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on 18 February 2010
This is a show that was never given the chance it deserved, by the network or by the critics. In the words of Alan Tudyk, "In my experience, Joss Whedon shows are awesome...and then Fox cancels them", something that makes it all the harder to watch as another greatly underrated show of his passes us by.

Those who have seen the first season will notice a remarkable change of pace here; plots and character development fly by, but know that these are not left unfulfilled. In truth, we learn much more about the Dolls themselves, Rossum (the company behind the Dollhouse), and how they set about justifying their actions in an empty and unsympathetic world.

Considering that Dollhouse was originally planned to be a 4 or 5-season show, with proper character and narrative arcs teased out (see: Dewitt's alcoholism, the mystery of the Head of Rossum and how the tech goes global), it is genuinely surprising just how well they managed to cram everything into this 13-episode swansong. One must remember that this second season was only one of a number of directions in which the show could have headed - anyone who has seen the unaired pilot ('Echo', a personal favourite) from the first season will know why. In retrospect, the creative team probably chose the most logical narrative direction to wrap things up with, but it's always interesting to wonder: what if?

Joss Whedon's shows are known for their symbolism and provocative themes, and this second series of Dollhouse is no exception. We watch as the main characters writhe beneath the clutches of a psychopathic corporation bent only on self-preservation and profit; how people are used, abused and discarded, marginalised from mainstream society; we see the mighty fall from power, and how the smallest of us can rise up; how technology, whilst simplifying our lives, may prove to be our eventual undoing. Throughout the course of the show, we are shown how ideas are never inherently good or evil, but it is how they are implemented that determines their nature: "There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so". There are moral extremes demonstrated by both the 'heroes' and 'villains', but there are always shades of grey behind the characters' motivations. The many parallels with our own world are strikingly realistic, often to the point of being alarming. I wonder if some of it touched a nerve with Fox...

As per usual, Joss picked relatively unknown or little-heard-of actors and made small-screen stars out of them. Fran Kranz, Olivia Williams, Alan Tudyk (WASH!), Amy Acker and Enver Gjokaj stood out as some of the best for me.
The first season was panned by critics for being slow to begin with, and for contributing nothing to the overall story arc. However, for those of us who stuck with it, we were rewarded with some of Joss' best work ever; this trend of Whedon-y goodness heartily continues this season as well, particular standouts being "The Attic", "Belonging", "Epitaph Two" and "Getting Closer". The entire season is stellar, and should have lived longer, but these were just my favourites.

People could simply see this show as a stylish combination of 'Alias' and 'The Manchurian Candidate', but there's a lot more to it than that suggests. I guarantee you this: you'll feel conflicted. You won't know who to root for. You'll laugh along, cry with, and genuinely care about the characters Whedon draws up here.

Dollhouse, whilst not quite matching the heights of Buffy, Angel and Firefly, remains one of the most delightfully twisted, shocking, profound and intelligent series I've ever seen, and it's a trend that Fox probably won't continue. Dollhouse may be slightly sub-par for Whedon, but it still towers above every other show that aired at the time (most of which are still on the air today). It dared to ask questions others wouldn't, and was very much a thinking-man's thriller while it lasted. Science-fiction and social commentary are always a great pairing, and Joss doesn't shy away from either. It could well be the show's parting gift to show us that maybe we are programmable after all. If you're looking for something different, something that's not afraid to twist your perceptions and make you uncomfortable, you've found it. It's dark, cerebral and a really intense ride. Enjoy :)

