25 May 2011

Dollhouse: Season 2

Dollhouse: Season Two

Starring Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix, Fran Kranz, Tahmoh Penikett, Enver Gjoka, Dichen Lachman, Olivia Williams, Amy Acker, Miracle Laurie, Alan Tudyk, Summer Glau.
Created by Joss Whedon
Transmission season: 2010
FOX, 42 mins., 13 episodes

Plot: Echo (Dushku) plots to break out of the Dollhouse, and bring the Actives with her before the evil corporation Rossum take over the world with technology.

“This woman doesn’t exist. She literally doesn’t exist. And she builds herself from scratch. To me, that is the most powerful act that a person can do.” – Joss Whedon. "Defining Moments", Dollhouse Season 2 DVD

The Awesome Second Season

Biased. I love Joss Whedon. He's Godly. Brilliant writer. Brilliant creative brain. Brilliant all around. Dollhouse - wasn't so keen on calling it brilliant. Season One had its ups and downs like any show trying to gain its footing. Eliza Dushku was good, but overall, unless her particular personality was a kickass woman who took no prisoners, her characters were primarily sexual in nature and didn't amount to much otherwise. They simply were stories that needed to be told, but weren't high in entertainment value. As I write this, I'm thinking specifically of the blind woman episode in season one. Luckily, after the whole Alpha incident in the final two episodes of last season, the show began shifting in another direction, and that is why I used the above quote from the DVD special features.

Also, if none of what I just wrote doesn't make a lick of sense to you, I implore you to familiarize yourself with Dollhouse and, more importantly, Joss Whedon.

This show is about technology, yes, about the use and abuse of it. This show is about what makes a human being - what are the parameters that make up a person, a personality, etc. This show is about the moral and ethical boundaries of the Dollhouse. This show is about characters placed in insane situations. This show is about greed and corruption and control of major organizations. This show is about saying this is who I am, I created me out of my choices and experiences, and I am a full person.

Season two is all about Echo's journey. No longer is she simply an Active whose memory is erased after each engagement. She remembers. She can channel the 60+ persona's traveling around her head. Those personalities don't make her, she makes herself around them. This year is thirteen episodes focusing on the creation - the building - of a full-fledged person who technically doesn't belong in its body. That conundrum of ownership over mind and body, of becoming a person are strong ideas, and as only Joss Whedon & Co. could manage, lend itself to one hell of an amazing second season.

No, this year is not without its hurdles, but that's to be expected. The first four episodes re-introduce us to this world, to Echo's mission to free the Actives of the confines of the Dollhouse, to Topher's genius that will eventually result in Rossum's mastery over the globe (or at least Los Angeles), to Adelle's manipulative self, and Ballard's affection for Echo and his equal drive to destroy the Dollhouse from within. After the stand-aloney first few episodes, the season kicks into gear, and it's a relentless ride from there on out that will make you press "Next Episode" over and over (or at least do the "Play All" option uninterrupted and put in the Next Disc ASAP). Dollhouse gets good. Real freakin' good.

As if noticing Joss & Company were upping their writing game, the actors did likewise. Enver Gjokaj absolutely amazes with his many spot-on impersonations (his Topher is nothing short of genius), making him the absolute greatest, versatile actor of the whole series. Seriously, that man could easily steal a scene from Dushku. His character's growing relationship with Serena, played with subtle and powerful perfection by Dichen Lachman, is just another of the many strong relationships on the show, but is definitely the one that will leave the biggest impression. Fran Kranz is another acting force to be reckoned with as Topher, a character who experiences substantial growth throughout the season. In the beginning, he's a cocky, ego-maniac who doesn't really give a damn about the world and fails to see the Actives as people, but he slowly grows a sense of morality and acts against a greater, more powerful force in an attempt to stop the Dollhouse equivalent of Judgment Day. Olivia Williams sells the stone cold hearted bitch that is Adelle DeWitt, and then miraculously in some cases, make us warm to her. Another stellar performance.

These actors are on fire, and I can safely say with all honesty that Dollhouse is working watching just to see them in it.

If none of the ideas Dollhouse posits or explores interest you, then don't watch. But if they do, and the notion of seeing Buffy/Firefly/Angel alumna's Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Summer Glau, and Alan Tudyk is enough to make you salivate, I don't hesitate in recommending Dollhouse. The first season was good, the second season is great fun. Twists and turns and cliffhangers with each episode. Adelle DeWitt's bitchiness reaching new levels. The insanity of the Attic and the revelations that come after that. The season-worth of stories compacted in the last gripping four episodes. It's a fun ride, with some great concepts, and should not be missed.

Rest In Peace, Dollhouse

Dollhouse was not renewed for a third season. Doubt they expected to be. As a (sorta) happy result, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was granted a sophomore season pickup, which also ended up being its last. Both shows are nothing short of brilliant. The love and affection for the stories being told is plain to see in every episode of both Dollhouse and T:TSCC. These are wonderful, magnificent shows that should not be missed under any circumstances. Although it is, of course, sad to know the story ended years prematurely, what the creators and producers achieved in those two seasons are extraordinary. Great science fiction, great television. Rest in peace, Dollhouse.

Rating: 8/10 = With a clear direction and confidence in creativity and storytelling, Dollhouse: Season 2 is must-see TV for fans as it brilliantly mixes action and grand themes in a science fiction-y backdrop.

No comments: