Sunday, February 15, 2009

Clean Slate

Adelle DeWitt: We can offer you a clean slate.
Echo: Did you ever try to clean an actual slate? You always see what was on it before.
--"Ghost," Dollhouse 1.1

Having now watched the series premier for a 2nd time, I find the most striking thing about it the relative lack of Whedonian signatures. Perhaps Heather Havrilesky is right in suspecting that FOX is scrubbing Whedon's series of all his usual cult-engendering eccentricity.

But the slate cannot be wiped entirely clean. "You can always see what was on it before," as Dushku/Echo insists in the opening scene: the most Whedonian line in the entire script and a meta-commentary on Whedon's pact with the devil in making this show.


Ian said...

It's interesting, I found Dushku's line about cleaning slate a bit forced.

I thought one of the best Whedonian moments was when she is talking as Eleanor Penn to Gabriel Cristejo and he asks how she does what she does or something to that effect, and she says "I don't have any hobbies." The truth of that on two levels was great.

David said...

My take on the show was that there was some good fundamentals, which is all you can really ask for from a pilot. There's Amy Acker (who gives good nerd girl), Tamoah Penikett (who gives good righteous), Olivia Williams (who I could listen to all day), and there's Eliza Dusku (who works very well with Joss Whedon). There's Minear, Espenson, and DeKnight in the producer credits. And there's money. Tons and tons of money. Their effects will not be limited by their budget, which should be crucial. The setup allows for anthology or serial narrative or both. And there's much flexibility in choice of villains and allies.

My concerns are that Dushku may not have the chops to be all things to all people. She's very good at what she does, but I'm not sure if she's got the range for this role. I'm also concerned at the Friday night slot combined with the midseason replacement status. That doesn't denote a ton of commitment on the part of the network.

The hooker meme attached to this show worries me a great deal. That could kill this show's fanbase. Of course, Buffy faced the cheerleader subtext head-on with its third episode, firmly re-orienting male viewers with just one thing on their minds. I hope that Joss is raising the issue to deal with it so that the series can move past it.

Even worse, the opening scenes felt rushed and perfunctory, which meant that the hook was not well set in its first episode. It felt a lot like the Train Job, which was the Firefly premiere episode that they had to write on Fox's insistence. I'm going to hold out hope that the off-feeling can be laid off on the inevitable difficulties of sci-fi pilots and past history.