Monday, March 30, 2009

March 27th: Dollhouse Audience Drops (slightly)

An audience of 3.87 million viewers tuned in Friday night, March 27th, to watch Episode 7 (Echoes) of Dollhouse. These numbers are down from last week by about 250,000 viewers. Dollhouse also dropped 1/5th of a percentage point among adults 18-49.

This is not good news, with Dollhouse probably needing to hold an audience of at least 4 million viewers, and to trend upwards as the season progresses, in order to be renewed.

Read the full TvByTheNumbers article here

Saturday, March 28, 2009

1.7 Echoes

Summary and spoilers

In the present:

Two college students enter the lab at Fremont College and find their friend Owen Johnson almost naked on the floor, talking to flies. When they approach, he bangs his head on the window glass until he bleeds and it shatters. The two students first try to stop him, but then cannot stop laughing.

Clive Ambrose, chairman of the Rossum Corporation, visits DeWitt. He needs to recover a missing vial of a promising memory drug. This is the drug that Owen Johnson was on before he killed himself. Topher interrupts the meeting to salivate at meeting Ambrose, whom he adores for being one the richest and most powerful men in the world. Ambrose wants Topher to create an antidote for the drug while an army of immune actives track down the missing vial.

While Paul makes breakfast, Mellie does her best to convince him that he should drop the case. It’s unclear if this is how Mellie feels, or if this is another manifestation of her hidden active.

Victor takes over operations at Fremont as the highest ranking NSA officer, which elicits a chuckle from the outranked Dominic, who quickly curses Topher for setting him up.

Echo is just tieing up her date Matt and getting a video camera working when she accidentally sees vision from the news story about Owen Johnson, whose tragic death happened in the Rossum Building on Fremont College. When Echo sees the building on-screen, she flashes back to an unpleasant memory that took place there. Immediately, she tells Matt that she has to go to help some mysterious ‘him’. She goes, leaving Matt still tied up.

Topher injects Mellie with the memory drug. He says she is immune; he is attempting to create an antidote. DeWitt prods Topher to find an antidote quickly.

Echo arrives on campus at Fremont College, wandering around in a daze, and is picked up and escorted by Victor and his agents. Boyd has tracked Echo there; he alerts DeWitt, who tells Boyd to get her out of there.

Echo has been escorted to a secure area and is assumed to be effected by the memory drug. Sierra (as an active doctor) wants to give her another drug to negate the effects, but Echo refuses. Sam, one of the laughing students who in the lab earlier with Owen, is recovering there. Echo tells him she needs to save someone; Sam agrees to help her get into the lab. Boyd tries to intercept Echo, but he has been affected by the drug and is losing his grasp on reality.

Having found and sedated 14 infected students, Victor has the situation under control until the heavily armed Dominic is affected. A brief standoff ends when Dominic drops his too heavy gun and meekly allows himself to be escorted to the sedation area.

Back at the Dollhouse, Topher is unaware that he has been infected. A touch of DeWitt and she becomes infected as well, and together they babble incoherently about lentils, brown sauce, and being British.

Mellie suddenly begins flashing back to her relationship with Ballard, her attacker. She recites part of the trigger phrase that will turn her into a killer, which terrifies Topher and DeWitt.

Echo has remembered a way into the lab through a storm drain. She and Sam are proceeding toward the lab but are intercepted by Dominic, still under the influence and professing his apologies to Echo for trying to kill her in the episode True Believer. They get past him, but others are not so lucky: Sierra glitches and remember her rape, and shoots Victor.

Sam and Echo enter the lab. Sam immediately finds the drug and uses it on Echo before she realizes that he is the one she is supposed to stop. Sam plans to sell the drug for billions of dollars to a Swiss company. Prompted by the memories of her first break-in to the lab, when Liam was shot and killed, Echo wills herself to reject the drug. Memories of past and present blur, but Boyd arrives in time to take out Sam. Echo is finally ready for her treatment.

Mellie moves out of her apartment for awhile; Ballard decides it is better/safer if he does not know where she is going.

Sam complains to DeWitt that she has no right to hold him. DeWitt offers Sam the opportunity for a new life that will ensure that his mother is well looked after. All he has to do is agree to work for the Dollhouse for five years.

