12.3.10

Dollhouse Unaired Pilot

And you thought the Dollhouse posts had gone away!

As I understand it, this pilot was canned because the network wanted to up the cars and money and guns and women. Whedon gave them what they wanted, and the result was one of the most off-putting opening segments of a show ever. He caved. I recognized the fact that he caved, and I forgave him. You put up with a lot when you're in love.

My infatuation might make my opinions suspect and perhaps compromised, but may I just say how I thought the original blueprint was a lot better than the one Whedon had to tape together after his UNIQUE VISION OF GENIUS was HACKED TO PIECES by the network. I should pause here to add the required DIE FOX DIE! fanboi battlecry, and with that we can move on.

Some notes:

Swimming pool opening scene as a metaphor for birth. And for Whedon, quite a subtle one. Very nice.

The first talky-talky scene was more problematic. The whole idea was pretty unconvincing, and the actors didn't get to grips with it that well, Dushku in particular. But at least it was doing the irony thing that Dollhouse would continue to do over and over again in the standalones. Don't be dominated by men. Go back to your mum and get a handle on yourself. Less subtle, but still nice.

Talk. Lots of talk. I'm gonna plant the flag for talk, actually. A lot more interesting than the cars and money and guns and women mentioned above. The exposition felt slightly contrived (this was a problem with the aired pilot as well), but what the hey. Interesting talk! That is still a rare and valuable commodity in American sci-fi shows.

Most importantly, the episode was about Ballard. Instead of the season arc unfolding slowly, which just left us wondering when things would heat up, the central confict was set up straight away. THEN the show could have pulled back to do standalones. Without the structure of the season laid out, Dollhouse just seemed to meander around aimlessly, hemorrhaging viewers. In fact, the point of the standalones was to make comparisons between the dolls and various opressed characters, and so demonstrate the pertinence of the Dollhouse idea. But that's not enough for most viewers, and rightly so. Dollhouse, the way it turned out, just didn't give you enough of a broader picture to invest in. This unaired pilot, even with its faults, did.

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