Dollhouse Retro Review

Retro Review – Dollhouse

"Did I fall asleep?"

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Ah Dollhouse, how quickly you came and went. It’s unfortunate really, because halfway through its second season, Dollhouse finally tapped into its potential and morphed into the fantastic sci-fi show it was always meant to be. And thankfully, the thriller got to end on its own terms (unlike Dark Angel for example) with a tremendously satisfying ending. In fact, Dollhouse’s final hour is one of my favorite series finales ever produced, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

I think we were all rooting for Eliza Dushku to succeed. As a huge Faith fan (see Buffy The Vampire Slayer), I really wanted Eliza to have a kickass show. Tru Calling had potential, but by the time it fulfilled it, the show got cancelled (an eerily-similar fate to Dollhouse right down to the episode number). As much as I hate to admit it, Dushku was miscast in Dollhouse. The show proved that she didn’t always have the necessary range that the role of Echo required. However, Eliza improved with every episode, and by the end of the second season (with Echo fully self-aware), I really started to love her as an action heroine.

Season 1
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The show’s debut season suffered from the terrible influx of standalone hours mandated by the FOX network (Stage Fright being one of the worst episodes of television I’ve ever seen). After all, the premise itself required a serialized core, and these episodes made it very difficult to get attached to the show. To top it all off, there was an inherent flaw within the premise; why hire actives for tasks that professionals could do so much better? Nevertheless, Echo’s slow and gradual self awareness kept me coming back for more (the show employed some excellent cliffhangers) and the premise was always brimming with potential. The finale however was a grave letdown.
Favorite Episode – Man On The Street
Expanding the conspiracy significantly, this was a marvelous game-changer which proved that the show’s mythology was worth sticking around for.
Nad Rating
B-

Season 2
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Although season two started out on a weak note and comprised much of the same standalone crap that overpowered the first season, it eventually became riveting television (particularly around the time FOX cancelled the show). Self-aware Echo became an amazing protagonist, and the show’s supporting cast flourished with a ton of compelling subplots (Sierra’s tragic backstory comes to mind). Furthermore, the Boyd twist proved to be especially mindblowing, although I have no idea how well it holds up against a rewatch.
Favorite Episode – Epitaph Two: The Return
A superb finale that was everything I could have asked for while providing genuine closure. The final scene of the show (and we all know how important that is for me) was just chillingly beautiful with Echo, the pod, and Ballard in her mind. Stunningly perfect.
Nad Rating
A-

Conclusion
Ultimately, while Dollhouse had quite a few missteps throughout its run, I’m glad I went along for the ride. It will probably always be considered as Joss Whedon’s failure (God knows it can’t compare with the likes of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly), but I think it was an experiment worth trying. Here’s hoping Eliza’s third TV show is her lucky charm…

Overall Nad Rating
 B

5 comments

  1. I Echo everything you just said. ( see what i did there.. yeah. that was sad.)
    Season 2 was incredible, just simply mindblowing… There's a Sierra centric one where Topher grows a conscience that just made me really upset because… really?!! YOU COULDN'T HAVE PULLED THIS KINDA DIALOGUE IN THE FIRST SEASON?
    It was whedon at his best.
    About Tru Calling though, i beg to differ. The 2nd season was really well done. Those were some of the best episodes ever… they really pushed past the original premise. But oh well, it joined all the others in tv wasteland.

  2. Haha love the echo pun!
    I remember the Sierra centric one and it was indeed excellent! I really feel like watching season 2 again! It was just wonderful!
    By the way, I said above that Tru Calling was also awesome in season 2. I loved it as well! They pushed the premise to awesome places! It is utterly heartbreaking Eliza had 2 shows cancelled and both got awesome in their second and final season! Seriously the coincidence is insane! At least we got closure in Dollhouse and a proper series finale!

  3. Epitath One is my favorite episode though. I like it even more knowing how much they managed to do on such a small budget, without Fox's contribution or airing.
    I'll never forgive them for cancelling firefly. NEVER.

  4. Yeah I agree. I really detest Fox. They cancelled one of my favorite shows ever (Dark Angel) without a proper series finale. Instead of it, they put Firefly which I never watched (but you've intrigued me and it is Joss Whedon after all), and cancelled THAT too! Thank God you got a Serenity to give you closure!

  5. I never found Serenity! Literally!
    I can't find a damned dvd shop to buy it and downloading it is not an option.

    Dark Angel was awesome. I still call Michael Waverly Eyes Only whenever i stumble onto NCIS…right before i curse the world for liking procedurals while shows like Awake struggle for ratings.
    Awake is awesome. More on that later.

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