February 20th, 2009
When Joss Whedon first introduced the concept of Dollhouse, the show had potential largely based on its philosophical ideas, examining who these actives were, who they are now, and who they could potentially be in the future. In the show’s ostensible pilot of sorts, “Ghost,” we only really dealt with these questions on a surface level: we saw an example of the kind of job that Echo could be given, and a small glimpse into who she once was. But that middle question was left more or less unanswered: while we got some sense of complications with the actives and potential hazards, the philosophical questions (morality, ethics, all of that jazz) were never really investigated.
This is the reason why I’m not sure why “The Target” wasn’t the show’s pilot, because with a little bit more introduction to the key values this is a far more interesting hour of television. Not only was Echo’s “case of the week” far more interesting to watch, but the stakes were higher, and more importantly the people whose lives were at stake were people that we were supposed to care about. This episode, using Boyd’s first days at Dollhouse as a framework, show us a side of Dollhouse that is morally questionable, that raises some important questions both about the security of this process and the transparency of Dollhouse’s leadership, and does a lot more to make me excited about this show and its characters than last week’s comparatively pedestrian offering.
“The Target” & “The Detail”
Season One, Episodes One & Two
In my year and a half of television criticism here at Cultural Learnings, I have run into a number of roadblocks due to my lack of knowledge with a particular era of television. As I noted back when The Sopranos was finishing, I never got into the HBO drama – not only am I slightly too young, but my TV addiction is still a relatively recent phenomenon. I am a network television viewer of the Lost generation, and sometimes that hurts.
No better example of this than was earlier this year, when David Simon’s HBO series The Wire was entering its fifth season. I couldn’t go to any of my usual TV criticism sites without hearing about how amazing the series was, and how wonderful the fifth season would be, and how there was absolutely no way anyone could jump into this novel-like series in its fifth season. I, knee deep in thesis work, was unable to commit to watching four seasons in the spring, and as a result I had to be the odd man out when it came to the powerful conclusion to this epic Baltimore tale.
But I’ve come to make amends: just as the magic of DVD is allowing me to revisit Six Feet Under (Which I’ll probably save for when I complete the series), The Wire has officially entered into my rotation. Normally, I might keep such an old catalogue title to myself, but Alan Sepinwall is currently revisiting the first season as part of his summer blogging schedule. And while I’m going to have to stick to his “Newbies” posts in favour of keeping myself free of serious spoilers for what’s to come, I figured that the more people talk about what is (thus far, and by all accounts) a fantastic series the better for my readers, readers everywhere, and maybe even the show’s long-shot Emmy chances.
For now, however, time to dig into the first two episodes of the series like I’d dig into an order of Chicken McNuggets.