So this is the first Joss creation I’ve actually managed to watch as it’s being aired. Many of the Whedonites have had their doubts about what looks to be a knockoff of Bionic Woman (the remake of which was, in fact, the worst thing ever), but I managed to keep the faith, so to speak, through the first five episodes and am now standing somewhat shakily on the field of I Told You So. Despite the terrible first five minutes of the pilot, most of the show seems quite solid. Very cautious, to be sure; it seems like Joss is testing the waters with any themes for a couple episodes before actually introducing them. I blame Fox being cock weasels and canceling Firefly. Anyway.
It’s not Firefly, to be sure. But I think it’s more the story that’s being worked with here rather than any flaw in the actors/writers/directors of photography. Firefly being pretty much the perfect story to make into a TV show, it’s doubtful we’ll ever get something quite of that level of awesome again. One can hope of course, but it’s unlikely. As a part of the Joss Whedon whole though, Dollhouse seems to be doing quite well. And while it’s certainly a back step in the area of plot holes, in character depth and plot weaving it’s leagues ahead of almost all of his other works.
All of this course had the question “is this going somewhere?” looming over it the entire time. I’ll admit I’ve been skittish about jumping fully in to the ‘Dollhouse is going to be great’ camp, because while I chose to interpret apparently meaningless character interactions as plot development there’s really know way to know. And if I’m wrong, then this is a total load of shit and I claim being blinded by Tahmoh Penikett’s shiny shiny abs. Man on the Street though, seemed to be a tipping point. There’s still plenty of time for this to go south, but for now it seems that the show is on its way to becoming yet another cult hit.
Why has it started so poorly then? Re-watching the first five episodes, there are some truly horrific moments, and at least two episodes I wonder why they even exist. I think Joss is being incredibly cautious. Not only does he have some insanely high standards to live up to, along with fans that have demonstrated they’re willing to eat him alive if he fails, but I suspect he’s pandering to the mainstream more than he has in the past out of fear of getting shit canned again. Plus whole idea of the Dollhouse…interesting, but I can see this getting way out of hand, much the same way the whole Cylon prophecy thing did (oh ho, no I didn’t! But that’s for another time). These are all rather fine lines to walk.
In the end I think this will turn out for the best; a five year contract means maybe he’ll remember he has a pair again and do something interesting with this. The concept is already being handled much better than any of the similar stories of the past, and assuming the ‘Dollhouse sucks’ bandwagon doesn’t gain too much momentum, I think people are going to remember why they build giant gold statues of him in their backyards and start watching in earnest. Now I’m off to watch the latest episode and find out if I’m right or I should delete this post and pretend I never said anything.