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Dollhouse: Season One
From Joss Whedon comes a new groundbreaking show starring Eliza Dushku as Echo, an operative in an underground organization that provides hired personas for various missions.
||Eliza Dushku, Harry J. Lennix, Tahmoh Penikett, Fran Kranz, Enver Gjokaj|
||AC-3, Box set, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen|
||English, French, Spanish, Portuguese|
|Number of Discs:
||Twentieth Century Fox|
|DVD Release Date:
||July 28, 2009|
|Average Customer Rating:
|| based on 358 reviews|
Average Customer Review:
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167 of 180 found the following review helpful:
Don't believe the hype...May 24, 2009
...this show is *actually* GOOD. What I mean is that Dollhouse is not good simply because Whedon fans worship at the shrine of Whedon and therefore cannot be trusted to tell you the real deal. In a lot of ways, it's a shame that this show was so hyped from the beginning, because it didn't get a chance to gradually develop a fanbase in its own right, but was instead touted as a show sustained merely by Whedon fans. While I admit to being a Whedon fan, which compelled me to watch it even through some shaky episodes, here's the scoop:
In the beginning of the show, what we learn is that a woman named Caroline (Eliza Dushku) has agreed (or was coerced) to download her personality into cyber storage, and some shady organization rents her body out to the highest bidder for various "engagements." We see that these engagements can involve sexual fantasy (hence the dubbing "cathouse" by the critics), or perhaps something that requires personality-combo platters in order to complete some sort of high risk, spy-type mission. A lot of negative reviews here refer to the first five episodes. And, yes, the first five establishing "mission of the week" episodes are surfacy and disconnected, but it's really the journey of the series arc (and character growth) that will ultimately make for some passionate tv. (And though these first five episodes were not the highlight of the season, there are some gems of ideas in there. For instance, one episode pays homage to Cornell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game", which is based on quite a chilling concept.)
Now that we've got the darned hype out of the way, let's talk about the show, as it evolves in Episode 6. (Incidentally, the theme of episode 6 is very similar to the unaired pilot episode on the dvd release, which was awesome, and epitomizes Joss's idea of the show - excellent). Now instead of just seeing the sexual fantasy episodes in terms of some hokey emporer's club cathouse (which, let's face it, is something that already exists out there for the kind of money these clients are paying), we start to see the NEEDS that these fantasies fulfill in the clients. And here's the thing: even though we do not approve of what they're doing, we start to sympathize with, and in some cases even begin to care about, these clients. And here is one place where we begin to see the brilliance and fascinating challenge that this show presents, and will continue to present, to its viewers (bring on Neuromancer!).
This is a show that lives and thrives in a very gray area - it's unclear who the heroes might or might not be, and this is shaping up to be a nuanced, character-driven ensemble show (with an extremely talented cast). At its heart, this is a show about the identity of "self" without memory. About science and ethics. About exposing our darkest human fantasies, and exploring the root of the needs that create them. The show is not just about the "dolls," but is also about the clients - WHY do they need a fake person to save them? And what could have possibly compelled these "dolls" to have given away their memories in the first place? And then there's the dollhouse itself...why does it exist? Who are these people that babysit and program the dolls - what's their story?
The extras on this dvd set are worth buying, especially the unaired thirteenth episode, "Epitaph One". Without giving too much away, it's a little like CLOVERFIELD meets THE MATRIX meets SERENITY, Dollhouse style. The commentaries are great - Joss has much to say about episode 6 and a very conspicuous not much to say about episode 1 ("oh, look, people are pretty, and I'm hungry right now"), which is exactly what you'd expect, especially given how amazing the unaired pilot episode was.
All in all, this show is a little bit ALIAS (except replace awesome disguises with personalities), a little bit BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (except replace "Cylon" with "doll"), a little bit LOST (except replace "island" with "dollhouse"), and a lot Whedon (exploring the essence of humanity and individual identity through grandiose metaphor). Assuming that the show is allowed to breathe and grow into its full potential, we're in for even more thought-provoking, heart-breaking, butt-kicking entertainment. Trust me, you don't want to miss out on the ride!
