Dollhouse: Season One [DVD]
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The complete first season of the American sci-fi drama created by Joss Whedon. Eliza Dushku stars as Echo, a young woman who is part of a group of people known as 'Actives' or 'Dolls'. The Dolls are people who have had their personalities wiped clean in order to be imprinted with any number of new personas. They are then hired out for particular jobs, which can be anything from committing a crime to enacting a fantasy. Although the Dolls are all volunteers who have agreed to work for a period of five years, the organisation is highly illegal and under constant threat from Paul Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett), a federal agent who is determined to expose the Dollhouse and bring it down. Episodes comprise: 'Ghost', 'The Target', 'Stage Fright', 'Gray Hour', 'True Believer', 'Man On the Street', 'Echoes', 'Needs', 'Spy in the House of Love', 'Haunted', 'Briar House', 'Omega' and 'Epitaph One'.
It’s fair to suggest that there are television series that have sprung out of the blocks with more confidence and momentum than Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse. The latest show from the creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly centres on Eliza Dushku as Echo, a woman who has different personalities transplanted into her depending on the mission she’s been hired for. It’s a tremendous premise, and one laced with just the kind of threads that Whedon has shown real skill at exploiting. But the first half of the season is a muddle. It takes some time for the show to settle down and find its feet, and the first couple of episodes in particular are more disappointing than anything else.
But then Dollhouse suddenly finds its feet. And while it doesn’t iron out all of the creases, once the show slips into gear, it finally begins to realise some of the immense potential here. What’s interesting too is that this first season DVD set includes the terrific missing episode that was never broadcast when the show debuted in the US.
A second season of Dollhouse is incoming, and given how soundly all concerned recover their footing with season one, that’s something to genuinely look forward to. This maiden season? It has its problems, but when it finally hits top gear, it rewards both your financial and time investment. --Jon FosterSee all Product description
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I wouldn't say that the episodes became lighter after that, this is a pretty heavy show all the way through but they became more entertaining. I started to see humour in the show where there hadn't appeared to be any before. As the series progresses the focus is more on the overall plot of Paul trying to find Caroline and various things going on in the dollhouse and not so much on Echo's assignments (although they are still important) and this made it more interesting for me. There weren't many stand alone episodes and I actually thought that was a strength of this series because although usually I think it's good to throw in a few irrelevant but entertaining episodes I don't think that would really work in Dollhouse. The plot in Dollhouse can be quite complicated, at times I found myself getting confused and I think that because the plot is so complicated the focus needs to stay on the plot. I think I would have been more confused if every episode hadn't been relevant and would have found it a lot more difficult to follow. The plot is really absorbing. I found myself getting really into it and dying to know what happens next and I would have been annoyed if the next episode hadn't produced answers. Although as with any good mystery as one question is answered another is presented.
There are some really great twists in Dollhouse. There were some things that happened that I was just completely shocked about, I didn't see them coming even though looking back all of the signs were there. Just when you think you've got it figured out something else is thrown at you that's even more surprising than the last thing. This show will keep you guessing until the very end of the season at which point Whedon takes it to a whole new level (in a good way).
The acting in Dollhouse is amazing. Dushku and the actors who play the dolls all prove that they are amazingly versatile and talented actors. I was really impressed with Dushku. As I've said I'm a big fan of hers anyway but in this she can literally be playing several characters in each episode and is flawless in each performance. I remember watching her in the first episode when Echo was in her doll state and just being amazed at how well she portrayed her. As a doll Echo is very innocent and childlike, she's basically like an empty person and Dushku really plays this convincingly. As the season progresses Echo changes and you can see the very subtle differences in each episode. In any one episode Dushku can go from Echo to a sassy assassin or the girl next door or an ambitious backing singer and each character is very distinct and believable. The other dolls are also very good and I was impressed with all of them. I can't think of a single person who didn't play their role convincingly.
I think the idea behind this show is great. There's something very dark and sinister about the whole concept. I loved the way that Dollhouse could be taking place in any modern city around the world, that it could be happening on your doorstep and while it's completely unbelievable there's a part of you thinking, what if they could do that? How far can science go?
Overall I really enjoyed season one of Dollhouse. It was a really engaging, well written, wonderfully acted and entertaining show and I can't wait for season 2.
Dollhouse is a highly illegal organization that plucks its "artistes" (dolls) from the outside world, drains them of all memories and subjects them to reprogramming to satisfy the needs of the ultra rich. Now everything is being threatened. Some of the programmed new identities begin to malfunction. A traitor within is seriously undermining. One doll, Alpha, his brain dangerously overloaded, has escaped and is intent on sabotage. Meanwhile investigative Federal Agent Paul Ballard grows ever closer.
Challenging viewing. Joss Whedon's name is the main incentive to watch - addicts of "Buffy", "Angel" and "Firefly" keen to sample more of his inventiveness and, at times, startling changes of direction. Some, though, may find this new venture heavy going, wishing for certain aspects to be be simplified (e.g. clarification from the start why Ballard is so obsessed with tracking down Caroline). Too much is revealed rather belatedly in dribs and drabs, causing much confusion about what is going on.
As Echo (Caroline) Eliza Dushku impresses in a variety of guises, perhaps never more so than in episode five - she, convincingly blind, infiltrating a religious sect headed by a man urgently sought by the police. Acting throughout is generally strong, it pleasing to see again Alan Tudyk (ex-"Firefly" and "A Knight's Tale"). The fight sequences certainly pack a punch.
Commentaries help, especially with the last episode, where ten years have suddenly passed. Bonuses clear up several matters that puzzled - further proof DVDs are by far the best way to watch.
Good, even gripping, in parts but the whole does not fully satisfy. I wanted to like it far more than I did. Perhaps another viewing will help me all the better to appreciate its worth?
Each of his series is genuinely different from all the others, but those who have seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel or Firefly will recognise some of the names of people involved in making them, although more of behind the scenes people than actors, apart from the star Eliza Dushku.
Two other familiar faces though who had not been my favourites in their previous roles (Amy Acker formerly 'Fred' from 'Angel' and [in a couple of episodes] Alan Tudyk formerly 'Wash' from Firefly) are both outstanding here. I also liked Dichen Lachman (is she the world's only half-Tibetan Australian actress?) who as shown in one of the episodes is able with the right make-up to convincingly play either a blonde westerner or an oriental character.
Particularly good also is the episode about half way through when the 'actives' are almost allowed to escape, and the last 'proper' episode, number 12.
For contractual and other reasons reasons an unbroadcast half budget episode 13 is included on the DVD set a few years later in a post-apocalyptic world, mainly with different characters and actors, written by Joss Whedon's brother & his sister in law. It is too bleak to be really enjoyable throughout. Watch it out of curiosity if you enjoyed the rest of the series, but don't watch it straight after the other episodes to avoid a slight sense of anti-climax.
I hope that as with Joss Whedon's other series, and also Eliza Dushku's other staring series Tru Calling, even if these are not initially the biggest ratings winners on television, they have a long subsequent life and enthusiastic following through DVDs etc., as they are something unique and likely to be long remembered by those who have seen them
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