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May 07 2009

TV Worth Watching: Student Blog about Dollhouse. A student from David Bianculli's TV History class guest blogs about how Dollhouse should be more of an ensemble show instead of an Eliza Dushku vehicle.

[ edited by zeitgeist -please punctuate link titles that are complete sentences- on 2009-05-07 17:40 ]

Yep, would pretty much agree with most of that.
I don't get the criticisms. After the fiasco five episodes, the show has made very definite strides toward ensmeble. Harder on Ms. Dushku than I would be though it's very hard to argue against Ms. Lachmann's talents.

The real problem is the Dollhouse itself. It's like watching a show set in the Alliance facility that River Tam was in and being let in on all of the team dynamics and office politcs of the staff there.
I remember once reading a quote from Joss where he thought one of the reasons Eliza's other shows failed was because there was too much focus on only her character and that she would flourish best in an essemble, so I think he would partially agree with this article. Anyway, I agree with it as well. Unfortunately, I find Echo's character probably the least interesting. I wonder if I'd feel the same way if she was a new face, like all the other actors/actresses are.
I agree that I would have preferred that the show be more ensemble-focused from the very beginning. I have to be honest - I love Eliza, and I've loved some of her characters in Dollhouse, but I also feel that she has sometimes been the weakest leak in a very strong cast. I wouldn't go to the same extent as the reviewer and call her a robot, though!

However, calling Eliza one of Joss' pets in this context seems particularly unfair to both of them; given the genesis of this show it was only natural that it be Eliza-centric.
you wouldn't have the chance to see if a new face was *better* because Dollhouse wouldn't even be around if it wasn't for Eliza.
I think the reason he might find Eliza less believable in different roles than Dichen is simply because he, like us, is very familiar with Eliza and the roles she has played.
WAtching her you think "It's Eliza" just as I can not watch any Tom Cruise movie without thinking "It's Tom Cruise!"

It would be interesting to find some people who had never ever seen Eliza in anything and ask them their opinion of the show.

Dichen is good, but to me her "Shooting the Kidnappers" character was exactly the same as her "Break into the NSA" character and not noticable different to her "Treat the drug victims" character.
To criticise ED for "Only having three speeds" you'd have to say Dichen has only shown two, stone faced operative and fun gamer.
Also, can I just say that I'm really sick of being called a blind fangirl because I really enjoy Eliza in DH.
Actually, Enver Gjokaj has been the Active with the most range. He went from Russian to Roger to NSA guy to horse breeder without batting an eye. I think the blogger, though, has spelled out why tomorrow's episode may be the last. I predict a lot of TV writers and bloggers, including me, will be spending th esummer dissecting the show and what should have been done to make it better.

[ edited by impalergeneral on 2009-05-07 18:34 ]
I agree with the article that Dushku isn't able to carry this show. I don't agree that Dichen Lachman is any better. If I were to put my full weight behind any one doll, it'd be Victor. Or Alpha, if the storyline permitted...or Whiskey, if the subtle hint is true, though those last two are more for what we know the actors can do, not what they've shown so far.

Personally, I'd love to see new actors play Sierra and November in a season 2, if we get one. I'd also want Echo to take more of a back seat role. Yes, Dollhouse started off as Dushku's show, but I'd really like it if season 2 focused on, say, Victor.
I don't know.. every time I see Dichen's character (although I think she's GREAT) she always has a lazy 'too cool' act to each and everyone of her characters (minus Topher's friend, kinda).
It's like watching a show set in the Alliance facility that River Tam was in and being let in on all of the team dynamics and office politcs of the staff there.


I would watch that show.
While Enver is by far the amazing break-out of Dollhouse, Dichen has been great too, I think. Yeah, NSA-girl and Cleanup-girl were just about the same character. But obsessed fangirl? Topherbuddy? Taffy? Priya? All very different, I'd say.
I wish that Dollhouse never existed. Joss should have focused on better things. Gorram it.
His choice not ours. The fandom vs the auteur is always an interesting argument. Needs vs wants and all that jazz.
I think part of the criticism of Eliza's acting may be because Eliza's appearance and voice almost never change. She's constantly and negatively compared to Jen Garner on Alias -- but on Alias Garner was always in a wig and speaking some other language or affecting an accent, which made her a lot more distinct. But Echo's a Doll in LA catering to a generally American clientele, which means there's no need to switch languages... and if the clientele wanted a blond they'd get one, rather than putting Echo in a wig. Have Garner play all her different roles on Alias without switching languages or hair color and I bet she'd be roughly on par with Eliza.