In the flashbacks:

Through flashbacks, we finally get to know more about Echo before she became an active. She was a concerned animal rights / anti-war activist, a bright girl with a social conscience. Appalled by animal testing being conducted by the Rossum Corporation, she led a raid on their labs in the hopes of videotaping the animals and causing shame to Rossum. Caroline bribes a government clerk and gets plans that allow her and her boyfriend Liam to enter the lab. They find caged monkeys and rabbits that have been operated on, and other evidence of mind experiments. Caroline and Liam are discovered by a guard; Liam is shot and killed in the ensuing chase. Later, DeWitt visits the injured Caroline in the hospital, but Caroline escapes before DeWitt can talk to her. Eventually, Caroline is caught; DeWitt tries to convince her to dedicate 5 years of her life to her new role for the Rossum Corporation (Dollhouse); in exchange for this service, DeWitt says she will be free to have the rest of her life to herself.


Any episodes written by Joss Whedon are going to be clearly better than the ones that are not. This not. It feels overplotted, like the writers used a checklist to sure that their script had all of the elements that needed to be in Dollhouse.

The basic concept of this episode (a substance that makes the entire cast simulate intoxication) reminded me of the Star Trek (the original series) episode <em><strong>The Naked Time</strong></em> and the Star Trek Next Generation episode <em><strong>The Naked Now</strong></em>. Homage?

It’s about time that we began to get some of Echo’s pre-Dollhouse backstory. I’m a little surprised that this information was withheld for 6 episodes, when it could help viewers to gain more empathy for her character.

The monkeys and rabbits in the Rossum lab were probably used for prototype experiments in the type of mind control and imprinting that is being used on the dolls in the present.

Memorable Moments

  • I love Olivia Williams / DeWitt, so it was wonderful to watch her get out of character and loosen up for awhile. We might never see that happen again. Conversely, it was difficult to tell that Topher was drugged at all!

Quotable Quotes

"As long as we keep the place locked down and don’t have any more X-factors, then…here I come to save the day. [pause] Can you get me a juice box?"
- Topher to DeWitt

"Sure, now you’re experts. Four hours ago you were discussing your love for apple sauce."
- Dominic dissing the actives

DeWitt: We need to know what it is.
Topher: Yes, well…we will – when I figure it out.
DeWitt: And, reverse the effect – are you making any progress?
Topher: I’m working! What are you doing, besides…being –
DeWitt: Being what?
Topher: Wait a minute -
DeWitt: Sarcastic? Unfeeling? British?
Topher: It’s an animal.
DeWitt: Where?

Dominic: I am so sorry I tried to kill you.
Echo: It’s okay.
Dominic: No, it isn’t. I tried to burn you to death. Who does that?

Friday, March 27, 2009

FOX Says All 13 Dollhouse Episodes Will Air

FOX has confirmed to Dollhouse portal site Dollverse that they will air all 13 episodes of Dollhouse. The season will end on May 15th with the episode Epitaph One.

In a sense, this is not 'new news'; FOX had already said it would air the episodes. This is more of a confirmation and a way for FOX to assure viewers that they can invest their time in following character arcs with less chance that they will be aborted. Is it a guarantee? No way, not in the world of serial television. If rating numbers were to drop substantially, FOX could do anything they want. Personally, I don't think the numbers will drop, so we should be safe.

For the full story, read the Dollverse article here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cast Away: Fran Kranz (Topher)

Dollverse recently ran a story about Fran Kranz (Topher) and his guest-appearance in episode 5 of the web series My Two Fans. This is a great opportunity to see Kranz in a very different role (although, again, he gets to show his comic strength). Kranz is good, but this is not the strongest episode of My Two Fans; check out the initial episode at The Night Googler if you find yourself wanting more of Kate and her buddies.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Viewer numbers for Dollhouse Episode 6: Man on the Street

According to TV By The Numbers, Dollhouse episode 6 (Man on the Street) aired Friday night, Mar 20, 2009, basically held its viewer share from the previous week. It totalled 4.13 million and a 1.5/5 (rating/share) with adults 18-49, very similar to the previous week. This is good news, as Dollhouse was up against NSCAA basketball AND the finale of Battlestar Galactica.

