Will Dollhouse last?

The Dollhouse cast, led by Eliza Dushku

The Dollhouse cast, led by Eliza Dushku

I have now watched the first three episode of Joss Whedon’s new Fox show, Dollhouse. To be honest I am a bit underwhelmed and a bit frustrated. I have been a fan of Whedon’s previous work, particularly Buffy, and his much missed and criminally underated Firefly. So far I have not been sucked in by the new show. It has had a long and seemingly tortured gestation. There were stories of enforced re-writes at Fox’s behest, and studio interference is never a good thing. Of course this is denied (or at least spun differently by the shows creators).

I’m frustrated for a couple of reasons. First is I was really looking forward to a new show from Whedon. However this has little of the trademark snappy dialogue or  humour and the ensemble cast just don’t seem to gel like previous shows. Second, the ideas behind the show seem genuinely interesting but seem to have been through a filter and come out bland, poorly executed or just not very interesting. The basic idea of a shadowy company with programmable people for hire gives a good premise for a different adventure each week. However I’m afraid they just don’t come across very believable. Ep 3 when Echo (Dushku) was a backing singer for a spoilt pop diva was the least credible so far. I’m not sure if this is all Dusku’s fault. It’s a tough gig, to be completely different and completely believable each week.

The supporting characters hint at more interesting revelations to come. What is the true nature of the organisation? Who was, and what happened to “Alpha”?  Are the dolls beginning to remember what has happened to them previously? Does the doctor have a secret? However they are also very annoying, particularly the other “execs” in the team. Echo’s handler shows some promise as a character, but needs to lighten up.

I am willing to give this a few more episodes, but my worry is that Fox’s patience is less than mine. Will it last even til the end of the season? If it does, what really are it’s chances of being renewed for an second season, where it can perhaps iron out the “bugs” and develop the positives. Going by the early audience figures and Fox’s past record, the chances are slim.

The ironic fan campaign to “save Dollhouse” launched way before the series even premiered is looking sadly prophetic.


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