Since they've never had her looks and voice change, I notice Eliza's mannerisms and body language more. In "Haunted" she really holds herself like a woman in her 60s.

My loyalty to Eliza's acting ability, however, largely stems from "Who Are You" back in the Buffy days, when she nailed SMG's manner so perfectly that to this day I hear Sarah's voice delivering the lines. In that case Eliza was playing someone we knew well -- and someone she herself had worked with for a year. Maybe she's a really good mimic, but not so great without a template to work from.
It's like watching a show set in the Alliance facility that River Tam was in and being let in on all of the team dynamics and office politcs of the staff there.


To me that's what this show has been about from the start. Accordingly, my own emotional response has been to seek out the character who fulfills the River Tam role and root for them. Unfortunately Echo is no River Tam. Infact, the character who comes off as being the closest is Alpha.
The thing is, I don't blame anyone for the current state of things because I think what we have is the best that could be made with the acting resources available. The River Tam character is/was one of a very few examples I have seen where the character and actor were so perfectly matched that the actor truly seemed to disappear into the character to the viewer.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2009-05-07 19:14 ]
I love Eliza as an actress. She does her job very well. But i dont thik she is versatile. Now, i dont believe an actor has to be versatile to be good. Some of the best actors in history were not versatile at all. But what they did... wow. Some people think that versatility is essential to be an actor. I dont. I believe versatiliry is needed to be... well, versatile.

To be good is to be good. Versatility, as transformation, is probably the most obvious way to impress a viwer; its far less easy to perceive the greatness of a performance in the little nunaces of a non versatile actor (forgive the overuse of that word, but i´m not an english speaking native and while i understand everything, my own skill and vocabulary are... sketchy at best)

So i do love Eliza, but this show needed someone far more versatile than her. She has done good, but she has not convinced me almost at any point that she was a diferent character. She has been more like the same being with diferent characteristics, but still not an entirely diferent person. This show needed a chamaleon.

Just my opinion, badly spoken, but (this is the clue for you to tell me that my english, or tiping, are not that bad. Just making sure you goy it)
Actually, Enver Gjokaj has been the Active with the most range. So true. He's nailed each one of his transformations, and when he was Dominic? I got goosebumps in that scene--it was creepy just how Dominic he was. I hope he's the breakout star of this show; I can't wait to see him in more projects. Dichen's great, too, but Enver blows me away.

And I agree, Darkness. I like Eliza, I adored her as Faith, but I think it was a mistake to create a show for her whose foundation is in versatility and whose premise requires her to be a new character every week. I agree with the writer, too, on her three characters. She does them all very well, but that probably isn't enough on a show like this.
I think if Eliza was playing anyone else but Echo it would be different, but I thought the point was there was supposed to be some sameness in Echo's character that's not-existent in the other Dolls. Isn't that the point? Maybe it isn't. YMMV.

Also, this may be mean, and I'm sorry, but I discredit people who start their criticism with *I loved her as Faith, but...* to me, it just means you're not letting go of Faith which IMHO isn't Eliza's fault.

Shutting up now.

Edited, because I freak out about my own typos.

[ edited by edcsLover9 on 2009-05-07 19:26 ]
Actually, you're probably right about the "sameness," edcsLover9. I have really, really enjoyed seeing the ways in which "Caroline" shines through and ends up saving the day, though I think that's more of a writing thing than it is an acting one. On the other hand, I would have liked to have had Echo establish that versatility first, particularly in the Echo-centric first five episodes or so, in order to contrast with the sameness that comes through later. Does that make sense?

