Gee willickers, four whole Dollhouse episodes have aired and I haven’t reviewed them! Why could this possibly be? Maybe I’m busy and I haven’t watched them yet. Perhaps I’m working on another mammoth post. Maybe I’m still processing them.
I’m not writing about Dollhouse because it’s boring me. I wasn’t really enamoured with the show from the start, and these last episodes that Fox is burning off feel like, well, the creative team is trying to wrap the show up, superquick (perhaps bringing us up to “Epitaph One”). To be fair, that is exactly what they are doing, but it makes for boring viewing.
Dollhouse is jumpy and choppy. It’s all over the place. What’s this “three months later” business? Must we have a villainess with a withered arm? Will Ballard “get the girl”? I’m watching to say I’ve watched, but I am not really invested in the show at this point. The plot jumps around far too much, I can’t get attached to any of the characters, and I’m tired of the “big reveal! Another big reveal! Oh look, another one!” method of storytelling.
Too much is being crammed in. Suddenly Topher is growing some morals? (Hello, Joss’ superego.) Suddenly he realizes how all of the Dollhouse tech can be applied? He’s deciding, now, that it might be time to try and put the tech in check, before it’s too late? Oh look, Ballard is “brain dead.” Oh look, Echo is developing a personality all of a sudden and realizing into her own person and gaining control over her imprints. Oh look, Victor and Sierra are “grouping,” still. Oh look, the threads of countless stories are being dropped on the floor to collect dust. Oh look, here’s Alpha again.
This week, I felt like I was rewatching old Joss shows. “A Love Supreme” brought me right back to season five Angel, in which, if you will recall, (spoilers for those who have not seen Angel) Angel goes fake evil because he knows it’s the only way to bring down Wolfram and Hart. For it to work, he has to trick all of his buddies into thinking he’s evil too. Anyone think that’s what is happening with Adele? Because I do.
Spoilers over. And the “violence turning to sexytime,” doesn’t that feel kind of familiar and old too? Does anyone else feel like Joss is rehashing old territory? Can Joss tell some new stories now, please?
I know it’s hard to wrap up a show reasonably neatly. The premise of Dollhouse was weak and it’s been poorly executed and now they’re trying to bake this sloppy mess into something resembling a finished product, and it’s just not working out. There’s potential here, but it’s buried, and getting deeper, and I don’t really see how it can be explored, at this point.
It’s interesting to see Whedon fans praising the recent episodes. I can’t help but wonder if there’s a bittersweet note to that; they’re angry that a show he’s working on has been canceled, again, and they’re telling themselves that the final episodes are “the best ever” so that they can remain righteously angry at Fox. Saying “gee, these episodes are kinda not very interesting” would, after all, suggest that Fox was justified in canceling the show.
What’s a pity is that if these final episodes hadn’t been rushed by consequence of cancellation, we might have got to see some good Dollhouse. I think that the show needed some room to grow, and it could have found its footing in the end, possibly. Fox didn’t give it the space to do that, and now we’ll never know what it could have been. It makes me wonder what would have happened to Buffy if it had started airing in this television climate.
ETA: Laura at Adventures of a Young Feminist has also written about her lack of interest in the latest Dollhouse.