Creator: Joss Whedon
Stars: Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix and Fran Kranz
I have recently become a little obsessed with Joss Whedon’s work. After falling in love with Firefly and then The Avengers, I’ve now taken up the task of watching his body of work. (Although I may skip most of Buffy as vampires have never been my thing). I first heard about Dollhouse from a couple of my nerd friends who were having an Avengers marathon at the time and were talking about Whedon’s work. I put off watching it for a while as I didn’t really know that much about it. And then I got sick last week. And I watched the entire first season in two days. Oh my word. Joss Whedon is a genius. No really, there is nothing this guy can’t execute brilliantly.
Dollhouse is based on the premise that there is a exclusive, secret organisation that fulfills people’s fantasies through the use of “actives” or “dolls”. These dolls are people that have volunteered for the program for five years, had their memory wiped, and are imprinted with another person’s traits, abilities, characteristics, desires, etc, in order to fulfill the fantasy of the client. It sounds weird, it is, and it is fraught with ethical dilemmas. Whedon knows this and explores this in a really interesting way throughout the show.
Our journey in Dollhouse is centred around Echo, or Caroline, played by Eliza Dushku. She is one of the best dolls in the dollhouse and the story follows her life in the house and on jobs with clients. She has the ability to adapt in the imprint though and this unpredictable nature of Echo brings her under closer inspection. It is through Echo that we see the world of the dollhouse as what it is and what it does. I came to really love and care for Echo as she was tormented with the half-remembering of her past and the passion to find what really happened to her. It is characters like Echo that is the reason I love this kind of show. It has a unique ability to transport you into the world and to question what you know about your own world. It harnesses the power of the unknown and gives you a glimpse into how the pure can be corrupted. It transports desperation into peace, all with the uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach of knowing that it isn’t quite right. And it grabs you and pulls you along for the ride through each episode with the excited and nervous anticipation of what will become of these people.
Maybe that’s just me, maybe I get too involved in TV characters and the worlds writers create for me to escape into, but I do love it. I live vicariously through them as they do things I would never do, things I wish I could do, and things I know I would love to do. And then when each episode ends I long to return with them into their world, to be one of them, and to experience life in a dramatic and exciting way. But as I pull back from that world and the main titles fill my screen I’m brought back to the fact that I am sitting on my couch, sick and tired, and that the world I’ve been transported into is not real and that I would much prefer where I am to the bruises and ethical dilemmas that the characters experience in that world. I suppose that is why I love TV so much as well, because you can escape that world when you need to. If only it was the same for life sometimes. And maybe that’s why Dollhouse has grabbed me so much, because the dolls live in an escaped world, where they experience something and then come back from the real world to their haven of tranquility to forget and escape the horror of the real world. Is it the same for entertainment? Is entertainment our haven?