As for the Faith thing, actually, no. Faith really isn't my favorite character at all; I was never overly invested in her. In this case, I was talking about Eliza's job playing her, which I thought she was marvelous at. When she plays Faith-like characters in DH, again, I think she's great; I just think that's what she's good at. Probably "not letting go of Faith" is true with some people, but not, I think, in my case. That said, I don't think that's mean of you to say at all.
Above, the comment is made that "Watching her you think "It's Eliza" just as I can not watch any Tom Cruise movie without thinking "It's Tom Cruise!"" I think this is quite perceptive. but for me the issue really becomes, can the actor act so good that I do not see the actor, only the part. I don't go see Brad Pitt movies for the simple reason I am always aware that it is Brad Pitt up there, not the character. Same for Tom Cruise- they act in star vehicles. Instead, I am drawn to actors who do so good I cannot see them as a real person in the role. I thought Tara Maclay was acted so well by Amber Benson that the first I ever saw a vid of Amber herself I was shocked to hear her swear like a longshoreman. With Eliza, I almost always know I am watching Eliza; she does not submerge herself in her roles. That is always problematic to me. On the other hand, I have admired Enver Gjokai in DH because I really thought he was Russian (not having seen him before in any role) and then seeing him change gears when he was revealed as a doll told me how good his acting had been.

I guess this is just more of the "willing suspension of disbelief."

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-05-07 19:31 ]
Great actors are able to convince their audience that they really are the character who they are portraying. Really great actors are able do this each time they take on a new role.
To me Eliza Dushku is still Faith.
In defense of Dushku, check out "Who are You." She dials in SMG's Buffy perfectly. She has chops.
Her acting and range are certainly sufficient and acceptable, imho. Is she the best? No. Is she very good? Yes. I was impressed by her range in Haunted. She performed better than I expected. Early in the season, I was concerned about her range. I'm not now.

Not everyone makes As (as in plural A) all the time.

A friend of mine thinks Enver is the weakest of the cast. To each her own, ya know?
She does have chops, don't get me wrong. The thing is, Eliza's Faith was basically a different, darker take on SMG's Buffy (ie. while the characters ended up behaving very differently, they still belonged in the same ballpark on a basic character level).
I think Enver has been the true standout, but I have no complaints about any of the other actors. Eliza's been perfectly believable to me.
Yeah, NSA-girl and Cleanup-girl were just about the same character. But obsessed fangirl? Topherbuddy? Taffy? Priya? All very different, I'd say.

I totally agree, but my point was the writer was using that argument to criticize Eliza.

Great actors are able to convince their audience that they really are the character who they are portraying. Really great actors are able do this each time they take on a new role.
How many great actors have we seen, who we know very well from a very well established role, taking on new roles every few minutes?

I have never "Not Believed" Eliza in any of her performances. That isn't to say that I cant recognise Eliza (or Echo) in that role, because it is clearly Eliza playing that part, but I've never been unconvinced by her.

Put it another way, Enver (rightly) got huge credit for playing Dominic, just as Eliza did years ago playing Buffy. But Echo's roles are not meant to be another person, someone we know (With the slight exception of Margaret) so why would Topher bother to give them different mannerisms?
Echo running scared in the woods in Target was behaving very differently to Echo in Spy, but still had elements of the same person.
But why wouldn't she?
Many people are very confident at work when they are on familiar ground, dealing with matters in which they are an expert, but would be scared witless in the woods with someone trying to kill them.
They could be the same character, why would the Dollhouse go to any trouble to give them wildly different personalities?
Who, apart from Boyd, and us, would ever see them both?

I'd rather concentrate on the actual issues raised by the show than have Eliza forced into different Inspector Clouseau type false wig and glasses with over the top accent every week.
Brinderwalt,

Accepting your premise that Faith is a darker take on SMG's Buffy makes her chops seem even more awsome since it takes quite a bit of nuance to dial it back a little and make me see the difference.

I confess that this is one of my favorite epsiodes from the show, and I think some of the thematic seeds of Dollhouse are contained in it (which may be why I've been so disappointed with Dollhouse's execution) and ED gets a lot of loyalty based on this episode.
When Dichen was imprinted to be Topher's buddy, I remember thinking that she was kind of emotionless.
In a somewhat similar way, some lines delivered by Miracle fall a little flat sometimes, too.
I really like both of them and think they otherwise do a great job, but they are the only two that really bring me out of the story on occasion.
Maybe it is blind fangirl love that I ignore any perceived faults in Eliza's acting, but I'm pretty much ok with that.
And I would definitely agree that Enver is just made of awesome.
How many great actors have we seen, who we know very well from a very well established role, taking on new roles every few minutes?


