"She can be anyone, except herself"
I enjoyed finally watching the pilot of Dollhouse last night. Not the unaired pilot, mind you, just the one Fox chose to show us, which was a little bit confusing and offputting. The premise of the show is delivered through some really terrible exposition. It's about an illegal laboratory operation where people who have gotten themselves into some trouble can have their identities erased - for a price, obviously. We are given the story of Echo, the incredibly beautiful and talented Eliza Dushku, as an example. She has gotten herself into a fix she can't get out of, and choses to give herself to the Dollhouse for a five year term. Her memory and personality are erased, and she gets loaded up with different people's minds for different assignments. In this first episode, we see how she can be given all of the knowledge of a hostage and kidnapping negotiator and perform this woman's job using all of her skills, which have been loaded into her head Matrix style.
Without the original pilot, the show was a bit confusing, and explained some things in a really obvious way, while leaving others too convoluted and vague. The premise is hammered in our faces between the first several scenes, but then we have this interesting sideplot of a cop trying to find the Dollhouse and his actions have far too little context. I wasn't surprised when I checked out a summary of the unaired pilot from imdb: "FBI Agent Paul Ballard searches for Caroline, a missing person, who may be connected to a Dollhouse. A place that people say doesn't exist." Oh, so that's why I didn't know what the FBI agent was up to and why the dialogues with this character seemed to act like we should know all about him. Thanks, Fox.
I'm hoping that the next episode will be better in terms of not treating the audience like they're in grade school. We don't need everything spelled out to us Joss, and I'm disappointed because I never felt like Firefly did that. I was a little bit confused about the Civil war, the sides, the point of the conflict etc, but it was good that he didn't spoonfeed it to us. The point was more subtle and deep. I like the premise of Dollhouse a lot, but you have to admit that searching for the themes and messages in a show about a story is harder than searching for the same in a show about an ethical dilemma. There's no deeper meaning, the show is about a problem. And it's a cool problem, I'll give it that.
I expect greater things because once he stopped explaining what Dollhouse is and pushing every ethical nuance in our faces, Joss turned it up a notch and gave us a really neat scenario to accompany his premise. A little girl is kidnapped and Echo is loaded up with the contents of a dead negotiator's mind to take her place and make sure the exchange goes off without a hitch. But it doesn't, because Echo hasn't only received the woman's skills and strengths, she also has her weaknesses, and her baggage.
Seems like a pretty good show. I have high expectations for the rest of the series.