**Addition to review**
While the actors who were less well known (to me) on this show were all outstanding, here are some highlights:
Eliza Dushku (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Tru Calling)
Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica)
Amy Acker (Angel, Alias)
Other guest stars you may recognize from Firefly, Buffy, and Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog
Announced (by Fox press release) for Season 2:
Summer Glau (Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)
Alexis Denisof (Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica)
Keith Kerridine (Dexter)
611 of 685 found the following review helpful:
A flawed diamondMay 23, 2009
By the antiquary
Ok, so the series starts off with Joss Whedon, celebrated writer-director-composer, except no-one wants to work with him, then he has a hit web show, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and he catches the attention of the dark and shadowy Fox Corporation. Fox wipe Joss's brain to make him forget that he worked for them before and they became mortal enemies.
So now Fox can make Joss do whatever they want, everyday they activate Joss and set him to work making a television series for them called Dollhouse. Everything works out fine for them. The show is flashy, cool, sexy, confusing, humourless, disconnected and unengaging. Without the real Joss to complain Fox don't even have to spend much cash on it. But can the technology Fox has used really remove all of a person's memories, their sense of self, their soul?
As he works from episode to episode it becomes apparent that Joss starts to remember who he is, but knowing he shouldn't draw attention to this fact he keeps it to himself and works slowly to improve Dollhouse from within. From episode 6 `Man on the Street' flashes of brilliance begin to save the show, culminating in the superb episode 9 `A Spy in the House of Love', by now Dollhouse has become gripping, funny, dark and touching with an intelligent and complex storyline that has people thinking. Joss is even able to help other people taken over by Fox and makes Eliza Dushku realise that she is an actress.
By the end of the series we have been taken to a place we little imagined in the beginning. I won't give any spoilers but Dollhouse does end with Joss improbably winning renewal for a second series, this time will he be out to revenge himself on the people who did this to him and turn out a flawless piece of work from the start?
100 of 116 found the following review helpful:
Brilliant Show In Every Sense Of The Word!May 02, 2009
I am writing this review one week away from the finale and I have to say this show is easily the best new show of this season.
Yes, true that the first half of the season is much slower in terms of action and suspense than the latter half but do we really expect to go into a brand new show with mysteries and action coming at you from all directions? It would have proved to be a little overwhelming.
With that said, I'm one of the rare few that appreciated the time given to adjust to the concept of the show and to understand and develop a care for the characters. Many viewers went into the show with this expectation of what the show should be simply because it is a Joss Whedon creation.
With that level of expectation, it of course resulted in major disappointment and in turn created this whole frenzy about the show's survival which ultimately hurt the enjoyment of the show.
Refused to stress over the fate of the show, I decided to watch the show for what it is and am truly satisfied with it. Both the writing and acting has been nothing short of being superb and like any Joss Whedon show, it is inevitable for you to fall in love with the characters.
Not only do you find yourself falling in love with the lead character - Echo, you soon find that you can't help but care for those around her as well. Like her fellow doll, Sierra played by the incredible Dichen Lachman who has this coolness about her that makes it really enjoyable to watch every time she takes on the character of a under cover agent as well as the "cold hearted boss woman" Adelle played by Olivia Williams. Adelle is easily the most complex character on the show. There are just so many layers to that character and you feel her pain and her loneliness and you care despite of that tough exterior and that is something you look for in a character. Props to Joss Whendon on this one!
Buffy fans like myself would be pleased to know that Eliza Dushku is back kicking butt in this show. In fact there are many moments in which Echo reminded me of Faith.
Yes, it is still uncertain if the show would be back for another season but there's absolutely no doubt as to if you should get this DVD. Go into the show with a open mind that's all the advice I have to give.
I already pre-ordered my copy so get yours today! and let's hope FOX have enough sense to renew them for a 2nd season.