Note: In case you read this review and wondered why there are so many negative references to Fox, just know that I tend to dislike their creative decisions with regards to several massively-popular-but-ultimately-unprofitable shows they have cancelled in recent years, despite incredible pleading and support from fans, I being one of them.
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on 4 July 2010
Though possibly not destined to be an SF classic, Dollhouse has some great ideas, and the core idea of being able to switch personalities is used very well 95% of the time. Series 2 sensibly dodges the out of kilter ending of series 1, (though it is used later) and pushes the possibilities of the main idea more, my only real issue is that, like so many series these days, there has to be a conspiracy somewhere. I realise we need bad guys but there was still a lot of mileage in exploring the use of the dolls by clients, Echo learning about the fact she's a doll etc. Still, more great TV from Joss Whedon but do watch series 1 first.
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on 15 January 2011
I was disappointed this series was axed and thought season 2 might be a rush job. However, the axe seems to have concentrated the mind - it's tightly written and pacey. It's much better than series 1, which I enjoyed a lot, but I guess another series majoring on cute costume changes and weird scenarios may have got boring *cough* "Alias". The characters develop a lot, especially Echo's, and the plot is full of twists and turns without getting crazy. DVD has some nice extras - watch out for the sit-down with the actors and "Victor"'s reaction when "Sienna" comes into the room - very sweet!
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on 10 December 2010
Kimmie here - Second and final season of Dollhouse - we're both Joss Whedon fans anyway and personally I think this is his best creation to date. It's such a shame it was cancelled, but at least it got a proper ending. I can't help but feel it needed one more season to properly cover everything though, as the story seems to move so fast. It's highly engrossing and enjoyable, it just makes you sad it's over.
Scripting, direction, music cues and acting are superb - Most notably the fantastic Fran Kranz who plays Topher Brink. An excellent series.
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on 14 October 2010
Season two of Dollhouse sees the return of Echo, who is now crafting her own identity inside the Dollhouse. This years' show is far more accessible, emotive and better paced than the last. However, this season does conlcude what has been one of the most original, twisted and beleivable shows to hit our televisions in a long time.
We start with a similar scenario to the first season; Echo is sent on a few missions and returns to the Dollhouse, only this time she's beginning to remember past engagements. This evolves rapidly therein, as do most of the character's storylines. This is no bad thing; the pace of this show is exciting, and I think how the producers have tied evrerything up is perfect.
We finally see "The Attic", a place where problematic Dolls are kept; but as is always with the show, it's not its only purpose. We see the return of Topher, the scientific genius who ultimately becomes a hero. Adelle returns in a different light, Summer Glau (Firefly) and Alexis Denisof (Angel) are introduced as two of the most memorable characters this season.
Epitaph Two closes the show, and is an answer to the apocalyptic finale to the first season. We get everything answered, and in true Joss Whedon style, it pulls on the heart strings. This show will keep you guessing until the very, very end.
I honestly feel this show is Whedons' strongest yet, and Eliza Dushku is an incredible leading lady and producer. Had it not been for the fact not many people saw it, Dollhouse could have grown into something else entirely, so I'm glad this show had the run time it did; 26 episodes of one of the best shows I've ever seen. Good job done.
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on 18 November 2010
I guess knowing that you're going to be canceled forces you to be hyper creative! No diluted storylines here, the season starts with a bang and never lets up, throwing twists and turns at every corner and reaching a satisfying ending, no small feat. All major characters get their 15 minutes (or more) of fame and it is really hard to let them go in the end. Yes, you could wish it had gone on longer, no doubt, but I personnally find myself happy of having 24 episodes of one of the finest sci fi show ever.
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joss whedon is just too smart for tv. that's the only explanation i can think of as to why his shows seem to get so poorly treated. angel, firefly, and now dollhouse. all classic shows, all cancelled before their time. dollhouse season 2 picks up where season 1 left off. at least joss whedon manages to wrap everything up and not leave us all hanging. performances are excellent throughout, with eliza dushku and olivia williams for me being the standouts. the final episode itself is full of twists, and i get the feeling that if allowed to continue, then dollhouse could have become one of the all time great sci fi shows. once again we have seen a smart, intelligent sci fi show cancelled. maybe dollhouse could do a firefly and come back as a feature film but i doubt it. a shame.
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on 27 March 2014
I have only recently watched this show as it is now free to stream on amazon prime. The first series was good but this series is better, I was very disappointed to discover it was cancelled. As a fan of Buffy and Angel I only started watching this because of Joss Whedon's writing and several actors I knew, Eliza Dushku, Amy Acker and in this series Alexis Denisof however I soon began to appreciate this show for its own merits. In my opinion the acting on this show is superb especially the way the 'dolls' switch characters, I particularly enjoyed episode 6 when Enver Gjokaj imitates Topher to perfection! Episode 10 (The Attic) reminded me of the Buffy episodes 'Nightmares' and 'Restless' though the return of Laurence Dominic as a good guy took me by surprise. One of the great things about this series is that it keeps you guessing, a rare thing nowadays as most tv shows are so predictable. In short, watch this show!
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I was very dumb. I watched the first two episodes from season one and then gave up. Look, I'm really sorry, I said I was dumb. The I saw the rave reviews and bought the DVD box set and then I was hooked. Dollhouse is a real treat and not a strange version of Joe 90 the old puppet show. As with both Buffy and the brilliant Firefly, this is clever, clever stuff. It's deeper and more thoughtful then Whedon's other work as you start to explore humanity and what is real and what is not. Season 2 has some real shocks in it and many twists and diversions as Whedon cranks it up considerably.
As with Firefly, the studios do not appreciate genius and this series was brought to a close much much too soon. But at least Whedon was allowed to give it a finish so at least we were allowed to see it through to an end (although a much sooner one then we had hoped).

Buy this, it is worth every penny.
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on 4 January 2012
I am a big fan of Joss Whedon, so it is maybe unsuprising I adore this gem of a series. This series tracks the dollhouse from the end of season 1 as it tracks it's way to the bonus season 1 episode Epitath. Echo's character, and that of several of the 'dolls' becomes much richer and the suspense is definately turned up a notch as you see exactly HOW the technology could lead to the end of civilisation.

Eliza Dushku is as hot as ever, and the supporting cast are brilliant. Olivia Williams as the chilling DeWitt is of special note, though a Wedon favorite in Summer Glau makes a welcome apperance this season.

In true Whedon style the show is by turns touching, funny, disturbing and full of suspense. This is well worth a look.
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