Monday, April 20, 2009

Guest Blog: A Spy in the House of Love

Yes, Dollhouse fans, this is a review. Well, sort of.

I don't usually do movie or TV reviews. This is only my second one, so forgive me if it's a bit unorthodox. But something about this episode of Dollhouse really spoke to me.

But I'm getting ahead of myself....

I don't know if you have been watching Dollhouse. I have, and while I'm a huge Joss Whedon fan, I have to admit that up until this episode I haven't been impressed. Sure, it has all the basic elements. It has eye candy (Amy Acker – who’s gorgeous even with scars, Tahmoh Penikett, and -- drool -- Eliza), it has action, and it has techno wizzbang, but up until this episode it never really grabbed me, shook me, and said watch me!

Now, I won't go into the whole argument about Fox hosing up the show with their six standalone episode mandate -- that argument has been made and mashed about far enough -- but it does bring to mind something that has been kind of a theme for me this weekend, that all good things come to those who wait.

It's interesting, you know. We live in a culture that is increasingly steering us toward immediate gratification. We can buy nearly anything we want, get the answer to almost any answerable question, or reach out and contact virtually anyone we want, all with a few clicks. We want it -- and we want it now -- and we can have it now.

I think that Dollhouse’s lack of success is a perfect example of what happens in this type of atmosphere. We wanted -- no, we demanded -- that Joss Whedon give us a masterpiece from week one. Well, Fox saw to it that he didn't. But now, three, maybe four episodes after they took off the reins and let him do what he wanted, he has begun to deliver.

The question is, is anyone left around to care?

The ratings say at all. All but the hard-core fans have abandoned this show and really, who can blame them? They/we wanted the immediate gratification of another Buffy, or another Firefly, but we didn't get it.

It all makes me wonder. I know that the book I'm writing isn't an ‘A Spy in the House of Love’. Don't get me wrong, my book is good -- real good, I think -- but it doesn't have the package, you know. It isn't the glitz and glam and techno wizzbang. It's old-school, one of those long, intricate, slowly gestating tales that reaches up at the end and then smacks you in the face.

But really, who has the patience for that sort of thing today?

This post by Shawn Enderlin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.


Douglas Hulick said...

I've been watching Doll House mainly because most of the other (few) programs I follow are either done or on hiatus. Well, for that reason, and also because, writer-wise, I have been curious to see how Joss handles the arguably difficult premise in terms of continuity, character identification (for the viewer), etc.

I tend to agree with you, Shawn: this most recent episode is the first that made me actually wish I had another one to watch right now. Prior to this, there have been ups and downs, and several of the plots have been largely cardboard in their conflicts. Things were tepid at best.

As I said, part of me has been watching out of a sense of, while not "morbid", at least guilty curiosity: Can they make this work? Will the plot get deeper, that characters more defined? When will we start to get bigger revelations, and how will that impact the over-arching premise of the show and the Doll House? Mind you, I'm not complaining about the eye-candy factor, but that usually isn't enough to keep me into a program. For me at least, I think it has been a combination of an intriguing yet seemingly difficult-to-pull-off premise, combined with cautious faith in the name behind the show, that has keep me mildly up to date. Certainly, the debut episodes, as you point out (and for various reasons) weren't enough to grab me in and of themselves.

Ironically, if I weren't a writer, I think I would have bailed on Doll House early on. It's still up in the air for me, but at least there has been one solid showing, which tells me there is some hope yet.

Shawn Enderlin said...

Douglas, it's interesting that you say you would have bailed if you weren't a writer. I hadn't thought about it in exactly that way, but now that you mention it, I think that's part of my motivation for sticking with it as well.

I had the same thing with Star Wars the Clone Wars. Return of the Sith pretty much killed Star Wars for me but when Clone Wars came on I had to watch - I definitely had that 'guilty curiosity' you mentioned. I wanted to know if they could salvage the franchise and I think they did, for the most part. I'll be around for Season 2 anyway.

It will be interesting to see if Dollhouse gets that same opportunity.

Jon said...

I've been watching Dollhouse. I don't dislike it... I just don't know if I like it. Honestly, I think he wasted a good/interesting idea on the FOX network... because there is no way its not getting cancelled.