Update On Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse

Published 6 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 6:58 am,

dollhouse03 Update On Joss Whedons DollhouseI’ve got a few tidbits on Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, a new show set to premiere on Fox network this Fall.

The tidbit is that filming for the pilot of Dollhouse is not quite done. The reason is that the network “asked” for some parts of the pilot to be reshot. Some theories suggested they’re shooting more material to add in the extra time for the “remote-free TV” premise Fox is trying.

Barring any concerns we have about Fox network and how it’s going to handle the show, I came across a fascinating insight into part of the pilot episode and the ingenious / insidious mindset Mr. Whedon has.

After the page jump, there is a semi-SPOILER, so be warned!

In a scene from the pilot, Echo (Played by Eliza Dushku) is sent out on an assignment as a girl looking for her missing sister. FBI agent Paul Ballard (Played by Tahmoh Penikett [Helo from Battlestar Galactica]), who’s been looking for Dollhouse, locates Echo while on this assignment. Ballard knows who she is. He’s got the missing persons’ profile on her. Yet the twist is that Echo’s true programming is to assassinate Ballard.

Now that’s what I call a twist inside a twist!

The interesting aspect of Echo’s character is that she still develops despite being programmed over and over. She tries to understand the impact of each personality she’s been given and how it all fits together.

That’s today’s update on Dollhouse.

Dollhouse is to air on Fox in 2009, midseason, will be produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Mutant Enemy Inc.. Exec producer / writer and director: Joss Whedon, starring Eliza Dushku, Olivia Williams, Tahmoh Penikett, Fran Kranz, Dichen Lachman, Enver Gjokaj and Harry Lennix.

Sources: dollrific.com, youcantdownloadit

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16 Comments

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  1. I don’t get Joss Whedon…I never liked Buffy other than all the hot ladies…I didn’t get FIrefly or Serenity and I guess I am not going to get this. I don’t understand why he is so popular..I think it’s style over substance with “funny” written dialogue interspersed with lots of “action”..He seems to be good at meshing ideas from pop culture over the last 30 years and reissuing them as new ideas..I also know he has a rabid fanbase so I know not many people will share my opinion on this.

  2. I don’t get Joss Whedon…I never liked Buffy other than all the hot ladies…I didn’t get FIrefly or Serenity and I guess I am not going to get this. I don’t understand why he is so popular..I think it’s style over substance with “funny” written dialogue interspersed with lots of “action”..He seems to be good at meshing ideas from pop culture over the last 30 years and reissuing them as new ideas..I also know he has a rabid fanbase so I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this.

  3. Hey greenknight, for some reason your last couple of comments have been double posted… anything on your end because the site seems fine to me.

    Regarding Whedon, I never got into Buffy but I’m a HUGE fan of Firefly/Serenity. Just love the tone, concept and the writing.

    Vic

  4. Hey Vic,

    It just seems to be sending me back to whatever page I am trying to post my comment on without the comment being there..so I send it again…I logged off the net for awhile and I see that I have been doing the double post…YIKES! I have the Firefly series and Serenity as well, liked the action in Serenity but wasn’t into much else from it.It may be time for me to revisit them again..

    Cheers

  5. It’s funny greenknight333, but the reason I like Joss’ work so much is because it is so deep. The character development, the nuances of interaction between them, the ability to write for an actors strengths that is unrivalled… he is the primary reason that I feel that television, when done right, is far deeper and more engaging than film CAN be.

    To each their own I guess.

  6. There is a quirky nuance that settles into your mind about some of his material and with the characters, you are always seeing their development, whether it be in a nuance kind of style or big leap.

    Buffy, Angel: big fan. The film club at work has been showing my firefly episodes. Something I never saw before this year so I’m slowly developing.

    After seeing the promo and some of the insights I’ve read, Dollhouse seems that it can be very interesting.

  7. I watched Serenity and Firefly and deep was not a word I would use to describe them…That girl could kick some serious @$$ in Serenity but definitely not deep…to each their own though…

  8. From my experience with other viewers, seeing that depth appears to be a matter of being able to immerse yourself in the world. If you can’t suspend your disbelief past a certain point it doesn’t matter how smart or insightful you are, some people just don’t seem to get it.

    My suspension is tested by Joss’ rather poor understanding of physics and science along with less than stellar stunt work for basic hand to hand and small unit combat. Which I admit was a bit of a problem for me with Firefly more than Buffy because Buffy was fantasy based and didn’t have to work to the same standards as Firefly, which made an attempt to fit into the speculative fiction field bounded by the real world and failed at that.

    It still got to me in a very visceral way which allowed me to get past that and focus on the characters and their story.

