Dollhouse: Belle Chose
by Jason Hughes, posted Oct 10th 2009 3:55AM
(S02E03) It looks like the production schedule had this one slated to be the second episode of the season, rather than the third. It was a little odd how much time was spent in showing Ballard getting used to the complete process in turning a Doll into an Active. I kept thinking, "He was fine with last week's mommy engagement?" Knowing that this was intended to be the first episode after he took on the role as her Handler makes more sense.
It also means FOX is screwing around with Whedon's intended schedule on his show ... again! I can't understand how network executives think narrative flow between episodes means nothing. Do they think that fans are so stupid we can't follow a thread between episodes, nor will we notice when things are out of whack?
This would probably have worked better as a second episode anyway, because it got a little more into the technology behind the Dollhouse, as well as how it can go wrong.
I didn't even see the mindswap coming when Topher tried the remote wipe on Victor. I guess I should have, though, because otherwise, Echo's engagement was about the most boring thing we've ever seen her in. Poor sad and lonely professor. He paid big bucks to get a dim-witted college student who could bribe her way to sex, and instead he wound up with a puncture wound in his neck.
The whole crazy kidnapper killer storyline was a little bizarre. I wasn't sure how they were going to bring Michael Hogan in, but I was hoping for more than him busting out his nephew (in Victor's body) and then taking a header into the steering wheel. "Thank you, Mr. Hogan. That will be all."
I did enjoy the nephew's character, though. The "dolls" he made of his victims to re-enact croquette, of all things, were certainly surreal. The one who died in the beginning was very convincing as a plastic doll. It gave a new meaning to the name of the show, and can make you think a little about what they're doing to these real personalities at the Dollhouse.
Speaking of which, Topher's abilities with the mindwiping and swapping are getting more and more dangerously advanced. These are the things the series needs to give us more of if they want to survive 2009. The rate the series is hemorrhaging viewers doesn't bode well at all.
Even though Summer Glau isn't scheduled to appear for two more episodes, FOX had to trot out promos of her now in the hopes they'll still have viewers by Halloween. It worked for FlashForward. They started hyping Dominic Monaghan in the first episode and we're still waiting.
The bottom line for me, still, is that this doesn't feel like a winning Joss Whedon concept still. Whedon builds amazing ensembles and "family" units in his shows, and there's none of that here. I still don't feel anything for anybody on the show, and that's not good when we're 16 episodes in now. I'm not sure if its too high concept, or if its just not coming out right, but something's gotta change.
And then they need some major buzz-factor to lure viewers back in. Summer Glau might help, or it might remind people that FOX canceled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles in its second season, just like they might end up canning this one. What would have really helped was an airing of "Epitaph One." At least then people could have seen that there was more to this world than Eliza Duskhu getting imprinted as someone else each week.
[Watch clips and episodes of Dollhouse at SlashControl.]