I recently stumbled upon Dollhouse, a new TV series, and after the second episode, I became an addict.
What it does is simple but effective: it takes our present day world and adds a new element to it: a scientific breakthrough which allows the programming of human beings. Personalities can be archived, modified and uploaded into another body, a doll. Dolls are empty, flesh and blood pendrives walking around in the Dollhouse waiting to get a personality and a job to finish. When they are done with the given task, they are wiped yet again and keep enjoying the bliss of ignorance until the next mission.
A company was formed to leverage this achievement and clients turn up who need these services. Certain people are happy with it because the Dollhouse helps them to fulfill certain needs, others want to take down the whole operation on moral grounds. And some are struggling in between having a hard time picking a side.
The star of the show is a doll called Echo, who volunteered to be a doll for 5 years. When her contract expires she’ll get her personality back along with a fat paycheck and also lose a painful memory. Or at least this was the deal originally.
The staff maintaining the facility has a just as important role as the heroine. We learn their backgrounds, motivations, goals, hopes and dreams. How they discover the long term effects of the technology, how they adapt to emergencies or unusual client requests.
An interesting premise, a solid foundation upon which the writer-director Joss Whedon and his crew was able to build an exceptionally entertaining show.
The show is not without flaws. The biggest one is Eliza Dushku in the lead role. Her acting is adequate but nothing more. They wasted the great opportunity of having a different character in every episode: a more talented/experienced actress would have created more contrast between personalities. Dushku usually portrays badass chicks smacking people, which works, but she really struggles when it comes to feelings like fear, disgust or confusion.
Fortunately the writing is excellent, it saves the show. The story, the interesting conflicts, the witty dialogs and believable human reactions make you forget the occasionally rocky acting. The pacing is well done, the drama makes sense and it’s interesting to see how the characters deal with the questionable ethics of the operation. (And hopefully making the viewer think about the morally gray choices presented in the show.)
All in all I found it very clever and entertaining. (Knowing my cancel-o-meter talent, it might not be such a good sign.)