You Can Wipe Away A Memory..But Can You Wipe Away Whedon’s Vision?

by admin on November 7, 2008 · 7 comments

By now many of you will have seen the new “Dollhouse” trailer that was released by Fox, and heard news that the show has been given the so-called “Friday death-slot”, starting February 13. As has often been the case with this show, we have some good news followed by a lot of negativity. It’s too early to say whether Friday will be ‘death slot’ for Dollhouse, but that hasn’t stopped the finger pointing – many people upset by Fox’s treatment of Joss Whedon’s ‘comeback’ gig.

However, most interesting to me is the new trailer and how it compares to the original trailer which aired oh so many months ago, when the grass was still green and the sky was still blue. In the cold light of day it’s worth considering Dollhouse trailer 1.0 as a reflection of Joss Whedon’s original vision, whilst Dollhouse trailer 2.0 surely has more “Fox network” fingerprints on it, due to the behind the scenes ‘struggles’.

Anyway, let’s compare and contrast the two trailers to see if there are any noticeable differences in style, approach and creative vision:

DOLLHOUSE TRAILER 1.0 (Joss Whedon version)

DOLLHOUSE TRAILER 2.0 (Fox/Whedon version)

  1. The new trailer feels more cinematic and poetic, even. The music is beautiful, simply perfect and along with the “sinner, saviour, lover, killer” tag, it evokes real emotion.
  2. The original trailer feels more action packed, strangely I would have thought would be the case for the new fox-brand trailer.
  3. The new trailer is far more concise, it even opens and closes in a succinct manner, starting with Echo waking up and ending with a ‘fearful/knowing’ Echo back in her sleep chamber. Brilliant stuff, it really glimpses the premise in a cool way.
  4. New trailer is more Echo centric – we get to see more of her different ‘faces’, far more apparent than in the original trailer. The part where she’s carrying the little girl out to safety(?) really struck me – I hadn’t given much thought to the idea that these “actives” could indeed be used for ‘good’. Hence the “saviour” part of the tag-line.  Oh, and is it me, or is Echo wearing far less clothing in that mind-wiping scene? I know “Fringe” did the same trick with Anna Torv’s character, but seriously, why does she need to be half naked to have her mind wiped? I’m not complaining though. It’s actually Sierra and not Echo who is half naked in that clip (thanks b!X in the comments for the heads-up), although the point still stands, and I’m still not complaining!
  5. The original trailer made a point of focusing on some of the quirkier or ‘jokey’ elements of the show – the new trailer straight-out goes for the emotional investment angle.

Those are just some of my observations, and of course it’s difficult to know how the actual show will play out or whether Whedon’s creativity has been compromised in any way. But it seems to me that Dollhouse 2.0, from a marketing stand-point, will be sexier, glossier, more emotional, less quirky and less confusing.

Now, I don’t know whether my interpretation is the correct one or whether the changes are good. I must stress again that it’s only a trailer we’re talking about, and no-one but the powers that be will have an idea of how it will all play out until it plays out. That said, I do prefer the new trailer, I appreciate the effort to make the show more inviting, but I’m still finding difficulty reconciling how such a beautiful premise can be made into a more stand-alone concept, especially when Whedon (and the fans) seem to believe that serialized format would be better. Anyway, this post has been far longer than I intended, I will simply leave with the most important question: You can wipe away a memory, a trailer and even an episode..But can you wipe away Whedon’s original vision?

b!X November 7, 2008 at 8:09 pm

That’s not semi-naked Echo. That’s semi-naked Sierra.

Roco November 7, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Ah, right you are – I’ve amended the post. I probably confused the Sierra body-shot with the head-shot of Echo they blended in moments later.

Thanks for the heads-up!

Gina November 7, 2008 at 11:43 pm

Thing is, Joss and crew have nothing to do with the trailers, so I think it’s just that FOX finally understands what Joss is trying to do with the show, because he clearly explained things a little more in the new pilot. Which Joss fans find a bit insulting, but hey, if we want the show to stay on the air, I’m all for Joss feeding the casual viewer with a [tiny] silver spoon. Anyway, FOX apparently missed the point of the show’s introduction the first time around. I have a feeling some scenes or moments will be very similar between the original pilot and the new one because he still needs to get across main points he wants to make – it will just be entered into a new plot is all. Those are my thoughts anyway from the little I’ve heard about screenings of both.

Nevermore November 8, 2008 at 12:38 am

You gotta remember that the original trailer was thrown together while the pilot was being shot, with an immenent deadline, and it wasn’t created by the studio. Fox created the new trailer with clips from who knows how many episodes and who knows how long to work on it. I would expect it to be better and a bit different.

It’s interesting that they’re calling it “the year’s most original new series,” since it seems like they’re trying to take away some of the originality. Maybe not though. Maybe we’ve read too much into things. I know I was angry at what Whedon said before, but he still seemed pretty happy with how things were going. If he’s happy, we should be too, right? I’m pissed about the Friday timeslot, but that doesn’t make me any less excited to see the show. Maybe Fox wants it to have a home there, knowing that it will have very little competition. It’s likely to be at or near the top of the charts for the night, but the ratings won’t be outstanding. If they can stomach that, then maybe it can flourish on Fridays.

Roco November 8, 2008 at 12:50 am

You’re right Gina – Joss Whedon and team have little or no control over the trailers, that’s a Fox thing. So perhaps the new trailer does reflect Whedon’s (re-tooled) vision just as much as the first trailer did?

I hope that’s the case, I really do. I just get the feeling that this new trailer is a reflection of a slightly different show from the one that initially hooked many of us in. That said, the fundemental themes have hopefully remained in place and like you said, many of the scenes from the original pilot will have hopefully remained or be very similar.

I guess at the very least Whedon has shown his flexibility – even if Fox has altered some of his initial vision, it’s still his concept and hopefully it will be better than he originally envisaged.

*touch wood*

Roco November 8, 2008 at 12:59 am

That’s a good point Nevermore, I think many fans (including myself) have missed that consideration. Now that we’re 3 months away I guess they would have more scope/content from which to make a better, more appropriate trailer.

As fans we do read a lot into things, but I think it’s an interesting point re: ‘the years most original new series’ part. Perhaps they (Fox) are conscious of the rumblings of discontent amongst fans and want to assure us that this is still a very oringal concept, despite the changes that have been made? I guess the proof will be in the pudding. Here’s hoping!

I’m hopeful that the Friday slot will give the show time to grow without the heated competition from other big hitters on the other days. Like you say, hopefully it will flourish and then who knows!?

Russell Potts November 13, 2008 at 3:21 am


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