"every few minutes" is an irrelevant distinction when discussing actors in a non-live performance medium.

Rather than list here all the actors who I think would belong on such a list, I'll just mention the first one that comes to mind:
Christian Bale (I am not referring to his Batman involvement).

I should also add that I am an idealist in all this and my list would be very short, and probably mostly consist of stage actors.
Don't agree at all. The show has been excellent from the beginning (other than the first scene, maybe). I believe all the actors are quite good, writing top notch. Perhaps the shows first episodes were not as strong as Lost's first episodes, much less the later episodes of Dollhouse, but still quality TV.

Besides, 'history of television'? As a real historian, not to mention a real fan, why should I care at all what this fellow has to say? ;) (Please not the wink denotes slight sarcasm, a bit of exaggeration. That said, not at all impressed by this fellow)
Accepting your premise that Faith is a darker take on SMG's Buffy makes her chops seem even more awsome since it takes quite a bit of nuance to dial it back a little and make me see the difference.


Continuing in the vein of also accepting my premise, this would indicate that Eliza has excellent control over the faculties in her personality that come to play within that character archetype. It's the difference between depth and range. She is definitely very good when it comes to adjusting the depth of her characters. Her abilities in the range department are (arguably) a different matter.
She is definitely very good when it comes to adjusting the depth of her characters. Her abilities in the range department are (arguably) a different matter.

I think that's a great way of putting it. Some actors having amazing range, others amazing depth. The truly great have both.
"every few minutes" is an irrelevant distinction when discussing actors in a non-live performance medium.

Every few minutes meaning that we see each new character for only a few minutes or scenes in total.
The number of actors who can make a real impression in a few scenes is small, Tony Hopkins in Lambs for example, and that was an over the top written role.

Movie stars get two hours for each role in which to "sell" you their performance, and maybe one or two movies a year, each playing a different character. We rarely fixate them to one role and one role only, allowing us to easily accept each new role they do.

We've seen Eliza playing Faith in twenty five episodes, it's hardly unexpected that seeing her play a different character for two minutes makes us think "Hey, it's Faith playing someone else!"
Brinderwalt,

I guess I don't care that much about range. Some of my favorite actors have rather limited range. All I care about is, am I convinced by this person? Range may help sustain a career, but as a viewer, I just want to believe for a little while.
Some actors having amazing range, others amazing depth. The truly great have both.


Not exactly. You can't really have great range without first having great depth. It's also not exactly fair to say that actors who have great depth and range are better actors than those who only have depth. Actors who have great depth are what we commonly refer to as character actors. Nine times out of ten you will get better results with a character actor in a role than one of the harder to find "rangy" actors (harder to find because the only way to know for certain is to see an actor perform in multiple different ranges.

Update: tabmke, got your back!

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2009-05-07 21:59 ]
I will concede that with Dollhouse, in its initial Fiasco Five format, range might come into play. But even in the weekly engagement episodes, better writing and execution could overcome a limited range. I feel bad for Dushku because she seems to be taking more than her share of recrimination for her acting when it is quite possible that she deserves more blame for her role as a producer.
"I think part of the criticism of Eliza's acting may be because Eliza's appearance and voice almost never change."

I'd be interested to see if Eliza's ability to pull off other characters would improve if she stopped smoking. The gravely-voice is probably what makes them sound alike. But I don't know if that's from smoking. Just a guess that it is. Old articles alternate between saying she smokes and saying that she's successfully quit.
I think the worst that can be said about Eliza in the show is that she has simply been too even. Part of that is her (in my opinion) limited range. On the other hand, the writing hasn't given her any real room to grow and expand. As someone said earlier, I haven't "not believed" her in any of her roles, but I've also not been terribly impressed.

And that's fine, really, because the supporting cast is great: particularly Victor and Topher, although nearly all the rest of the cast is fantastic. Yes, Eliza is the weak link, and it's too bad because it could be better as an ensemble. In Firefly, everyone had weak moments, but the cast worked so well together that it didn't matter. Eliza cannot carry the show on her own, and should never have been expected to. Especially when you consider the nature of the role.