60 of 72 found the following review helpful:
One of the most inventive, challenging shows on televisionMay 09, 2009
By Robert Moore
Over the past fifteen years, no one has made more interesting television than Joss Whedon. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER helped revolutionize television, not only making the empowered female hero a staple of television, but popularizing the long story arc and introducing the concept of the body count. ANGEL did little innovation in its own right, but still managed to roll out several seasons of excellent and consistently fascinating television. And FIREFLY not only brought new ground by blending the Western and Sci-fi, but brought a grittiness to the genre that later BATTLESTAR GALACTICA took to new heights. DOLLHOUSE, however, is both a far more challenging and adventurous series than any of these. Is it as consistently successful as these? Absolutely not. Does it represent Joss Whedon's best work? Here the answer gets dicey. Speaking strictly on the basis of what has been shown so far the answer would be "No," but a more honest and accurate answer would be, "Potentially."
It is no secrete that DOLLHOUSE is considered a long shot to be renewed. The fault largely has to be laid at the feet of the executives of FOX. This show, unlike virtually every other show that FOX has ever done, is cutting edge and adventurous, taking risks unlike anything else you'll find on commercial TV. Had the show been placed on any night of the week other than Friday it unquestionably would have attracted a healthy viewership. After all, there is no question that a large number of people are actually watching it. Between live viewers on the "death night" of Friday, the large number of people who DVR the show, the huge number of people who download it via Torrents, and those who buy it on iTunes or Amazon's Unbox, a whole lot of people watch this show. But FOX shoved the show into the least promising time slot of the entire week, Friday nights. And what was the result? What anyone would imagine it would be: no one watched it live. DVR? Yes. Download? Yes. But live? No. The problem with Friday nights is that everyone in the 18-49 age group that advertisers desire is that they are all out doing stuff. The shows that have good ratings that night, like GHOST WHISPERER, attracts primarily viewers over the age of 49. FOX is responsible for the low ratings of DOLLHOUSE by not putting it on a better night. But despite that it has a show that plenty of people are watching, only not live.
DOLLHOUSE is built around an extremely difficult concept: people voluntarily (though not uncoerced) agreeing to become more or less indentured servants (which also involves nothing short of prostitution). Imprinted with the personalities who anyone needed for their jobs, the "Actives" who populate the Dollhouse can undertake virtually any job imaginable, for a fee. The first several episodes were somewhat slow and dragged a bit, a series of standalone episodes strongly encouraged by FOX. But once the show moved away from the "assignment of the week" it became the most bracing and exciting hour on television. The second half of the season featured one absolutely breathtaking episode after another, culminating in the final two, where the mysterious "Alpha" finally put in an appearance (played by the wonderful Alan Tudyk) makes his appearance. The show featured one startling twist and shock after another, some that could be anticipated (like many, I had guessed something crucial about Amy Acker's character)) and others that could not. It became a show that was the least predictable on TV.
The question now is whether FOX will allow us to find out what happens next. Due to their terrible decision to put the show on Friday nights the ratings bombed (the original plan was to put the show on Mondays just before 24), which is unfortunately still the only came in town for the networks and advertisers, despite the otherwise large number of people who watch the series. I do have one hope for the continuance of DOLLHOUSE as we know it. Kevin Reilly, the head of FOX since the summer of 2007, has not been out-of-control in canceling shows. Unlike the FOX of the past, the Kevin Reilly FOX has been far more sober in canceling shows (though he has inexplicably renewed what is arguably the most hated show on TV, `TIL DEATH, which has the lowest viewer rating of any active show on TV). While head of NBC, Reilly made a habit of renewing critically acclaimed but low-rated series, like 30 ROCK, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, and THE OFFICE. Two of those three later became hits. My hope with DOLLHOUSE is that Reilly will remember that great shows have a potential of growing an audience, if you put them on the right night.