    There is also his dialogue, which tends to be arch and unrealistic, almost lyrical and Shakespearian. This grates on some people and pushes them out of the moment as well. It resonates with me, it’s how I would wish to speak if I could write out all my dialogue ahead of time.

    The first few episodes of a Wheadon series establishes the characters and gives a baseline for him to develop from. If Buffy had been cancelled in the first (13 episode) season it would have seemed rather shallower than it ended up being.

    Firefly was stronger than Buffy was at the end of their respective truncated first seasons, with the characters more complex and well fleshed out. It may not have had the mythological playground to work in but I think it would have ended up being a better series than Buffy… and coming from me that is some pretty high praise.

  9. Greenknight, I am with you. I don’t get him either. I’ve tried watching several episodes of Buffy, watched Serenity, and even tried Dr. Horrible. I don’t find any of it clever, entertaining or witty.

    Clint, you explained it very well…his dialogue is so unnatural as to take you out of the moment. All I can think of is Joss and the crew sniggering to themselves behind the camera at their cleverness. It grates on me.

    I keep watching Whedon things hoping I will ‘get’ it, as I think I’m quite the tv junkie and I appreciate smart shows. Dr. Horrible was another round of disappointment for me. It was actually uncomfortable, painful, and a tad boring to watch.

    I feel like there must be something wrong with me….but then I find an occasional person like GreenKnight who agrees with me, and I think…Okay, maybe I’m not just crazy or overly critical.

    I’ll give “Dollhouse” a shot, but the ‘trailer’ left me confused and not a little bit turned off. As a woman, I just don’t see him creating strong, female characters…which is the reason many like him, apparently. I saw women treated as sex objects and wearing slinky outfits while punching people. Women as fantasy…not strong and powerful and smart.

  10. Kristin: Never take it personally when you don’t get what a lot of other people are drooling about. I was a late comer to Battlestar Galactica, but you see where that went.

    Doctor Who was an enigma of jumbled confustion to me until recently, and now that I get where they’re coming from, I haven’t missed an episode and am now doomed to try and catch earlier shows.

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and subsequently the spin-off, Angel were up my alley of vampires and such, so I took to it via that avenue.

    So don’t beat yourself up trying to “get it”, but kudos to you for trying to understand.

  11. An artist not resonating with you isn’t a personal failing by any stretch of the imagination. This is dictated by different temperaments and philosophies… how your brain was constructed and consequently rewired by life experiences. We are each of us quite different and unlike science or math with their objective answers, our subjective preferences can be neither right nor wrong.

    Unless you like “reality” TV, that is just wrong wrong wrong.

    I personally couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to get into The West Wing. I can let reality slide enough for an undead, bloodsucking demon from hell to be the hero- maybe even lawyers as gray area anti-heroes if I have a few drinks in me- but politicians who are not evil? There ain’t enough hallucinogenics in the world to suspend disbelief that far.

    If you’ve given Joss’ work a good and honest evaluation and it doesn’t catch your fancy, it probably never will and you don’t have to knock yourself out trying to like it. Life it too short for that. You can rest assured that there are far more people who don’t like his work than there are who do. American Idol can have their 30 million viewers, as long as Dollhouse gets enough to stay on the air.

    I too would have appreciated it if Buffy had used her smarts more to defeat the Big Bads… but that just doesn’t play as well on TV as putting them through the wall with a wreaking ball. What I don’t get is when being attractive is considered a negative portrayal of a woman?

    Symmetrical features and physical prowess are attractive because they are external manifestations of genetic soundness. It is the first thing that attracts us to another human, not just for Darwinian reproductive purposes, but for all social interaction. Try and find a democratically elected political leader who is actually ugly. They say that politics is Hollywood for ugly people but they are ugly only in comparison to actors… at worst they are plain or bland.

    It is reasonable to make value judgments on the characters in the fiction that we consume. I don’t think it is reasonable to take values away from a character and think that makes them better. Handsome should be more highly valued than ugly in the same way that literacy should be more valued than illiteracy. Neither beauty nor literacy is a moral reflection on the individual but they are positive values nonetheless. Of course, these aren’t the over riding values and if the handsome literate is a politician while the ugly illiterate is a poor migrant worker who donated construction labour to Doctors Without Borders… well then we can start making moral judgments.

    We are all either objects of sexual desire or not. Being sexually desirable it a positive thing, not something to be denigrated. Just because we all don’t look good enough to be the lead in a television series doesn’t mean we should devalue attractiveness. All evidence points to James Marsters being more of a sex object than I am and that is a plus for him and a minus for me.

    I can understand some objection when the ONLY value placed on the character is there desirability as a sexual partner. But if we are going to make any valuation on characters, when you have two individuals with the exact same non-physical values… the more physically attractive one is objectively more “valuable”.

