Dollhouse is my first “real time” Joss Whedon show. I turned my nose up at Buffy the Vampire Slayer the entire time it was on the air (and only recently deigned to watch it for the first time on DVD), and I didn’t learn about Firefly until it was already a thing of the past. When I first started watching Dollhouse I thought it was a poor substitute for Firefly, and frankly would not have watched beyond the first couple of episodes except my wife liked it. I not only didn’t like it, I actively disliked it through most of the first season.
Something happened near the end of the first season, though, that caused me to reassess my opinion. Then the show went on break for the summer and I forgot what that was. I do remember thinking of the entire first season as set up, a“season zero” if you will, and was willing to watch the new season with fresh eyes. Unfortunately, the new season has had to start at ground zero as far as I am concerned and has yet to “re-win” me over.
The main problem for me is that show has no sympathetic characters… not one. The people who run the Dollhouse are totally amoral, and the “dolls” are simply victims, more pathetic than sympathetic. That’s a huge challenger to overcome, but I’m curious to see Whedon and company try. The people who run the Dollhouse are totally amoral, and the “dolls” are simply victims, more pathetic than sympathetic. Dr. Saunders (i.e., the doll formerly known as “Whiskey”) and her relationship with Topher was intriguing, but she’s been written out of the plot (at least temporarily).
Oddly, I think Topher Brink, the most amoral character of them all, may be my current favorite. Joss Whedon surprised me once before by turning the vampire Spike into a sympathetic character on Buffy, and I think Topher may be Dollhouse’s Spike. I’ll be keeping my eye on him.