiped clean of our concept of identity.


That's exactly what I was trying to say. Maybe the goal is that we find ourselves much more in line with these early episodes, wiped states, clichéd plots-of-the-week than with The Big Damn Journey Ahead Of Us. That's why I try to enjoy it as much as I can. :)

Off now to read Pointy's stuff about "The Target" and "Stage Fright" (very much liked the piece about "Ghost").

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