    That makes life a little tougher for those of use who are solidly average in the looks department but I’m not going to whine about it. TV and film is an idealized world and it only makes sense that the characters are as attractive as they can be cast from the pool of actors with the requisite talent and that best suit the role.

  12. I wasn’t referring to the prettiness of any of the actors…I was referring to the scenes from Dollhouse that I saw…one in which a man ‘hires’ Eliza Dushku’s character to basically be his hot girlfriend and it was alluded to that she would have sex with him as if she were in love with him, another showing a gorgeous girl in a skintight outfit jumping out of an airplane, another with a woman in a tight outfit fighting men in a dark alley.

    I don’t care if they are good looking or not, but I didn’t see one woman portrayed as anything but either evil/bitchy (the woman who runs the Dollhouse who seems to be up to no good) or sex kitten.

    I guess the whole show is about fantasy…which is fine. But Joss Whedon is praised for his ‘strong female characters,’ which I didn’t see evidence of in this show.

    If you want a strong female character, how about Kyra Sedgewick on “The Closer” or Glenn Close in “Damages.” Both attractive women, but strong, smart, and very watchable. I can think of many others…the lead on “Bones” and Catherine on “CSI.” Etc.

  13. I guess I just don’t see where being a “sex kitten” takes anything away from a woman and certainly shouldn’t stereotype someone as any less intelligent, powerful or capable just because they are hot and work with that. Now if hot is all they got… then my interest wanes pretty quickly.

    From a feminist perspective I would think it insulting to have it constantly reinforced that a woman can only be strong and smart the more closely she emulates a man.

    Kyra Sedgewick and Glenn Close are plain women who, without celebrity, wouldn’t get a second glance on the street. I ain’t being mean since all I’m saying is that, just like me, they aren’t one of the beautiful people. They are not ugly by any means but it is their acting talent that has gotten them to where they are.

    And while Temperance is a strong female character and Emily Deschanal is more attractive- they emphasize her physical assets as much as the premise of Bones will allow… just like they beefcake David Boreanaz up as much as they can.

    A woman with a degree in aerospace engineering and an MBA – who is using it all to start up a solar satellite power company is awesome. Now if she is getting the seed capital for that by modeling for Victoria’s Secret- to me that is a plus not a minus.

    I think it is a sad commentary on feminism when that is seen as flat out incompatible, where if it where a man in the exact same scenario cashing in on his looks to get started, I would merely see it as wildly improbable because the top women get paid roughly a hundred times as much for standing in front of a camera (talk about pay equity issues).

  14. I was a latecomer to both the Buffyverse and Firefly. I think one of the reasons it was so difficult for me to get it was that I saw many episodes out of order. His work definitely requires some prior knowledge and there’s some things you can’t appreciate without having watched the characters develop. I mean, if Buffy is about the trials of growing up, how can you appreciate it without having watched the development actually occur? If Angel is supposed to be about the search for meaning, don’t you actually need to kind of be there when the search begins? Joss is huge on context and although most of his stuff begins in media res, if you watch it, he gives you the whole story. Although… I think it’d be a little difficult now starting at the beginning of buffy because it’s so 90s… so dated it’s almost distracting.

    As far as Joss being deep, I think his background in philosophy is most evident in Firefly. I could cite a ton of examples, but I’ll stick with the most obvious: the episode “Bodies In Space,” is hugely influenced by Nausea (by Jean Paul Sartre). River’s character is pretty much epitomised there as caught between the world of her mind and the world of ‘reality’ and the constant struggle to find a compromise between the two. The nature of self versus the interpretations of those around you? I find it pretty provocative.
    Also, any work where Joss has a character’s death always manages to go a little deeper than just witty dialogue or a fashionable look. “The Body” from Buffy, “The Message” from Firefly, and to a certain extent, “A Hole In the World” from Angel always strike me as incredibly poignant in their portrayal of the way humans deal with mortality. That’s something he always does. No matter the fantastic or sometimes downright silly nature of the world he’s portraying, the characters are just so damn human. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to fall in love with his work. You stop thinking of them as characters and you start looking for pieces of yourself.

    Lastly, how are people already coming up with opinions on whether or not the female characters are strong in this series? It hasn’t begun yet! Re-emphasises my point about the need for context in appreciating Joss’ work.

  15. @natalie

    Whedon is well known for creating strong female protagonists. I would have loved to have seen him take on the Wonder Woman movie!

    Vic

  16. OH I agree. I’m a huge fan of his female characters and I know how passionate he is about their power. I just don’t think it’s fair to dollhouse to take clips out of context and say “this is what he’s doing.”

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