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December 23 2009

(SPOILER) Seven ways Dollhouse could have been great. A SciFi Wire OpEd piece offering an assessment of the show. "Rooting for a Joss Whedon show is like rooting for the Chicago Cubs."

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-12-23 21:17 ]

I should have anticipated that people will even criticize the show for liking it now.
It's bad enough SyFy threw away MST3K and Doctor Who. Why should we agree with its opinions about why Dollhouse didn't succeed? It relies on other critics to make its point, not on a staff guy who watches the show.
I will agree Fox should have aired "Epitaph One" and still should on January 22nd, just before the grand finale.
But go back to the CW? Joss wouldn't recognize the place. HBO or Showtime should be the way to go, or FX if no one from that network ever visits him to ask questions.

And another thing...the Cubs are a good franchise, and one day they'll close the sale and actually get to the World Series. Look how long the other team in town took to win it all.

[ edited by impalergeneral on 2009-12-23 21:17 ]
I edited the description. Less editorializing in posts please. Keep that sort of thing in the comments.
I don't get it... "could have"? Dollhouse *is* great. There's no "could have".
It's bad enough SyFy threw away MST3K and Doctor Who. Why should we agree with its opinions about why Dollhouse didn't succeed?

A post by one Sci Fi Wire blog author hardly represents anything about the people who run Syfy the network.
Dollhouse is so great, I don't like the title. But I can't say I disagree with the points it brings up. I would have preferred a title like "7 things that would have made Dollhouse better" or "7 things I wanted to see in Dollhouse" but whatever, they want hits to their site.
One thing these Short Attention Span Theatre addicts don't get is that you can't rush character development. It would have ruined Dollhouse for Echo to have these abilities at the beginning of the show. Joss is always about the journey, and the journey of Echo's self-awareness has to have a start, and a development. Dollhouse has a difficult premise, but rushing it would have made the show worse, not better.

Also, it helps to have seen Echo's various personas as imprints, before we see her access them as Echo. When Echo says, "Blue skies!" and starts picking locks, we know where that comes from. We know her bad Spanish comes from Eleanor Penn. We know her fighting skills come from her "second date" with Paul Ballard. On the other hand, if Echo had possessed these personas from the beginning, and just accessed them at will, it would have been just another clunky super-hero show. Dollhouse isn't about that, and it never was.
Yeah, I concur, these are mostly old or boring ways to supposedly improve the show. Dollhouse messes with my emotions more than any other show on the air currently. Only Joss shows can do that, so its definitely great.

The only interesting one is indeed The CW one, because I actually believe Joss could get solid ratings (relative) on there. I want to see what its schedule looks like in a couple of years (assuming its still around), since their upcoming pilots or shows seem quite promising and different to what they already have (about four different types of one show). Rob Thomas is developing something for them, Plymouth Rock, its like a space sci-fi/teen drama. In theory a noir/teen drama shouldn't work, but Rob done wonders with VM so I expect good things from it. They also have some teen/spy show in the works.

Dawn Ostroff might finally be embracing the fact that The CW gets pretty great ratings with sci-fi and fantasy.
I do agree that there was a lack of emotional "hook" with Echo that made her not all that completing of a character, until the second season.

I know there are series that people follow and hate the lead character (like Grey's Anatomy and there are Buffy fans who don't particularly like Buffy herself or care about her journey), but it takes an extraordinary show to succeed when the lead character doesn't really hook viewers.

Dollhouse lacked that "something" that makes you care about Echo - which is something that is at the heart of other Whedonverse shows.

While I respect Joss' vision, I think on Dollhouse he missed a David Greenwalt type of person telling him what was missing.
So...the way to "improve" Dollhouse would have been to skip over all the actual character and plot development and relevant, theme-heavy episodes to get to some end point no one would actually care about because there would no foundation to build upon?

