Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dollhouse "Haunted" (TV Review)

[To save on time and effort, I figured I'd post my review of Dollhouse on the jaded viewer early. Enjoy!]

If the Dollhouse gets murdered by the Fox execs, can it be brought back to life? Oddly, with the talk of the DVD and the mysterious “13th episode” being included, the DVD kinda acts like a Dollhousey imprint…right?

So not to worry folks. If Fox does cancel our little awesome-rific show, we can all bring it back to life by buying 2 DVDs each of the show. It’ll be a crazy bestseller which then will force Fox to go all Family Guy rewind and bring the show back to life.

See everything will work out fine. Wait. This is the same network that cancelled Arrested Development and apologized right?

Oh crap. Never mind.

In this week’s episode of the Dollhouse Echo gets the imprint of Adelle’s BFF who was murdered and she has to solve her own death. We also see Topher and his BFF geek out and we see Paul and his BFF the ever sleeping doll, Mellie go boink crazy. It’s BFF-palooza!

Addy and her BFF

The big Riddler question mark this week concerning the human condition in the Dollhouse universe is whether or not the Dollhouse allows people to live forever. As we open the episode, Margaret a super duper rich woman gets murdered while horseback riding. Seems she’s been a client of the Dollhouse and been brain scanning her mind in case something like this happened.

Adelle and Margie are best of friends and though sad at the loss of her friend, Margie needs to find out who killed her. After attending her own funeral, we go all Scooby Doo and we find out who the suspects are.

Could it be….

1.) The womanizing slacker son?
2.) The photographer daughter?
3.) The drunken older brother?
4.) The young, exotic husband?
5.) The staff?

Margie as an imprinted Echo has casual, Wilma like conversations with all of the above. Being careful as to not divulge her true identity, she gets to hear what they really thought of her as a mother, wife and sister.

OK. I gotta chime in here. I know last post I was asking for a standalone, imprint of the week episode so we can lure other viewers to the show. Well you know what? I’m an idiot. That was a bad idea. This is because these types of shows are just boring and muddled. It’s a standard sci-fi premise to explore what would happen if your memories could be transferred to another body when you died.

I mean Star Trek did this a million times.

So nothing new is being explored. We all understand that everybody’s perspectives of you would be different. That people would be more brutally honest about what they thought of you. It’s a gimmick that has been done to death, and then brought back to life by other sci-fi shows. What really more needs to be said? Bad choice here by the writers on crafting this little regurgitated mess of a gimmick.

The debate of using the Dollhouse tech to have people live forever is also sorta clich├ęd as well. We’ve all heard the same issues regarding cloning and sci-fi movies talk about the morality issues implicit with such a thing.

I just didn’t think the show needed to explore any of these issues. So another episode was wasted by Joss and company. We’re deep in our end zone, in the 4th quarter and it’s 2nd down and long. And this is the big play you come up with?


I’m an angry emoticon right now. Let’s turn that to a smiley face. So let’s talk about the Topher and his BFF.

Topher and his BFF

In a nice change of pace, Topher has to run an annual “yada yada yada diagnostic” which turns out as we see, that Sierra being imprinted with a geek playmate for Topher for the day. Sierra could probably be the hottest nerdette ever in the history of TV.

So what does Topher do with his Active for a day?

1.) Play Speeforce 3 on Xbox 360
2.) Throw a football and talk about classic sci-fi errors
3.) Play Laser tag

This leads to the quotable of the day as Sierra talks to Topher about having some fun with the Actives. I am positive Jane Espenson wrote this.

Geeky Sierra: Speaking of sci-fi, can we play with the sleepies?
Topher: No.
Geeky Sierra: C’mon Topher. We can have them battle one another and bet on them like Gladiators.
Topher: We can’t play with the sleepies.
Geeky Sierra: Or we could have them act out skits we write, film it and see who gets more hits on YouTube.
Topher: That’s not a bad idea, but no.

I’ve poured over the message boards as well folks trying to figure out who Topher imprinted into Sierra. Some say it’s himself, while others say it’s a geeky “man friend”. The mystery of Topher is he is the single most important person in the Dollhouse. Without him, there is no Dollhouse. DeWitt probably doesn’t even allow him to leave HQ.
As it’s a solitary life for Topher, I’m guessing this little present by Dewitt every year on his birthday is a way to keep the dude happy.

Poor Topher.

I’m sure Ivy is just a geeky BFF when she’s not getting him snacks and juice boxes. I’m telling you, these kids are the next Xander and Anya. Get them together.

Good comic relief for all us nerdy Whedonheads who love the word party, pop culture dial-licious dialogue.

Paul and his BFF

Paul Ballard has a lot on his mind. We know he knows Mellie is an Active and that’s complicated his relationship. He and Mellie are just out of synced. And we all know why.

Ballard (still in Dollhouse case mode) has Mellie’s fingerprints run through the FBI database. As it mysteriously gets erased, he convinces his colleague that something isn’t right. Yay. A converted dollhouse believer.

When Mellie starts to tell Ballard how she feels and is in love with him, our man Paul goes into rough sex mode and goes all hot and heavy with her.

It’s obvious what’s going on with Paul. His gritty boink session with Mellie is his way of expressing he is a “client” with a doll. He can’t actually have a relationship with her anymore because she is one of the “kidnapped” Dollhouse victims he’s trying to save.

I’m not sure where they’re going to go with Mellie but I’m going to go all Nostradamus here and predict Mellie/November is going to die.

Yes I said it. She will die in the season (series?) finale.

That will push Paul over the edge and become a rogue Dollhouse hunter. It’s all about the recycled Whedon show plot lines to keep us tuned ya know?
Addy and her BFF (the conclusion)

So as Margie goes all interrogationy on everyone, we all get potential motives and scenarios on making each of our suspects the killer. The brother arrived mysteriously a day early. Her daughter disliked her mother because she didn’t support her art and her son had a gambling problem. Even Jack, the husband is selling the horses she gave him in her will.

Later, her son discovers Echo is really his mother and the final mystery is revealed. Spoiler Alert!

A gratuitous chase ensues with Jack, her son and Echo. In a final twist, it turns out the son killed his mom via a horse tranquilizer/steroid concoction to pay off his gambling debts.

In the final scene, Margie returns to the Dollhouse and is wiped.

All in all, this episode is slightly below mediocre. Nothing new is introduced and our characters lives become more complicated. Topher’s little “date” adds more personality for “our voice” in the Dollhouse and we get Paul becoming more Angelish than ever.

This is probably one of the more forgettable episodes of the series so far. With the last 3 shows determining whether Dollhouse will see another day, you’d think we’d get more serialistic WTF and OMG episodes that push the main story arc.

With Alpha returning in the final two, we’re going to get just that. But by then, it may be too late. And I don’t want to get an apology years later explaining “Oops, we made a mistake on canceling Dollhouse.”

That would plain suck.

Here be the "Haunted" promo.


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