So I caught up on “Dollhouse” a few days ago (as my Twitter followers can attest, thanks to my wild exclamations and general giddiness) and I’m gladder than ever that it was renewed. In fact, here are nine reasons why it’s a great thing that “Dollhouse” is coming back for round two:
1. The Joss Whedon Method, otherwise known as “Buffy” season two. For all the cheese and not-as-good-ness of “BtVS” season one, season two was amazing. Season two introduced Spike, Angelus, Oz, et cetera and was just better all-around in terms of plot complexity, character development, acting, and so on. I expect the same story development to happen in “Dollhouse.”
2. The premise of “Dollhouse” is saturated with potential. This show has the scaffolding in place to explore issues just as deeply (and perhaps even more thoroughly) as “Battlestar Galactica.” The concepts of self, self vs. body, informed consent, identity, death, perception… all of these are fascinating topics that “Dollhouse” season one touched on and upon which season two will hopefully expand.
3. Speaking of “Battlestar Galactica” “" and I hate to say it “" it’s over. Yeah, there’s “The Plan” coming as well as “Caprica” (which looks to be tackling some of the same issues as “Dollhouse”), but for now, the space where deliciously layered and complex Sci-Fi used to be on my TV is currently empty. Even emptier, now that “Terminator: TSCC” is canceled. “Dollhouse” fills the void and I think the last five or so episodes proved that it can be equally as thrilling.
4. The all-star cast… and Eliza Dushku. It’s the general consensus that Eliza Dushku’s charisma shines through just a little too much when playing Echo in all her incarnations. She’s the weak link, acting-wise. But there are other actors on this show “" the impeccable Olivia Williams, Harry Lennix, Fran Kranz (who has somehow managed to make the amoral and at-first disgusting Topher one of the highlights of the show), Enver Gjokaj (the best actor of all the Dolls for certain), Dichen Lachmann, Reed Diamond (if he comes back), and of course the brilliant Alan Tudyk (please come back!). Not to mention Tahmoh Penikett’s pecs. The supporting cast is, quite frankly, outstanding.
5. Longevity. The “Dollhouse” premise has the potential to tell a wealth of different stories, and not simply because the Dolls can be programmed for anything. Consider this: the show has already established links between the Dollhouse and the corporate world, government, the National Security Agency, and rich people in general. The possibility for in-depth conspiracy storylines with just one of those connections is tenfold… all together? The potential is limitless. Remember that episode with the fake documentary subjects talking about the urban legend of the Dollhouse? Exploration into that could prove fascinating.
6. It’s been said the Dollhouse does not want to go the route of “Battlestar Galactica” and the local news approach of “Is your neighbor the twelfth Cylon? Tune in tonight at eleven… or will you make it until then?” when it comes to sleeper Dolls, like Miracle Laurie’s Mellie/November. But that isn’t the only way to use the idea of the Secret Doll. The concept of being sent to the “Attic” or that a character we come to know might either become a doll, be a doll already, or even a client adds another aspect of “who are you really?” to each character introduced.
7. Dollhouse (and Mutant Enemy) have proved to have serious cojones when it comes to subject matter. The idea of Dolls is already icky enough and yet the show has fearlessly confronted the issues of prostitution, exploitation, slavery, rape, and murder. Yes, there are viewers who are simply too freaked out to watch, but the idea of a network show dealing with some hardcore, difficult issues in prime-time is absolutely unthinkable and incredibly bold. It speaks to the fearless storytelling we have come to expect from Joss Whedon and he hasn’t even had to kill a character yet.
8. Alan Tudyk. Or, more specifically, Alan Tudyk as (spoiler!) Alpha. Joss Whedon has a cadre of amazing actors who willingly follow him from project to project. This says a few things: one, that there is a guaranteed set of amazing guest stars, and two, there will be great actors for great villains. Alpha is a character who could only be good if performed by a great actor and I doubt that anyone disagrees that Tudyk is brilliant. With a Whedon show, not only are we pretty well assured of exciting villains but we are more importantly assured of quality actors to portray them.
9. “Dollhouse: The Musical!” Whedon has proved, with “BtVS’s” “Once More With Feeling” and the fantastic “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” that just about any kind of storyline is ripe for both comedy and music. The episode of “Dollhouse” where everyone accidentally loses their inhibitions thanks to some drug or another reminded those watching just why Whedon is so revered; the guy can make almost anything funny. And the cast showed that levity is possible even in such a dark world. Plus, how amazing would another musical episode be?