These numbers indicate to me that the show now has established a very strong core base of dedicated fans. Viewer levels are probably high enough already for FOX to consider renewal. Hopefully, next week's numbers will rise for a couple of reasons:

1- competing specialty shows should not be as strong
2- buzz around the internet is that this episode was the best yet. This should bring in some curious viewers and bring back some who may have left after a couple of episodes.

Dollhouse Episode 1x07 Promo (Trailer)

This is the first promo/trailer I have watched. Previously, I have just watched episodes without any spoilers (and there are plenty in this promo, so don't watch if you don't want them)! It looks like it could be a very good episode, filled with the kind of internal conflicts that make Dollhouse interesting.

Click here if you cannot view the video above

Saturday, March 21, 2009

1.6 Man On The Street

Summary and spoilers

The show starts with a news report and vox pops about the urban legend of the Dollhouse (additional vox pops are shown from time to time throughout the episode). We pan back to see it is Ballard watching. He is visited by another agent who once again derides his case. When the agent calls Echo a mindless whore, Ballard almost snaps the guy’s arm off.

Victor and Echo are sitting together when Sierra enters the room and sits alone at a different table. Victor walks over to ask her to join them, but he only gets as far as touching her shoulder. She screams in fear, then later tells Dr. Saunders that Victor likes to pretend they are married. Dr. Saunders’ examination of Sierra reveals that she has had sex. Victor is the likely partner. Mr. Hearn, Sierra’s handler, wants to check the videotape to prove it is Victor and put him in the attic if found guilty. Echo pops in from nowhere to say that when they go to sleep in the pods, she can hear Sierra crying.

Ballard has traced large payments from various accounts to form a proposed trail of possible Dollhouse clients, including an internet mogul named Joel Miner, a billionaire with commitment issues who always has a beautiful anonymous ‘doll’ on his arm when he shows up at charity engagements.

Back at his apartment, Ballard and Mellie are sharing Chinese takeaway and talking about the case and Mellie’s personal life.

Joel Miner has readied his house for a romantic encounter and has hired Echo to fulfill his needs. Ballard is there as well, and he infiltrates the kitchen and, gun drawn, comes face to face with Miner…and Echo! Ballard is just about ready to take Echo (whom he calls by her pre-doll name Caroline) into custody when he is attacked by numerous Miner bodyguards. Eventually Ballard has all those guards writhing or unconscious, but in the meantime, Boyd grabs Echo and they get away. Before being taken away, Echo yells out her accusatory "Porn!" one more time (she somehow believes the Miner is her husband and that he is involved in making porn).

Ballard’s questioning of Miner gets turned around. Miner accuses Ballard of being in love with Caroline, then tells his own story – how his wife Rebecca died just before she got to see her new house (the one they are in now). Now, each year, Miner hires a doll to play the part of his wife, and he recreates the moment the way it should have been.

Dr. Saunders and Topher question Victor about his feelings toward Sierra. No one has been able to find any incriminating evidence against Victor. Boyd realizes that all the dolls are broken. He rings Dominic and tells him he must take Victor and his handler off the floor. Dr. Saunders takes Victor away, and Victor’s normal handler is dragged away while protesting. Boyd assures an inquisitive Echo that it is all being done to protect Sierra.

Ballard and Mellie are back in his apartment. Shirtless, he is being patched up by her while he debriefs as well, but he stops to suddenly kiss her. They decide to make believe that kiss did not happen, although they are both pretty sure it did.

Back at the Dollhouse, Boyd has done nothing to catch the true perp; his earlier actions were all a setup to make Hearn try to rape Sierra again, and this time, Boyd catches him and punches him through a glass panel. DeWitt chides Boyd for taking action on his own, but also tells him a bonus has been wired to his account.

After Boyd leaves, Dominic and DeWitt watch wiretap footage of Ballard discussing the case with Mellie. Dominic warns DeWitt that if word of this and of Hearn gets out, she will be in trouble with higher ups. DeWitt tells Dominic to bring Hearn to her, and to prep Echo for a ‘second date’ with Ballard.

Boyd tells Topher he is upset that Echo has been sent out on assignment but without him. He’s been put on hold. Topher says this is the standard penalty for plate-glassing someone. Topher says Echo is on a nothing ‘life coach’ assignment and not to worry about it. Boyd leaves and Topher returns to his office, where he has a surprise – Echo shows up to be imprinted.

