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"I like my evil like I like my men... evil."
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July 21 2009

Dollhouse episode 10 blogged by the Guardian's Anna Pickard. Anna's a bit disappointed.

"all of it building to a darkly complex mythology that was fast becoming a solid base for the series … suddenly, there's a standalone doll-on-the-job episode. Which in the context of what has been placed around it, felt more like Murder She Wrote. Was it a relief to step back? An annoyance? Or something else entirely?"

I don't disagree mostly. I feel the episode is out of place quality wise. I enjoy the acting but I don't like standalones as a break from most of the plot with the exception of a few episodes of certain shows I like. I enjoy "Go Fish" very much for some reason, no great reason comes to mind. Would I change the channel if the episode came on, no I find it much better then so much of television, but if I was watching the DvD for the first time would I skip it, maybe, depends on the mood.
All in all not bad, but no where near the caliber of the episodes around it.

Though I do love me some Topher nerdfest.
This was one of the episodes I liked, though not because of the logic.
I really disagree with the author's opinion on the Topher storyline. I thought it was entertaining, but more importantly: it added something to his character, it makes him much more sympathetic.
This one is definitely in my top 5 (which, ok, is out of 12). I just love the whole feel of it, very emotional.
two words: Gag. Reflex.

ok, more words: ^that and "PORN!" were the comedic highlights of the season for me.
I was a pretty big fan of "Haunted" as well. It may not have advanced the plot, but I thought it provided us with a lot of very interesting information about the Dollhouse, and, like Jor said, it provided some insights into Topher's character.

Margaret also provided a great deal of food for thought and some interesting topics for discussion. Who says a standalone episode has to be dull?
I didn't love the Echo storyline, but I really did like Topher's. I started the season hating him, but this episode had me finally liking, understanding, and feeling bad for him.
I found the questions asked about eternal life interesting, but the Echo plot of the episode was a little dull. I liked the Topher story line and I found the end of the episode very touching. So it was good but not great for me.
Was it great? No...

Still, one of my biggest complaints is people who can't tolerate the stand-alone episode. I'm one of those people who tends to like variety in that I don't need a whole 50 minutes of mythology crammed down my throat every single time. Conversely, I'm not a big fan of 5 episodes of no plot movement either. Go figure.

[ edited by azzers on 2009-07-22 07:22 ]
I actually enjoyed Haunted (and ep 2, 4) more than I did Echoes. I thought it was a great little episode and it worked because we got to see Adelle and Topher in a new way.
I agree with you, vampongs. I think that Echoes was the low point of the season and enjoyed most of the standalone episodes more than it. I do enjoy mythology eps more, in general, but I don't think that stand alone episodes automatically equal bad either.
I'm with you on that Animal Mother. I think Echoes and Stage Fright are easily my two least favourite Dollhouse episodes. Echoes may give us a lot of back-story on Caroline but I thought the drug storyline was poorly handled and pretty dull and I think the whole episode was pretty unsatisfactory. Mythology driven episodes does not always mean it’ll automatically be a good episode. Haunted flowed much better and I actually think the story was more interesting.
There was a whole exposition scene of Eliza Dushku pretending to be a newly dead 60-year-old horse-riding socialite in the body of a tiny Bostonian kind-of-prostitute.


Umm... Okay then. Anyone else have a reaction or just me?
I had more of a reaction to what she says after that;

“And a television audience pretending this was convincing as an acting job.”

Not only do I think Eliza did a very good job in this episode but it’s pretty irritating when the reviewer speaks for the entire audience like that. I wasn’t “pretending” that Eliza was convincing at all.

In the future I'd prefer it if Pickard stuck to telling us what she thinks and not what I think.
I think we're just going to have to resign ourselves to the fact that Eliza's going to be an acting punching bag until the end of time.

Reviewers are just too used to complaining at this point. Good won't register. Great won't either. If she was Meryl Streep playing Karen Blixen in Out of Africa, at best they'll call it average. She's not Meryl Streep, but I'm just making a point.

[ edited by azzers on 2009-07-22 06:37 ]
edited to remove a comment about a spoiler that's no longer a spoiler

I liked the episode well enough though the gist of it felt a bit derivative (I still wonder if a lot of the plots are deliberately chosen to allow the Dollhouse spin on old ideas). It maybe didn't move the story arc on much but it fleshed out some characters (Adelle as well as Topher), raised some points about immortality and identity (and how your own identity might be entirely different to the one others give you) and it showed us a client that maybe wasn't the warmest mother but was basically decent, honorable and even wise.

