Dollhouse: A Retrospective

By Action Flick Chick

Joss Whedon is a fantastic storyteller, and on a side note, I am super thrilled that he’s directing The Avengers (2012)!!!! I get excited anytime I hear that he’s attached to a project. After all, he has written some of the most geektastic television shows ever, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly. Now, I haven’t met nearly as many Dollhouse fans as I have Buffy or Firefly, but there is a loyal fan base out there and with good reason.

Dollhouse premiered on Fox in 2009 and ended the season in 2010 with a mere 27 episodes. The premise takes some extra thinking but that’s part of the attraction. The complex plot and back stories of the characters pull you in and keep you guessing throughout the series. In Dollhouse, a huge umbrella corporation is running a secret underground facility where they imprint different personalities and sets of skills into people’s brains. The people who are imprinted are called Actives and have had their own personality transferred to a file and put away so that each Active is completely void of any personality until they are imprinted with one.

The story follows one very special Active named Echo (Eliza Dushku) as she is imprinted with personality after personality. Each Active is wiped clean of the imprinted personality after they finished with whatever task they were being used for, but they could never fully wipe Echo. As the series progresses, it becomes evident that Echo is evolving as a person and still has pieces of each imprint in her brain.

Imagine being able to order up a person who can be whatever personality you want. Want someone who will love you no matter what you do? Want someone who will kick the crap out of anyone who tries to approach you? Dollhouse can do it all. Sounds like a dream until you think about the other side of what it would be like to be an Active. Would you like knowing your personality is on a shelf while they use your body for whatever purpose they want? Those kinds of odd, grey area ethical dilemmas are what Dollhouse explores. It does a great job of showing how the seemingly awesome situation can escalate and destroy society.

Honestly, this show kicks a lot of ass! There is usually some kind of action in every episode keeping things exciting. And because of the strange brain-imprinting technology you never know who’ll end up as an imprinted doll and what skills they might suddenly bust out. The technology also provides a way for favorite characters to be killed off and brought back, so you really don’t know what’s going to happen.

Seeing as how the show was canceled early on, the series finale left off at a great place. Sure, there could have been many more great stories that could be explored, but in the end there weren’t any loose ends that you’re dying to find out but never will. So don’t let Dollhouse’s short lifespan stop you from watching.

So what is the cast of Dollhouse up to these days? I already mentioned that Joss Whedon is the writer/director of The Avengers! Eliza Dushku (Echo) and Dichen Lachman (Sierra) can be seen in the newest season of The Guild. IMDB also has Dushku as being in the long awaited, biggest will-they-won’t-they-make-it movie, Ghostbusters III. There is still no official word as to whether this is actually happening but I’m remaining hopeful.

Lachman has also appeared in several other television shows including Torchwood: Miracle Day, Hawaii Five-0, and NCIS: Los Angeles. Harry Lennix (Boyd) has several films coming out but the most interesting for a geek like myself is his role in the upcoming Superman film, Man of Steel. Fran Kranz (Topher) will be in The Cabin in the Woods in 2012 which was also written by Whedon.

Although Dollhouse came and went in the blink of an eye, it’s definitely worth a look, and unlike many awesome shows that had a painfully short run, this one has a satisfying resolution so it won’t leave you feeling nerd-blue-balled.

This is the Action Flick Chick, and you’ve just been kicked in the ass!

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