DOLLHOUSE is one of many shows of recent years that focuses extensively or even primarily on the question of what makes a person. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, for instance, dealt at length about who could be said to be a person. In the first three seasons of that show Sharon Agathon (who was, interestingly, involved with Karl Agathon, who was played by Tahmoh Penikett, who plays FBI agent Paul Ballard on DOLLHOUSE) is at the center of whether or not she is a person, despite being a cybernetic machine. Living in a world where our self-identities are often the construct of the things that we identify with and purchase, products of the consumer society in which we live. Questions of authenticity are at the heart of our society. If you know many of the thinkers and writers with whom Joss Whedon is familiar there is no question that he is familiar with these kinds of issues. Many are not comfortable with this. Whedon made his mark as one of the great feminists on television (and interestingly DOLLHOUSE stars Eliza Dushku, whose mother, like Whedon's, is a well known feminist). He has taken a lot of flak for the prostitution that the "Dolls" on the show engage in. The women are very much victims and there are few images of empowered women, completely unlike BUFFY with Buffy and Willow, ANGEL with Fred and Cordelia, and FIREFLY with River and Zoe. But the world is messy and complex and heavily nuanced. This show interacts and dialogues with that complexity. We are having a crisis of identity. We allow too many influences in society dictate who we are. How can we be authentic human beings when we do not have control over our own personhood? These questions transcend issues of feminism and penetrate to the question of what it means to be a person.
Although there may not be a Season Two of DOLLHOUSE, Joss Whedon has produced a wonderfully self-contained series even if it doesn't continue. Unliked the vast majority of TV creators and writers, Whedon has always felt that each season of a series should end in a way so that if it is the last episode, fans aren't left unnecessarily suffering. The final episode of ever season of every show he has done has not ended on a cliffhanger unless the show had already been renewed before production on the finale had begun. Seasons One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven of BUFFY as well as Seasons One, Two, Four, and Five of ANGEL could all serve as series ends. They already knew that ANGEL had been renewed when the finale of Season Three was filming. FIREFLY was cancelled right in the middle of filming, so it never had the opportunity of any kind of ending.
The DVDs will feature an episode that FOX currently has no plan on broadcasting. It guest stars Felicia Day (one of the Potentials from Season Seven of BUFFY and the love female lead in DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-ALONG BLOG) and purportedly does some exceptionally over-the-top things. Kristin of Eonline has reported that if FOX does not renew DOLLHOUSE, Joss Whedon is interested in developing a new show out of that final though unbroadcast episode of DOLLHOUSE. Hopefully, this time he will try to do something on one of the cable networks. Instead of FOX, I would like to see him on the Sci Fi channel (or as it is soon to be known, SyFy) or HBO or Showtime or even AMC. Because we haven't seen this episode yet, we have no idea what direction a new Joss Whedon series based on this would look like. But if it is even a fraction as interesting as DOLLHOUSE, I am game. The truth is, this show should never have been on FOX to begin with. That it did was a result of Eliza Dushku having a contract with FOX to develop a new show. She immediately asked Joss Whedon to create that show. I think she has done a great job as Echo in the series, but I hope that we'll continue to see her either on FOX in this show or on a cable channel in the same role on a new show.
Will this be the end of DOLLHOUSE? I hope not. I had grown to have almost no interest in FOX and hadn't been watching any FOX shows in several seasons, but first with TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES and then with DOLLHOUSE and FRINGE, I thought it was finally becoming a network that was interested in exciting and complex programming. And maybe it will be. Time will tell. But here is what confuses me. There is no shortage of great series on TV. But so many of those shows are lightly watched. Some are on cable and as a result are sheltered by lowered expectations. MAD MEN, BREAKING BAD, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, and TRUE BLOOD are all interesting or even great shows that get very few viewers, far less than even failing shows on CBS or NBC or ABC. Then there are more heavily watched shows like PUSHING DAISIES, ELI STONE, TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, CHUCK, and DOLLHOUSE that either get cancelled or are in danger of cancellation because they are on one of the broadcast networks. There is no question that the television industry is broken. Viewership is in decline for all the networks for all evenings. There is little to indicate that this is going to reverse. But the networks have not managed to come up with any kind of functional model to deal with lessened viewership. FOX can't figure out what to do with shows like TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES and DOLLHOUSE that are heavily watched but have few live viewers. If FOX cancels them, in their place will go two other shows with perhaps even fewer viewers and far less critical buzz.
