Fan favorite, Joss Whedon’s TV show Dollhouse, is kind of like going back for a third date with someone you know can’t get it up. This week’s episode, “Belle Chose”, has the plot of a porno. Echo (Eliza Dushku) takes the implant to be an English student, and is contracted by a lonely English teacher. Yet another Battlestar Galactica alumni Michael Hogan (Colonel Tigh) guest stars on this episode and he has issues with Adelle DeWitt (Olivia Williams), the woman who runs this particular Dollhouse.
She informs Tigh that his nephew is a serial killer who kidnaps people that look similar to their family. He’s a dangerous guy, having smashed a woman’s skull with a croquet malet at the beginning of the episode. After the bludgeoning, Serial Killer gets hit by a car trying to kidnap another woman to replace the woman he just killed.
This puts him in a coma, and Tigh hires the Dollhouse to reconstitute his consciousness in an Active — which they do in Victor. He eventually tells Tahmoh Penikett how he (the Serial Killer) did it. Though Tigh releases him, and Victor escapes him on foot. Its at this point that Xander, I mean Topher, gets the idea to do a remote wipe of all the actives so that Victor doesn’t get all serial killer on someone.
This works, but Echo and Victor’s personalities exchange and Victor becomes a 19 year-old co-ed at a dance club, and Echo becomes the serial killer. Eventually, she flips out among the kidnapped women, and as she loses control of her multiple personalities she manages to hold back the Serial Killer until her Handler (Penikett) comes to the rescue.
We’re three episodes into this season, and to be honest I didn’t give the show very much of a shot the first season because it was more of the same kind of stuff. With a show that has characters with an infinite amount of possibilities for story lines, why do Whedon and Company continue to go back to “I married an arms dealer” and “I think my husband is trying too kill me” story lines?
Combine that with Helo (Penikett) who is probably the next Carusobot, and the incredible condescending awfulness of Olivia Williams, I can’t say there is anything for me to get invested in with these actors and unconvincing acting makes it tough to get into characters. Though I do think there is hope for better stories as future story lines move away from the “client of the week” format and just stick with the core narrative of the Dollhouse itself, which is that Echo’s mind is becoming fragmented and is starting to remember her past personalities.
This could create actual drama, because I don’t see any drama whatsoever in these first three episodes. And, if you combine that with the Alexis Denisoff story line, I think the show may still recover. Already campaigns to “Save Dollhouse” ignited this week, but as someone who’s pictured on the About Page here at The Flickcast next to Mr. Whedon (so clearly I’m a HUGE fan), he has yet to show me anything that’s worth saving.