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Dollhouse Season 1 Episode 3: I'd be Frightened of that Stage, too.

Spoilers Ensue!

I watched the episode recap, and realized that if since the doll's memories are wiped after each date, they probably don't actually have a lot of consensual sex. The concept of that is absolutely wretched to me, and the metaphor is beyond sad. Either it is a stand in for people who refuse to acknowledge victims of sex crimes, or how rich people get away with far more than those they are exploiting. I'm going to with the second one, just because that's in line with the show's hackneyed-before-the-crash theme of "Rich People Suck."

The opener is this syrupy pop number with a techno grind in the background that's being sung by a super athletic cross between Beyoncé Knowles and Brittany Spears wearing sparkly bra, belly dancer jingle belt and a thong. She's pretty much wearing convention gear.

It's a pretty neat set piece and it helps that this young lady can really move. So she singing about how everyone wants to have some sort exotic relations with pop stars and WHOA THAT OTHER GIRL IS ON FIRE! Goddammit she was cute! What the hell man? This show just keeps getting worse!

The stage crew puts the girl out (with a fire extinguisher. . which I don't think you're supposed to do, I think you are supposed to use a blanket) and hustle Beyoncé Spears off the stage. Pan out to a horrified audience, everyone agog except one guy, who looks like he got a D in gym class, because guys who get D's in gym class always become creepy later in life.

We check in on Harry J. Lennix, who is still a grouchy bad-ass thank you very much, as he is being examined by a doctor who may make deep angry facial scars the next fashion thing (she does rock them well) who warns him that broad arrows do more damage when removed (amazing how that fact made it into the show). All praise to Lennix because he makes the most cliched things sound completely awesome. This is the man who made Aaron the Moore much more than merely Elizabethan stereotype in Titus, so I'd except nothing less, but still, it's nice to see.

Dushku's new roommate is very exotic looking. Ridges on the forehead exotic. She's also two feet wide and four inches thick, and looks very natural while running, much like a gazelle.

Then we cut to Helo's apartment, where Suspicious Hoodie Man is trying to break into his apartment. Adorable Chef Girl opens the door to her apartment sort of thinking it's Helo, and then realizing it's actually his greasy Russian informant. The have a rather terse conversation that's mostly lies on his part and concern for personal safety on hers. It's like they're already on a first date or something.

She promises to give him a message and the Troika's card, and he rolls out, looking all greasy and sinister.

Meanwhile Olivia Williams has a new customer! Looking damned hot as always, she greets Ringo Star New Millienium Edition, who is Beyoncé Spears manager. Apparently someone's being trying to kill the startlet, once in Kansas City (HOLLA!) and again in Philadelphia (GO EAGLES!). So she needs protection from someone she can trust, because an entourage of expensive former Marines and ex-Navy Seals, well, that ain't gonna cut it, says Ringo. No. I need. Il Dushku.

Cut to our heroine singing. Badly. In really tight hipster jeans. And she's singing this song that is not just bad, it is really stupid. It's so bad it wouldn't shock me to hear it on the radio. Beyoncé Spears finds her intriguing, because her manager, Ringo, says she's trouble. Reverse psychology works on girls because they're dumb, tee-hee! Beyoncé strides over and starts singing the crappy song too, and despite the terrible lyrics they sound good.

Beyoncé says "Get her working," of Duskhu and saunters off. Ringo says she got the job and Beyoncé shouts "Why isn't she working yet?!" from off camera.

And then the opening credits. They get more depressing with each viewing.

Dr. Sexy Scars walks up on Topher the Tech and give him an earful about sending Dushku out on a dangerous mission so soon after being bow-hunted. Topher says that since that last one was supposed to be romantic and turned high-risk this one that's supposed to be high-risk may turn out romantic. Then he purrs at the thought of girl-on-girl and everyone who thought Whedon's work was feminist facepalms for the 80th time.

Also, I am now sure that Topher the Tech is a douche-nozzle. "You're both going to get married and have scowly babies" he says to the doc when she refers to Lennix's character by familiars. Which is funny, but he's really being a dick.

