1.04 “Gray Hour”

by admin on March 6, 2009 · 4 comments

Dollhouse 1.04 GRAY HOUR

One of the Dollhouse slogans is “Who do you want me to be?”. I just want Dollhouse to be what it’s supposed to be – a thoughtful, intelligent, interesting and fun exploration of identity, consciousness and the human condition. So far it’s fallen wide of the mark, and has been more an exploration of cliches and how not to make a central character resonate.

Forget ratings, and whether or not Fox will wield the axe – the real danger is that “Dollhouse” wont even do it’s own premise the justice it so deserves. That’s the level we’re at here. “Firefly” was axed, but the general consensus is that it was a good TV show. Can anyone really say the same about Dollhouse so far? That’s real – Dollhouse hasn’t been good up to now. I’m not making this up!

That said, the show still has time to impress, starting with “Gray Hour” tonight (which I’ll watch tomorrow morning before writing my review ). It’s an interesting episode title – one which I initially thought might have something to do with the term ‘gray matter’, and the window between an imprint and going off-line (or, the sheath between a false persona and consciousness identity), or something thought provoking. I hope I’m not asking for too much here!?

For me, the best aspects from last week’s episode came when Topher, Claire and Langton were on screen. They’re an odd trio, but their world-views provide some interesting commentary on the issues that the writers are trying to bring to life. Once again, I don’t deny that the writers have some interesting themes – but the way they’ve chosen to tell them has, on the whole, been unappealing.

I hope we get to see more of Sierra and Victor. Sierra has been more striking (than Echo) thus far. Put it this way, if Echo and Sierra were trapped in a burning building and I could only save one of them, I’d save Sierra. That’s how little I care about Echo. This has to change..the central character has to resonate with the audience otherwise it’s a hollow journey where the periphery is much more interesting. Quick word for Victor, I liked him a lot more in last week’s episode – Enver Gjokaj was actually quite convincing.

Anyway, let’s see what “Gray Hour” brings..


Echo’s stint as a midwife doesn’t prove as laborious as when she becomes an expert safe-cracker, and more than an invaluable piece of art is stolen from her on the engagement, forcing Sierra to take on a familiar persona. Agent Ballard gives Lubov an ultimatum, and Adelle confides shocking information to Topher in the “Gray Hour” episode of DOLLHOUSE airing Friday, March 6 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (DOL-103) (TV-14 D, L, V)

Cast: Eliza Dushku as Echo; Tahmoh Penikett as Paul Ballard; Olivia Williams as Adelle DeWitt; Fran Kranz as Topher Brink; Harry Lennix as Boyd Langton; Enver Gjokaj as Lubov; Dichen Lachman as Sierra

Guest Cast: Amy Acker as Dr. Claire Saunders; Reed Diamond as Laurence Dominic; Liza Lapira as Ivy; Anson Mount as Vitas; Toby Leonard Moore as Walton; Mark Ivanir as Cyril; Kevin Will as Gerry; Sarah McElligott as Nancy; Andrew Bowen as Scott; Atalo Diakos as Tony Amendola

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLzcldejbjs[/youtube] [poll id=”16″]

Phoenix March 6, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Would it be bad to say that I think you’re premature? I actually tend to agree with you on quite a few points, but I think you’ve killed the show in your mind before factoring in one major point of the first season — FOX’s interferance.

Concerning FIREFLY, FOX ultimately murdered that show by its executive decisions: not airing the original two-hour pilot that set up the whole plot, airing episodes out of order, enormous breaks between episodes, setting up a clear genre show on the Friday-night death slot… FOX clearly hasn’t learned its lesson when it comes to DOLLHOUSE.

We’ve all heard the “six-pilots” approach to DOLLHOUSE, which has obviously been a bad point – consider BIONIC WOMAN, which took the same approach and was consequently so unpopular that it was never brought back after the writers’ strike. Even Tahmoh Penikett, playing Agent Ballard, has stated flat-out in interviews that all the cast/crew feel very good about the show and that all the episodes AFTER the first six episodes (i.e., the episodes Whedon was allowed to run without interference) are truly good.