But the show was marketed as an Eliza Dushku vehicle, and that was a mistake. Joss does best with ensembles, and I suspect that if they had followed his vision, we would have had that earlier. But network shows thrive (for good or ill) on individual stars. I don't think they have the patience to wait for an audience to connect with not just one character, but five or six, or even more. Firefly had nine, after all. Perfect in retrospect, but difficult for the audience even under the best of conditions.
I will concede that with Dollhouse, in its initial Fiasco Five format, range might come into play. But even in the weekly engagement episodes, better writing and execution could overcome a limited range. I feel bad for Dushku because she seems to be taking more than her share of recrimination for her acting when it is quite possible that she deserves more blame for her role as a producer.


I agree totally. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to tell the difference between bad acting and miss-casting. This was one of the things that threw me off about Dollhouse from the beginning, because one of Joss Whedon's strengths has always been his excellent eye for casting (see for example Firefly, the greatest example of ensemble casting I have ever seen). Eliza was cast, as far as know, because the concept was at least partially her idea, not because of her range as an actor.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2009-05-07 22:44 ]
Brinderwalt, I think you've hit the nail on the head, both about Dollhouse and Firefly. Casting really is a crucial part of this, and for a role like Echo, you need, I think, a truly extraordinary, probably stage-trained actor not so much a "star" -- Amy Acker, for example, would probably have been a better lead (we saw how versatile she was with Illyria).

To me, the episode where there really became a problem was "Haunted" where, from the way she was written, we can tell that Adelle's friend is, if not actually British, then from some kind of upper-crust background from back east or elsewhere and would have had an entirely different accent than Eliza's. Probably, wisely, they didn't really try to go for it, but all in all, it friendship between them a lot less believable. Ironically, I really loved the episode anyway because it was nicely written and also because Eliza did manage to nail certain emotions.

I basically think she's a very solid young actress in the right role and at least as talented as many a major movie star, but she needs to work on her range. Ironically, "Dollhouse" will probably help her become a better actress, it's just that it's a rather expensive acting class.
korkster, your right, and permit me to elaborate further: the keys to an actor with a good range lie in their voice (inflection first, accent second) and, even more important, their body language. It's no coincidence that the person who you just mentioned, or the one who I would add (Amy Acker and Summer Glau) are both classically trained ballet dancers.
I think the issue for me is, at least partly, that Joss kept saying in advance of DH that he had seen so much more range in ED's acting than she had been given the opportunity to demonstrate. From the first, I kept wanting to see that. The show obviously depended upon that, since it was to be her vehicle. I wanted to see her through Joss's eyes. I haven't been able to. I have seen how she has become much better through this series, and I do see differences in her characterizations (I think the three "speeds" comment was too harsh), but, in comparison to Enver Gjokai's performances or Alan Tudyk's, she just doesn't have the same level of skill. Tudyk really raised the bar for everyone last episode. (The man deserves an Emmy for that performance.)
I don't really have a good grasp on the nuances of acting and all that, or the criticism of such. All I know is that I think it is baffling that people criticize Eliza for her acting (which I think is quite good), when Fox has a more successful show with a far worse actress as the lead, Fringe. The Fringe lady is horrid, IMHO. She can't do an American accent, she is emotionless, and far worse than anyone in Dollhouse. And yet for some reason people seem to like attacking Eliza.

edit: palehorse, that's an interesting comment, because while I of course read all of Joss' comments saying that, I never come at something saying "I'm going to watch this to see if Actor A is good, or because I've heard how good Actor B is in this". Of course I've watched things with excellent performances, but I look at things from a whole, rather than going in to examine performances. There are those that stick out at me afterward (like Alan as Alpha, Summer as... well anything, Amy, especially as Illyria, and many others) but I'm more in it for the story than the acting. I suppose some people look at things in different ways.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-05-08 00:16 ]

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-05-08 00:17 ]
I really don't get the whole "Dichen being a better actress than Eliza" thing. Yes, sometimes she is great, but most times (as in Briar Rose) she comes off as a little bland IMO.

I also didn't care for her rendition of Taffy, to be honest.

However, I do agree that Dollhouse should progress into a more ensemble style show. And I think that as the show goes on, the actors will all get better.
I never come at something saying "I'm going to watch this to see if Actor A is good, or because I've heard how good Actor B is in this".

