Dollhouse: No Big Hunk Can Steal Her Away From Me

Two episodes in to Dollhouse, and our hero Echo is once again having sex with men for money. Since she can’t give consent, this makes her TV’s most rapeable action heroine. Fox, if you want to use that in your promos, be my guest. I think it gets across the message you want to sell.


I’m beginning to worry that this show is Joss Whedon’s mid-life crisis. While it does seem plausible that rentable reprogrammable people would be used for sex, let’s bear in mind that Whedon invented this flaky, dubious concept. These rich men hiring hot girls for sex are doing so because that’s what the writers want them to do, and we may be only a few weeks away from an episode in which someone hires two girl dolls to dress up as nurses and wrestle in Jell-O ‘because the plot demanded it’. It’s worth remembering that most mercenaries do not moonlight as hookers. 

I think the show might be a game of chicken that got out of hand. Apparently the concept arose because Eliza Dushku told Joss Whedon over lunch that she was looking for roles that would stretch her as an actor, which tend to be few and far between for women in the business. Whedon came up with the Dollhouse concept to serve that need, but he hasn’t made it work. I suspect he would have scrapped it if it weren’t for Dushku, and that Dushku wouldn’t have done it if Whedon hadn’t written it for her. Whedon can’t write this; Duskhu can’t act it; but they’re both obligated to ride it out because of the other.

Dushku’s acting improves a little this week when she’s playing the girl-in-peril, which is a role that’s well within her range. The problem is that she can’t do the innocent naif part that’s the lynchpin of the character (for want of a better word). When attempting ‘child-like’ she can only manage ‘what’s that smell?’

The plot this week - a Most Dangerous Game ‘tribute’ - was a step-up on last week’s kidnap nonsense, though it did take a quarter of the episode to get to it, and improving on last week is not a challenge. Whedon didn’t write or direct this week’s but there were some Whedonesque lines that may have been him - especially from Xandrew - and they still don’t click. This just isn’t a witty show, and Xandrew is too weaselly to be charming. This week’s choicest dialogue clunker came from Dushku, though, who gave us, “You know what gives someone the right to live? Not hunting them!” That is so true.

What did we learn this week?

  • When dolls die, they die in dainty hide-the-genitalia poses.
  • Harry Lennix’s greatest skill is the ability to pull guns out of his arse.
  • The audience is very stupid and does not know what ‘tabula rasa’ means. We must have it explained to us. Possibly every week.
  • We’re going to have to put up with that “Did I fall asleep” thing every week, and possibly also the elevator scenes where Echo says, “Wait there; I really want to go back to that guy and snuzzle”.
  • The trust-imprinting process requires the recital of dialogue lifted from As The World Turns or General Hospital. I feel they cut that sequence short, as we didn’t get as far as, “You complete me”.
  • The set of the Dollhouse is actually Wolfram and Hart, but they’ve added a zen reflection pool and some beanbags.
  • Plot alert! The naked guy at the end of last week’s episode was Alfa the broken doll, who is obsessed with Echo/Caroline. This is potentially the show’s most interesting thread. This is potentially the show’s only interesting thread.

And now, a little spoileration. If you don’t want to know the results, look away now.

During the production phase of the show there were several actors cast as ‘dolls’, including two dolls named Victor and November. In recent pre-publicity it was revealed that those characters had been dropped from the show, but the actors had been retained and new roles were being written for them. Because, yes, that’s what happens in the caring, nurturing world of television. They just can’t stand to see an actor go without work.

No, unless you’re Ali Larter, this is blatantly not the case. I think Victor and November are still in the show, and still dolls, and they’re the ones Mrs Dr Evil is using to keep an eye on Agent Hotness. We met one of them last week - the Russian mob lackey - and the other this week - the smitten next-door-neighbour. 

And in case you hadn’t already twigged - Alfa, Echo, November, Sierra and Victor are all names taken from the international radiotelephony spelling alphabet. This has me very excited for the possibility of guest appearance by 80s British TV cop Juliet Bravo. It also has me wondering if there are dolls called Golf, Hotel, Kilo, Xray and Uniform. I’m most looking forward to meeting Romeo and Yankee (I’m picturing Rodrigo Santoro and Chris Evans), and wondering if they can get away with Zulu.

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3 Responses to “Dollhouse: No Big Hunk Can Steal Her Away From Me”

  1. Jill Says:

    Hey, perhaps this show is also the explanation for Delta Goodrem?

  2. Andrew Says:

    It would explain the many mysteries of Delta Goodrem’s career, including ‘whatever happened to Delta Goodrem?’

  3. khaleesian Says:

    There are definitely dolls called Whiskey, Tango and Foxtrot. Like a Greek chorus in the background.

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