I happen to find Echo interesting — partially because the themes of human trafficking and theft of identity resonate strongly with me — but I agree that they haven’t done enough to make her the center of the show. What we needed in the pilot episode was for at least the first quarter of it to be dedicated to Caroline, who Echo was before the Dollhouse got her. Perhaps one of the reasons you find Sierra more stimulating is because we actually SAW her getting “Dolled,” so to speak?

However, one of the points of the show that I don’t agree with and I wish they would leave alone is the constant use of Echo as a sexed-up girly. While I actually enjoyed “Ghost,” the first part of the episode was cliched and irritating, and I don’t think seeing Echo in constant sex scenes is the way to go. We need more episodes like “Stage Fright” where we see Echo performing varied tasks in different personalities — although, of course, “Stage Fright” was a frightfully bad episode for the most part (sigh).

In any case, I find DOLLHOUSE good enough as it is to stick with it for the first seasons, but I think that all the episodes from “True Believer” (where Echo will attempt to bring down a religious fanatic before a Waco-esque tragedy strikes) on are the episodes where I’ll really get into the show. Call me crazy, but the concept, the mythology, Eliza Dushku, Joss Whedon and Tahmoh Penikett might all mix together just enough to save the show and bring it up to par with Whedon’s usual work.

Roco March 7, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Interesting thoughts as usual Phoenix.

I wouldn’t say I’m being premature though – I’m open to the show improving, but I stand my thoughts on the first few episodes. I can only judge what I’ve seen so far, although I’m certain the the series will improve as it progresses. It has to.

I agree, they should perhaps have given more focus to Caroline and her journey to becoming an Active. That said, I’m sure they’ll come back to her pre-DH history at some point. I’d say that we know even less about Sierra, yet I find her more interesting. I don’t think that seeing her getting imprinted for the first time has been enough to influence that opinion, I honestly think that it’s the acting – Lachmen feels less forced in her approach.

I’m also willing to stick with the show for now, but if it weren’t for the premise, I’d have bailed already 🙁

Page 48 March 6, 2009 at 9:14 pm

I would much (and I mean MUCH) rather see Echo’s ‘engagements’ have a higher purpose. I don’t want to waste 20 minutes per episode on Echo dealing with disturbed singers or wacked out bow-meisters when it doesn’t concern the fate of the free world, or at least the fate of this part of the free world.

“My Own Worst Enemy” suffered from the same problem. Christian Slater’s alter egos went on missions round the world, but they didn’t mean anything, they were just a setup to allow the glitch in Henward’s brain chip to create dicey situations for the weekly self-contained plot. We got that he had a programming failure (oh so similar to Echo’s problem). There was no Rambaldi device. No rival organization to destroy, no recurring bad guys to learn to hate. In other words, no reason to care. Just a guy juggling two lives and trying to hold it all together without his boss finding out, in which case he may find himself confined to the ‘attic’.

“Bionic Woman” suffered mightily from similar issues of meaninglessness. No recurring enemy organization, only boring babysitting assignments and unbelievably bad writing.

Fast forward to February ’09, and we have Echo going out on weekly assignments that don’t have any deeper meaning than Christian Slater’s outings. The free world doesn’t hang in the balance. Apparently, only the fate of the dolls and their shady upper management types are at risk here. This may change as the series unfolds and it certainly should, but I’m not seeing any hints of that, just a vehicle for Echo to explore her inner hooker, with a fleeting moment of her growing ‘awareness’ in the closing seconds.

If there’s more to this puppy, then by all means, bring it on. Tonight would be good.

Roco March 7, 2009 at 3:40 pm

I would much (and I mean MUCH) rather see Echo’s ‘engagements’ have a higher purpose. I don’t want to waste 20 minutes per episode on Echo dealing with disturbed singers or wacked out bow-meisters when it doesn’t concern the fate of the free world, or at least the fate of this part of the free world.

I couldn’t agree more, this is exactly what I was thinking.

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