Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Brief Dollhouse Epiphany

With only around three episodes left in Joss Whedon's latest show Dollhouse, I can finally pin a genre on it. It's a horror show. Considering it's always been about exploring the dark and desperate side of humanity, I suppose I shouldn't be as surprised as I am. But after this past week's pair of episodes, I can certainly say I have not been creeped out by a TV show this much in a long time. Possibly ever. The implications of a technology that can directly manipulate the human brain at the level of personality were bad enough in the first season, and have now been blown wide open. And they are truly scary. The idea of having your personality stored on a hard drive while your body is reprogrammed to do goodness only knows what is a magnificent horror premise. If you can watch without being disturbed then I'm not sure I want you anywhere around me.

However, "disturbing" doesn't exactly make for a great TV show pitch. And it doesn't help that the show didn't really come together well until after the first season. (Though you can make a case for the un-aired season one finale "Epitaph One" as being the real turning point.) A better writer than I am has a cogent summary of the missed potential on scifiwire. I could go into my own litany (why bring Paul into the second season when Boyd was already in a better position to fill the role he now plays?), but it's easy for an outsider to criticize. I'm no writer, just a viewer. And from my seat on the couch, Dollhouse had the potential to be better sci-fi than Battlestar Galactica, better even, perhaps, than Firefly, but that potential was not quite realized. However, us viewers will get a complete story out of it, which is better than most can manage.

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