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Dollhouse: Man on the Street

Man on the street: "Everyone's got their fantasies, right? A guy wants to know what it's like, you know, to be with another man. Just once, nothing queeny, two guys checking it out, and then the other one forgets. That could be sweet for some guys."

Echo and Paul had a "cute meet" and beat each other up. How very Buffy and Angel.

They just moved Paul out of the fringes and into the story, and hallelujah. According to Echo's secret imprint, someone is trying to bring the Dollhouse down from within, and that person wants to work with Paul. It can't be Echo herself, can it? Claire, who is smart and compassionate, is probably my favorite candidate. Or maybe it's Topher's gopher. Who knows.

But what the frak was Paul doing confiding all that confidential FBI information to a civilian, Melanie, whom we just discovered (not a surprise) is also a doll? Did Paul know or guess what she was? Was he feeding her information that would get him the attention he wanted? I hope so. But I doubt it.

The "people on the street" interviews that started each segment explored the possible pros and cons of being a doll. Yes, it could be nice to be Rebecca Mynor for the day and have your fondest dream fulfilled by your loving husband. And hey, I'm sure there are a lot of us out there who would jump at the chance to seduce Tahmoh Penikett.

But the cons are brutal. Sierra was raped repeatedly by her handler. And Victor, because of an involuntary reflex in a shower, was nearly sent to the Attic because he didn't know enough to defend himself. Volunteering means nothing. Every assignment, even the ones not involving sex or violence, are dangerous because they cannot choose or think for themselves. The dolls are helpless, even when they're imprinted, but especially when they're not.

I wonder if this series would work better for me if the dolls were special agents, private or governmental, programmed with special additional skills on top of their own to carry out missions. Something more important than fulfilling the sexual fantasies of a billionaire. Well, for all I know, Joss Whedon could be going in that direction. Who knows.

Bits and pieces:

-- Echo told Paul that there are twenty dollhouses, and it dates back to the 1980s. That's not just an aberration, then. One Dollhouse is really bad; twenty is uber-evil.

-- I really liked Eliza Dushku's cute performance as Mynor's wifey. ("Porn!") And I liked Mynor's insinuation that Paul had a romantic fantasy about rescuing Caroline, ending with the two of them living happily ever after. Did Mynor's ridicule push Paul into bed with Melanie? I bet it did.

-- I like Melanie, too. Except that we don't know what she's really like, any more than we know what Echo, Sierra and Victor are really like. DeWitt said that Melanie was in love with Paul. How can Melanie possibly be in love with Paul? Unless "Melanie" is her original personality? That would explain the "three flowers in a vase" extra programming.

-- Boyd was taken off duty while Echo was out confronting Paul. What an amazing coincidence.

-- Topher made a comment about beauty and glanced sideways at Claire. Like it was her fault that her face was scarred. Topher thinks of women as objects, even the ones who aren't dolls. And duh.

-- Big, huge fight scene destroying a kitchen with much slamming of bodies, and no bruises or cuts on Echo afterward, at all? Not even a discreet cut on the forehead or chin? Paul was undoubtedly pulling his punches in an effort not to hurt his dream girl, but still.

-- Sorry I was a bit late with this one. I probably shouldn't have watched this right after the finale of Battlestar Galactica wrung me out. Seeing Tahmoh Penikett and Mark Sheppard again less than an hour later actually distracted me, and that never happens to me.


Melanie: "I get that I'm not the gold standard in L.A."
Paul: "Please. You're gorgeous."
Melanie: "But I do have access to important government information that I don't understand."

Paul: "A few years ago, she was a student. And then she had her identity ripped from her so she could play love slave to every loser with a wad of cash."
Mynor: "But then the brave little FBI agent whisked her away from the cash-wielding losers and restored her true identity. And she fell in love with him."

Victor's handler: "Maybe she's broken. You figure she's broken?"
Boyd: "They're all broken."

Mynor: "This is the internet establishment. You put me in front of a judge, he'll take you down. He'll throw the Kindle at you."

The episodes keep getting better, and that's good,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. Great review as always, Billie.

    This was the episode that did it for me--I am now officially hooked on Dollhouse.

    My conversion moment with Buffy (which got me back into TV viewing after a looong hiatus) was easy to pinpoint: the last 30 second of "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date."

    With this episode, not so easy. But the "porn!" moment might have been it. Or the idea that "pleasure is their business, but it's not their purpose." Or the objectification of Paul wandering around shirtless for the girlies out there.

    Joss Whedon is my master now.

  2. I had a totally different reaction than you, Billie. I was so sad at the end of BSG - despite how I felt about the last season, its still great television. But then I watched Dollhouse, and for the first time, I was riveted. And I was THRILLED that even as one great show ends, another is coming into its own.

    Doesn't hurt that there's almost a BSG shout out in every ep, including Lampkin and Helo :-)

    I don't know, maybe I had BSG on the mind when I watched it, but the whole "sleeper" doll idea is pretty darn similar to the sleeper Cylon. After all, both dolls and Cylons are "programmed", and in the case of Boomer, can't necessarily control their actions. That sort of smacked me in the face after watching this ep.

    Another parallel to another of my favorite shows: Alias. One of the great moments of Alias was when Vaughn pulled out the SD6 map, and it was huge. It wasn't so much when Echo told Paul about the Dollhouse franchise as when it became apparent that DeWitt only had so much power. If she turns out to be the "secret" agent within DHLA, it would be a very Sloane-like move.

    While I'm not 100% sure that I want a show that reminds me so much of two of my favorites, its definitely exciting, esp if Joss can execute. Funnily enough, everyone has been comparing DH to Buffy/Angel, when the parallels have been to other great shows.