Hearn has arrived at DeWitt’s office to get his punishment. But he’s not really being punished, just reassigned. His next job: kill Mellie and make it messy.

Apparently, Ballard and Mellie didn’t forget about that kiss, as we join them just after they have made love. Ballard leaves to get some Chinese takeaway. While at the restaurant, he sees Echo in the kitchen. When he pursues her, she grabs his gun and flattens him. After a long fight that continues out into the alleyway, Echo tells Ballard that she represents someone inside the Dollhouse that wants to bring it down – it and the 20 other Dollhouses around the world. She instructs Ballard to stop trying to find the Dollhouse, and rather to find out what their real purpose is – because it is something much more sinister and important than pure fantasy fulfillment. She also warns Ballard that while they want him alive, they will kill those around him. She shoots a cop with Ballard’s gun, then gets away.

Ballard realizes that Mellie is under threat, and he takes off. Meanwhile, Hearn has arrived at Ballard’s apartment and begins attacking and killing Mellie. Ballard is running, trying to get there, dialing the phone. The phone rings inside his apartment, but it is not Ballard – it is Dewitt delivering an encoded message. Upon hearing it, Mellie becomes a lethal assassin, and she dispenses with Hearn – and there we see what DeWitt really had in mind for him. Another message from DeWitt, and Mellie returns to her normal self, just in time for  Ballard to return.

Dominic tells DeWitt that Ballard was suspended for shooting a cop and beating up bodyguards. DeWitt says to bring Mellie in for a Topher diagnostic, but not to pull her off the case, as Ballard probably won’t let something like suspension stop him from his pursuit of the Dollhouse.

Life inside the Dollhouse has returned to normal, but Echo tells DeWitt that her painting of a happy couple in front of their house is ‘not finished.’ In response, DeWitt sends Echo back to Joel Miner, to complete the fantasy that has somehow become meaningful to both of them.


My first thought about who Sierra’s partner/rapist might be: Dominic!

Just when I thought DeWitt had a shred of morals and good will, she tells Hearn to kill Mellie! Of course, we find out later that she had something very different in mind for Hearn.

So Mellie is an active!

There’s something strangely touching – and creepy – about a man who would want to recreate a lost moment in his life with the degree of realism that Joel Miner does. I can’t decide if it’s beautiful or sick.


I’m sure at one point when Ballard is talking to Miner, he calls him ‘Wyler’.

Memorable Moments

It was painfully sad as I watched Hearn brutally assaulting Mellie and knowing that there was nothing that could stop him from killing her. She was such a beautiful character – did they have to kill her off? The phone began to ring, but we knew that Ballard was dialing his phone, so we assumed that this would be who would leave a message. When that message came from DeWitt and turned Mellie into a lethal assassin who not only saved her own life but delivered fitting justice by ending the life of Hearn, the flood of emotions that filled me were unique. Thanks, Joss Whedon, for doing that to me!

I love the natural, unforced chemistry between Ballard and Mellie.

Quotable Quotes

Agent: What, you’d come to my house, dig through my garbage, too?
Ballard: You’re out of hand cream again.
Agent: This the alleged victim? Guys said you had a face. Damn – no wonder you’re foraging for hand cream.

Ballard: Weren’t you…seeing someone?
Mellie: Uh huh.
Ballard: Rick.
Mellie: Dick.
Ballard: Really. I thought it was Rick.
Mellie: Oh, his name is Rick.
Ballard: Ooh.
Mellie: Uh, huh. He said he didn’t see me as a long-term investment. He said he wanted to…dump the stock before it went public. He talks like that. He works at a donut shop.
Ballard: What a Rick!

