Dollhouse -- I was hopefully ambivalent about the first episode, and haven't posted about the show since then. I felt the second episode was a bit better, but the third was the weakest of the three by far, so my overall impression was still hardly inspired. Then came "Gray Hour" which was very well done and quite intriguing, however, not enough intriguing to make the show must-see-TV for me. In fact, I didn't watch the next episode "True Believer" until tonight (a week after it aired). It was the one that did it. I was SO thrilled that I had another episode to watch right after that and this one ("Man on the Street") just KICKED SO MUCH ASS!
I am SO intrigued by the show, by the characters, by the premise. The shocks and surprises are coming along nicely and delivering solid WHAT!?!'s beautifully. I love how the different stories (the Dollhouse, Ballard's search, the active assignments) are beginning to twist and intertwine in ways unexpected and beautifully deft. Despite their doll-like state, we are getting fabulous glimpses of who Echo, Sierra and Victor are. As well, Adele DeWitt is just so awesome. I love Olivia Williams and she's just such wonderful casting. She brings such class and vulnerability, paired with this steely reserve to the role. Then there's Mr. Dominick and I have no idea what's going on with him, but I want to know. Obviously he has issues with Echo (and basically left her to die in "True Believer"), but I'm beginning to think those issues revolve around the fact that because of her glitches, he's worried that she'll bring down Adele and dude is clearly in love with her. Which leads me to .... DANG! There are so many potential couples to ship on this show!!
Echo/Ballard -- Because they DO have chemistry. That extended fight scene with them was just riveting and kinda hot. And when they first saw each other, okay, when *he* first saw her, that moment was just .... ooh. Because Minor was so right, Caroline/Echo has made this personal for him. She has become his fantasy, his holy grail and it's got such a tragic, beautiful poignancy to their story, that fairytale of the prince rescuing the princess. But then there's ...
Ballard/Mellie -- At first, I wasn't sure what the deal was with Mellie, and then when he kissed her this episode, I was like "ohhh!" and it was sweet and they have chemistry, and the whole progression was just lovely. Then, of course, we find out SHE'S a "silent active" and I was like DAMN!!! Though, it was funny, because while they were in bed earlier, the thought had crossed my mind, 'man, I wonder how'd it be if she were an active..." and whaddya know? She is. Still, it was shocking, the reveal, but in a different way than Victor's reveal a couple of episodes back. Oh, yeah, Victor ...
Victor/Sierra -- How sweet is this little love story developing between them? Because, you know, despite Victor's uh, "man reactions," that child-like state the Dolls are in makes the growing connection between the two so pure and innocent. It's beautiful. Which isn't quite how I'd describe ...
Topher/Dr. Sanders -- and I really wouldn't use that word because Topher is such a super-intelligent, lame loser. Yet, when the two of them were watching for Victor's "man reactions" (yes, I was amused by that, can you tell?), there was this awareness and chemistry between them that totally took me by surprise. I don't know if anything would come of it, or even if that was deliberate or just there *because* of the actors' unexpected chemistry, still, I was intrigued ...
Adele/Mr. Dominick -- Also intriguing is the relationship between these two. I have no clue how she feels about him, but he is so smitten and devoted to her, it makes me like him despite his dislike of Echo. Perhaps that's because I'm really beginning to think that those issues stem directly from his concern for how Echo's potential failures could adversely affect his lady love.
Of course, those are just the potential romantic relationships. I also am digging on these relationships:
Echo/Langton -- I just ADORE their father/daughter bond. They remind me of Giles and Buffy a bit, but there's less of a wall between them -- because of Giles' reserve due to the danger he was constantly sending Buffy into, and Buffy's slayer resentment, and yet also a much greater distance because the Echo that Langton loves (and, yes, I do believe he loves her) is mostly a blank slate, and while Echo always knows Langton, she doesn't understand why. Yet because of those factors, it's been made clear that there is a real connection between them that's beyond that of the regular Doll/Handler and one that reaches into their souls, dare I say?
Langton/Dr. Sanders -- I do enjoy how these two interact, the two of them being the most empathetic of the staff there, and finding a kindred spirit with regards to the Dolls in each other.
Topher/Ivy -- yes, Topher's a dog, an insensitive horndog, yet I find his interaction with his assistant, Ivy, quite amusing. Mostly, at this point, because Ivy is awesome. Her quips and commentary (that generally are delivered to the air because Topher's gone off into his own world again) are a hoot.
Then there's just the characters and the acting. There's not one character that's not been nicely rounded, there are no caricatures or stock characters on this show. And the acting is uniformly excellent across the board. And yes, that includes Eliza Dushku. I still don't think she's the greatest actress, but she's managed to convince me so thoroughly of who Echo is and whatever imprint she's "playing." So, I am completely taking back my earlier complaints about her.
Random thoughts --
- I love the opening credits.
- Am I the only one loving how majorly kick-ass Paul Ballard is?! Dude, I love him!!! Whenever he starts wiping the floor with people, I'm like 'DUDE!!! You're awesome!!' I like his self-deprecating air, the fact that he's a good guy, but again, not a stock character. Tahmoh Penikett is doing an awesome job. He's an everyman with such a fabulous edge.