Interesting caricaturing of someone's post. Of course, I didn't come to DH with that idea foremost in mind. If that were the only reason to watch a Joss show, then I wouldn't be a Joss fan, I'd be an actor's fan. And I'm not. My point was directed solely at the discussion of this thread re: ED's range. I did expect to see something more from ED on the basis of Joss's comments, because she was going to have to carry a heavy burden in the show. But that was not my reason for tuning in. And, in spite of ED (although, again, I think she has developed over the course of the series), I have come to enjoy this show immensely--for it's darkness, for its complexity, for its commentary on identity, on power, on technology, on obsession, on desire, on what makes life meaningful, and so forth.
I did not intend to caricature your post, merely point out something that I do not do. I was just commenting that we both saw the same interviews regarding Eliza's talent, but you were expecting more where as I was not really looking for it.
"How many great actors have we seen, who we know very well from a very well established role, taking on new roles every few minutes?"

Battlestar Galactica's Tricia Helfer. Every single cylon incarnation of Six that Tricia played was completely convincing as a different model.
People need to remember that it is much easier for an ensemble cast member to "disappear" into a character than it is for a lead. The difference is sample size.

We haven't seen Enver or Dichen, therefore they are brilliant. Is it true? Maybe. But then we don't start watching them with any preconceptions either which makes it much easer. And we also aren't seeing their characters in a very deep manner either. We're seeing mannerisms.

ED has to throw a completely unique package (more than mannerisms) together from scratch and make you believe it in around 20 to 30 minutes of screen time. Not only is that hard, it may be something that at best is going to work half the time.

I'm not an ED apologist, I'm just stating that she's probably doing the best you can do when you're a lead with no consistent identity.
ED has to throw a completely unique package (more than mannerisms) together from scratch and make you believe it in around 20 to 30 minutes of screen time. Not only is that hard, it may be something that at best is going to work half the time.


Which is why Joss indicated from the get-go that he wasn't certain the concept of the show itself would work.

I'm not an ED apologist, I'm just stating that she's probably doing the best you can do when you're a lead with no consistent identity.


I think she is doing the best that she can do. Whether that is enough is the crux of the issue.

I don't really have a good grasp on the nuances of acting and all that, or the criticism of such. All I know is that I think it is baffling that people criticize Eliza for her acting (which I think is quite good), when Fox has a more successful show with a far worse actress as the lead, Fringe. The Fringe lady is horrid, IMHO. She can't do an American accent, she is emotionless, and far worse than anyone in Dollhouse. And yet for some reason people seem to like attacking Eliza.


SteppeMerc, if financial success of television shows was based on things like good acting, we would be looking at a whole different landscape as far as tv is concerned.

There is a difference between attacking someone and expressing constructive criticism. We criticize because we see untapped potential hidden in the destination of that criticism and want to help it be utilized. Taking that kind of criticism is hard, but a necessary part of being a performer. It is how performers learn of and, hopefully, overcome the mistakes that even the most brilliant ones make. I say this as someone with personal experience to back it up.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2009-05-08 03:37 ]
steppemerc says:"And yet for some reason people seem to like attacking Eliza."

Who likes doing this? No one likes attacking Eliza and no is attacking Eliza; this is not the point of the comments people are making. They are stating their opinion on what they perceive her abilities to be, in the context of this show in specific. While I can be pretty critical, I get the sense that you don't want anyone to offer any critical comment at all if it is not in accord with your own preferences. If you think ED is a great actor, say so (as you have) and say why, and then let others either agree with you or not.

And that nonsequitur about Fringe. Who is talking about Fringe and Anna Torv here? What does it have to do with DH?
Ah, I was unaware of the apparent illegality of bringing up new topics to compare to already existing topics. A thousand apologies for attempting to bring comparison to another show on the same network.

And I do think people are indeed attacking Eliza, not simply criticizing. I'm not talking about just here on Whedonesque, but I include the critics. And the person writing the article is certainly not criticizing Eliza in a constructive manner. He blames Joss and Eliza if the show is canceled, which I believe is both insulting and inaccurate (for reasons that I will not go over again, because of the numerous issues that have come up the last two times I did so).

