nothing but the rain

5 Things I Learned From Dollhouse (so far)

Posted by melancholygeek on April 12, 2009

dollhouseHappy Zombie Jesus Day everyone! I sincerely hope you enjoyed the holidays so far! I for one spent most of the time reminding myself why I stopped watching The Simpsons and Family Guy (caught up a little on the latest seasons… nah, sorry, you lost me), watching old Buffy episodes on DVD and being amazed how good Dollhouse actually is.

And the latter actually got me thinking, about why I’m watching it, why I’m following the fansites and what this all means to me. And all this thinking resulted in some thoughts I’d like to share with you, the five things I learned from Dollhouse (so far), right here, after the cut…

1 – Whedon-fandom is special. I might only just rather recently found my way in there, but yes. And I’m not talking about Spuffy/Bangel shipping-wars. Seeing that I’m coming from a BSG background, believe me, I’ve seen worse. No it’s the deep, brooding once bitten, twice shy pessimism, ever since the Firefly cancellation. Every new project Joss might be planning or being on is doomed from the start. Period. There is no way they gonna air the whole season, let alone renew it for a second one. I’ve never noticed such angst in any other fandom I’ve come across (never cared much for Jericho back in the day). While I can see where the people are coming from and quite frankly have to admit, I’m occasionally somewhat concerned myself, don’t lose hope! Enjoy it as long as it lasts, discuss the storylines and characters and don’t waste precious forum-space with dark prophecies and self-pity. And if you’re really so sure about Dollhouse being canceled, better start packing your little sister’s Barbies to send them to FOX!

2 – I am way more of a Whedonite than I thought. And I’m not just referring to the Dollhouse-cancellation nightmares I started having recently. I will delve in the origin story of this Whedonite in some other post, but obviously I was in deeply enough when Dollhouse started that I already took the next point in this list for granted. I had to love Dollhouse. There was no other way. Yes, I tried to be objective and critic about those first few engagement-of-the-week episodes, and frankly, would it have been any other show,I’d probably have stopped watching about three episodes into the season (well, I do have sort of a soft spot for Eliza Dushku, so probably I’d have half-assedly continued watching). But it’s Joss Whedon! It has to be(come) great, right? Everything this man touches turns to awesome, right? Well, luckily, Joss proved me right once again, leaving me with only one possible conclusion…

3 – Joss Whedon can do no wrong. Yes, there is Buffy season 7, but let’s forget about that for a second, shall we? I won’t discuss the awesome that was Buffy, Angel, Firefly or Dr. Horrible at this juncture, even though these laid the groundworks for this conclusion. But it was Dollhouse that finally got me convinced. I nearly had lost hope after Stage Fright, I have to admit, but while Gray Hour sparked my hopes again somewhat and True Believer did nothing to douse that spark, The Man On The Street showed me the true Whedon again, pure gold in storytelling, characters and drama. And it didn’t lose momentum ever since. The english he put on Adelle, Topher and others, the TLC with which the actives’ characters are treated, the dynamics that evolve… To me it was Buffy season three all over again. This show is again pure awesome, despite some attempts to run it to the ground from the beginning on. Attempts by whom you ask? Well that brings us to…

4 – FOX can do no right. OK, originally I wanted to abstain from FOX-bashing and critically address those parts of the fandom that do, but what can I say? After reading a lot of interviews and articles, last but not least this coverage of Joss’ Q&A at Harvard’s Lifetime Achievement’s Award for Cultural Humanism gig, all I can say, WTF, FOX? This is not about the airing/not airing debate of episode 13, Epitaph One. This is about choices made way before that. FOX should be well aware of the fan base Joss Whedon has behind him, a fan base, that should guarantee for somewhat decent basic ratings. A basis they could build upon, by giving the creator of a new series some creative freedom, a decent timeslot and a little trust in him knowing what he is doing. In that case, I guess we would have gotten a decent pilot episode and an unfolding of a compelling storyarc early on, not some – sorry – rather boring engagement-of-the-week fillers to “ease people into the series”. What that actually did, and there’s countless forums or article comments to show it, was to drive people away, heck, it nearly worked with me. And don’t get me started on the ‘let’s make the actives all attractive, young people, and not someone a new audience might find some points of connection with’ issue also addressed in the above mentioned Harvard ceremony. Seriously, if this show gets canceled, I’m expecting FOX to air a one hour broadcast of the Twitter Fail Whale in it’s spot.

