I’ve got to hand it to Joss Whedon. He knows exactly what I want.
1) Strong, ass-kicking chicks.
2) Hot dudes takin’ their shirts off and beating the shit out of people.
3) Hot nerds.
4) Character actors from my favourite shows.
5) A new entry in the Buffy Season 8 comic book series featuring Giles and Faith, my new favourite team. Coming this week. I will be at my local comic book store with bells on.
So yeah. The first five episodes of Dollhouse were balls out boring. It was like being dropped in the middle of a world I knew nothing about and having to feel my way around and really, really not liking what I was touching out there in the dark.
I mean, it was like “Faith is a negotiator. Faith is being hunted. Faith is a backup singer. Faith is a sex object. Faith is blind.” At that point, I was like “Holy shit balls, Batman! This is not good and there is not NEARLY enough shirtless dude action to keep my attention!” Especially when one of said dudes is Tahmoh Penikett. A couple weeks ago, I said to myself, I said “We are in a dire situation here. Battlestar Galactica is done. That means no more shirtless Helo. We must make do with what we have. And right now, all I have is Dollhouse. And he’s on it. And his shirt could be on it less.” So I willed it to get better faster.
And then it did.
I thought at first that it was a mistake to reshoot the pilot cause it was con.fuse.ing. But I really enjoyed the slow reveal of the dolls, even though you kind of suspected that Lubov and Mellie were really dolls because they were young and good-looking and had zero reason to be so involved in Paul Ballard’s life except to be agents of the Dollhouse, sent to put him off the path.
But then, WHAMO! In the second-last episode, Man on the Street, Echo (Eliza Dushku, for those of you not following along) is sent to Paul to a) fuck him up and get him suspended from FBI-land and b) get him a message from somebody inside the Dollhouse who wants to bring it down. Plus, this episode had Patton Oswalt, who is always a treat. And the reveal that Mellie was a doll was extremely well done. Oh, and Mellie and Paul totally do it. I was fine with that because I love seeing Tahmoh without his shirt on, and I’m sure there are dudes who aren’t exactly complaining about Miracle Laurie showing some skin. Girl’s got a killer rack and has some meat on her bones, too. But the most recent episode, in which there’s a dangerous drug on a college campus, but the dolls aren’t affected (or so they think), saw Mellie kick Paul to the curb the morning after their tryst when he was all “I wanna take caaaaaaare of you!” And thank God she did because there is nothing more annoying. But their relationship is, I think, more interesting than the Echo/Paul hookup everyone is expecting to happen eventually.
The latest episode started strong. Very X-Filean. But it went downhill the more time I had to spend watching Eliza Dushku prance around wearing knee-socks and fuck-me heels. Also, her backstory wasn’t quite as interesting as I’d hoped. Let me get this straight, she started tangling with all this stuff because of animal testing? Meh. I’m going to need more than that. In fact, I don’t feel much of a connection to Echo at all. I hope that changes, because I like the character and I think Dushku is doing a good job.
And hey, there WERE good parts to the episode. Mainly:
1) I. Freakin’. LOVE. Reed Diamond. He was always fantastic on Homicide: Life on the Streets and I was hoping that his head-of-security character here wasn’t as one-note as he seemed. He stepped up his game in the one where Echo is blind when he attempted to burn her alive and he was the best part of this episode. Even before everyone loses their inhibitions and he starts spilling all his secrets, Diamond hits all the right notes. When they arrive on campus and Victor pulls rank on him while on assignment, Diamond mutters “Topher!” and it just slayed me. But he time he pulled his gun on Victor and then wavered all “This gun is heaaaaaaaavy. It makes m’arm tiiiired.” I was dying. He probably will be too, whenever Echo gets all her memories back. Because he stopped her in the hallway all “Sorry I tried to kill you! I mean, I tried to set you on fire! Who does that?” Good for you, Reed Diamond. I never thought I’d like a guy I was supposed to hate. But watching Laurence pet his cashmere suit jacket and call it kitty won me over.
2) Topher and his, um, presumably large… drawer of inapporpriate starches. What? What did you think I was going to say? Fran Kanz is so Xander it hurts me a little bit inside. He’s also quite good lookin’ in that geeky way that I love. The scene where he begs Adelle to check on November because he’s frightened is perfection. The only thing that was missing from this episode was some interaction with him and Dr. Saunders. The last time they spent together was combing through shower footage of naked dolls, looking for “man reactions” from Victor. Hey, if you’re not up for it, Topher, I’ll take the case. Ahem.
3) Olivia Williams letting her starchy, British collar down a little. I think this might have come too early in the series to really be effective in the way that Band Candy was for me, you know, wanting to do it all the ways with Giles. But then, she’s not quite as repressed as he was. Oh lord. If they have other Dollhouses in other parts of the world, can Tony Head please be part of the show? Please? Please? Please?
Things to ponder:
Who’s the inside man/woman at the Dollhouse?
What happened to Paul’s wife?
What else did Caroline get up to before Adelle finally made her the Dollhouse offer?
Does Mechad Brooks’ potential new status as a doll mean he won’t be on True Blood next season?
What’s Ivy, Topher’s assistant, all about?
Where was Claire during this latest “everybody lets their hair down” episode?
Who’s Alpha and why is he obsessed with Echo? (OK, seriously? I know who Alpha is. IMDB, if you search around a little bit, will readily supply you with this information. But knowing how Joss likes to reuse his stable of actors, you could probably take a wild guess and be right. Or maybe that’s a total wash. Whatevs.)