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September 26 2009

What the papers say about Dollhouse S2x01 'Vows'. The A.V. Club gives the episode an 'A-' saying "Welcome back, Dollhouse. I missed you". The CinemaBlend recapper thought "they might have crammed a bit too much in". The TV Squad reviewer saw evidence of the show growing into its own. TV critic Alan Sepinwall loved one particular storyline because of the existenial questions it was asking and said "Dollhouse has a solid lead-off for its second season". And finally, the reviewer at gave 'Vows' 4 stars out of 5.

If you've find any other reviews out there, do mention them in the comments section.

There is a review at E W who thinks it was awesome but feels that the back story wasn't clear enough. I disagree as I think Joss made a point quite often of saying "Ballard was FBI and isn't any more" & "Dr. Saunders was an active" etc.
Iíve read quite a lot of reviews and the one criticism they all seem to share is that it wasnít newbie-friendly. To be honest I thought that was a good thing. New viewers were given at least six opportunities to catch up on the show last season. We had the pilot followed by four Ďnewbie-friendlyí standalones and then Man on The Street which was specifically designed to re-introduce the series again. Thatís more than most shows would offer and why should viewers who follow the series be subjected to countless exposition scenes that rehash the premise of the show? At some point it has to stop being newbie friendly and just get on with it.

I loved that Vows jumped straight into the storyline and didnít outline what the show was about again. Besides I thought everyone had already come to the consensus that the show would be better off appeasing the die-hard fans and maintaining that audience? Itís too niche to ever be a ratings smash hit. FOX said theyíd be satisfied with last seasons numbers and thatís all that matters.

I was positively surprised at how fast-paced this episode was and how quickly it dove right into the meaty centre of the show. I didnít expect that from the season-opener, especially one written by Joss and I was totally ecstatic with it.

..... in other words I think they're wrong! :D

[ edited by vampmogs on 2009-09-26 14:51 ]
HitFix also has a wonderful, insightful review; best I've read so far.
Posted my review yesterday. Excellent start to the season, and I had no problem at all jumping right into the show. It's easy enough for new people to find out what's going on, and I thought it was entertaining enough to get their attention enough to want to try.
Zap2It: 'Dollhouse' Premiere: Joss Whedon pitches, the cast hits
I think not being "newbie-friendly" enough is a fair criticism when it comes to a season premiere. I certainly enjoyed the way the episode just got straight into the meat of it, but I think a season opener should always be something of an open window for new people to get in, and it felt like Dollhouse season 2's window was only about half open, so while some people might be able to climb in and join the party, there's not really enough room for everyone who might have been interested in getting in.

Sorry, I'm very tired right now, and I need to go to bed. Goodnight.
Yeah, needs to be more newbie friendly! I mean, it's not like American viewers have free access to the last several episodes of last season out there for free on some sort of legal TV-streaming site co-owned by several networks if their interest is piqued. And if only there was some service that would let you rent past episodes on some sort of recorded disc, or even mail them to you for free as part of a monthly service you had decided to pay for or something! It's a crime how there's no possible way for the interested newbie to catch up on things with next to no effort!

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-09-26 16:32 ]
Dollhouse is a challenging and complicated show, if there are 'newbies' who are interested/intrigued then they know they can catch up at Fox's streaming videos, hulu, iTunes, and/or netflix. I don't think the show should be dumbed down to accommodate viewers who are not watching anyway. This was never going to be a simple procedural or something you can just jump into the middle of or watch sporadically. In my opinion there are a lot of viewers who respect that, who want something that demands their attention. It may just be getting 'Twin Peaks' numbers (relatively speaking, since more people watched network TV in those days), but I think it will also get 'Twin Peaks' respect.

Has anyone seen the overnights yet?
Well, I'm not a critic, but I have just watched it _via... errr... my... *magical*... *satellite*... antenna... :P and I just loved it. The Joss is finally back.

The point is, is the Friday programming worth of all the blame for the lack of audience? Maybe it was a show for SciFi? Don't know really much about american channels' targets.

[ edited by Small Blue Thing on 2009-09-26 17:45 ]
I don't bother with reading reviews, because they're all the same "blah blah unnecessarily harsh Eliza criticism...blah blah Ballard is boring.... blah blah OMGWTFBBQ Amy Acker!"

