Dollhouse 1×01 – “Ghost”

It is interesting when you think about the expectations of series openers and series closers.  Expectations on openers are high from the studios as they want to prove the investment right off the bat and start building an audience, but I think that expectations from viewers are generally low.  Even if you have high hopes for the show it is more likely than not that the first few shows will be bumpy as the cast and crew get their sea legs.

On the flip side expectations from viewers are huge for series enders as they want the investment they have made to be wrapped up in a satisfying way.  That is assuming, however, that the series has had enough time (more than two years, say 🙂 to breath and get somewhere.  We will get to that, though, in about 26 episodes.

Episode 1 of Dollhouse did not blow me away, but it was quite strong.  In terms of Joss’ history, I would rank it just below Firefly’s The Train Job, but nowhere near Buffy’s Welcome to the Hellmouth.  Buffy’s opener (parts 1 and 2) is what the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie should have been, but we are all glad things worked out the way they did.

Note: I am approaching the series in the way it has been aired.  I know there was a different pilot shot (I will be watching it next).  I also know that The Train Job was not meant to be the pilot, but once again that is what was aired first.

The strongest aspect of the episode is that it reveals the various facets and complications of the Dollhouse world right from the start.  I’m sure a common pressure after the success of Lost is to “drop them in the middle of the shit and then drag out a slow reveal of everything over the course of months / years”.  Right from the opening recruitment, which we zoom into from a camera feed (someone else is watching…), we are introduced to the players.  Dolls, handlers, scientists, management, customers and the law.  There is obviously a lot to learn about the Dollverse but what comes across to me is that as a viewer I’m not going to be jerked around with “reveals” and “cliffhangers” for what are ultimately minor details.  The mysteries and dramas of the Dollverse are going to be of substance because right from the start the rules of engagement are being laid clear on the table.  This is why we love Joss Whedon.

The episode drags a little bit in the middle as the engagement plays out.  The climax pays off, though, as we bounce around within the struggle of moral vs. corporate obligation and come out of it in a rewarding way.

In the end, I am intrigued to see where this series goes, but I wouldn’t say I’ve been immediately sucked in like I was with Dexter, for example.  I’m concerned that this is going to be to much of an episodic show driven by the engagement of the week.  That doesn’t seem like it would have staying power.  Also, how do you develop an investment in the characters (which is always the strongest part of anything from Joss Whedon) when every week their personality changes?  A great challenge for Joss, no doubt.  He certainly has my confidence.

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About OneGoodMinute
Blogging about the fun and interesting things in life. Nerd stuff - movies, music, comedy, podcasts Social Media - Documenting my way through social media, blogging and online promotion. Learn from my experiences, mistakes and successes.

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