Everyone is talking the end of Breaking Bad, Season 4 of Walking Dead and here I am reviewing a drama that ended almost 4 years ago. I never heard about this one, and as with all newly discovered, already cancelled TV shows I’ve sat and watched all 26 episodes in a couple of weeks.
I didn’t expect much for this at first and it was originally something to watch while James was out. But after 5 episodes I had to admit to James that I’d been watching this amazing programme without him! He didn’t care. As I did when first hearing about it, he wasn’t that thrilled to sit down and watch. So he has seen nothing but I plan to re-watch again with him tied down to the sofa.
So, I’ll try to keep this review a spoiler free as possible.
We are quickly introduced to the world of the Dollhouse through the eyes of new recruit Boyd. He is assigned an ‘Active’ or ‘Doll’ to become the carer of while she is out on missions. This Active is Echo, the proposed main character of the series. Through her first mission and first treatment we see how the dollhouse works. We see the people in charge of this particular dollhouse and the few employees who play a part in the series. Characters are established but focus is on Echo. We are also introduced to the sub plot of Paul Ballard, and FBI agent trying to find the dollhouse. For a sci-fi show that uses lots of impossible (unless I hear otherwise!) technology it introduces its world to the viewer with ease.
The overuse of Echo at the start of the series can be a put off. The show has such great supporting characters in dolls Sierra and Victor, and dollhouse staff Topher, Boyd and Adele that we really don’t need to see Echo all the time. I love seeing Sierra and Victor pop up in Echo’s missions that they never needed to be just Echo. You may notice no mention of FBI agent Paul. That is because the character is not interesting in the slightest and he could’ve just been killed a few episodes in and I would be happy.
One off episodes:
I think I may be the minority who enjoyed the early episodes one off mission stories. In these episodes we see Echo, sometimes supported by Sierra and/or Victor, being imprinted with a certain personality to complete a specified mission. They added little to the story arch but could be quite fun. These personalities that we met early on should’ve been referenced more in the second season in my opinion.
The full story arch:
I hope I don’t spoil it for you by saying the main story arch is the dollhouse technology being abused by powerful people. It is the obvious step forward. This could be a little confusing at times and a little predictable, and it was hard keeping track of who was on which side and especially why! By the end of Season 2 this is the story of each episode and there was little relief in other sub plots. But the story Joss Whedon had needed to be told, and with plenty of twists and shocks it was great fun.
Which one? There are shocks in the last few episodes that were entertaining. But so much more could’ve been done. The show was cancelled after the second season so we lose out on so much potential. But the ending we got? The end of ‘The Hollow Men’ was a bit abrupt, followed by the end of ‘Epitaph 2’ which gave no ideas on where the characters will move on to. I felt we left these characters behind too quickly.
I am so gutted this story is over. There was so much potential for this show. But the show did suffer from a difficult protagonist. A girl who changes persona is a hard character to get behind as we don’t know her as a person, so why was I cheering on Sierra? The Echo character and what she became were too unlikeable, and with Paul Ballard playing a bigger part as the series went on it became hard to watch. But the show is also filled with some fabulous fun characters that make up for that.
Please give this show a watch, and make it past episode 5 for the real fun to begin. Honestly I gasped at so many episodes I didn’t know TV still made shock moments like these.