- Another character I love (as mentioned above) is Adele, so I was quite bothered when she sent ickyHandlerdude out to rape and kill Mellie. I was like, noooooooo!! But then it was all a set-up for Mellie to kill him. Go, Adele and your non-killing-characters-I-like-way (and hopefully, erm, not killing at all?).
- They're doing a GREAT job casting all over, not just the regular cast, but the recurring and guest stars have been fabulous. They haven't hit a wrong note once.
- This latest episode ("Man on the Street") was vintage Joss (as everyone on my flist has been saying). The interviews for the 'Dollhouse' piece were nice intros to each segment, with the best being the couple with the male talking about it being nice for a guy to have a homosexual experience just to try it! while the female looked at him like 'whu?!" and then just plastered a fake smile on when she looked back into the camera.
- The backstory of Minor and his wife was heartbreaking and made me tear up when I first heard it, and then again at the end when we saw him "creating" that moment again with Echo/Rebecca at the end. Just beautifully done. So Joss.
Anyhoo, bottom-line, I now totally, totally love this show. It's amazing and I sure hope its ratings continue to do well enough to be renewed. PRETTY PLEASE!!!!
Terminator -- I know I haven't written much about this lately, but I am still enjoying it immensely. In fact, the only episode of this show that I felt wasn't great was the funeral episode a few ones back -- pretty much utterly pointless and kinda boring, but other than that I've loved them all (yes, including the two other Sarah-centric episodes). Oh, man, but this one!?!? One of the best of the series (which is saying a lot!).
The last time I talked about this show, I talked about my thoughts about Riley and Jesse -- two new characters this season that, like many, I haven't liked. However, the last batch of episodes have changed my opinion on them. I believe now that we were *supposed* to find Riley annoying and pathetic because that's rather who she'd become because of her life. And I also believe that we were supposed to dislike Jesse because she was such a lying biatch. Well, now we know *WHY* she is the way she is and I completely felt for her. When she told Derek "I'm Jesse. I'm Jesse" and then he responded, "you're not my Jesse," I felt so awful for her. All that she went through, how badly she tried to "repair" that future, how twisted she became because of it all ... it was just tragic and heartbreaking and I think that Stephanie Jacobsen did an amazing job with these last few episodes.
Brian Austin Green did some of his best work tonight too. The way he said the above line and then the "John Conner let you go," pause. "I'm not John Conner," I actually cried out "No, don't!!" and then we didn't know exactly what happened until he told John later, "John Conner let her go." And I waited, knowing that if he said nothing else, he HADN'T pulled the trigger, but that if he repeated the line about not being John Conner, that he DID kill her. And when he didn't say anything but that first line, I breathed a sigh of relief. Derek has too much guilt already, he didn't need that weighing him down too. Oh, Derek.
And, oh John!! I am really, absolutely loving the growth of John. I know that many weren't happy with how whiny and teenager-ish John was in season one, but I think (and always have thought) that it was a deliberate tack by the show to show him growing INTO John Conner. His discussions with Derek (on *and* off screen), the moments with Sarah, the smarts of John piecing together what happened with Riley, the very believable reveal that he knew what was going on were spot-on and so well done. And then that confrontation with Jesse was fabulous. Absolutely fabulous.
- Him being so calm, so confident as he spoke with her. You COULD SEE the future John Conner emerging in this still-teenage boy.
- His recitation of how he pieced stuff together, and then the restrained guilt that he didn't step in sooner, possibly saving Jesse.
- The way he spoke to Jesse, -- it was very well done by Thomas Dekker -- it wasn't with contempt, but with the tenor of someone who was above her? I'm not quite sure how to phrase it, but it played like this was how the future John spoke to his followers who had disappointed him. So well done.
- Ah, then the "no" when asked if he would have sent away/killed Cameron even if she had killed Riley? Heartbreaking. Just, gah!!!
And, of course, the final scene where the teenage boy he still is came through again, where he finally allowed himself to mourn the death of this girl. It was, oh, so beautifully done.
The b-plot with Ellison, John Henry and Catherine Weaver was also so well done. (God, I frickin' love this show!) Garret Dillahunt continues to amaze me. Knowing him from other performances (including the actor and Cromartie he played here), it's just jaw-dropping at how very, very good he is. And John Henry is just so endearing in his child-like ways, all the while being so chilling because he's so not human and thus so does not understand the moral reality of how evil Weaver (who, is of course, also so not human) is. And poor Ellison, he's trying so hard to be a good man, to make John Henry a good "man" and he's so out of his depth, and has no clue.
Not much Cameron or Sarah (my two favorite characters), but we've certainly gotten loads of lots of Sarah lately, so I'm cool with some more Sarah-lite episodes, but hopefully, we'll get some heavy Cameron episodes coming up. Despite their scant appearances in this one, though, I *still* incredibly LOVED this episode. That shows just how damn good it is.
Oh show, how can you continue to be so amazing so consistently I don't know, but I really hope that the recent uptick in ratings continues and Fox sticks with you longer because I don't want to lose you. I really, really don't!