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May 19 2009

SFX Magazine review of the Dollhouse episode 'Ghost'. The show premiered tonight on Sci Fi UK.

I... coerced quite a few into watching Dollhouse tonight, and I'd expected a lot of "Hmmm, it's ok, but..."s that reflected the general consensus (in reviews, like this one, and in viewer response).

But, I've been really surprised by how positive everyone has been. My parents who reluctantly accept that Buffy is good but never really cared for it, found the premiere of Dollhouse to be fantastic. They are generally very critical of film and television (they both work/have worked in drama) and so I was taken aback.

I mean, they're never positive. About anything. And then there's this. I think it's a good sign.
I don't think the ratings here are as publicly available as in the US, so we're not going to get the same ratings threads. But it will be interesting to see how it does here.
As far as I'm concerned 'Ghost' was great and almost certainly my favourite of the first five episodes.
Ratings are available in the UK, and we even break it down to 5 minute averages so you can see exactly when people turn over and such. What scenes turn people off. Audience demographics, include what kind of jobs they have etc.

And yes: Sci-Fi edited it.
My parents were about to go to the shop and got hooked on the first scene as I was watching. And after it was finished they apparently both enjoyed it.

Hopefully the same will happen next week and theyll get hooked/tell their friends about it.

Gossi- Sci fi edited it? Which bits were missing? I didnt notice.
What'd they cut? Any idea?
I disagree with most of this article.

I don't think "Ghost" is terrific, exactly. But consider:

And none of that begins to touch the generally uncomfortable nature of the premise: desperate people, many of them young women, being stripped of their identity and autonomy and turned into empty vessels that can be given any personality their keepers decide – and the Dollhouse staff seem eager to lord that over the oblivious Dolls. Considering that Joss Whedon is arguably one of the strongest feminist forces in TV today, it’s no wonder that has alarmed many viewers. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, though, this is a disappointing start to the series.

There is a main character, Ballard, who is trying to take the Dollhouse down and asserts that it is deeply wrong. Boyd seems to feel less-than-great about it, Caroline in the opening doesn't exactly seem happy with what's going to happen to her, and even the client seems a little shocked at the Dollhouse's imprinting Echo with a traumatized person. None of this is a clue that the show might be, I don't know, critical of the Dollhouse and its operation? I understand, even if I don't necessarily agree with, arguments that the show isn't attacking the Dollhouse and its staff enough, but I feel it's completely wrong to suggest that it's not doing it at all. (Plus, this episode makes explicit parallels between Echo and the kidnapped girl--Echo is forced by the Dollhouse to endure a trauma caused by the same kidnapper dude.)

Topher explains that the Actives’ profiles have to be spliced together, scrapbook-style, from real people’s personalities, which is why Echo is she’s short-sighted and asthmatic this time. But surely such physical disadvantages could be removed? Why leave them in?

Um, Topher explained this explicitly--because strengths come from weaknesses, etc. Again, I can understand someone not agreeing with Topher, or finding his explanation insufficient, but not acknowledging that there is an explanation shows simply inattentive writing.

In fairness to the reviewer, though, I agree to a point with these:

Much of it feels poorly thought-out, too, from patronising audio-visual links (Ballard’s discussion with his superior is intercut with a boxing match, and Topher delivers a line about running away from things while pointedly watching a Doll using a treadmill)...

I'm not that bothered by these, but I don't think they add much to the story, so I don't really disagree. plain old logical errors (the FBI doesn’t really believe the Dollhouse exists but any playboy with cash to burn can hire a million-dollar escort for the evening?).

For this one I can't really fault the reviewer, because it's a reasonable point. But I think the rest of the season suggests it's murkier--for one, the NSA certainly knows what the Dollhouse is up to, and for another the Dollhouse is a far-reaching conspiracy, and so it makes sense for highers-up at the FBI to, perhaps, be trying to shut down the investigation because they are aware of it.

So in conclusion I give this review...2 1/2 stars out of 5! I wonder where I got that number? :)

EDIT: Oh, if it was edited I supposed Topher's scene explaining why he gave Echo asthma and myopia might have been cut. Gr, argh!

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2009-05-19 23:14 ]
This London Paper, TV Scoop. (Check in with @SCIFI_channel on Twitter; they're posting links.)
I didn't notice any cuts at all. I'd love to know where they were because they definitely didn't disrupt the episode's flow.
They edited it? I haven't seen the original, nor watched this yet (got it recorded) but I may want to just watch the originals now then.

Seriously Sci-Fi? It's not like you have a great line-up. You even show full Star Trek TOS episodes sometimes.
The cuts had to be made for the hour slot. They did really well imho - you wouldn't have noticed. What did surprise me was that they edited some of the swear words!

All in all - positive first time out. Much fun with SciFi channel, because they actually tweet!
Gossi, I know they exist, I even posted the AB, C1,C2, stuff a couple of days ago, but what I meant was they don't seem to be such a big deal over here. Apart from the odd "Show X gets 5m viewers!" headline they're just not discussed in the same way they seem to be in the US.

Having checked the figures for Sci Fi out their top show last week was Medium with 165 thousand viewers.

BARB if anyone wants to mock the tiny viewership figures some of the smaller channels get.

[ edited by zz9 on 2009-05-20 00:07 ]
Well, I did notice the editing and thought it was a shame but I suppose I'll enjoy the full versions on the DVD (whenever that comes out!). What bugs the most is that I know I'm going to be watching for the cuts now - hope they don't remove anything I really liked.
The snarkey "I wonder what ...Whiskey is like?" made me giggle.
I find myself still relatively disliking 'Ghost', when compared to the rest of the show - even the other episodes in the first five. I felt the engagement was off, I think it was Eliza's weakest episode of the series and it just all-round doesn't deliver the quality I'd expect from a Joss pilot. Having said that, it's not persé bad. I don't hate it. I just think it dissapoints.

Having said that, I also don't agree with a lot of the points the review is making (especially with regards to things pointed out in the episode itself, like mentioned upthread), but I do agree with their concluding grade, although I might've knocked on an extra half-star.

I'd already read this review in SFX magazine itself, by the way, before the episode aired in the UK, meaning they reviewed the US broadcast as per usual in the magazine's 'spoiler zone', where this appeared, and as such it isn't influenced by the cuts Sci-Fi made.

ETR: a double word

[ edited by GVH on 2009-05-20 01:07 ]
I find the UK's response to the first episode of "Dollhouse" interesting. I wonder if they will think that the show should have started with "Man on the Street", as some of us did. Or maybe using the original pilot was a better idea.
Well, UK fans, just stick around, because all your concerns about what the Dollhouse will be addressed. It's just hard to introuduce all of the main issues in one hour.

[ edited by impalergeneral on 2009-05-20 03:44 ]
Bearing in mind that I'm not a massive fan of Whedons work (apart from Firefly) I'm pleased to say that I enjoyed the opening episode and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.
I wonder what percentage of the UK fans have waited to watch it on Sci-fi vs watching it online?
I wonder what percentage of the UK fans have waited to watch it on Sci-fi vs watching it online? Not many I'd wager.

I didn't notice edits tbh (I will watch the *cough* US version later and compare) but in truth I was just so excited to see the show actually being broadcast here plus big BIG cheer from me on the appearance of the Grrgh Argh monster. It's been too long away from our UK screens.
Hey, this is off topic but there's no good thread to ask it in: is Dollhouse coming back in September?
It's coming back in the autumn... I'm assuming that means September... or do you mean on ScifiUK?

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