Saturday, February 21, 2009

TV Review: This is definitely not Ibsen's "A Doll's House"

Anyone who has read earlier posts knows that I'm a big fan of Joss Whedon, creator of compelling, smart, and entertaining TV like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, the sorely mistreated Firefly (damn you, FOX TV), and most recently, Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog. Even with this track record, I watched the first episode of Whedon's new series, Dollhouse, with some trepidation.

First, the story -- young woman agrees to 5 years in the employ of a mysterious organization that wipes her memories and replaces them with those of other people with other skills as the request of wealthy clients -- just struck me as creepy and unpleasant (hey a TV show about human trafficking and an organization pimping out the perfect prostitutes...Must See TV!!). Secondly, the star of the show is Eliza Dushku who played psycho Slayer Faith on Buffy and, in her younger years, the 14-year old daughter in peril in True Lies. While Dushku's flat presentation was fine as Faith, I questioned whether she had the acting chops to play new, varied characters every week and make us care about her, especially hard because she is playing a different character each week.

After watching the premiere, my questions remain unanswered. Dushku either walks around with a blank, airy look when appearing as the memory-wiped Echo or walks around looking and sounding like Eliza Dusku in sexy librarian glasses while playing a hostage negotiator (I was never really clear while a billionaire would go to the Dollhouse for a hostage negotiator in the first place). And my concerns about the basic premise? Still there as the first character we see Dushku inhabit (albeit briefly) is a motorcycle-racing sex kitten who spent three days giving a rich kid his ultimate weekend for his birthday. The only signs of life are from her conflicted handler, Boyd Langdon (played by Harry Lennix) and FBI agent Paul Ballard (Battlestar Galactica's Tahmoh Penikett) who is convinced that the Dollhouse exists in the face of pushback from his supervisors.

It's still early days yet (episode 2 awaits on the DVR) but so far I'm not sold on Dollhouse, not matter how good Whedon's track record has been so far.

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