Dollhouse

May. 9th, 2009 06:55 pm
lizzieladie: (feminism)
[personal profile] lizzieladie
So I finally got around to watching the episodes 8-12 and

I think that I would have liked this series a lot better if it had started with Needs. This was the first episode that really gave me a sense of what made all of the characters tick, including the dolls. I didn't really enjoy the assignment plots in episodes 1-7, which seemed for the most part like retreads of standard cop/secret agent stories. The only thing that made those episodes stand out at all from similar mediocre stories on other shows was the fact the detective would only have their personality for one day, and quite frankly that seemed to me to be to the detriment of my emotional involvement in the story. However, beginning with Needs we got a sense of what made the people around the dolls tick (this was the also the episode where I learned everyone's names), and we had our first hints that there is only so much personality that you can remove from a doll.

Haunted was Echo's first assignment that didn't bore me to death. If the rest of her assignments had been that interesting I wouldn't have minded sitting through episodes 1-7 while the plot dragged itself out.

When Alan Tudyk showed up in Briar Rose, he brought the kickass dialogue with him. If people had been talking like that for the rest of the series I would have overlooked the boring plots.

The meta commentary on the princes and sleeping beauty in Briar Rose was interesting, and weird. It seemed as though the show was trying to defend the trope of the prince rushing in to be the hero and saving the princess, to say that it's possible to rewrite that story as it stands as feminist. But then the show itself completely turns around and undermines that story. Paul and Boyd have their showdown over whose method of being Caroline/Echo's prince is correct, only to have the rug totally swept out from under their feet when Alpha steps into that role. Alpha winning in that moment definitely seems to me to be a commentary by the show on the idea that sometimes the way that literature portrays the hero is actually quite creepy. After watching that episode I really wanted to see Echo get some of her own back, and she did that quite handily in Omega. It was very nice to hear the princess say, no I am my own person, and I'm going to stand up to you and not do what you want. But then at the end Echo needs Paul to catch Caroline's memories. If one applies the meta commentary on sleeping beauty to this, then everything that Echo did up to that point was just sleeping. I'm not sure that the sleeping beauty story works as a parallel to Echo's. If it did work, I would be a lot less happy with Echo's story.

There were some plot things throughout that bothered me. Mostly Tohper, I am a genius and yet I only keep *one* back up copy of the contents of people's *brains* Brink. Also Alpha being able to maintain one fake personality long enough to fool Paul, and then switching into super crazy mode for the entire next episode. If he had tried even once to regain control of a single personality to reason with Echo I would have found his performance the day before a lot more convincing.

Joss is definitely saying things with his skeevy portrayal of women and heroes that I wouldn't have guessed he was going to say based on the earlier episodes. But I also feel like I would have had more fun watching the less skeevy story where Echo works more independently to get some of herself back. The story where when Echo makes a very human mistake and accidentally knocks her memory block off the beam, the identity of the person who catches it doesn't make me cringe. Other people's mileage may vary, but I could tell that Paul's motivations and attitudes towards himself were problematic when I saw heroes like him in other stuff, and I'd rather watch a show that actively tries to create a Paul who doesn't have those problems than one that points out his creepiness. Also interesting would have been to switch Paul's gender (or make him gay), and see what happened to his narrative when you took Caroline's sexual attractiveness and the implied reward for being her hero out of the picture for him.

To sum up, I no longer think that Dollhouse is a complete waste of the talent of everyone involved in it. It had a slow start, but it's doing very interesting things with its arc and the issues raised by it, and it's playing on an entirely different level than the first seven episodes led me to believe. Even though it's not the story that I would tell if I were writing it, it's definitely interesting, and I'd be happy to see where they take it in a second season if they get the chance. We haven't really had a chance to see Echo truly outgrow all these guys who want to be her heroes yet, and I'd like to see some saner characters than Alpha react to her doing so.
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