Then, somewhere else, Dushku takes her top off and puts on something even smaller than the Delia's bra she was wearing and then Beyoncé freaks out because someone has a mint. Everyone take 5!

Helo! Where have you been?! I miss you and I want to snuggle with you and your unfailingly moral characterization because this show is lame so far. Helo grills the Russian dude, who says Dollhouse is an urban legend. End Scene.

Back to the mission. Topher acts like douche again, while Lennix frets about Dushku's singing. It's really adorable because he's a total bad-ass. Then pan down and it's goddamned Russian gangster in the memory wipe chair! Dude! Major plot twist, just kind off-handed thrown in there. I don't know what I was expecting, and I guess intense music and editing would've made it stupid. At least we know what the male dolls get used for: misdirection. Because masculine sexuality is disgusting or funny.

So the guy who failed gym goes through metal detector in front of the concert; and then they hand his crutches which they didn't check for, you know, a disassembled rifle. Which is what I would have checked for.

"Check his crutches!" I'd say to my minions, and they'd be all like "Why?" and I'd say "Because that dude clearly got pegged in dodgeball when he was a lad and is therefor a sociopath who hides weapons in medical supplies."

"Dude!" They'd say as they found bullbup sniper rifle broken down and hid there and I'd say "That's why I make the big bucks."

I digress. The show goes fine, for some reason despite Mr. D-in-Gym assembling the rifle on one of the catwalks. I guess he breaks it down again and leaves. Probably a dry run. He's a meticulous psycho, since he only understands math and never played football. Then they go to a club, where we see HEY! Dushku's new roommate the Human Gazelle! She has been implanted with the personality of a drooling Beyoncé fan-girl, and is far less attractive for it, which speaks to her acting chops.

I realized as watched this Dushku was actually doing an accent, but since she was so subtle about it, it worked rather well. She really sounds like from a rough neighborhood on the east-coast. Nice touch. Then she throws a paparazzo over railing because he looked threatening.

Meanwhile D-in-Gym is right there in the club and no one is the wiser. Gah!

And cut to Helo! (SNUGGLES!) Troika Doll passes a tip to our favorite agent that there's abandoned hotel where he find all of his answers. Helo are you going to fall for this? If you die who will I non-sexually cuddle with after a hard day of dealing harsh justice? So he goes the hotel where he gets jumped by bunch of gangsters, and he totally owns them, ever after getting shot. Helo then asks about Dollhouse, and they insist they don't know. It's possible that all of them are male Dolls like the Russian Doll, so his admission means nothing now.

Cut back to Dushku.

In the big reveal of the show apparently Beyoncé Spears has always been in communication with Mr. D-In-Gym and wants him to kill her so she can be free. I'm sure this supposed to summon up some degree of sympathy, but I too, failed gym class, so ice water runs in my veins.

Beyoncé Spears is a whining spoiled little diva and I really don't give a damn if she wants to die. She went through all the trouble to find a reject from Freaks and Geeks who's a decent shot, more power to her! She's put more effort into her own demise than she does into her singing! This is supposed to be some sort of commentary on the price of fame or something and how it warps you, but I NEED to care characters here! Every time Dushku gets sent off to do something it's always for a miserable person I wouldn't piss on if they were on fire. Dushku's character when she has no personality is the most likable person at Dollhouse.

Beyoncé Spears takes the stage, even though Dushku is like Dude, WTF? You want to die? Don't go out there! You hired only four days ago, but in Hollywood time it's like been through two tours in Vietnam, and Spears is all Whatev! Going to dance my last dance, See ya.

Dushku runs around back stage looking for Ringo, and she's stopped by one of his assistants. He tells her to get stage left, and she's like "Where's Ringo?!" and he says "Oh, I'll take you there myself!" all haughty and grabs her arm. She wrenches free and says "I will smack you!" which was delivered with such panache I giggled a little.

Meanwhile, D-In-Gym is putting his rifle together, which isn't a bull-bup, while Beyoncé dances. She stops and asks him to show himself, and instead has to bring out the Human Gazelle so she doesn't get left hanging. D-In-Gym gets a comfortable position and adjusts his windage for "Concert Hall."

