star trek mccoy/spock

A spoiler-free review of Dollhouse

I'm mixed on the latest Dollhouse, the mythical episode #6 that's supposed to not suck, unlike the previous 5. Which, I will confirm for you, did indeed suck. Particularly s01e05, which featured groanworthy writing right up with Whedon masterpieces like "Teacher's Pet" and "Go Fish". Number 6 sort of didn't suck. But it also sort of made me think Whedon feels contempt for his audience. Not Coen-Brothers-level contempt, but I can feel the lurking sneer.

I can see that he needed setup for this episode. He really ought to have compressed the backstory, though. Three episodes, three better episodes that restricted Dushku to roles she could handle, and my reaction might not have been, "Finally! Finally you're doing something. I could still predict every plot twist, but at least it's finally twisting!"

Is this a recommendation? Probably not. What I recommend you do is wait for season 1 to finish, then get a reaction from somebody who isn't a frothing Whedon fanboy. If your reliable non-fannish barometer likes it, you can Netflix it or something. In the meantime, if you want a good SFnal take on this chestnut of an SFnal concept, I can probably dig up some reading recs.

Random: Let's get in the mood for the Star Trek movie by watching "Spock's Brain" performed live. Or perhaps this interview with the man who staged it. Via MeFi.
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I'd rather watch "Go Fish" again. The dialog in "Go Fish" was better. "Go Fish" didn't retread stereotypes as obviously as s01e05 did. "Go Fish" was funny in flashes.

It's just occurred to me that Whedon's themes in Dollhouse are pretty much the ones that made me grind my teeth about BtVS season 7. I wonder if he'll end Dollhouse with a similar murky-subtext event.

My interpretation of BtVS s7 is that Whedon first grinds it into us that the Slayers' origins are an act of rape perpetuated by the Shadowmen on young girls; that Buffy's empowerment as the Slayer is slowly destroying her humanity and her life; and that her Whedon-approved solution to this is to share the rape by inflicting the same miseries on a bunch of unconsenting and unwitting women. All of whom, the comics tell us, are coincidentally teen-aged and good-looking. Because that's who deserves empowerment.

Dollhouse is gonna cover the same territory. Bet you a dollar.
Here's the thing: because we all knew and loved Xander by that point, when we watched him strut out and then get all self-conscious in that Speedo, we grinned and cringed with him. We admired and felt empathy, because there was a character there to empathize with. And we knew he'd joke about it.

With the Dollhouse setup, only a sort of horrified pity is possible. Empathy? With Echo? It's creepy. And there's no funny. There needs to be teh funny. It's Whedon's strength.
*nods vigorously*

I don't even need to have watched Dollhouse to see the point you're making.
I agree about 1000%. Ep 6 was better, but I'm still a bit resentful about those other five hours I'll never get back, and the fact that it's supposed to be ok, because it's Him.
I fear I've swung the other way and started judging it more harshly because it's the Wheedster. But then, I'd never have watched it in the first place if he hadn't been involved. The word of mouth from my friends and coworkers has been "stopped watching after episode 2".
You're pretty much nailed why I don't like Firefly (the guessing how the whole episode is going to end part within the first 10 minutes).

As for Dollhouse, my skeeve-o-meter has been off the charts from the start on this one, to the point that I haven't seen any of it. JW's interviews has convinced me I've made the right choice, about sneering at your audience.

Of course, I have a feeling that he's been sneering at the audience since Buffy S6 when people stopped watching the show in droves. If I heard one more interview where his point could be boiled down to, "Well, the audience is too stupid to get it..." I was going to scream.

But, yeah, there's a very definite vibe from JW that he's pretty much resigned to Dollhouse failing and he's setting up the blame already, i.e., the network, the audience, and you can bet the actors (as usual) will be blamed as well.
I liked Firefly-- loved Wash and Zoe, loved Kaylee. Overall plot, eh, maybe not. Whedon's strength is not SF, I think. But Firefly was funny, and it led me to Buffy, so I am fond of it.

This, though, absolute agreement on the skeeve-o-meter. Whedon is getting to eat his sexploitation cake and then have it, too, by telling us how bad we are for enjoying those lovely legs on that mindless doll.

Edit: grammar.

Edited at 2009-03-25 01:45 am (UTC)
Me too. Made me want to watch the original again, too, which I haven't seen in donkey's years. Bad dialog and all.