Whatever happens, we at least got one splendid season of the always-fascinating Joss Whedon. Hopefully we'll get more seasons of DOLLHOUSE. If not, more seasons of some new Joss Whedon series.
May 15, 2009 -- Awesome news!!!! Against hope FOX has renewed DOLLHOUSE for a second season! The Hollywood Reporter broke the story but it has since been confirmed by some writers on the show. It has been renewed for only 13 episodes, which is similar to what has happened to CHUCK and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. But unless one wants to quibble with the number of episodes, this is great news. The one fly in the ointment is that FOX is apparently keeping the show on Friday night. It seems that they have decided to keep a show going that a core group of people care passionately about rather than a show that might get slightly more viewers, but who don't care that much one way or another.
11 of 11 found the following review helpful:
Dollhouse Season Premiere "Ghost"Feb 16, 2009
I finally got the opportunity to see Joss Whedan's new television drama Dollhouse on Fox. It aired Friday, but thanks to Fox's website, I was able to stream the full episode online.
In Dollhouse, Buffy and Angel alum Eliza Dushku plays a young woman known only as "Echo." She's one of the "Actives" or "Dolls" who inhabit a top secret facility known as the Dollhouse. The "Dolls" are people who have had their personalities wiped clean, leaving them as nothing but human shells that can be imprinted with new personalities -including memories, muscle memory and skills. The Dolls are available for loan to the highest bidder for any mission you can think of -from adult fantasies to crimes or assassinations.
Echo is just one of the Dolls who make up the Dollhouse's highly illegal operation. Even though only one other Doll has been introduced, Sierra, there seem to been dozens of Dolls wandering aimlessly around the facility, waiting for their next mission. Echo, as implied by the first episode, starts to become self-aware in her doll state and starts to regain memories of her past life. To make matters worse, Paul Bellard , an FBI agent, has dedicated his life to tracking down the mythical Dollhouse and bringing it down. As the series opens, he is getting dangerously close to finding it.
Sounds confusing, doesn't it? The concept is definitely well developed, but it's a little more complex than Joss's other shows. I had read little to nothing about the show prior to watching it, and it took about 15 minutes until I half-understand what was going on and the concept behind the Dolls. Once I did, however, I found it hard to accept that something like this could exist without the government or some kind of humanitarian group going after it.
Past that, the pilot episode, "Ghost" was very fast-paced and full of edge-of-your seat excitement. Echo is imprinted with an expert conflict resolution personality to help a man get his kidnapped daughter back. The story falls primarily into a crime drama-type formula, but with the added element of introducing new characters who struggle with the ethical issues surrounding the Dollhouse. Even though I feel like Joss didn't do the best possible job of introducing the audience to the cast members or making their objectives clear, he was able to clearly explain the overall premise of the show to the casual viewer.
The main issue I had with this episode is that I found myself constantly confused by something. I didn't understand the Dollhouse, once I felt like I got that down I tried figuring out who the characters where. I think that of the seven cast regulars, I figured out three of their purposes about 30 minutes in. I had to rely on Internet research to understand to others...or even to get names.
I was also surprised by the lack of humor here. I know that Joss can kick it serious sometimes, but so far Dollhouse lacks his trademark humor and quirks. It did have a large amount of Buffy and Angel alumni, which can make it difficult for Whedan fans to see them as a different characters.
Maybe this is Joss's attempt at being more serious? If so, then he succeeded -Dollhouse is a unique drama that shows promise as a new show, as long as the plot continues to move forward, the characters are better developed and Fox keeps the same time slot. The pilot was a hint above average to me, but it showcased a great new cast of characters in a fascinating new world. However, the series seems to be in a delicate state right now -if we don't get answers in the next few episodes, it could easily go the way of Firefly, Joss's failed TV space western.
Will I watch again next week? Yes, but I haven't quite gotten hooked yet.
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