For many of you, Dollhouse is probably old news. The question of will it get another season has been answered (a glorious ‘yes’ for all Whedonites) and the quality of the episodes and of the show as a whole has been debated to death.
However, being from Australia and lacking pay TV, I have found it surprisingly hard to get my hands on the episodes, and have consequently only just finished watching all twelve episodes (I’m yet to see "Epitaph One," the much discussed, available-only-on-DVD thirteenth episode). I found Dollhouse a very interesting show, full of great episodes, good episodes, and not-so-good episodes, and I even found myself pondering whether or not it could one day be better than Buffy the Vampire Slayer, arguably one of Whedon’s finest creations and one of the best things to come out of the '90s. The concept of Dollhouse had me intrigued, and while I wasn’t sure about Eliza Dushku in a lead role at first, I found myself warming to her quickly, along with the rest of the well-placed cast.
So what was it about Dollhouse that ignites such passionate, diverse responses from viewers? Well, I think there are a variety of factors to answer for this, and they include the concept, the plot, and the characters, as well as what Whedon fans expected Dollhouse to be compared to what it was.
It has to be said that the concept of Dollhouse is original and believable, if nothing else. The idea of a dormitory-style facility where people voluntarily have their memory wiped in order to have different personas ‘imprinted’ on them for the use of high-paying clients – well, with the way technology is going, this idea isn’t totally unfathomable. The audience realizes that the technology used in Dollhouse doesn’t exist in the real world yet – or at least it doesn’t exist to the knowledge of the general public. The general public in the world of Dollhouse don’t have any concrete evidence that the facilities exist, all they know are myths about places where people volunteer to have their memories wiped and can be used for any purposes that arise. If there was a highly illegal, highly powerful institution present in society today, the general public would probably know as much about it as the general public in Dollhouse know about the Dollhouses. So, it isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine something like this happening in a time not too far from now, an idea which gives an eerily disturbing, yet effective dimension to Dollhouse.