Dushku finds Ringo, tells him the score and he says shut the show down. The head of security insists that's balderdash because she's a backup singer so she makes a move toward the stage, he tries to stop her and gets dropped like a bag of wet mice by the might of Il Dushku.

Okay, really tiny people dropping much larger people like they were French Lit. 101 ain't gonna get old anytime soon.

Dushku finds the guy with a spot light and he fires two rounds that were apparently aimed at The Darkness, because they hit nothing, security clears the show and we cut to Helo in an ambulance.

Oh, Helo please don't die! I have a perfectly wholesome crush that I couldn't possibly go to Hell for, and you're the only person on this show-perhaps all of TV these days-with strong moral fiber! Don't go towards the light! Good makeup, though. Helo looks like he's gonna die.

Backstage, Beyoncé is laying into Dushku for stopping her show, because she has been made mentally retarded by her own self involvement.

There's a line here that struck me as well beyond the regular range of the show here: "They grow you in a lab?! [cute] You know anything about people? They love to see me die. 80 years old they'll be talkin' about tonight sayin they were there when. . ." That's brutal, relative to the rest of the show, at least.

Also, the line "You can fire me, but bitch don't think you can take me!" was also totally sweet.

The Human Gazelle tries to make her way backstage and instead gets nabbed by Mr. D-in-Gym, and he proceeds to make an al-Qaida style video with her via the internets. He establishes that they have what could be the most toxic co-dependent relationship ever when he explains that he kills for her and she was supposed to die for him. Then he says "You have my number call me." and Ringo smacks her for being not only crazy, but also putting one of her supposed fans at risk.

Back at the office, "Sierra's been kidnapped" is spoken to Olivia Williams, and she proves that she wasn't that great in gym class either with her astonishingly cold assessment of why it happened: we knew about all this and the Human Gazelle was bait for a pale-nerdy hyena. Fuel up the choppers that no one seems to notice, we got an OP!

Cut Back to D-In-Gym, who makes The Human Gazelle sing acapella under the harsh lights of his camera. She's scared out of her little mind and it's really, really creepy to watch. I know it's there for tension and stuff. . but the lighting is just so perfect bright light in sociopath's basement, it's scary.

Beyoncé is off somewhere being a Diva and Dushku's all like, you're a bitch, save the Gazelle! Beyoncé is having none of it so Dushku hits her with a chair. That's how you negotiate! She calls D-In-Gym and class and offers an exchange: The Diva for the Gazelle.

Meantime, Dollhouse is freaking out, because Topher the Tech is so full of himself that he's sure that this would play out differently, and the head of security is up in his grill asking WTF? and most Topher can do is whine about how he's a genius and can't predict everything. So. Not a genius.

Lennix is on the case, though! And Dushku gets Beyoncé to admit she doesn't want die by throwing her off something high with a bungee cord. Then she beats the stuffing out Mr. D-In-Gym and then pistol whips him for a little extra spice.

Olivia Williams tells the head of security, who wants to get ride of Dushku, as much with her wonderful hips as with her voice, that he is a tool and probably shouldn't make policy suggestions.

Dr. Sexy Scars and Lennix discuss the impressive way Dushku was able to come with a plan that was 1. Awesome and 2. completely sensible when dealing with crazy people.

Meanwhile we hear that damned awful song again, about being from misery or history or calories or something, and we cut Adorable Chef Girl, who is trying to visit Helo in the hospital, but isn't allowed in because she's not family. Helo has no family, and it's rather sad.

Finally, The Human Gazelle and Dushku pass each other in hall, and Dushkus shakes her head at her like they should be seeing being snuggly in public, which they probably shouldn't since when they're blank the have no feelings.

SUMMARY:

-Helo didn't die! Yay!

-I'm not really sure what they're playing at with the Sierra/Echo relationship. Naturally that kind of closeness is unacceptable at the Dollhouse, but I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean within the metaphors and meanings of the show. I mean, of course, everyone loves lesbianism because it's oh-so-hot so they needed to find a way to work some sort of tension like that into the show; otherwise men wouldn't watch it.

