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March 10 2014

In defence of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. Den of Geek tackles criticism of the show.

Nice piece to balance out the unnecessary DH bashing in the other article from the other day. Basically namedrops all the wonderful things to love about this show!
I was a little miffed at the suggestion that it needs defending. I will agree that the pacing was a little off, with a vast number of arcs and seasons stuffed into two, but nonetheless! Dollhouse is sticky, complicated, provoking, fascinating and showcasing some amazing performances from the cast. (I am particularly fond of Dr. Saunders and Alpha. And Topher. And Adelle. And Victor. And Priya.)

I don't disagree with the writer, mind you, I just question the premise.
Yes, finally an article about Dollhouse to my taste! I LOVE Dollhouse. In fact, I think with respect to some aspects of the show the praise in this piece was too faint. For instance, I agree that Eliza Dushku's acting is unfairly maligned and I think she deserves even more full-throated praise. I have found when I look at her work on Dollhouse in comparison to her stint on Buffy and Angel, that you can very easily see the distinctness of the various characters she plays--and considering the number of different kinds of characters between Faith on Buffy and Angel and all the different characters she plays on Dollhouse, I think being able to make them all distinct demonstrates great acting range. Also she impressed me quite a bit with way she pulled off the blind character she played in one of the earlier episodes. That can't be an easy role to play well, I would think. Of course, I'm not an actor. I'm just speaking as an entertainment consumer. Anyway, I'm just excited to see Dollhouse getting some love.
Carnelionne, why? Everyone has their own opinions on entertainment, and someone will always defend or criticize. I don't know why you think it doesn't need defending. Just like with criticism, it's all opinion anyway.
Dollhouse was an amazing show in my opinion, I think it received a lot of unnecessary hate mostly because fans were trying to compare it to the Buffyverse and Firefly. When ever I talk with someone about a Whedon shows I've always felt that Dollhouse and now Agents of Shield needs defending.
I'm starting to think that Dollhouse would have been a hit if it had starred Tatiana Maslany.
I'll always wish that we could have seen the show that follows the original pilot. It had such a strong sense of itself as a brooding noir looking into the darker side of human nature. Fox tried to inject fun and titillation into that and the results were understandably confused. I think they were able to circle back and accomplish some of what they set out to do, but it was just never the show it might have been.

As far as Eliza's acting, it didn't generate the "isn't she an amazing chameleon" response that a premise like that seems to set up - and in all honestly, I think pales in comparison to her work as Faith. At the same time, I certainly never saw it as a drag on the show either and some of the (rather personal) vitriol that was loosed in her direction by both critics and fans was totally uncalled for.

Unfortunately, I really can't talk about Dollhouse without raising the Boyd twist. It kills the show for me. It's not possible without an inordinate amount of fanwank to reconcile his previous words, actions and in-actions with his true motivations and position. It simply doesn't work as presented. And although we know the reasons why, the pacing on the second half of the second season was rushed to point of ridiculousness anyway. I think less really would have been more here.

Bottom line, I'm glad we got to see Dollhouse, but it's got its problems. Honestly, I can't say I think it belongs right next to Buffy or Angel or Firefly.
One of the problems I think audiences had was that ultimately, they want someone to root for. When your main character doesn't really exist, it's hard to champion for that because there are no character traits to point to and say "this is why I want her to triumph." While I always felt sorry for the dolls, I could never root for them because they had no ability to triumph. Their becoming aware of who they used to be was totally out of their control.

I think the show would work better if it was made today, because audiences are much more able to grasp anti-hero concepts as they would be laid out in Dollhouse.
Just watched it for the first time recently -

Enjoyed it, but doubt I'll ever go back to re-visit any episodes. I think the supporting cast was terrific, and Eliza was just fine in a rather unthankful role. That said, at some point I realized there wasn't one person prominently featured who didn't display sociopathic tendencies which distanced me from the proceedings.

Then Season Two happened where I imagine the writers just cackling and saying "what the hell - throw in the kitchen sink and the garbage disposal for good measure" Whatever good will I was willing to expend dissipated quickly by the finale
I always thought Boyd was going to turn out to be someone else who had been programmed to be Boyd, especially as I read a line from Adele in the pilot as an easter egg. "I decide who you are!"
I always felt like they had a larger, longer plan to build up to introducing us to Rossum, and to reveal who Boyd was, and because they got cut off with no time for either, connected Boyd's starting storyline to Rossum's ending.
I had no problem with Boyd turning out to be the big bad. I think this was set up quite well in the two seasons leading up to it. However, him turning into a deranged lunatic was out of left field. The penultimate episode of the series nearly negated all of my enjoyment of the rest. The finale managed to placate me for the most part.
I love Dollhouse. I would absolutely put it up there among Joss's best. And I also think Eliza Dushku gets an unfair amount of criticism. True, she's not a character actress and the role really exposed her, but she had many great moments. Plus she was coming up with a new character each episode, and we don't know if she had a dialect coach or was given much time in advance to prepare each character. I thought that by the time some of her characters returned in Season 2 they were very recognisable.
I recall early preview reviewers said Eliza wasn't strong enough to lead the show; one's exact words were she "doesn't have acting chops, she has an acting chop." Experience shows some justification; Faith, the junkie wife in City By the Sea" even her FBI agent on BBT, were variations on the "dangerous sex-bomb" archetype. But even in S-1, seeing her do such a fine job playing a "miss Fisk" type like Eleanor Penn, I knew she'd been developing.
In S-2, she showed basically everything that a viewer like me who's not trained in acting, directing, or criticism could want.

Boyd never sat well with me, either. It has waves of "Well, how do we wrap all this up in 13 weeks?" pouring off it. I've seen it before where a story needs to be wrapped up sooner than the subcreator planned.

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