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Five Things You Need To Know about Dollhouse
1. It has a lot in common with Firefly.
Stop me if you’re heard this one before. Joss Whedon creates a television show with an excellent cast, a team of writers that includes Jane Espenson and Tim Minear, a major overarching storyline, memorable dialogue, and a fair dose of toying with viewers’ feelings. FOX picks up the show, puts it in the Friday night death slot, fails to promote it well, and, eventually buries it. The intended final episode of season one is not aired as planned. The show’s cult following riots over the cancelation but is ultimately unable to save the series. Alan Tudyk and Summer Glau make appearances; Glau’s character is a little bit mentally unhinged. Worst case of television-induced deja vu ever.
2. We get a bit of a Buffy/Angel reunion in season 2.
No, no. Don’t get TOO excited. I did not intend to mislead you with that statement: Buffy and Angel themselves do not get a reunion here (sadface), but Alexis Denisof shows up for a recurring role in season 2, thus facilitating a Buffy/Angel cast reunion for himself and star Eliza Dushku. If you didn’t know by now that Mr. Whedon likes to reuse actors that he knows he can trust, this is me pointing out the obvious. Firefly’s Nathan Fillion shows up on season 7 of Buffy, and Gina Torres shows up on Angel. As mentioned in item number one, their costars Summer Glau and Alan Tudyk show up on Dollhouse, along with Mr. Denisof. Angel’s Amy Acker is in the entire series. (Sadly enough, Denisof and Acker don’t do a whole lot of interacting on Dollhouse.) Tons of Buffy stars wound up making appearances on Angel at one point or another. Dollhouse cast member Enver Gjokaj shows up for a brief cameo in The Avengers…and did you SEE the cast list for Much Ado About Nothing? Uh, yeah. Point made, and those were just off the top of my head.
3. Joss created Dollhouse for and with Eliza Dushku.
Deservedly so. As active doll Echo, Dushku has to take on at least two roles per episode, none of which really repeats, and she does it with ease. She’d better have done it with ease, seeing as how all of the craziness was at her request. Says Dushku herself, “I love Joss: with Dollhouse he gave me exactly what I asked for! I told him I didn’t want to dress up in the same wardrobe every day and play the same character day-in and day-out. He gave me my own personality playground, and said ‘Okay, you talked a big game, here you go.’” (Credit: SFX magazine’s special edition, “Worlds of Whedon,” Eliza Dushku feature page 22) Well Eliza, be careful what you wish for…you’ll get it, but FOX will screw it up and take it away from you.
4. The supporting cast is one of the best ensembles Whedon has ever put together, even though they’re not generally respected as such.
Not only did we get the stars from Firefly and Angel mentioned above, who are uber talented in their own right, but we also get a ton of other great actors as well. Enver Gjokaj and Dichen Lachman are cast as dolls, so like Dushku, they have to play different characters every week. And nail them. Like Dushku, they meet the challenge with ease. We get to see Tahmoh Penikett of Battlestar: Galactica fame kick major booty as Agent Ballard, Fran Kranz (speaking of guys Whedon later reuses…) as morally questionable but brilliant Topher Brink, and Olivia Williams is a revelation as Adelle DeWitt. That’s not to say anything of the complexities of Harry Lennix’s turn as Boyd Langton or the hard work that Reed Diamond did as Mr. Dominic…
5. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is as it seems.
I don’t want to say much about this because I don’t want to spoil anyone who might be a first-time viewer during our binge, but seriously, don’t think you know anything. Whatever you think you know about the dollhouse? Forget it. On a show where some faces are MEANT to be playing multiple characters, don’t expect anybody to really be who they say they are. Just because you don’t know someone works for the dollhouse doesn’t mean that they don’t, and just because someone appears to be working on one side of the moral compass, it doesn’t mean they are. Everybody has a past. Everybody has secrets. Everybody has an agenda. I hope I haven’t said too much.
You’ve been warned.