And where exactly was I suggesting that people shouldn't talk about their opinion? I was merely offering my own and how I approach shows. And I find it... interesting... that you suggest that I should let others express their opinion while I am merely expressing my own opinions (though apparently numerous people take issue with them). I was at no time trying to prevent people from criticizing Eliza or Dollhouse, but I will always defend the things that I love, and that includes Dollhouse and by extension its actors.
I have to agree with SteppeMerc:

Many people have and do attack Eliza in a really harsh way that goes beyond constructive or fair.

Fact.

And a lot of them (mostly reviewers/critics) were riddled with really nasty personal comments about her. If it were just about her acting, then fair enough (though I think she has done well.) But the amount of tripe I've read comparing her to a
"blow up doll" or "a robot" or just a nice pair of boobs is really unsettling -- and it really upset me for a long while. It honestly took a lot of the fun out of watching the show at first.

Luckily those kind of reviews have died down...mostly.
Ah, I was unaware of the apparent illegality of bringing up new topics to compare to already existing topics. A thousand apologies for attempting to bring comparison to another show on the same network.


If someone here besides you had cited said show as being in any way superior to Dollhouse you would have a point. Unfortunately this is not the case.


And I do think people are indeed attacking Eliza, not simply criticizing. I'm not talking about just here on Whedonesque, but I include the critics.


You are right. There are some people out there who take pleasure in blindly attacking Eliza Dushku, Dollhouse, Joss Whedon, Mickey Mouse, etc. - there always will be - but I fail to see your point in bringing it up here, in this discussion, since no one here - to my knowledge - has done so. If someone did, you should call them out on it, chapter and verse.


And the person writing the article is certainly not criticizing Eliza in a constructive manner. He blames Joss and Eliza if the show is canceled, which I believe is both insulting and inaccurate [...]


If the show fails due to a fault inherent of the show itself (not evil network intervention, cloud formations blocking satellite relay points, etc), then I would say that as its creators and producers Joss and Eliza are kind of to blame if anyone is. Personally I don't see the point in blaming someone for trying something and failing when it has never been done before. If a painter paints a painting using new techniques and it doesn't come out right, do you blame them for trying? Of course not. And if you are that painter, it's not like you can't paint anymore. You simply put the painting away and apply the lessons you learned (good and bad) from its creation to your future works.

Update: ShanshuBugaboo, you should check out some of the press on poor Lena Headey as regards the Sarah Connor Chronicles.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2009-05-08 06:20 ]
brinderwalt,I know no one has claimed Fringe was better than Dollhouse. I just wanted to express my frustration and confusion about the fact that a show, on Fox, that is (at least allegedly) SciFi, is doing better than Dollhouse but has a far weaker main actress who can't even do an American accent. That is all I was trying to express by my bringing up Fringe.

I do not believe that the show will fail due to the show itself. I blame the audience (again, I don't want to get into it, but that's my opinion) rather than the creators, as the author of the article in question does. Other critics, like the TV guide fellow whose article was discussed a few days back, seem to hold a view closer to my own, just phrased in more delicate ways.

And it seems to me that the author is one of the people unfairly attacking Eliza, thus again, our calling out. His three speeds comment is unfair and untrue, as is his Parthian shot "Besides, Dollhouse already has its own in-house robot... in Echo." That is highly insulting, and untrue, as far as I'm concerned.

As for Lena Headey I do agree that the press was too harsh, but really she is the weakest member of the cast (with Summer being the obvious best), which would be fine if the show wasn't named after her character. As far as I'm considered the show should have been called The Adventures of John and Cameron (or um, something less lame), and perhaps the focus wouldn't have been as high on Lena. Then again it may well have been, though personally the Terminator movies (the only good ones, the first and second) were not about Sarah Connor, and the character didn't leave a big enough impression for me to be upset over any deviations. I'm sure if it was a franchise closer to my heart, like Star Wars, or Joss' stuff, or Lord of the Rings that had a character portrayed in a divergent manner than I would have been more critical.
One line in this bloggy thing annoyed me quite a bit:

"I worry that he makes stories for himself and his select friends, or goes into areas that may alienate the core audience that made him a success early on with Buffy."