As to the Topher story, I quite liked it but did anyone else immediately think "He's programmed her with himself" ? Still not convinced he hadn't (I warmed slightly to Topher over the season but can't really say I liked him by the end).

[ edited by Saje on 2009-07-22 07:44 ]
Not being silly here, but I haven't been here long enough to know the convention. Since the episode is not going to be released, when does this cease to be a spoiler? Post Comic-Con, or post DVD release?

I was just thinking after that huge thread earlier in the week it wasn't spoiler material anymore.

I deleted that section of my post if you want to remove yours. No one else will get inadvertently spoiled.

[ edited by azzers on 2009-07-22 07:22 ]
Fair enough. And yep, I don't know either (in this particular instance it's a grey area) but i'd say at least until the DVD comes out North America. And even then, a bit of consideration for those of us in other parts of the world would be greatly appreciated ;).
Post Comic-Con, or post DVD release?


Post DVD release.
I loved this ep, and with every review, I'm developing more of a dislike for Anna Pickard, as a reviewer. There are a lot of reviewers I respect even when I disagree with them. Then there are those that seem to be more interested in picking things apart to further their own reputations, than in contributing to a serious discussion of the work.

I thought this was one of Eliza's best performances. I especially loved the scenes with she and Adelle and felt they were very convincing.

I'm not a fan of stand-alones in general, but in Joss's shows they always give you marvelous little tidbits that contribute to character development. And this one was chock full of those moments, each one a gem.
I enjoyed this episode quite a lot though less so on second viewing.

Invisibilised for spoilers - Simon

[ edited by Simon on 2009-07-22 12:54 ]
I too enjoyed this episode, the scenes with Topher I felt were touching and added more layers to him.
Oh yes,

Invisiblised for spoilers - Simon

[ edited by Simon on 2009-07-22 12:32 ]
I'd rather we didn't discuss Epitaph One in this thread. A lot of people still haven't seen it.
Oh sorry Simon! I'm an idiot.

How do I invisiblise again? I looked at the FAQ sheet but it didn't work for me..
Saje, I totally thought that Topher had programmed her with himself. I know that some people read that scene as "geek's wet dream," but I think that Sierra is just who happened to be available, and that Topher was really just intensely lonely and looking for a peer. I really found that storyline rather sad (as in it made me sad), actually.
Chiming in with "I don't prefer standalones but liked this one quite well." I really felt for Topher, and was impressed with ED. Interestingly, I hadn't thought Topher programmed Sierra with himself, but it makes sense. Thanks, meloukhia.

Argh. When is the DVD released?
For the most part, I can agree to disagree with the critics. They think what they think – and they're being paid to share their opinion on the show and the acting, so that's just the job. It doesn't change what I think – and I did like Eliza's performance in this episode.

“Tiny Bostonian kind-of-prostitute” is the phrase that set me off here. I wasn't aware this had come into vogue as an acting critique. “In her latest film, *insert actress* is less than convincing in her role and such a little whore.” To me, that's completely inappropriate in a review and kind-of-bitchy besides.
BringItOn5x5: surely Anna Pickard was referring to her role as a doll in the Dollhouse when she said "kind-of-prostitue"; I don't think she was referring to Eliza herself. Admittedly the way she worded it leaves it open to misinterpretation, but it seemed quite obvious to me what she meant.
Yeah, pretty sure she meant the character, it's not malice just slightly sloppy writing (since Echo isn't Bostonian and IIRC we don't know Caroline is either).

Saje, I totally thought that Topher had programmed her with himself. I know that some people read that scene as "geek's wet dream," but I think that Sierra is just who happened to be available, and that Topher was really just intensely lonely and looking for a peer.

Yay, not just me being mental then ;). That's actually a nicer way of looking at it, I was mainly seeing it as narcissism of the first water but that's probably because I don't like Topher much (it's a credit to Fran Kranz that I enjoy watching him despite that, even at his least likeable Kranz keeps him interesting IMO) but loneliness and intense isolation works just as well. In fact, looked at like that it's actually kind of honourable of him since he's the only donor for an imprint that he knows has consented to everything he intends to do.
I seem to be the only one who absolutely loves Topher, and especially like the way he's being developed. After thinking about him for a while... he's likable in the same way Dexter (from Dexter) is likable. Their views on reality are far from the norm, but that is what makes them awesome. As characters.

Definitely my favourite character in the D-House.

ETA: Ignore my Dexter comparison. He's like Gaius Baltar. Hated by everyone, incredibly pathetic but utterly amazing.

