So..What’s “Dollhouse”?

by admin on April 25, 2008

Many people are already hyped about Joss Whedon’s upcoming ‘Dollhouse’, but for those of you still unsure of whether it will be for you, Televisionary has a good description of what “Hollywood’s best new show” has in store. Slight spoilers ahead:

┬áThis isn’t latter-day Alias by any stretch of the imagination: while there are still costume changes and choreographed fight sequences, it delves into bigger issues of morality and mortality and asks hard questions about the ethical ramifications of science and technology.

Yes, there is much more to Dollhousethan meets the eye and Whedon succeeds here by filling his script with a multitude of morally grey characters engaged in one of the most sickening and intriguing displays of human trafficking ever devised. I don’t want to spoil anything but I will say that there there’s an unexplained back story (referred to as Alpha) that will likely come into play down the line and the power structure within the Dollhouse is a fluctuating, living thing unto itself. As for the Dollhouse itself, it certainly didn’t “look” anything like I expected it to based on the information that was trickling out during casting: it’s not a draconian prison nor an icy SD-6-type operations hub; instead it’s more like a serene, Japanese-influenced, high-tech spa for the Actives.

But there’s a real undercurrent of danger lurking here and the staffers–from jokey and amoral tech Topher and gruff handler Boyd to the physically scarred Dr. Claire Saunders and manipulative overseer Adelle DeWitt–engage in a high-stakes game of human chess, with the Actives little more than expendable pawns. Or, well, dolls.

As for Dollhouse‘s lead character Echo, this is quite a role that Whedon has written for Eliza Dushku, allowing her to play a variety of personalities and moods in a single episode. In fact, we get to see Echo in no less than five (off the top of my head anyway) identities in the pilot episode alone. As we all know, Echo is struggling with self-awareness, as she begins remembering things from her previous “engagements” that she shouldn’t, things that should have been wiped clean from her memory by Topher. Things that her “captors” don’t want her to remember.

So is it an action-adventure yarn? A story of science gone mad? A tale about a cop determined to get at the truth no matter what the cost? Or a metaphysical drama about the nature of memory and identity? Why can’t it be all of the above?

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