So does he mean that he wants Joss to do mainstream soup operas or does he mean that he might alienate the core Buffy fans? Either way it is a silly thing to say.
I thought so too, Satai. And vague. What are these "areas?" ;)
People don't like attacking Eliza?

"Royal Academy of Cleavage" chick comes to mind.
I was never a Faith fan, but did like Eliza in Tru Calling, but she just has never pulled off a real becoming a different person for me in any show. I can only think of two actors that become the character they are playing and make me forget who they are, Alex O'Loughlin in Moonlight, Mary Bryant, and Feed, then James Marsters as Spike, Capt John Hart in Torchwood, Simon in Chance, I just forget the actor and they become the character.
I do not believe that the show will fail due to the show itself. I blame the audience (again, I don't want to get into it, but that's my opinion) rather than the creators, as the author of the article in question does. Other critics, like the TV guide fellow whose article was discussed a few days back, seem to hold a view closer to my own, just phrased in more delicate ways.


Here is the real problem with this:
By saying that you blame the audience for not being able to understand the concept of the show, you are essentially accusing them of failing to do something which is not their job in the first place. Tv is a one-way form of communication where the audience is the passive party. The audience's job is to listen while the tv show's job is to explain itself in a way the audience can understand. If the audience doen't understand the tv show and it's not a result of problems in the communication stream (ie. network intervention) then the fault lies in the way the tv show is communicating its message. If you fail in getting your message across to the audience it will become apathetic and shrink (what we have unfortunately seen happen with Dollhouse). I would further point out that if a show continues with a line of delivery which clearly isn't succeeding, the audience will begin to become hostile towards it, which is why it is so hard for tv shows to regain or build an audience once they fall into this trap.

The audience hasn't been rejecting Dollhouse's message. As Mal would say, "You can't miss a place you've never been." They seem, judging by viewer trends and the words of many of the critics out there, to be not understanding the message in the first place, which I re-iterate, is part of the job of Dollhouse, not the audience.

For the record, this is exactly why the Sarah Connor Chronicles failed.
Tv is a one-way form of communication where the audience is the passive party.


Not good TV.
I was never a Faith fan, but did like Eliza in Tru Calling, but she just has never pulled off a real becoming a different person for me in any show. I can only think of two actors that become the character they are playing and make me forget who they are, Alex O'Loughlin in Moonlight, Mary Bryant, and Feed, then James Marsters as Spike, Capt John Hart in Torchwood, Simon in Chance, I just forget the actor and they become the character.


I just want to point out that an actor doesn't have to make you forget who they are for their performance to be judged positively. Really all they have to do is convince you that they are the person who they are playing at the moment. James Marsters to me is Spike. I know he is still James Marsters, but he makes the character convincing enough that I don't care. The entire cast of Firefly was this way. I know they are all actors and who they are, but this knowledge has never gotten in the way of my ability to believe that they really are their characters.
Tv is a one-way form of communication where the audience is the passive party.


Not good TV.


Good tv is simply compelling enough that it motivates its viewers to go to the trouble of seeking out other forms of media where they can respond to it. Tv on a technical level is literally a one way mirror.
On a technical level, but good tv doesn't solely confront people as digital signals transmitted to a screen. It is emotionally and intellectually provoking. I respond to shows on my couch without interacting with any other form of media. Not all tv has to be that way, of course, I LOL @ How I Met Your Mother, but I don't dissect it endlessly.
On a technical level, but good tv doesn't solely confront people as digital signals transmitted to a screen. It is emotionally and intellectually provoking.


Only after it reaches the brain can it become more than just a bunch of blinking lights.


I respond to shows on my couch without interacting with any other form of media. Not all tv has to be that way, of course, I LOL @ How I Met Your Mother, but I don't dissect it endlessly.


If a tree falls in the forest... I was actually referring more to the concept of showing your interest or support in a show's existence by interacting with its sponsors in such a way that it makes money.
Right, but it also sounded like you were denying that people interact mentally and emotionally with shows with nothing else needed but a brain and a tv. So, I had to say that to be sure what you were actually saying :).
I don't think Eliza is the worst actor on Dollhouse. That crown goes to Tahmoh Penikett. If it wasn't for Eliza, there wouldn't be a new Joss show for all of us to talk about.

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