-Speaking of what this show assumes, it assumes two things: every man except Helo is a violent asshole, a liar, a manipulator or a conflicted man of morality and men in the audience are rendered mentally retarded by female sexuality no matter how silly it is.

-I'm intrigued enough that might continue watching. . . guess I'll have to the next episode to be sure. Dammit.

-Tycho Agrees with me, apparently

-There's no way you can fit a hunting rifle into a pair aluminum crutches

Dollhouse Season 1 Episode 2: The Most Dangerous Game!

So, the structure of this second episode is better than the first.

Is it me or is this show's dialogue really lewd? Lines like "She's not a person, she's an empty hat, until you stuff a rabbit in it," have a weird subtext.

Most frustrating is that this show was posted on Hulu before the latest Battlestar Galactica so it's kind like I'm listening to Brittany because there was no Lou Reed available.

The first few minutes take place at Dollhouse HQ in a flashback (by the way? Flashbacks should be MONOCHROMATIC, not soft focus), in which some shit has clearly gone down, as there are dead bodies everywhere, the brain Tech dude (Who's name I now know to be Topher), asking the resident SWAT team for a gun, and then Dushku is naked and on with the show!

The creepy opening credit sequence with the stockings made of white yarn (seriously, white yarn?) and we jump into a scene with this dude with lots of money, and of course he's looking for the perfect girl, because homosexuals don't have money. I noticed that this show has a got a lot of venom for white hetero men with lots of money, so they're not really saying much new there.

Anyhoo, I recognized unreasonably hot lady who runs does the business meetings with the evil heteros is the accomplished actor Olivia Williams, and she tells the rich douchebag-who totally looks like someone I know, but can't place- that the company is going to charge him extra because of "something bad" associated with him in the file she has on him.

So he takes Eliza Dushku white water rafting, and then shoot stuff with a bow, and then they have some totally unerotic TV sex. It doesn't even look like they might have had fun filming it. No chemistry. At all. Dushku made a remark about something she did with her tongue and instead of being sexy, it comes off as just horrible.

In fact, all references to sex in this show are just plain creepy, because really the whole of the show is meant as some sort of metaphor for prostitution/sex slavery, it's clear to anyone with a brain that none of what Dushku does in character is not what normal people would call consensual.

Then this guy informs Dusku that she's so awesome he must now hunt her down in order to be sure she's as awesome as she can be before he. . . sends her back to the company?

Whatever, he paid the extra money, he can what ever his evil white man heart desires. Dusku takes off running and I realized, that evil white dude REALLY looks like this guy Corey only evil. It's this game I play, how much entertainment can I consume before I run across a Corey look a like.

So Evil Corey makes with the hunt-hunt arrow-arrow thing, as Harry J. Lennix shows up to remind us that he, like Williams, is wasted on this show so far. Meantime, Dushku reminds us that while she has some range, she is bored out of her mind for the most part.

Meanwhile, Helo is pounding the pavement like any good detective, trying to find out what's going on. Also, apparently he has young lady living across the hall from him who is thick in all the right ways AND she can cook. Helo, however is not a douchebag, and won't start something he can't finish, so they don't get laid this episode and probably won't until Helo meets Dushku.

Then more Flashbacks. Apparently, when someone is "imprinted" with a bunch of different personalities, there is a chance they will "compile" which from hints in the flash back, turns you into a screaming badass who can fillet a man with surgical precision in about the same amount of time as the average bull ride. Said badass is referred to only as "alpha."

Okay, I'm getting down with it. This stuff's intriguing.

Then we cut back to the Evil Corey situation. He's still hunting Dushku, and Lennix has captured one of his chronies. "How many?" he asks. "What?" and Lennix, pretty as you please, puts a bullet in his captives knee and asks another question. Lennix doesn't like the answer he gets so he puts bullet in the opposite thigh. The entire scene is completely excellent display of how to play a professional ass-kicker, since he's very matter-of-fact about his ruthlessness.

Then Lennix tracks down Dushku, and is promptly shot by Evil Cory with an arrow. Then Dushku gets her shit together, Lennix gives her gun. She puts a bullet in Evil Cory after a rather tense stand off with some really inappropriate attempts at humor then knocks him down and beats the snot of him. The end.