[after making love]
Ballard: So…can I borrow a cup of sugar?
Mellie: I don’t think I’ve got any sugar left!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Eliza Dushku All Dressed Up for Saturday Night

Eliza Dushku has donned a series of slinky outfits for her interview about life, career and Dollhouse for Saturday Night Magazine online. She explains how she and Joss Whedon sat down and made a basic plan for the show they would make together.
Click here to read and view the full article

Monday, March 16, 2009

Season One Full Episode List

1.1 Ghost
1.2 The Target
1.3 Stage Fright
1.4 Gray Hour
1.5 True Believer
1.6 Man On The Street
1.7 Echoes
1.8 Needs
1.9 Haunted
1.10 Four Engagements
1.11 Briar Rose
1.12 Omega
1.13 Epitaph One

Thanks to Dollverse for leaking the latest episode titles!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Discovering the true reaction to Dollhouse

It's difficult to gauge overall what viewers think about Dollhouse. Searching for news and reviews on the web, I often come across either blatant promotion such as this article for Channel News Asia (they are trying to sell subscriptions to a cable channel that shows Dollhouse) or this article, a real review, but sadly lacking in substance, and, even sadder, near the top of the Google search results.

Regarding the second article...there's no explanation of why the audience will find Dollhouse too confusing. Is it even too confusing to explain why it is too confusing? I suppose it must be.

My feeling is that, yes, the initial concept is unclear, but if the shows are exciting and accessible, there is no need to fully understand and accept the concept. That can happen over time.

Viewer ratings for Friday March 13th

Friday the 13th didn't bring bad luck to Dollhouse or its fans, with the news that viewer numbers were slightly up from the previous week. With an audience of 4.3 million, and an 1.6/5 viewer share in the 18-49 demographic, the slight rise from last week should push FOX to put the axe away for awhile anyway.

As mentioned before, Dollhouse is supposed to improve starting with the next episode (ep 6). We'll wait and see if we agree and if that improvement is reflected in viewer numbers and/or FOX satisfaction.

A link to the full article is here

1.5 True Believer

Summary and spoilers

In Arizona, a singing cult encounters trouble from at least one local when they visit town for supplies. One of their members has scrawled ‘Save me’ on a piece of paper.

A senator asks DeWitt for an active to infiltrate the cult. DeWitt is initially appalled, as this would mean putting an active to work for a federal agency, the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms). The senator insists that only an active can get in undetected in this situation.

Ballard convinces a woman named Lumis – with super clearance – to run Echo’s photo through her databases. Some time later, Lumis tells Ballard she has found nothing, but that she will leave it live to see if any more hits occur.

Dominic expresses misgivings about Echo’s dependability, but Dewitt is not going to heed him. She checks on Echo’s preparation, which consists of surgery to make her a blind camera. She will not see anything, but her eyes will be lenses sending signals back to the feds. Saunders expresses minor misgivings about the risks, but these risks area deemed within acceptable levels by DeWitt. Topher just find the whole situation fun and amusing.

The ‘Save me’ note has granted the ATF just 48 hours to infiltrate the cult compound and find further reason to pursue the case. Langton drives Echo to the compound. She infiltrates with ease, but their leader, Jonas Sparrow, warns his second in command that she may not be who she says she is, and if she is not, she should be eliminated.

Topher observes that Victor is aroused by Sierra in the shower. This was not supposed to happen, at least according to him, but when he tells Saunders, she says she is not surprised. Victor has had the same memory – a gigolo – implanted eight times, and she had warned in many (unread) reports that this could cause residual effects. Saunders tasks Topher to look through three months of shower scenes to find more ‘man reactions’.

Jonas questions and examines Echo. He is momentarily convinced that she believes her story is true, and he allowed her to stay, although it is obvious from his gun-pointing that he could change his mind at any time. The ATF is excited and appalled to see that Echo’s interrogation takes place in a room filled from top to bottom with high-tech automatic weapons.

Mellie arrives at Ballard’s office with his medication, a huge platter of manicotti, and a mystery package. Lumis confirms that the writing on the package is the same as that which accompanied the photo of Echo that Ballard has already received. Inside, there is a DVD with the movie of Echo at college saying goodbye to her friends and making jokes about venereal disease.

Topher and Saunders have determined that the source of Victor’s arousal is not residual memories, but Sierra – he is attracted to her only.

The arsenal has enabled the ATF to invade the compound – all they are waiting on is the warrant from the judge. Langton strongly objects and wants to extract Echo safely first, but Lilly, the ATF leader, is more interested in getting his man – he has pursued him for years. Langton calls Dominic to request a forced extraction. Dominic is wrong man to ask – he denies the request, probably seeing it as an easy way to eliminate Echo and the problems she creates in his eyes.

