There was no way I was going to watch tonight’s premier of Joss Whedon’s new show Dollhouse and think anything other than “WEEEE.” If just the name Joss Whedon weren’t enough (which it most certainlyis for me), add in Eliza Dushku (who I think was tremendous and heart wrenching as Faith), Tahmoh Penikket (and those fantastic six pack abs), and a fantastically far out science fiction conceit rife with thematic possibility, and, baby, I pre emptively put up magazine articles about it on my wall. So it’s not interesting for me to list why I liked Friday night’s episode of Dollhouse, although I’ll list a few compliments at the end of this post. I’m more interested in talking about what I’m worrying about/ hoping will come to fruition in the next few episodes:
1) JOSS WHEDON- I can feel his hand behind the plotting, and the way that some of Echo’s personalities are shaped, but I want to feel him. Lots of people criticize his distinct voice, but it’s part of what draws us back to his work again and again. I’m not saying every line has to be a quip (and I think I’d throw something through the television if dorky Dollhouse worker Topher said “She’s not big with the memory” or anything else that conjures up images of bad nineties clothing and my favorite redheaded, wiccan lesbian), but I’m hoping future episodes wont have the semi-strained, this-show-is-SO-serious vibe I’m getting from its pilot (“Ghost” for those of you wondering). I’m all for stretching as a writer, but the real joy of Whedon’s creations is the way he balances laughter and pathos.
2) PLOT- this week’s mission for Echo felt generic (she has to rescue a rich guy’s kidnapped daughter) and hinges far too heavily on coincidence (the memory’s with which she’s been implanted happen to belong to a woman who was raped and kidnapped by one of the kidnappers of the rich guy’s daughter). If this show is going to survey primarily on standalone episodes, then those standalones need to be damn good.
3) NOT SUBSITING ON STAND ALONE EPISODES- I’m fairly certain this will happen, and with an idea like Dollhouse’s, that’s so intensely character based, it’s almost inevitable. But I hope that they find the right mixture between creating the mythology and the world of the Actives alive and interesting and creating good individual stories to tell us every week.
4) MORE TAHMOH PENIKKET SHIRTLESS- pretty self explanatory. Boxing is preferable, although not required.
With those reservations, I’m pretty pumped about Dollhouse. Joss’s shows tend to only grow after the first episode. The idea is DAMN cool. The supporting cast seems excellent, and I’m looking forward to watching these characters grow. If Dollhouse can survive Fox Fridays (and FOX is certainly trying here, if those super sexy and super creepy commercial breaks featuring Dusku and Terminator’s Summer Glau are any indication) then I think it will probably grow into being every bit as brilliant, fun, and exciting a piece of my must-see tv schedule as I hoped it would be.