Friday nights might no longer be the night where shows go to die. On Friday February 13th, Joss Whedon’s latest television drama premiered. The drama is entitled “Dollhouse.”
“Dollhouse” is a show about a woman named Echo (Eliza Dushku). Echo is a member of a group of people known as the “Actives” or “Dolls.” The Dolls live in a futristic dormitory/laboratory which is hidden away from society. They are hired for particular jobs, and the jobs vary from good deeds, crime, or fantasies.
The twist in this is that the Dolls have had their memories wiped clean.
Upon having their memories wiped, they are then imprinted with new personas, including memory, muscle memory, skills, and language.
The persona imprinted on each Doll depends on whichever job they are hired for because the persona will help them to succeed in whatever they were hired for.
The show follows Echo who begins to find herself aware of the things going on even in her mind-wiped state.
In the first episode, after a client’s child is kidnapped, Echo is imprinted with the personality of an expert negotiator in kidnappings but with the emotional scarring of actually being kidnapped in her youth.
The audience learns that in creating a personality for the Dolls, personalities of real people who were used to create the one dominant personality. Echo refers to them as ghosts, and in the course of the episode, Echo helps to heal those ghosts–a very Jossian theme.
The creation of the show began one afternoon during the writer’s strike when Whedon and Eliza Dushku met for lunch. Whedon had signed a developmental deal with FOX in 2007.
Dushku, who had portrayed the rogue Slayer Faith in Whedon’s “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” was invited to lunch so that she and Whedon could talk about possible series ideas for her.
During the deal, he came up with the idea for “Dollhouse.”
Whedon agreed to write and oversee the pilot, and now has a five year outline for the show because he believes in characters evolving from episode to episode and season to season.
Amid the excitement of fans for the return of Whedon to network television, there was, and still is, a measure of skepticism because of the network the show is airing on (FOX). In 2002, Whedon created a show entitled “Firefly.” “Firefly” was, as Whedon said, “…about nine different people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things.”
The show had tremendous potential. However, FOX never appeared to have given the show much of a chance. Like “Dollhouse,” “Firefly” was scheduled for Fridays. Upon seeing the pilot for “Firefly,” the executives of FOX told Joss that he would have to re-do the pilot because they did not think the pilot was accessible enough to the fans.
Fans of Whedon raised the red flags when news came out that Whedon was re-doing the pilot episode for “Dollhouse.”
He, however, claims that it was his idea, and not the studio executives, adding that FOX is run by completely different people than those who ran “Firefly” into the ground.
Whedon felt that the original pilot, which will now air as the series’ second episode, did not introduce the characters the way he thought was best. Overall, there is a mix of excitement and skepticism.
The excitement is there because Whedon is the man responsible for what television critics believe is one of the most ground-breaking series of all-time, “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.”
“Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” focused on a teenage girl who was able to turn the tables on monsters instead of being the typical pretty blonde who is quickly caught and killed in horror movies.
But the series was beloved by critics because of the themes and metaphors the show was built on. When a character in “Buffy” felt invisible, the character literally became invisible. When Buffy slept with her boyfriend for the first time, he literally became a monster afterwards.
Whedon simply strove to write about the realities of high school and life and he used the supernatural to manifest these, sometimes, harsh realities. And it dealt with the importance of family and friendship.
Joss continued the same style of storytelling when the character Angel was spunoff into his own show entitled “Angel.” “Angel” was about Angel, a vampire cursed with a soul, attempting to redeem himself for all of the sins he committed. “Angel” was a more adult “Buffy.” It dealt with a post-college world, trying to figure out who you are, where you fit into life, and how important friendship is.
In “Firefly,” the show revolved around nine characters who only had each other to rely on in a politically unstable world. Again, there was a theme of friendship and family.
“Dollhouse” has the same potential of Whedon’s other shows. “Dollhouse” will be about figuring out who you are and, eventually, like “Angel,” “Buffy,” and “Firefly,” how you fit into the world.
“Dollhouse” airs on Friday nights on FOX.
Each episode will be available online at hulu.com, iTunes, and Amazon.
In addition to the weekly episodes, there will be “Dollhouse” webisodes. And if you can’t get enough Whedon, his internet short “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog” is available on hulu.com.
Chris Monigle is a fourth-year student majoring in literature. He can be reached at CM660983@wcupa.edu.