Even as Echo is being initiated and fully accepted into the cult, ATF agents are stalking the perimeter, ready to invade. Floodlights are tripped, and the invasion is stalled, but Jonas now accuses Echo of bringing this on. He starts slapping her around, but suddenly, just as the feedback images to the ATF end, Echo regains her sight, and stops Jonas’ next slap. Now even Jonas believes he has witnessed a miracle, and, for all intents and purposes, he has. He reads this as a sign to set them aflame, believing only the unrighteous will perish.

Outside, Lilly says he will treat Echo no differently than the other cult members. Langton wants to try to identify the person on the inside who wrote ‘Save me’ but Lilly is not interested in his ideas. TV vans show up at an inopportune time and feed back images of the cult members being shepherded from building to building. Ballard watches the report on television and sees Echo.

Langton does some poking around in town and discovers video footage proving that Lilly wrote the ‘Save me’ note and planted it in the convenience store. He confronts Lilly and basically writes his own terms for rescuing Echo – that or let everyone know about Lilly’s penmanship.

In a final scene filled with twists and turns, Langton creeps outside the building, just about to rescue Echo. Inside, Echo knocks out Jonas and saves everyone by urging them to leave the building. Jonas comes to and is just about to shoot Echo when Dominic shows up masquerading as an ATF agent, shoots Jonas, then knocks out Echo and disappears. Langton shows up just in time to extract her.

Ballard shows up the next day, pumping Lilly for information, but gets nothing.

DeWitt has discovered that Dominic was in Arizona last night. She asks why. He says he was protecting her interests, but she seems more threatened by this than assured. She threatens him subtly as well to let him know that he had better stay in line.


There are great similarities between the Arizona cult and the Dollhouse cult.

I expressed some disappointment in Eliza Dushku’s abilities when she played a slick wise-cracking safecracker in Gray Hour, but here, as a blind religious woman who wants in to a cult, she is excellent. And as Echo goes, so goes the episode. It is very solid, filled with conflict both internal and external to the Dollhouse.

Observant viewers will notice that after Echo’s wipe, her words are the same as always, but they are delivered with a slight difference in tone. Something is there to indicate past memories and awareness. But it is so subtle as to be unnoticed, even by her and certainly by Topher and Saunders, both of whom seem suspicious but clueless.


I think it’s a little out of line that a doctor (Dr. Saunders) would ask Echo for her opinion on her own vision, giving that a wiped doll might not really have the perspective to answer that question meaningfully. Perhaps an eye test would be a more accurate gauge?

Quotable Quotes

DeWitt: You don’t like Echo, do you, Mr. Dominic.
Dominic: It’s not that I don’t like her – it’s – sometimes I worry you do.

"I gotta go. Something…came up."
- Topher, abruptly ending his phone call when he sees Victor is ‘aroused’ by Sierra

Dr. Saunders: Victor had an erection?
Topher: I prefer ‘man reaction’.

DeWitt: So tell me, Mr. Dominic, how was Arizona? I understand it’s a dry heat. You requisitioned a company jet last night.
Dominic: Echo was glitching on a government job. I thought I should be on site in case measures were called for.
DeWitt: I see.
Dominic: As always, just trying to protect your interests.
DeWitt: I’m touched.
Dominic: If I may – Echo has been exhibiting the same signs that Alpha did before his composite event. Now if you’re not willing to send her to the attic –
DeWitt: Don’t gamble on what I’d be willing to do, Mr. Dominic. Take the stairs.

Dr. Saunders: Echo, how’s your vision? Can you see okay?
Echo: (Looking down at Dollhouse level 1 and seeing Dominic) I see perfectly.

Monday, March 9, 2009

1.4 Gray Hour

Echo is a mid-wife at a mountaintop mansion, delivering a baby for a young couple. The birth appears to spark memories of her birth.

Back at the dollhouse, Topher is excited that Echo, Sierra and Victor are eating together at the same table like Bison. He tells Langton that this is not caused by memories, but rather by an instinctual herd or school survival instinct.