[ edited by Jayme on 2009-07-23 00:27 ]
So it was only the body Eliza put on to play Echo that was both tiny and whorish? Interesting. This was certainly one of the more reserved roles in terms of dress and mannerisms, so... really, what's the excuse here? “Bostonian”?

There's no question it's sloppy writing, but I do question whether it's deliberately sloppy to vent on an actress Anna Pickard obviously doesn't care for.
Well, the notion of deliberate sloppiness aside ... guess it just comes down to your own feeling on the matter. Personally I doubt a journalist (even a blogger) for a fairly well respected, serious newspaper is going to call an actress a kind-of-prostitute in print and since she plays a character that's, y'know, kind-of-a-prostitute it makes more sense (to me) to read it that way. Mileage varies.

After thinking about him for a while... he's likable in the same way Dexter (from Dexter) is likable. Their views on reality are far from the norm, but that is what makes them awesome. As characters.

Ooh, totally disagree with this ;). Dexter is funny, according to his own code very moral, in his own way quite loving, good at his job(s) and aware of his own limitations. Rightly or wrongly (the show's partly about asking yourself that every time he does something horrible) I root for Dexter to succeed (ultimately to become "a real boy") in a way I very much don't for Topher (who's sometimes funny but the rest of that stuff, not so much - we're told, for instance, especially by Topher himself, that he's good at his job but the evidence suggests otherwise).

It's not Topher's world-view that bothers me BTW, if you take away the convenient amorality then the way he sees the world is reasonably close to my own perspective - ).

And as I say, I find the character interesting to watch, I just don't really like the guy. Just my take as usual ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2009-07-23 07:25 ]
I seem to be the only one who absolutely loves Topher, and especially like the way he's being developed. Jayme | July 22, 23:52 CET


You're not, I adore Topher - easily one one my favorite characters. Although I wasn't that sympathetic toward him before Haunted - but 'sympathetic' isn't necessarily synonymous with favorite, for me. My favorite characters are usually the ones I can't quite figure out.
And Fran Kranz is just a marvel.

EF:typo

[ edited by Shey on 2009-07-23 08:20 ]
I think Topher is a great character and I found the scene in Haunted where he had to make a friend for his birthday really touching. I also think (and I don't think this is really a spoiler for Epitaph One but beware if you're very spoiler sensitive) that his facial expression in the scene involving him, Adelle and Victor was amazing and shows to me that he does have a moral core.

All that said, after seeing the unaired pilot I kinda think Topher Version 1 was a more interesting character and I wish Joss and co had stuck with that version. And of course that illustrates the dangers of seeing too far behind the scenes. I had no problems with Topher's characterisation until I saw that episode
All that said, after seeing the unaired pilot I kinda think Topher Version 1 was a more interesting character and I wish Joss and co had stuck with that version. And of course that illustrates the dangers of seeing too far behind the scenes. I had no problems with Topher's characterisation until I saw that episode

Yeah I agree totally about Topher v1.0 (or maybe 'beta' or 'RC1' is more apt given it wasn't aired ;) but for me it was possibly worse because from pretty near the start i've felt that Topher 2.0's characterisation was a bit of a caricature of the scientific materialist perspective (he says the kinds of things that people who don't share that world-view often seem to believe are intrinsic to it but that most people who actually hold it - in my experience - just don't believe e.g. his "bodies are just interchangeable hardware" comment, off the top of my head).

So Topher 2.0, despite being entertaining to watch and probably not quite as amoral as he tells himself (and us) he is, presents a poor counter-argument to the "we're more than just biological machines" premise that the show implicitly holds at its core (or at least, seems to so far - i'm pretty intrigued by the Craft/Fain comment that suggests they might be setting it all up along those lines only to pull the metaphysical rug out from under our feet). Whereas Topher 1.0 is (seemingly, on first inspection) just as amoral but has a much more coherent, believable world-view that's a fine counter-argument to the position of e.g. Boyd (and probably most people watching).

And two more or less equally well-argued perspectives in opposition is much more interesting to me than what I think we currently have i.e. the show itself (implicitly by the existence of Echo) and more explicitly through Boyd very articulately presents the majority position and Topher (who's well played, quirky, sometimes funny etc. but amoral, cowardly and shown to be wrong - sometimes in catastrophically dangerous ways - pretty much all the time) presents a garbled version of the other world-view. It's the one aspect of the more philosophical side of the show that I don't think is handled with the same fascinating ambiguity as all the other "big questions" it talks about, the one question the creators seem to feel they have the right answer to.

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