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- TV Series: Dollhouse
- Episode: Vows (Season Two Premiere)
- Starring: Eliza Dushku, Olivia Williams, Tahmoh Penikett, Amy Acker, Harry J. Lennix
- Written By: Joss Whedon
- Directed By: Joss Whedon
- Network: Fox
- Series: Dollhouse
Dollhouse: Vows Review
Decent Start to Season Two.
By Kurt Anthony Krug
September 25, 2009
© Fox/Bob Trate
Despite low ratings, the dreaded Friday night timeslot, and rumors about being cancelled, Dollhouse made it to a second season after debuting in February 2009. That’s good because Fox can allow it to find an audience, which is very rare in today’s market. I’m not only talking about the economy, but the fact that network television isn’t just competing with the other networks, but cable and so on.
Plus, Fox probably figured it owed Dollhouse creator Joss Whedon – who also created Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel – for making a crap-tacular mess out of the short-lived yet beloved Firefly in 2002. Well, it does. Kudos for Fox for letting this happen.
For the uninitiated, Dollhouse revolves around operatives of the Dollhouse, a clandestine operation where its “Dolls” (a.k.a. “Actives”) have their memories wiped and downloaded with memories and personas of other people. They can be the ultimate assassin or the ultimate sexual fantasy, whatever the secret desire of its high-paying client. However, one of its main Dolls named Echo (Eliza Dushku) is becoming self-aware, retaining memories of her various identities. Pursuing the urban legend that is the Dollhouse is FBI agent Paul Ballard (Tahmoh Pentikett).
The fact that Dollhouse has a second season is good in and of itself. In “Vows,” the second season opener, Ballard is now part of the Dollhouse and becomes Echo’s handler. Echo is downloaded with the personality of an undercover agent who infiltrates the camp of an untouchable arms smuggler (Jamie Bamber of Battlestar Galactica fame) and marries him. Her various personas come to the surface after a bump on the noggin, which climaxes in a cool fight sequence that is classic Whedon.
There’s also a sensuous and erotic dream sequence between Echo and Whiskey (Amy Acker), which will kick many fanboys’ hormones into overdrive.
Bamber is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to well-known guest stars. Another BSG alumnus Michael Hogan is slated to appear this season, as well as Firefly and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Dollhouse’s former lead-in show) alumna Summer Glau. Whedon alumnus Alexis Denisof (Wesley from Angel) joins the cast as Sen. Daniel Perrin, who wants to expose the Dollhouse.
If you didn’t follow the first season of Dollhouse, the second season premiere does not have the feel of a good “jumping on” point. The subplot about Whiskey remembering that she used to be the premier Doll before Echo made the scene is confusing if you don’t know the character from the last season. Thankfully, it’s not like Lost where if you’ve been AWOL for a few seasons, then try to pick it up again – game over – you’re screwed. However, keep in mind that done-in-one TV episodes are becoming a thing of the past.
The limited commercial breaks during the first season that allowed for a few extra minutes of an episode instead of commercials have gone the way of the dinosaur. Dollhouse now has a regular hour-long format for its second season, no doubt part of the budget cut the series had to undergo in order to make it to this point. Sigh.
All said and done, Dollhouse has a solid lead-off for its second season. Fox is smart to allow Whedon this second chance in order for him to achieve the vision he has for these characters.