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01/17/10 | by Comp615 [mail] | Categories: Movies, The World

Hopefully you enjoyed my ranting about airlines, however today I wish to enlighten you to an even more egregious travesty. One of the greatest cultural treasures our country has, has once again been snubbed by Fox. Of course at this point, you know that I'm talking about Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and more importantly Firefly and Dollhouse. While it's been known for quite some time that Dollhouse was canceled, it doesn't make the news any better.

Dollhouse was one of the few shows on TV that I found both interesting and morally significant. Which are especially important I discovered, after being subjected to watching the season premiere of Chuck last night. There are a couple areas of the show which I want to highlight.

The first area is the diversity of the show and the actors. For those of you who haven't seen it, the show is based on the premise that "dolls" (people essentially in indentured servitude) can be programmed with imprints, or unique personalities, at will. This means that every show the main characters who are dolls (Echo, Victor, and Sierra - Eliza Dushku, Enver Gjokaj, and Dichen Lachman respectively) have different personalities. The options range from a custom prostitute to specialized secret agent depending on the client. However, throughout the season I've been amazed by the ability of the actors to accurately portray the different personalities. Perhaps my favorite episode "The Left Arm", has one such character actually portraying another character from the show. Obviously the comedic value is there, but what's quite impressive is how accurate every detail and mannerism is.

As the season draws to a close, the "dolls" have been returned to their original personalities, at this point, it's just the actors portraying yet another personality, yet I can't help but feel like this is truly their original personality. Many critics of the show cite the lack of a consistent character to identify with as a potential roadblock to success. Yet the writers and actors have done a magnificent job of giving each doll a unique personality regardless of which imprint they have on a given day.

Hopefully that precious part made sense, but just in case, I'll to to recapture you by discussing the non-doll characters. Starting with my favorite, Topher played by Fran Kranz. The most important thing to note here is that he went to Yale and was in an improv group here. In fact, I met him last year at a reunion show. Having watched every episode, I can safely say that I think he is the best character (and perhaps most improved actor) on the show. He plays the head programmer who is responsible for creating the imprints they use, meaning he's essentially a neurological programmer. It's fairly clear on the show that he is both the comical character and also the moral character. This dualism creates some of the best tension of the show when Topher who is usually the jovial, aloof character has to face the reality of what the Dollhouse does and its ramifications (See "Belonging").

Of course, not everyone is Fran Kranz, and at this point in my three-paragraph essay, as my 7th grade English teacher would tell me, I must acknowledge the counter-arguments. Reed Diamond, who plays Mr. Dominic, is abominable. He is the definition of a flat actor. He is supposed to be the head security person who is undercover NSA, but I believe that about as much as I believe artificial sweeteners are safe. Even more unfortunately, he had to come back for an episode in season 2 (Plot complications). My rebuttal to his horrible acting? 1) He died. 2)Summer Glau and Alan Tudyk (who gives The Joker a run for his money).

Having successfully rebuked that minor detail, we can move on to the show as a whole. It is (was) the perfect time for this show. The premise is that these dollhouses are run by an incredibly large biotech firm, Rossum. The dollhouse (and the ability to imprint people) came out of their research in neuro-engineering and neuro-drugs. Naturally, it turns out the Dollhouse is actually a front for Rossum to amass more power through a variety of methods. Perhaps I'm paranoid, but after watching this show and reading Next by Michael Crichton, I hate Biotech companies. Regardless of that though, it's important to bring up these issues in our current environment as drug companies gain an absurd amount of power through absurd patents. The Rossum concept isn't that far off from a possible reality. So why did this great show end up canceled?

Well, the show struggled for two reasons. First, it's basically a science-fiction show that most people should be able to relate to. However, it seems like it would be very difficult to just join in the middle. If you didn't grasp the basic premise of imprinting the dolls, then the whole show doesn't make much sense. Second, Fox aired it Friday Night at 9 PM, which as I understand it is a death timeslot. I've actually never watched the show on Fox, since, being a college student, I have better places to be on Friday Nights.

It's really a shame it was canceled, I think if anything the show has only matured with time. The middle episodes (4-7) of the second season were especially excellent. However, I suppose all good things must end. Admittedly, the show has jumped the shark a bit. It seemed like they had to double the speed of their plot to get to the endgame in their remaining episodes. I don't want to give away the ending as I hope this post will encourage you to watch it, but when you watch the show you'll see a bit of what I mean.

In the end, perhaps 2 seasons is a good amount for a show with a limited plot such as dollhouse. I have confidence that Joss could have drawn out the show for much longer, and I would have loved every moment of it. It's such a shame that shows like Firefly and Dollhouse have to end when travesty's such as Chuck and Jersey Shore are still on. But hey, at least we got closure this time and if we can learn from previous experience, his next show will make it three seasons, and I simply can't wait for Dollhouse: The Movie.

Tags: dollhouse, fox, tv

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A collection of musings from my time at Yale along with some thoughts about my "Freshman year of life" in San Francisco.


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