DeWitt has a new client – a man hiring Echo as an escort for his son’s bachelor party, or at least it seems. When the party turns sour and she is getting roughed around, she flees and is taken in by the hotel security guard. He offers her a lump-sum payment from the hotel if she will sign a paper agreeing that she will forget the incident and not litigate. Her response? She knocks the guy out. She wasn’t roughed up – it was all a ruse so she could get past security and facilitate a break-in for the same guys who made believe they were roughing her up. With Echo’s assuming the persona of ‘Taffy’, and expert in explosives and safe-cracking, they break into a vault filled with rare and priceless art treasures. All is going smoothly when, suddenly, one member of the team, the art-expert ‘professor’, steals what they came for and locks them in the vault. Echo still has everything under control; she says she can get them out. She phones Langton and asks him to catch the professor, but as she completes the call, a high-pitched sound emanates from the phone, and, suddenly, she is wiped and back to a blank state.

Langton is able to trap the professor and recapture the priceless Parthenon tile that was the focus of the crime, but he is unable to help Echo. DeWitt enlists Sierra, also encoded as Taffy, to attempt a rescue. With time running out, Sierra give Echo phone instructions, but Echo doesn’t follow them to the letter, and alarms go off in the vault. As guards approach, one of her fellow thieves wants to shoot his way out, and wants Echo to do the firing, but Echo manages to avoid that, and instead escapes with the other thief.

Ballard has spent this episode recovering from his gunshot wound and harboring Anton Lubov (Victor) who broke into his apartment and appealed for protection. Ballard initially says he will protect him, but instead, he basically tells everyone he can that Anton is the snitch, then releases him into the world to be killed. I don’t think Ballard is that cruel – he probably does suspect that Lubov is somehow linked to the Dollhouse and is playing him.

DeWitt ups Topher’s security level so she can tell him that Alpha is still alive. She confirms Topher’s fear that Alpha was the one that performed the remote wipe.

The episode ends as a clean slate Echo recreates something slightly resembling a Picasso painting of her face in the mist-covered mirror of her apre-shower.


Eliza Dushku does a wonderful job of portraying the innocent, serene side of Echo, but, at least so far, she’s not quite as good as making a character like Taffy seem completely believable. There’s an element to her portrayal that comes across as too lightweight. All the lines are there – it’s just the way she delivers them. Her multi-personality role on this show is the gig of a lifetime, and it is also extremely challenging for any actor – I just hope she has the versatility to grow into it and make it work.

Other than this, the episode is fantastic – the pacing, tension, and production values are all top-notch again.

A worrying sign for the future of the show are the viewer numbers. For this episode, they are down to 3.5 million, which is well below the 5 million that FOX seems to want to keep a show running. There are other factors involved – like the general low ratings for sci-fi shows like this, and the premiere this week of Watchmen – but anyone with a love of the show and a knowledge of the previous behavior of FOX would be plenty worried at the moment. The show’s future is not helped by my perception from reading blog and forum entries that indicate many people are only lukewarm about it, and are watching in allegiance to Joss and in the hopes that will improve. The latest rumor is that FOX released the reins around episode six, so expect things to liven up then.


I don’t understand how Echo could assume that if she fleed a sexual assault in a hotel, that she could be assured that the hotel security guard would let her inside his office, yet this is the whole key to facilitating the crime. And I have no idea how she was able to escape from the vault just by using the cover of one smoke bomb.

Memorable Moments

  • Echo’s remote mind-wipe while locked in a high-security vault – get out of this one, girl!

Quotable Quotes

"You drop it, I shoot you. Then you don’t get paid, or breathe."
- Langton to the professor

Professor: You shot me!
Langton: Barely.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dollhouse - Save the Show Started 6 Months Before Air Date

What do you think: was the campaign to save Dollhouse, which, incredibly, began six months before the show first aired, started too early, or just in time?

Joss Whedon fans have been burned before by having their favorite shows cancelled after a few episodes. The perfect is example is Firefly, cancelled after a handfull of episodes. Invariably, the cancellation sparks a 'Save the Show' campaign, which must be stated never works. Once a network has decided to cancel a show, they don't reverse themelves.

With this in mind, seriously dedicated Whedon fans began a campaign to save Dollhouse (probably slightly mis-titled) six months before the first show aired. The problem is, it is terribly difficult to talk up and promote a show when no one has seen anything except a short trailer. Still, fans at encouraged other fans to watch the trailer (we assume over and over), get viewing parties ready for 'opening night', buy merchandise, and create fan sites.

