NEW YORK — If you’re anything like me, you marked the date for Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse premiere the moment it was announced. And lucky for both of us, that day has finally come: tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern on Fox, the creator of Buffy, Angel, Captain Malcolm Reynolds, and most recently Dr. Horrible has a new character to add to his acclaimed repertoire: a mysterious girl named “Echo.”
Eliza Dushku (a “Buffy” alum) stars as Echo, a mind-wiped “Active” who resides in the elusive “Dollhouse.” As an Active, she receives a new personality for every “engagement” for which she is contracted and after her mission is complete, her mind is wiped clean. She is a living Doll who can become anything imaginable — and yet she has no true self of her own.
But that might change as the 13-episode first season of Dollhouse unfolds.
Blast got the chance to participate in an interview with creator Joss Whedon at the New York Comic Con, during which he answered some of the most pressing questions about his new show.
To the casual onlooker, it’s hard to reconcile Whedon’s iconic Buffy with Echo, a beautiful woman who is hired out to the highest bidder for anything and everything — including sex. This seeming departure from Whedon’s hard-line stance on feminism was one of the first questions he addressed in the interview.
When asked, “Did you get a show about prostitution on a major network?”, Whedon responded: “First of all, it’s not just women. It’s women and men. And secondly — yes.”
After the laughter died down, he continued.
“There was, in the higher ranks (of Fox), some consternation after the show as being made,” Whedon began, and then caricatured the “higher ranks” in a mocking voice: “‘say, this seems like prostitution.’ And my response was yes, that’s part of the package.”
Whedon paused before going on. “That is part of what is going on. And it’s not all of what is going on, but it’s part of it. and some people have been greatly offended by that, and some people want to stay away from that. And my response to it is to hit it head on. Let’s talk about exactly that, and say: okay, well how much of this is morally reprehensible and how much of it is just stuff that we as an American culture deem morally reprehensible? It’s about what parts of our identity and the way we behave with each other are actually positive, and decent. What parts actually come from ourselves and what parts have been socialized. What parts are we being told are good, or bad. And that’s a theme you’ll find in “Serenity,” you’ll find in a lot of my work. What truly is a sin?
“My villain — and I mean people will refer to Olivia Williams (as) the villain, she runs the Dollhouse. But she is, in her own way, a very moral person. She has a code. And yes, what’s we’re dealing with — the reality of prostitution — is beyond appalling. But Eliza said, I want to deal with sexuality on my show. I want to be part of what we talk about. So yeah, it’s in there.”
Another concern with the show is the degree to which a main character whose personality changes every week can form any meaningful attachment with either the audience or another character on the show. To that, Whedon didn’t elaborate much beyond saying, “Yes, yes — she will form attachments to other dolls.” He also indicated that Echo’s attachments would lead to some conflict during the series, an idea to which the trailer alludes.
But what about Whedon’s signature humor and wit? “Dollhouse” is not a show that seems as conducive to comedy as, say, “Buffy.” But Joss says not to worry.
“There is actually a great deal of humor in this show. Not up front, because we wanted the premise to be more realistic. We didn’t have license to be as silly up front. Having said that, we do fall into idiocy fairly quickly. (laughs) We do have fun with these characters.”
As if I had any concerns, right?
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the interview, including thoughts about the possibility for Dr. Horrible 2 and his upcoming horror flick, “Cabin in the Woods.”