  3. Now this was a Joss Whedon show. I’ve been on the bubble for the last few weeks but all it took was one simple word (“Porn!”) and I’m hooked. The characters are clicking, the dialogue is more Whedony, the plot is getting interesting and big boys and girls are beating the crap out of each other:)

    Now, all I need to do is wait for the inevitable cancellation to be announced.

  4. Hi Billie,

    I'm probably in the same boat as the Mark, Serena and Josie. This episode worked for me; the first one that really has. We still don't know who the main players are, but we do know the play...kind of.

    I do agree though....the fact that we never know who these characters are, and that they appear to be different people each week, is making it hard to care about them. And when we do get to see them in their wiped state, there's not really much to like or dislike about them. They're like robots. They have a semblance of humanity; but their intellect and knowledge base is severely limited.

    And since Joss seems to have a five year plan for this show, I doubt we'll be getting to know them any time soon.


  5. "I wonder if this series would work better for me if the dolls were special agents, private or governmental, programmed with special *additional* skills on top of their own to carry out missions. Something more important than fulfilling the sexual fantasies of a billionaire. Well, for all I know, Joss Whedon could be going in that direction. Who knows."

    I agree. The first five episodes I kept thinking "man, Joss really should have made the Dollhouse a government spy thing other than a fantasy-fulfillment thing". But maybe that's exactly where he is going.

    I had thought Mellie could be either a doll or a not-doll Dollhouse agent. But Joss convinced me through the episode she was just Ballard's neighbor, so it was a chock for me when she got activated. My sister and I watched this episode together and we both said out loud "she is a doll!!!". So, three flowers... Is the number just a coincidence or is there a third imprint on Mellie's head (or a second imprint if Melanie is her real persona)?

    Joss said this show wouldn't have much funny and silly stuff, and I get that. How can you make fun of characters that are constantly being mind-raped? You can't! But this episode had enough fun and wittiness to make any whedonite happy. Porn, rick, neighborly... Hee!

    The fight scene was awesome. Very good, but very unrealistic.

    And Adelle rocks, doesn't she? She is so evil and smart. The way she set Sierra's handler up. Wow. I love her! Also, she seems to have some love for Echo, just like Sloane had a twisted love for Sydney (another parallel to Alias, serena). Or, she has her own agenda, jut like Sloane too.

    Anyway, what I liked most about this episode is that it finally made me ask "what the hell is happening" questions and forget the "what the hell are these writers doing" questions...

    So the story is finally working. About damn time!

    Billie, when are you going to start rating Dollhouse? I actually have a suggestion for you: just as you used "stakes" for Buffy and Angel, you could use "flowers" for Dollhouse (I did love that activation phrase). Or, you know, the obvious option, "dolls".

  6. I did like this episode a lot. It was a lot of Tahmoh Penikett and I could tell Joss Whedon had written it. I probably would have sounded more positive if, like I said, I hadn't been all bummed and disturbed from having just watched the end of Battlestar.

    Ratings are tough for me, especially at the beginning of a series. I might go back and put ratings in later. What I would *love* is if I could find a consistent way to have readers do the ratings. I was putting in a poll for that for awhile, but it was just too much extra work.

  7. I was so sad that Mellie turned out to be working for section one *sigh* how many La Femme rip-offs do we need?

  8. I don't see it as a rip-off, since the similarities are not that many. It's more like a continuation in spirit, albeit slightly darker than even La Femme Nikita ever was. Many shows have used elements of LFN, not the least of which is 24. Would you rather have LFN be its own little island without any legacy? I would be very surprised if LFN itself was created out of thin air instead of being built on the legs of other shows.

  9. Of course, no show is an island unto itself nor need it be, but Dollhouse has LFN written all over it. I knew Mellie was a doll since the similarities (with LFN), in fact, are many, but I still hoped she wasn't.

  10. The only difference between what Mynor does to Echo and what Hearn does to Sierra is that Echo’s services are bought and paid for. But the exact same thing happen to both women – they both undergo sexual intimacy with men when they are incapable of consenting.

  11. I thought this was an awesome episode. Finally I can get into this show more out of intrigue than Whedon loyalty.

    The vox pops at the start were interesting but why didn't Adelle or her superiors esssentially kill the story?

    Mark Sheppard is a good actor but he's miscast as Tanaka. I'm hoping that guy becomes a casualty soon.

    Paul was actually likeable in this episode. He was even sweet and funny and for the first time, I cared about him wanting to take down the Dollhouse.

    Joel made some very perceptive comments on Paul's true reasons for wanting to rescue Caroline/Echo, though it doesn't stop Paul from being right.

    Who corrupted Echo during her fight scene with Paul? Boyd and Claire seem like obvious choices but I wouldn't be disappointed if it were either of them.

    Mellie is a doll. Okay, obvious but damn, the execution was brilliant. Loved that Adelle set Sierra's handler up to be killed. After what he did to Sierra, the dude totally had it coming.

    Topher didn't have much to do, maybe that enhanced my enjoyment of the episode and I did worry that Victor was gonna be sent to the Attic. Thanks to Boyd, he didn't. Isn't Boyd brilliant?

    Dominic even seemed a bit better in this episode too. Now I am getting a little hooked to the series, 9/10.

  12. We finally got some Firefly references. "Heart of Gold" and "I surely do" in the first few minutes. Billie, I could also tell it was written by Joss. How crazy does that make us? :)

    I'm not sure I've ever heard a Jossier line than "My kids fiercely love Bouncy the Rat" but I can't tell you why it is so Jossy.

    Mark Sheppard sounds weird as an American. The accent's fine, but there's something off when he's not British.


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