I tried to hold myself back a little in what I’ve written in this part (although I’ve felt myself getting angry while typing) and first and foremost stick to information I actually got from interviews with people involved in the series, because another thing I’ve learned very recently is…

5 – Don’t trust anyone. And here I am referring to the the airing/not airing debate of episode 13, Epitaph One. Thanks to Twitter I actually saw this piece of news evolving from one of the first tweets to frontpage articles on TV blogs, fansites and related newspaper columns. And since I didn’t really have (m)any better things to do at the time, I followed the coverage closely. The surprising thing for me was (and actually I’m somewhat puzzled by the fact that this actually surprised me) that everywhere you looked, a different story has been told. ‘Yes, Dollhouse is canceled’, ‘Not airing Epitaph One means Dollhouse gets it’s second season’, ‘It’s gonna be on DVD’, ‘It’s not gonna be on DVD, neither will Echo‘ and so on. Yes, it’s the internet, I know. I’ve been around long enough to know… well. I thought I had figured out some sources I can trust on their information. Problem is, even those sources published contradicting information and some haven’t put updates in their posts up to this very hour. So, yeah, while there was a sort of sub-web of sites I basically trusted completely, now I’m at the point that I don’t trust them any more than the tabloid press. They are great to let you know what’s going on in general, but if you’re interested in a specific topic, go and do your research yourself.

This concludes this year’s Easter post. Now go, paint some eggs, eat candy or do as I do: Get half-drunk and watch TV from the days when you wished Whedon series would have ended a season earlier instead of fearing for them even copleting their first season. Buffy season three, here I come!
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8 Responses to “5 Things I Learned From Dollhouse (so far)”

  1. TripLLLe said

    I’m a relatively recent convert to the Whedonverse (started with Dr. Horrible in July, since then have consumed Firefly, Buffy (1-6 so far), Angel season 1, and Dollhouse), and I thought this was a great post. Looking forward to reading your blog now!

    • Well that sounds horribly familiar πŸ™‚ OK, I might be in it for the Whedonness a bit longer, but became a total convert more or less recently, after, and there you go, watching Dr. Horrible and afterwards re-watching the whole of Buffy with Angel right after it πŸ™‚ Let’s all hope Dollhouse will last!

  2. Tyrella said

    I just read in some German News that there will be a Second Season. I hope that it is true but it sounds very determine. I’m looking forward to read your thoughts about the show furthermore. πŸ™‚

    • Well, I read so and so, but yeah, I sincerely hope a second season is a ‘go’. The show really deserves it seeing the pace of the last couple of episodes and knowing Whedon’s work and how it usually turns out during and after the first season (if it gets renewed).

      I should write quite some stuff about BSG and probably will continue to now and then comment on Dollhouse, but as usual, time is a factor. But I guess I should be able to squeeze something in every once in a while and hopefully even drop by the LS for a bit longer…

      See you soon! \o/

  3. Zina said

    I recommended Dollhouse to a few people, but it turned out to have more sex-for-hire stuff than they wanted. My audience is kind of like that. I think the story arc is interesting, and I am curious about the past lives of the other “dolls”. I can’t stand the Tamoh love scenes though. I always feel like he’s cheating on Grace Park. πŸ˜‰

    I want to beat some of these Fox execs.

    Have you watched The Tick?

    • Hey Zina!
      Sorry for the late answer, but your comment was stuck in the spam cue… Don’t ask me why.

      I guess a show like Dollhouse can’t really do without the sex-for-hire stuff, but it could have done with less I guess… but that’s probably a thing with the episodes FOX had quite a word in the creative process… T&A gets more viewers than character development and elaborate story-arcs. Luckily Joss got for the second part of the season and all of a sudden the series got way more compelling.

      Concerning The Tick, I do remember watching some of the animated series, but I don’t remember any details. As for the live-action series, I read a lot of good things about it and always wanted to give it a try, but totally forgot about it. So thank you for reminding me!

  4. Cyn said

    I have huge soft spot for (almost) all things Whedon, too.

    I had deep conflicts with Dollhouse as I really wanted to respect what Joss himself said about the first half of the season, that after yet another really bad FOX experience he was done with teevee, and was going to “Roger Corman” his way onto the Internet.

    Then I guess he had a change of heart because he seemed to really believe in Dollhouse and wanted to make it work and by accounts I’ve read like yours, for the most part it did.

    Between now and the beginning of S2(!) I’m going back and watching eppys 9-12 which I have not yet watched and I’m going to try to view them as if none of the extraneous stuff went on. I want to love this show, I really do.

    • As being conflicted to begin with, well, so was I and it seemed the series would prove me right at first, but boy have I been wrong in the end.

      And you’re in for a treat if you haven’t watched 9-12 yet. You get a good grasp at what’s probably coming in Season 2 (\o/) I guess. Those episodes make it rather easy to love the show.

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