However, other fans at worried that too much hype could turn away non-Whedonites and become a self-fulfilling prophesy. It is true that some people, upon hearing that a show is in perceived danger of being cancelled, may decide that this reflects on the quality of the show, and/or may not want to invest their time in following character arcs that are going to end abruptly and without resolution.

No one is sure if Dollhouse will succeed. After three episodes, its viewer numbers are moderate at best. Opinion varies on these viewer numbers, but they are generally considered just passable for a normally weak Friday night audience. Fox initially liked what they saw and upped their original order from 8 episodes to 13. If Firefly is any litmus test, however, there's no guarantee that all episodes will get to air.

At Dollhouse TV Review Zoo, we are hoping that Fox boosts Dollhouse with a little mid-season promotion push, that Joss comes up with a dynamite standalone episode for sweeps week, and that people who are so far watching but unimpressed stick with the show long enough for it to hit stride (which we are told will happen at about episode six).

Can't view the trailer above? Click here

Sunday, March 1, 2009

1.3 Stage Fright

Someone is trying to kill Rayna, a high-profile female pop singer. Echo is imprinted as a background singer to get near Rayna, protect her, and perhaps even take a bullet for her. Dr. Saunders is concerned; she had recommended that Echo only have a romantic engagement for her next assignment, but Topher doesn’t care; besides, they are sending in Sierra as backup.

Rayna is a diva who freaks out if she smells someone sucking on a mint, but she takes to Echo and befriends her, much to the disgust of the other, competing background singers. Echo pays her back by naturally being on the alert. She intercepts paparazzi, but the real killer is lurking nearby, having infiltrated the venue with crutches and smuggled in a sniper rifle.

Ballard meets with Lubov who becomes just another in the long line of people who want to convince him that the Dollhouse is an urban myth like "…alligators in the sewers." Later, Lubov gives Ballard a lead that sends him to the basement of an abandoned hotel, where he is ambushed by Borodin’s men.

In a stunning turn of events, Lubov awakens in Topher chair and Topher addresses him as ‘Victor’ – he’s just another doll.

But the biggest twist of all is that Rayna not only has been communicating with the obsessed, gun-toting fan, but she knows he is going to kill her, and she wants him to, so she can be free of her life. Sierra is sent in masquerading as Rayna’s number one fan, but when the sniper can’t get Rayna, he kidnaps Sierra instead. Echo deviates from her programming and uses Rayna as bait to protect and rescue Sierra. She’s got the whole thing under control, despite Laurence’s misgivings about her back at the house; she not only rescues Audra/Sierra, but she subdues the psycho and renews Rayna’s will to live!

As mentioned, Laurence is not happy. First, he confronts Topher and accuses him of being really bad at his job. Then he recommends that Echo be placed somewhere called ‘the attic’ as he believes she is a liability. But DeWitt defends her.

In the final scene, Sierra and Echo pass each other in the house. Sierra smiles and walks over toward Echo, but Echo shakes her head no. Sierra picks up on this and just keeps walking, simulating the zombie state that apparently is becoming more and more of an act.


There’s a great analogy between Rayna’s perception of her life as a factory-created singer with no personality of her own, destined only to fulfill others fantasies and needs.

Everything is tied up too beautifully and somewhat unbelievably by that clever Echo, although there are no obvious plot holes there – just an amazing happy ending.

This episode got a slightly poorer rating in some internet polls; also, I believe it rated lower in viewer numbers. People are going to start wondering, worrying, and speculating over the long-term future of Dollhouse, but I still think its high production values and strong basic concept could see it renewed beyond its initial run.

Memorable Moments

Þ   Echo hitting Rayna with a chair

Quotable Quotes

Dr Saunders: You shouldn’t have taken the arrow out – you could have bled to death. And a broadhead arrow does more damage coming out.
Boyd Langton: I’ll remember that the next time I’m being bowhunted.

Lubov: I’m a friend of Paul
Mellie: Really.
Lubov: An old friend from Navy. A friend from Old Navy; I did retail before; he would buy slacks.

"Friends help each other out."
- Echo to the unconscious Rayna (repeated line)