Season finales are meant to be huge, if for no other reason than to make a big showing in the ratings. May is a month for sweeps, which means those who are concerned with ratings pay especially close attention. For long established shows, this is hardly much of a concern — they know whatever they put on the air will be okay, since their chances of renewal are pretty high anyway. Other shows make sure to have as solid an episode as possible so they might at least get a better chance of being renewed.
Dollhouse, the latest product of science fiction by Joss Whedon, falls into the latter category. This is a shame with it being such a good show — solid writing and a strong cast pull fans in each week. I have to assume with the way the latest episode ended, a second season will, hopefully, be on the way sometime next year. Unfortunately, Whedon also remembers the time Firefly got cancelled after just a few weeks on air. Whoops! At least TV marathons appear every so often.
Perhaps a little translation would help. Some of the characters in this show are known as "Actives," who agree to become living robots for a period (supposedly) of five years. Their minds are wiped clean, so an "imprint" of a new personality can be put in according to the wishes of the client. Any personality or original thought is gone, only absolute obedience remains. Now then, I did mention it's voluntary, right? Every person who signs the contract knows pretty much what he or she is getting into.
Some Actives even have more than one persona used on a regular basis. Case in point — Victor (Enver Gjokaj) is a blank Active; Roger, an English gentleman; as well as Lubov, a Russian mob boss. Gjokaj, a native Albanian, juggles these parts with ease. At one point, he has even taken on the personality of Vincent Dominic, a character we met who is actually played by Reed Diamond.
The biggest part of the entire finale has to be the return of Alan Tudyk as a multifaceted villain. The actor has the ability to go from nice to evil within seconds, all it takes is a shift in both body language and facial expressions. I greatly appreciate the way he drops his timbre down so there is little doubt as to how deadly he is.
The transformation is amazing, and you have to keep watching just to see what he will do next. A few nice moments offset his nastiness, which helps. He takes words from a handler (in charge of keeping Actives safe) literally, with amusing results. A kissing scene with Amy Acker also makes for fun viewing.
Not to be left out, Tahmoh Penikett, who plays former FBI agent Paul Ballard, has his own romp with Sierra (Dichen Lachman) once she turns into a bounty hunter to capture a thief. What gets stolen? Actually, it's who. Echo (Eliza Dushku), and it happens right under everyone's nose ("Briar Rose"). Penikett, who has taken on the role of morality as Ballard, wants to know how anyone could become Active without being forced to. As he hears about his role in Echo's abduction, the look on Penikett's face is pure shock. One's heart goes out to him in the moment.
A few long time questions are answered in the finale, too. Yes, someone is shown as a new Doll. This may or may come as a surprise to regular viewers. Technically speaking, there are two new Dolls, it just depends how you add things up. Since the first person is intended to be a major twist, I'll leave the name out. You really should watch to get the story straight anyway.
Could Ballard be joining the Doll world in a bigger way? It's possible, but only a new season can answer that for sure. Since Penikett came to Dollhouse off Battlestar Galactica, he probably could take on other parts now too. However, I enjoy seeing him as the man who knows far less than he thinks he does.
Now, I'd like to turn to a list of folks I'd like to see on the show. For one reason or another these actors and actresses have caught my eye in a way that I think would help them fit among the Actives and others who inhabit the Dollhouse universe.
From the Whedonverse, Adam Baldwin is near the top of my list. The Firefly alum is adept at both the drama and quirk required for this show. Come to think of it, he might even play a woman well. Granted, this is stretching things a bit due to his height. However, television is not supposed to be completely accurate all the time. Fiction, is, well, not real. Other Whedon people I'd like to see are Gina Torres, Alyson Hannigan and her husband Alexis Denisof. To be fair, there are others who could work on the show as well. Tim Curry! Talk about an amazing catch. Tina Fey. Jane Krakowski, French Stewart, Kristin Chenoweth (Sit Down and Shut Up), Timothy Omundson (Psych), Megan Mullally, and Alan Cumming are also solid actors.
For the most part, the above list comes from television performances. In the movie category there's Cillian Murphy, who played Scarecrow in Batman Begins. He has played a woman before, which says something about his powers of adaptation. I assume he can also lose his overseas accent if need be, which tends to increase staying power in a finicky business. David Tennant would also be superb on this show. If the name is unfamiliar, you're clearly not a fan of Doctor Who. The Scotsman played has been playing role for about three years and after some upcoming telefilms will be relinquishing the TARDIS. Right now, in addition to his Who work, he has some professional theatre roles.
All of these suggestions are moot if there is not a second season of Dollhouse. Granted, I can think of another network which can easily make room on its schedule though. Still, a back-to-back time slot with Fringe would make for wonderful viewing.
Like this show? Feel free to write FOX executives and tell them so. Purchases of the season 1 DVD will also make an impression. Twitter all your friends and remind them of Dollhouse and watch your favorite episodes online.