It's implied- and by implied they give hints that a lobotomized poodle could figure out- that this evil guy is "alpha" and it's clear that this episode was supposed to be something like the fifth or sixth one you see, and not the second. I reckon we're supposed be all like "DUDE!" and "WHOA!" but since the only character with any real depth by the end credits is Lennix's, mostly we're only going to stick around to see just how bad ass he can be.

What's really getting to me about this show is that when Dushku is at the Dollhouse puzzle palace, she has no memory or personality, and that makes all of her interactions, especially the ones with people who don't like her much, profoundly sad to me. She wanders around chest forward, shoulders back in a spaghetti strap tank top unaware of anything and for some reason it's just really sad to me.

I'm also noticing that this is getting to be like the Six Million Dollar Man in terms of how the plot unfolds. Mostly I imagine this is because they blew most of their budget on visual effects and the Puzzle Palace HQ set, and can now only afford to film in the ready set that is the outdoors. Ever notice how in the Six Million Dollar Man no matter what the plot was they always ended up in some forest somewhere? Same thing here.

Maybe but I'm just a naturally grouchy person, but I find about half of the attempts at humor on this show to be inappropriate. Most of it is either delievered without the bitter sarcasm or world weariness that someone who knowingly works for a prostitution ring would have, or it's so random it's clear that "Joss wrote that."

Dollhouse Season1 Episode 1: The Rocky Start

I caught the first episode of Dollhouse today and. . um. . what?

One thing I'm sick of is female characters empowered solely through trauma. In this instance, it's not even real trauma. Eliza Dushku plays a young woman who has had her memory wiped so that she . . . can. . . do . . stuff. So she thinks things that are wholly untrue. . .

She's part of a company or something. This company wipes the memories of hot young women (and apparently men, but we won't focus on them because men are almost completely unattractive according to western entertainment.) so they are the perfect ________ for ________. Date for Rich dude, negotiate a hostage situation, whatever.

With the memory wipe premise, every character Dushku becomes isn't actually a person in the sense that we understand a person, and is therefore hard to sympathize with. The person we're suppose to sympathize with, and sort of do, has been erased in the first ten minutes. In the critical character introduction, the main character comes of as whiney and dull. And then her personality is replaced with someone else.

There are also ties to sex trafficking out of Europe or somewhere-with Tamoh Penikett from Battlestar Galactica investigating-something related to the main story, though the most time we spend with him is with a man who could turn out to be the show's angry police captain. At one point, he says "that's like they've been murdered. . . " which seems a really intense thing to say, because we see these people walking around.

Interesting point about death, it really only affects the people left behind. When one of the "Dolls" effectively "dies" they feel no pain, they are gone in their mind, but not their body and it is only the people left behind that feel that pain. That brings this point to the forefront, because the Dolls don't know or care that they have been have their personality/memories murdered. So if they're not actually dead, I suppose the most charges that be brought up are kidnapping and perhaps prostitution.

Naturally, I'm fascinated to see where this show goes, even if Whedon's usually great dialogue ("What am I speaking Urdu?") was supplanted by some. . . not great stuff.

"Now we have a mission!" says Harry J. Lennix (dude, seriously? It's like Anthony Hopkins appearing in a Ninja Turtles movie) which is met with "We prefer the term 'engagements.'" which STILL sounds like a military action! If you're going to have someone use euphemisms and be evil, the euphemisms be not already related to warfare or something.

In fact, you know what? Rather than half-assing the feminine-empowerment theme, instead have the entire show use code words and passwords and euphemisms generally associated with femininity? Would that make people uncomfortable? You betcha! Would it make for a better show? Probably so! All of these bizarre rites of passage that young western women go through become and elaborate code for what's happening.

Finally, HARD CORE SPOILERS:

In the first episode, the technician dude who does the memory programming gives Dushku's character a new past that involves her being kidnapped and abused in some terrible fashion by one of the villains she's attempting to take down. Now, if you program brains for a living and it's somehow illegal, wouldn't you be sharp enough to know that building post traumatic stress into someone's personality is a bad idea? Seriously, you've just made a complete liability out of a potentially perfect asset.