Tuesday 26 February 2013
Dollhouse, Season 1.
It must be an extremely challenging role to play one of the "actives," as each week, they are a different character. The series follows one particular "doll," codenamed Echo, and every time you watch an episode, you're in a different show - detective, conspiracy, thriller, romance, etc. The first episodes merely show her in her jobs, the dollhouse staff, and Paul Ballard, an FBI agent who is trying to find out all about the whole sketchy business. And then Echo starts remembering things that have not been programmed into her, memories from before she became an empty "doll," when she was a student activist named Caroline. And that is just when it starts getting weird. Um, weirder.
It's difficult to say much more without giving away major spoilers for the last few episodes. Just mentioning minor details highlights their significance, and I watched the first season entirely unspoiled, and that was awesome. But the entire point of writing about this thing is to rave about it. So, um. The big one, I guess, is the introduction of a character, played by an actor I knew from elsewhere, who turned out NOT to be what I expected from his first appearance in the show.
If you've seen the programme, highlight the white text below and watch my mind exploding in spoilery and semi-coherent squealing.
>>>WASH IS ALPHA! Alan Tudyk, guest-starring as a cowardly, hippy nerd afraid of backless staircases, turns out to be THE major villain of the entire series. And he is terrifying in the role. The transformation was one of the most stunning pieces of acting in the entire show, and probably the best thing I've seen him as. I started off thinking, "Oh, look, it's a Firefly cameo, sweet. I love Wash. Dear old Wash." and ended up half an hour later thinking, "hold on, that was Wash? I can hardly believe it."
And then, ALL OF EPITAPH 1. I mean, the fact that it is called Epitaph and not Epilogue started setting off the alarm bells in my mind. Episode 12 seemed like such a perfect finale to season one, that I could not figure out what episode thirteen had to add. (I later discovered that it was added on because Fox needed a thirteen-part series, and the pilot was deemed unsuitable.) And MY GOODNESS it is different. Flash forward ten years from the story-so-far, and the world is unrecognisable. The Dollhouse technology has been developed and advanced, before being taken over by hostile forces to bring about war and worldwide destruction. ("Children playing with matches, and they burned the house down." - *shudder*) "Epitaph 1" shifts the genre of Dollhouse the most dramatically yet from speculative/science fiction/alternative present to a not-too-distant post-apocalyptic horror. This is what the series is headed for. This is the unavoidable conclusion. Beware. I wrote earlier that the series appealed to my mind less than my feelings, but evidently I've grown fonder of these characters. "Epitaph 1" switches between the ten-year flash-forward, focused upon new characters, and a series of flashbacks hinting at the fates of the characters we've spent the last twelve episodes getting to know. And it is heart-wrenching. Whedon sure knows how to rip your feelings up. He broke Topher! Oh, poor Topher. I now realise that what he did to Wash "I am a leaf on the Wind" in Serenity was the kind option. CURSE YOU, WHEDON!!!!<<<
I've hidden the spoilers for the sake of people who haven't seen the series but want to. So far, I've only seen the first season, so please don't leave any season 2 spoilers in the comments. (Or if you absolutely HAVE to rave about what I haven't seen yet, I suggest coding it at rot13.com so that I can read it later on. Go ahead. Laugh at my ignorance of what is to come.)