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DVD Review: Dollhouse: Season One


Joss Whedon's Dollhouse premiered on television less than six months ago, and already it has been released on DVD. Thanks to TiVo, I caught every episode when it aired, so I really have no need to rent this whole series, but I am trying to get the 4th disc of the series which contains the original unaired pilot and an unaired 13th episode. Unfortunately, at this time it's still a short wait on the Netflix queue. Still, I wanted to do a quick review of this series to help get the word out so hopefully more people will start watching. Joss Whedon's previous show, Firefly, was fantastic, but got cancelled before it was able to find a wide audience.

Already Dollhouse is doing better than Firefly, as it got picked up for a second season. And although I like Firefly much better, I think Dollhouse is finally starting to come into its own. The first few episodes made it difficult to get a handle on the series as a whole, but as the show went on it started getting... broader is I guess the best word I can think of. Early episodes focused on the main character of Echo, who is one of several "dolls", or people that have had their original personally backed up into a computer so that they can be implanted with new memories and completely new fabricated personalities in order to fit a client's specific need.

Sounds weird, huh? In the first episode, we meet Echo as a sexy party girl who is motorcycle racing some dude. Then she's brought back to the dollhouse for a "treatment", meaning memory wipe, but the dolls don't realize this. Afterwards, they awake as a blank slate, with no personality who just hang out in the dollhouse relaxing and exercising. The plot really gets going when some super rich dude's young daughter is kidnapped and held for ransom, and Echo is implanted with a personality and skills ideal for handling negotiations. And this is kinda what the first several episodes are like, with her getting a personality and skill set to handle a mission of the week.

I'd say about half way through the season we started getting stories involving more dolls than just Echo, and for me that really helped to get me invested. They almost start to become a family as the show moves along, and we also get two plot threads that continue throughout the season. One is a backstory involving an early doll that went crazy and killed a bunch of people. The other is about an FBI agent who is desperately trying to find and shut down the Dollhouse, even though most of his colleges and superiors believe that it's not even real. What's great is that both plots come together at the end of the first season.

So since I don't have the 4th DVD yet, I can't tell you much about the extra features. If you haven't seen this show when it aired, I'd definitely recommend checking it out on DVD, and don't give up on it if you're not fully impressed by the initial episodes. I wasn't so sure about Firefly when it originally aired, but after sticking with it and catching the inital episodes again on DVD, I realized how great of show it actually was, and am extremely disappointed that it's gone. So don't make this same mistake with Dollhouse!

Disc 1:

  • Ghost (optional commentary with Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku)
  • The Target
  • Stage Fright
  • Gray Hour

Disc 2:

  • True Believer
  • Man on the Street (optional commentary with Joss Whedon)
  • Echoes
  • Needs

Disc 3:

  • A Spy in the House
  • Haunted
  • Briar Rose
  • Omega

Disc 4:

  • Epitaph One (commentary by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen)
  • Original Unaired Pilot - "Echo"
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Making Dollhouse
  • Coming Back Home
  • Finding Echo
  • Designing the Perfect Dollhouse
  • A Private Engagement

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