I should really stop reading these articles. I've loved Dollhouse from the beginning, so I'll never understand this point of view.
2 and 1 contradict each other. Also, Paul should have been in the Dollhouse from the start? We would have missed out on all the fantastic Paul/Mellie stuff. I just fundamentally disagree with most of these points; I think Dollhouse could have lived up to the potential of its best episodes all the time, but that the main problem was more the structure of the Echo-centric episodes. Also, they should've used Enver more. He's AMAZING.
I think we can all agree, however, that the first few eps could have picked up the pace a bit, even if I liked "Ghost" and "The Target."
Dollhouse is great, though I agree that Epitaph 1 should have been aired in the states.
Also, I disagree with the Cubs comparison. While 3 of Joss's shows have been canceled, Angel was canceled after 5 seasons, Firefly got "Serenity", and Dollhouse got an unexpected 2nd season. Even without including Buffy's 7 seasons and Dr. Horrible I would say we Whedon fans are fairing far better than the lovable losers and their loyal fans.
It's one thing to think that the first few eps should have picked up the pace. It's another to think that they should have gone from Ghost to Belle Chose in terms of character development for Echo. I think Echo could have been handled better, but that's absolutely not the way to go about this.
Ok. Initially I was in favor of this article, but having read it a few times, it's nonsense.

Parts 5 and 7 are , honestly, valid by a mile. But of course, neither was under creator control.

1, 4 and 6 are just straight-up dumb.

2 is dead on.

3 and 8 are the work of chained monkeys.

I am grateful for what we have, and I imagine I will only become more so.
That article lost all credibility with me when they got the episode name of "Belle Chose" wrong. "Bella Chose"? Are you kidding me? That sounds like an episode from that Twilight crap to me. ^.^
Besides, the whole thing doesn't really offer any new insights. Everything in this list has been said before, numerous times. Those kinds of articles to me always sound a bit like an "I told you so" towards Joss, as if their writers think themselves terribly clever for pointig out all those things that Joss supposedly could have done so much better, if only he thought of them in time. Yeah, right. That got old a long time ago.

That said, I do actually mostly agree with their opinion about Alpha. I was so looking forward to that character, considering how much he was made out to be this evil, scary genius that everyone was afraid of. Then we meet him and it turns out he's basically just your average garden-variety crazy nut, who just wants Echo to love him. *hrmph*

But apart from such small matters I love Dollhouse and I think all those critics can go and ... have a merry christmas for all I care. ;-)
I think we can all agree, however, that the first few eps could have picked up the pace a bit, even if I liked "Ghost" and "The Target."

Think again ;).

As to the article itself, 1-6 blah, blah, criticise Eliza's acting, blah, blah, mention, to paraphrase, that plot and character development are really boring so let's just skip those bits, blah, blah, blah. Then 7, which makes sense even if, like the others, it's not exactly brand new on the face of the Earth.
The show is already great. But if there is one counter-factual I sometimes wonder about, it's "what if the Eliza Dushku and Olivia Williams credits were swapped around"? Dollhouse, starring Olivia Williams... AND Elisha Dushku.

Now I totally get Eliza is the show's leader, inspiration, etc. in every way and I love what she's achieved. But so much of the show falls into place for me if you switch the credits around.

Adele, to me, is more the Buffy, the Angel, the Mal. Adele is to her house as Mal is to his ship. Its leader, its (a)moral heart. And in terms of the show, she changes but much more gradually and subtly than many in the cast because she's at the centre of the wheel, turning everything on the rim. Even now that Echo's much more of a traditional leading lady, you can take the temperature of the show by measuring where Adele's character is emotionally.

Echo though is the ace in the hole, the prestige of the magic trick, the end of the drumroll. The break-out star, the one who will change and grow more than anyone else. The Rubik's Cube the series exists to solve. The Spike, the Wesley, the Willow, the River.

I'm not saying the content would be drastically different. It's more the presentation, the way we as an audience receive and experience the show. A bit like how readers of Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' start reading for the man (Frankenstein) but remember the monster.
BananaSandwichMan, I had a post similar to that written up yesterday for this thread. As much as I love Eliza and like seeing that side of things, I think it would have been more gripping to see Adelle's exchanges a bit more often. The show wouldn't necessarily lend itself to "doll of the week" this way, though, so that's the only problem I see.
Dollhouse was and is great
That's what I was thinking.
I'd like to thank Saje for pretty much posting my response in its entirety.

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