Approximately 4.7 million viewers tuned in Friday night to watch the premiere of Joss Whedon’s new sci-fi drama, Dollhouse. Starring Eliza Dushku as Echo, an “Active” who serves millionaires by taking on any personality they need to quench their thirst, this was a pilot that at least has me committed for a few more episodes. When it comes to Joss Whedon, you can’t just watch one episode and believe that’s all he has to offer.
In a nutshell, Echo and others are involved with an illegal secret service with the technology to wipe out the memories of an “Active” and upload an entirely different person into them. There’s the technician, Topher, who prepares these “treatments” and sees the whole project as humanitarian. Echo’s handler, Langdon, is more cautious and moral than the rest. Oh, and then there’s Agent Paul Ballard who’s been trying to crack the case about Dollhouse for 14 months, but has gotten into trouble because of his malice actions. Ballard’s determined to find out the truth about Dollhouse because he reasons that the only way to imprint a human with another personality is to remove that person’s original personality, which is basically committing murder.
So all the wheels are in motion. The pilot’s storyline dealt with the kidnapping of a young girl, Davina. Her father, Gabriel, is a wealthy factory owner who goes to Dollhouse for help after the captors demanded no police involvement to settle the money-girl exchange. In comes Echo, who is now Eleanor Penn, to assist Gabriel with the negotiation process. I must say, the costume and makeup personnel for Dollhouse are going to have their hands full in this series. With a new situation and new personalities every episode, they really have to make Eliza Dushku look the part she has to play. In this episode, they did a very good job. From the opening scene of a kick-ass, partying fling to a professional negotiator in a suit, I needed a little reminder it was the same person.
Anyway, the rest of the episode dealt with Echo (Penn) rescuing Davina… but not without a bunch of complications. For one, Echo was inscribed with a personality who had a troubled past of being kidnapped. And when she was face to face with the captors during the exchange, she noticed the man who kidnapped her as a child. Talk about motives? A heated argument between Langdon and the Dollhouse executive Ms. Dewitt ensued about compromising engagement as to saving the girl. This surely won’t be the last time good stares evil in the eye.
As a whole, I enjoyed the pilot a lot. There’s a lot going on and a lot of potential for this series. Eliza Dushku will be able to strut her acting abilities in this role… I just hope she can keep up. There are concerns that because Echo will take on a new personality every episode, this formula can tire itself out. It’ll almost be like a pilot every episode, and can you really root for her when she’s constantly changing? I’m sure Joss Whedon has thought of all of this and has worked out the kinks… and that’s why I’m most interested in continuing this series. It should be interesting watching Echo grow and retain more and more memories, Langdon trying to protect Echo and fight for morals against Dewitt and Topher, Agent Ballard getting closer to bringing down the Dollhouse, and of course the crazy new adventures Echo embarks on.