Dollhouse, how much existential sci fi is there?

I watched the first two episodes shortly after they aired and it was the first Whedon series I gave up on in disgust, whatever he was trying to do it was coming off as a bad Charlie’s Angels ripoff. Later I heard this was an intentional gambit to set up some shocks for the audience once the show got into gear.

I watched the first episode of the second season a few days ago and while yes there was a whole lot more meat to ponder there was still a lot of fluff, I’m on the fence, but the show is short.

Does the existenlist drama really get going at some point?

I don’t know much about existentialism (a quick glance at Wiki was not particularly informative) but I think the answer to this is yes. Echo in particular but also with Victor and Sierra (but mostly in season 2) and several surprises that I can’t even attach to characters without spoiling.

The show gets into gear in episode 6, “Man on the Street” but really steps on the gas at 2x05 “The Public Eye”. Mind you 2x04 “Belonging” is an exercise in existentialism as I understand it, with several characters questioning their own identities (or operating under different ones altogether) and a particular bit that doesn’t pay off until almost the end of the show.

I would definitely watch the show from beginning to end. 1x01-1x05 are not the best episodes by any means but they certainly have their moments, including many that pay off waaaaaay later in the show.

As with anything else you watch on TV or in a movie theatre, your state of mind greatly affects your appreciation of the work. If you’re in the right mood to enjoy something, you’ll probably enjoy it. If you’re closed-minded, in a bad mood or burnt out on electronic entertainment, you probably won’t like anything served up to you.

I often wonder if professional critics are overly-harsh in their reviews because their viewing “stomach” is already full from watching too much stuff.

That said, there’s plenty of interesting ideas in the series and yes, it would probably spoil it for you if we went into it. I think all the Whedon series have layers of subtleties – it’s his signature style. It’s almost as if he’s anticipated the discussion thread for his work and was already two steps ahead.

If you’re quitting in disgust, then you are not in the proper frame of mind to appreciate his work. Wait until you have the time to sit and appreciate a two-season long arc. It’s the difference between chugging a fine wine through a beer bong vs. opening it and letting it breathe then sipping and savoring the subtle notes.

I quit years ago when it first aired because two episodes in there was no real sign of good stuff to come, just hot chicks and fast cars. The mind reading/wiping was only used to service hooker/action girl plots, It smelled very much to me like peril of the week. I wanted more of the identity plots and sci fi stuff.

It’s worth watching, and I say this as a Whedon-hater. I mean, it never quite reaches the heights it promises, but it does get very good, and the actor who plays Victor is amazing. It is very Charlie’s Angels and does focus to an ungodly extent on Eliza Dushku, and quite frankly she is not the best actor on the show…however, some of the other characters are well worth watching. And it’s only 24 episodes, which is the biggest selling point for me.

I agree with all of this, as a Whedon enjoyer. Starts off with the wrong vibe and apparently due to conflicts between FOX and Whedon, but then settles down to pose some fun sci-fi/identity/PKD-type questions based on the premise. Worth a view but not a cult following…

The series was a definite missed opportunity, and except for the second half of the first season, never quite seemed to quite know where it was going. That second half, though, and especially ‘Epitaph 1’, which astonishingly was not even included in the domestic broadcast run, was almost uniformly brilliant.

Unfortunately, its last-minute resurrection for a second season did it no favors, as it seemed to revert to the ‘peril of the week’ format again. In addition, the recurring character who is eventually revealed as the S2 ‘Big Bad’ makes complete nonsense of that character’s behavior up to that point. If it were me, I’d say get the S1 DVD collection, which includes E1, and stop there; little in the second season could be considered essential viewing.

Dollhouse was the first Whedon series that I liked. (Note: I’ve only started watching Firefly recently, so it’s the second, though it was chronologically first.)

The appeal, which definitely developed over time, was twofold. The implications of the personality-replacement technology were much more interesting than was apparent at the beginning. For instance, my personal favorite episode was the one in which Echo was imprinted with the memories of a deceased client, in effect allowing the woman to solve her own murder.

The second point of interest was the fact that there were no clear-cut “good guys” and “bad guys.” Everyone involved was pretty much a “bad guy,” but with complex motivations, and each of them believed that they were doing good in the big picture. I found myself unsure who to root for, and changing allegiances with practically every episode.

It’s on Netflix Insta-watch, why buy it? It’s not really good for rewatchability. I have to admit that Whedon really shocked me at one point: MAJOR SPOILERS DO NOT READ

with the relevation of who Alpha was. Led astray by Firefly/Serenity!

It was just executive meddling, not an intentional gambit.

The guy that played Victor, wow, he was amazing. I’ve seen him a few things since, but nothing really major and it’s a shame, that guy should be a star.

Whedon changes his story on just how much the suits interfered with the early goings of Dollhouse. But what we do know is that the original pilot (only available on the season 1 DVD) was a great big ball of suck and the executive that made him change it was 100% in the right.

The Dollhouse universe isn’t as tightly plotted as Firefly/Buffy/Angel either. Which makes me think Whedon just wasn’t feeling this one and passed more blame than is appropriate onto the suits.

He did? When?

After the first five episodes when viewers were complaining that Dollhouse was just a hooker-of-the-week show. Whedon blamed the opening on the network execs who wanted more action out of the gate. But the story has shifted multiple times in the retelling (sometimes he says that he himself thought fans wouldn’t be ready for the existential stuff until they’d been given a taste of action in Dollhouse). So I think it’s hard to blame any of Dollhouse’s failures on executive meddling.

Especially after viewing Whedon’s original pilot, which is a total mess.

Dollhouse lost me with the episode involving Echo’s magical mommy powers overcoming dollhouse programming.