Monday, August 10, 2009

Dollhouse | DVD Box Set | Unaired Episodes

So, the new series Joss Whedon has been manning for the past year Dollhouse is set to release the DVD box set of season one. And it answers some serious questions circulating over the shows rocky start. Like where all of the quintessential Whendon style went and was it omitted on purpose because of the sweetheart executives at Fox and their creative differences? Well, the animosity between him and Fox executives was pretty clear when Joss Whedon the creator of Dollhouse said in a Rolling Stone’s article that this project [Dollhouse] will be his last TV show. Statements made by Whedon throughout the article made it very clear that their was trouble behind the scenes, when phrases like ‘developed out of existence’ pour out of some one’s mouth like they did by Whedon, the worst comes to mind. What did he mean by that? At the time we couldn’t know because the original pilot episode was scrapped by Fox, but it has now been resurrected courtesy of the DVD box set along with a sort of end game episode which was also never aired.

Now in to mid July 09 we finally get that taste of what was supposed to be Dollhouse’s first episode. What makes these episodes so revealing is that they have the signature Whedon style that people have come to expect from the man who brought us a wealth of memorable characters and engaging dialogue through his shows. So, what should we have seen in the first episode; the one that Fox wanted out? Well, think of all the elements out of every episode that aired during season one, a few funny lines a la Topher, a couple of insightful lines of dialogue courtesy of the Dollhouse’s Madam and Elisha Dushku… looking pretty, then boil it down to one episode. That is what the original season premier was like, essentially two thirds of the season and one story arc were in that one episode (along with the much missed Whedon induced funny moments). Not that this first pilot went completely to waist, throughout the season we saw snippets of that lost episode when some reveal was needed. But think of what could have been if the show had not started out like an episode of Alias. Even after the shows rocky start, the season did in fact end with a bang, which really is a tip of the hat to Whedon. It seems that the show’s awkward period what Fox induced after all. Not surprising, given every early episode depended on Eliza Dushku and her ability to portray a different personality. Acting talents (or lack thereof) aside, one can get pretty tired of an actor or actress getting into mischief every week without there being any lasting consequences. Lucky for fans of the show, the Fox executives have made it clear recently in a press release that they will let Whedon do his thing creatively, and refrain from story/show development suggestions.

So, what’s in store for us next season in Dollhouse? If the unaired 13th episode of season one is any source of spoilers (which it is), we are going to see a deeper story arc where the technology of the dollhouse is turned into a kind of super weapon, used to reprogram people on mass for some terrible purpose, a team up with the funny/scary Alpha and Echo will be able to retain a single super persona while taking on new ones.

There are a few snippets of the unaired episode which made it into the rest of the season in one way or another.
- Topher’s bison speech: In the first episode Topher has a speech about how a few of the dolls were grouping together, as a kind of lead in to the idea that the dolls were evolving beyond their programming. In its original version in the unaired pilot Topher makes many more insights into the morality of programming people, making the point that all people are programmed to do certain things, from men wearing ties to how we get hungry after you see golden arches, even though you weren’t before.
-The luncheon that Echo Sierra and Victor have where Victor is revealed to be a doll: The conversation between the three of them made it into the another episode. The scene kind of makes the point that, even though these dolls are simple, in there simplicity they touch on what is most important to them and possibly what is at the hart of the show. In being their best, they are fulfilling what it is that everyone at some point or another is aspires to.
-The meeting between FBI and Victor about Dollhouse

Monday, August 3, 2009

Defying Gravity Falls Flat

The premier of the new sci-fi adventure series by ABC, Defying Gravity, about astronauts on a six year mission to Venus gives off the feeling of lackluster rather than exciting entertainment. The hype around the show was its offering of sexiness and sci-fi thrills, a popular tagline for the shows being “sex meets sci-fi”. Now those are two words that say it should at least have some popcorn entertainment, but no, it doesn’t. Instead, you get a very boring show, without action or any of that much boasted sexiness. That’s not to say that there aren’t any hot women or sex scenes, it has those, but the scenes are stupid and done in that cheesy romantic floating in space kind of way. Think 2001 Space Odyssey, but instead of a floating baby in space we have a floating naked pregnant lady, nice killing of a classic guys. For a two hour premier, this episode had little of interest. The entire thing followed the launch of the mission, where they spent most of the time pulling someone inside the ship who was tethered in space, while showing flashbacks of the crews training. This doesn’t exactly seem like mind blowing sci-fi…does it. How is it entertaining to watch someone pull on a cable for 30 minutes? Plus, there is this mysterious computer or entity that chooses who will be in the crew, sort of like Hal of Jesus, it’s the Hal the Messiah.

Generally, Defying Gravity seems like the lesser version, and rip-off, of Virtuality. Somebody at the network heard about the plot to Virtuality and decided to make their own, and bam we get this crap. This show makes the drawn out pilot of Virtuality seem like the new Star Trek film in comparison that said. Thanks for coming out to play ABC but leave the sci-fi to another network. If you were going to put money on it, which long juried space crew would you name as the most likely winner, Fox’s Virtuality, SyFy/MGM’s Stargate Universe or ABC’s Defying Gravity?

Find out more about SGU or Virtuality on the links below