Space Ramblings

Why Dollhouse Does Nothing For Me

Dollhouse. Even the name alone is almost certain to discourage viewers. But that’s not the real problem. Whether it was Buffy, Angel or Firefly, Joss Whedon built his career on heroic narratives. Dollhouse is anything but a heroic narrative. It’s not even anti-heroic, it’s just depressing social commentary and post Episode 5, the occasional bit of clever writing dumped on TV. There’s nothing wrong with a bleak universe. Dark Angel gave us a post-crash America that seems quite prophetic today, in which the government is corrupt and abusive, and crime is everywhere. But it worked because it had characters trying to change that, whose struggles we could identify with. By contrast Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse has nothing but blank victims and human perpetrators in stock for us. Even after Dollhouse jettisoned the “Echo takes on a new identity and goes all Pretender” stories that FOX wanted, what’s left is a clever, somewhat interesting, but mostly depressing and pointless series. Dollhouse owes a lot more to media studies and social commentary, than it does to good storytelling. And that makes it borderline unwatchable. The Dolls are blank victims, and their former human selves range from obnoxious, Echo, Victor, to pitiable, Sierra. It’s the staff at the Dollhouse who get the personality and the interesting stories, but who really wants to spend week after week watching the equivalent of Nazi concentration camp guards and personnel struggling with their jobs?

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