The Dollhouse

Having never been a particular Joss Whedon fan, (although I rather liked the ‘old west in space’ concept of Firefly and watched it in reruns with mind enjoyment) and managing to escape any awareness about The Dollhouse at all – I was able to watch it on its own merits, and pretty much without preconceptions. At least, there was a new concept there, not something that has been done, repeatedly every season and by every channel in every possible permutation since about the late 1960s or so. So mad props for an original, if rather creepy premise, of which just enough hinted at to intrigue the viewer, and not so much revealed that they can begin to pick holes in the very possibility that somewhere in Los Angeles is a secret enterprise which provides personalities to order for the very, very rich and connected, for whatever mission and purpose is required. Somehow, it has become feasible to assemble a personality and a specific skill-set, and download them into a living human being – and then just as casually erase it all, when the mission is accomplished. In between their assignments, a handful of operatives, or ‘dolls’ live in pampered luxury, their personalities and intellects on the level of about a well-mannered four-year old. They are overseen by their guardian handlers, a mysterious executive-level manager with a chipped-glass English accent, and a matched set of doctors – a woman with a mysterious facial scar, and a brilliant but socially inept technician who appears to know everything in the world about how to load human soft-wear into the human brain. Added to that is the driven FBI agent, searching for a one of the ‘dollhouse’ inhabitants, circling Javert-like in the mean streets and offices outside … and there you might think is the series: kind of a Mission Impossible, but with new minds downloaded into the same old bodies, and the same-old-same-old plot, week in and week out. But along about the fifth episode, the story arc begins to kick in noticeably, and the viewer observes the odd coincidences, the unexpected twists and turns, and the fact that most of the on-going characters are actually rather complicated and intriguing personalities, the sense that there is something more going on than just what is necessary to keep the plot-o-the-week turning. One of the things which struck me, is that the actors playing the handful of ‘dolls’ must absolutely relish the chance to be a radical new character, each time they are sent out. They have completely different mannerisms, turns of speech and skills, each time; as if they are reacting to a world of color, from the bland black and white inside the ‘Dollhouse’.

The Dollhouse – Season One is now available through and other retail outlets.

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her previous book To Truckee’s Trail and her current book project – The Adelsverein Trilogy is also available through More about her books is at her website

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