Sorry, if I sound harsh, but that's how they all are, no matter what.

i don't disagree with the Amy Acker part, but the other parts.
How do you know if they all said that or not unless you read them? I agree, there was quite a bit of uniformity but in fact, quite a few were pleasantly surprised about Eliza in this episode.
As a Fran fan from the start, it's amusing to me to observe how many critics are now having to ve-ery grudgingly admit that he can act, and well. Good to see him finally getting some acknowledgment.

Similarly, I'm glad to hear some people recognizing Eliza's mad skillz; it seems like there was an early reviewer before the start of the show who said something along the lines of "OMG, she totally looks like Faith in this scene - she must not be able to act!" and everyone jumped on that bandwagon without analyzing what she was actually doing, especially in the later episodes.
As a Fran fan from the start, it's amusing to me to observe how many critics are now having to ve-ery grudgingly admit that he can act, and well.

Truly. Thankfully, since I argued in one of my semi-reviews, "Regardless of whether or not you like Topher as a person, after this you wonít be able to (wrongly) blame Kranzí performance."
The Sepinwall one slightly confused me on one point, I always thought that the concept is pretty brilliant it's just the execution sort of fell apart in those early episodes. Plus it really depends on how you set up the premise. "They can become the girl-next-door, life-coach, master thief, best-darned-barista-in-the-whole-of-this-town of your dreams" is totally different from the way Adelle sells it about being what you want versus what you need or the possibility of either becoming or hiring some far away Platonic form of humanity. Yes it is a bit of a stretch to imagine there'd be an apocalypse as a result of the former, but with the latter it's practically inevitable. In hindsight.

As for the liberal Dushku bashing, which there really wasn't as much of as before-- I still swear she totally brings her A-game when pretending to be someone pretending to be someone else. It's like that added level of lies makes it more real to me and it's nice to see reviewers also singling out her performance in the office scene.

[ edited by orangewaxlion on 2009-09-26 23:12 ]
orange, you're not wrong.

I think sometimes one of the most difficult games an actor has is playing a person who IS acting in the scene. In order to actually play it correctly, they often have to make it flawed or betray some mannerism.

If you are reviewing in a lazy fashion, the performance is flawed because the acting is flawed. If you are reviewing with some deliberation, you are taking into account what the character is doing at the moment you see the bad acting. Honestly, that's too much work for most critics and the only time actors seem to get away with it is when there's so much respect for them that a critic is going to think twice before giving them a negative review. Not that everyone does that, that's just my general sense from the reviews I've seen with that sort of dynamic.
Glad to see so many good reviews.
I loved the episode, but I had one major disappointment : the opening sequence. I was really hoping they would change it visually, and they did, but not for that ! I mean, this episode clearly shows that Dollhouse is more of an ensemble show, so why not show its beautiful cast ?
I also think that these many shots of Eliza really don't fit with the style of the show (not anymore). Don't you agree ?
I was disappointed in the opening credits as well. I wondered why they wouldn't show the whole cast?
I agree, I am disappointed with the new titles. Which, er, I nagged Tim for new titles. I get they're trying to show it's Eliza's show and her identities, but I think the thing people find most interesting is still... Not Echo. The cast on the show is amazing, so I hope at some stage we see them all in the creds.
Would it cost the show more to have the other members of the cast in the credits? Do actors get paid extra if they appear in the opening credits of a show?
Yes, Simon. A regular gets paid a lot more than a guest star, I think mostly because they have a long-term commitment to the show. If I remember right, Eliza for instance had a 6-year contract with FOX for Tru Calling had they decided to keep bringing it back.
But they're still regulars. Their names still appear, just not footage of them.
I just read gossi's post above and I do have something to say about the opening credits. First of all, Dollhouse grew into an ensamble show but at its core it is Eliza's show. Even during season 1 a lot of people complained about the titles and questioned that, but I thought it was just so beautiful and sad and that it was a great summary of what the show was. The fact that Eliza is the only one featured not only tells people they are supposed to get into the show seeing her as the central character but it also tells the basic premise of Eliza playing multiple characters in a single episode.

I understand Echo is not everyone's favorite character and that Eliza is not everyone's favorite actress, but from a business and a thematical point of view the opening credits do what they are supposed to do, and to my thinking, they do it better than any other Joss Whedon show has done.

I just think the season 1 titles were a lot more melancholic and better-edited than the new ones.
Rachelkachel, a regular doesn't get paid more if their image is used in the opening credits, they get paid for being in every episode and for being commited to the show for years and therefore having their names on the main titles.
That's my point. I think you misunderstood Simon's question.
Yes, now I got it. So Sorry. I didn't read the whole discussion, my bad.

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