Packing up the dollhouse?


It hasn’t hit British screens yet and, if online talk is to believed, it never will. predicts Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse “…is on its way to tragic death in just a few weeks.”

Early cancellation of the sci-fi show would disappoint the legion fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, but would be unsurprising for a series plagued with birthing pains. The initial pilot episode was rejected by Fox, reshot, shuffled to second place in the airing schedule and eventually dropped. Next followed a two-week production hiatus. The series now airs in a Friday night slot, a friendless place known as the ‘TV dead zone.’

“Only people who are willing to cut Whedon endless slack could find anything much to draw them into this show,” The New Yorker prophesized after the show debuted late last year. The LA Times went further, “no amount of fondness or admiration for Whedon and his work can disguise the fact that “Dollhouse” is beyond disappointing.”

The show’s major stumbling block is said to be its central premise. Eliza Dushku “is Echo, a member of a highly illegal and clandestine group of individuals who can be “imprinted” with various personalities in order to perform missions for filthy-rich client,” (
This plot might read well on paper but it’s failed to impress on screen. “Dollhouse seems to be about three different shows in one, any one of which, on their own, might have been a better bet than chucking all three of them into the mix,” complains Keith Topping, author of the Buffyverse guides, Hollywood Vampire, LA Times calls the show, “overcrowded with plotlines, high-tech gimmicks and ambition yet empty of emotional connection and purpose,” while the New York Times acknowledges the show “has an amusing premise,” but laments the “thin and bland” universe it inhabits.

The convoluted plot might have been saved by a strong central character, Echo being the natural choice, alas as the LA Times opines, “she’s a non-person, which makes it a little hard to get attached.”

The problem is compounded by casting, namely former Buffy bad-girl and Dollhouse producer, Eliza Dushku. “Who thought Dushku was up to the formidable task of portraying several different people per episode?” wonders the LA Times. Certainly not The New Yorker, which stated, the only qualification Dushku brings to the part “is that she graduated with honours from the Royal Academy of Cleavage.” Ouch! Yet an opinion shared by Variety; “Dushku does wonderful things to a tank top, but her grasp of this vague, personality-changing character is a bit of a muddle.”

The detractors are plentiful; you have to search harder for the believers. “If anyone can sell us an elaborate, fantastical scenario and have us willingly suspend our disbelief and enjoy the ride, it’s Joss Whedon,” enthuses “Dollhouse has the brains and flair to charm us silly.”

Perhaps, but will Fox give the show time to grow its audience? Dollhouse was given an initial 13 show commitment but since then, “there has been a kerfuffle over Fox’s not wanting to air the show’s 13th episode…” ( If unresolved, episode 13 might appear only on DVD, not encouraging news for the series. When pressed on the rumblings from Fox Whedon admitted, “They haven’t said anything about a number, and they haven’t said anything about a date. What they have said is “We get it. We get that the numbers are soft, but …the show’s getting better, and the demographic is good, and we all have a crush on Eliza.” So they’re basically fans.” (

Only time will tell and is quick to remind us that, “official notice of cancellation has not come from Fox yet,” however, they also add, “Give it time.”

Shade Lapite

1 Comment

  • Becky says:

    Interesting reading thanks Shade, I think I must be one of the rare few who absolutely adore this show though! The most recent episodes with Alpha are amazing, and I completely dissagree with those who say Eliza Dusku can’t act well enough to play this part. She is fantastic, and manages to turn her head to all of the various roles with ease. I’m really warming to all the characters and really hope to see the show renewed for another season!

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