Dollhouse Season 1 Blu-Ray Review

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Posted by gmanfromheck (42432 posts) - - Show Bio

Joss Whedon's Dollhouse seemed like a...weird idea when I first heard about it.  Like many, I'm a fan of Whedon's and I enjoyed Eliza Dushku on Buffy (I thought she was less whiney than Buffy).  It was just the idea of the 'dolls' or 'actives' having memories implanted into their minds to go on different missions that I questioned.  It didn't seem like a bad idea.  You could have the ultimate operative.  Would the novelty of this work or begin to wear thin after a few episodes?  
When the show started, I watched the first couple episode and wasn't overly impressed.  It felt like the operatives were almost glorified prostitutes that sometimes went on missions that saved lives.  I did have my DVR set for the season and would watch an episode now and then, more out of loyalty to Whedon.  The 'crisis of the week' plot started getting a little annoying at times.  When word came out about the Blu-ray, I decided I'd watch the rest of the episodes that way.  It also gave me the chance to have a little marathon with the episodes.
What I had heard during the season was that things did start picking up in the second half.  That was true.  I found I didn't care so much for the individual storylines/missions but rather the ongoing subplot of the rogue 'doll,' Alpha that fled the program.  Throughout the season, the Dollhouse program was accused of turning the operatives into slaves.  The operatives joined the program by choice.  They sign a five year contract to allow themselves to become these dolls.  Things do get turn on its side at the end of the season.  With the announcement that FOX has renewed the series, it makes me wonder what direction they will take the show.  There has also been word that the network will allow Whedon to have more control and not give any pressure over what he does.
As for the Blu-ray presentation, I was amazed.  I went back and rewatched the episodes I had seen when they aired.  It's also nice going back and trying to pick up on the little clues about Alpha and what went down before the series started.  With the crisp and clean presentation, I didn't even mind the few moments that the missions felt like they were dragging on.
I did find myself liking the fact that it was a thirteen episode season.  I'm not sure how a 20+ episode season would have been.  As I mentioned, the idea of the 'dolls' going on their missions got a little old.  While it opens the door to put the main characters in different situations each week, there were some that didn't hold my interest.  It's good that things get shaken up in the second half of the season to make the show worthy of a second season.
What's interesting about the thirteen episodes is the 'bonus' unaired episode, "Epitaph One" that is inclued.  The story behind it is the network wasn't crazy about the pilot episode, stating that it was a bit confusing (and I agree it doesn't give the best introduction in the beginning).  The pilot never aired but bits were used in other episodes.  The deal was for thirteen episodes and it was questioned whether or not the pilot would count as one.  Thus, Whedon produced a thirteenth episode (with a lower budget).  It starts out a little slow then gets really crazy.  Here's a clip from that episode (only seen on the Blu-ray/DVD) set in the year 2019. 

 Seeing the apocalyptic future in this episode made me wonder how set in stone it was.  Are we seeing the actual fate of some of the characters?  Will season 2 play into this or is this simply a possible alternate future?
The special features include commentary for "Epitaph One" (which I did not listen to yet).  The original pilot is also included.  It runs at 45:47, about four minutes shorter than the rest of the episodes in the season.  There are over twenty deleted scenes from various episodes.  Featurettes include "Making Dollhouse" (20:48), "Coming Home" (7:11), "Finding Echo" (5:07), "Designing The Perfect Dollhouse" (5:59) and "A Private Engagement" (5:47).
For me, the series would rate about a 3.5 out of 5.  Watching it on Blu-ray with all the bonus features raises it to a 4 out of 5.  The slower earlier episode brought things down a little for me but things do pick up.  I am glad the show has been renewed for a second season.  I am curious to see if the Dollhouse will continue to operate the same way and what will happen when we see Alpha again.  If you watched the series as it aired, you know this is a show worth watching.  The Blu-ray (and DVD) makes it a more convenient experience.  The "Epitaph One" and original pilot make it a must buy if you enjoyed the show.  The set is on sale now.  It came out on July 28, 2009.  I do think it's important that shows like this are successful as we need more actual TV entertainment rather than all the reality/competition shows that air.
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#1 Edited by MrCipher (277 posts) - - Show Bio

I love this show. I was also skeptical and didn't watch for about half the season before giving in.  
Also on another positive note (to offset my generally negative reviews) I loved the Wonder Woman and Green Lantern cartoons - DCs latest. And looking forward to Batman/Superman: Public Enemeies thanks to all 3 original voices from the JLA and JLU being used.
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#2 Posted by welshguy79 (30 posts) - - Show Bio

Not a fan of Joss Whedon one little bit. Unfortunately, a member of my household watches this and often I found myself watching snippets of it. I think the backstory is a lot more interesting than the whole identity of the week thing and that Eliza Dushku is, whilst gorgeous and one of the few good things from Buffy, not that great an acctress to pull off having to be a different personality each week. 
Well, if someone had a gun to my head and was making me choose between one episode of Buffy and the whole first season of Dollhouse, I think I would choose the latter. Unless of course I can get the gun off the swine that is
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#3 Posted by AngelFrost (2850 posts) - - Show Bio

I liked this show.
It was a great, unique story and the acting was fabulous.
But it would have been better as a short miniseries of 5 or so episodes
after the first 5 episodes it seemed to drag on.

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#4 Posted by EnSabahNurX (2321 posts) - - Show Bio

It's a great show, Fox was the reason the show dragged in the first 5 episodes because they wanted everything dumbed down. But now that the show has gained its footing, it can now start getting serious and reveal the true purpose of the dollhouse, caroline's past, and the rassum corporation. Can't wait for season 2 and i had pre-ordered the first season and watched all the bonus features and episodes, Epitaph is amazing, the commentaries for epitaph and the pilot are hilarious XD.

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#5 Posted by Jamiracles (354 posts) - - Show Bio

I love Joss but didnt get to really follow this.

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#6 Posted by FoxxFireArt (3641 posts) - - Show Bio

I had never even heard of this series on any place else then the recent TV commercials for the DVDs. Seeing Eliza Dushku in the series raises my interest.

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#7 Posted by TheBat (33 posts) - - Show Bio

Being a Whedon fan, I am definitely a fan of the show. It started off decent and ended up being pretty awesome. Cant' wait for the next season.

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#8 Posted by CellphoneGirl (19110 posts) - - Show Bio

Great Show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#9 Posted by Luthorcrow (178 posts) - - Show Bio

Now that it is out as a set I'll checkout.  Honestly, now that you can get a full season a show on Netflicks, DVD, BluRay etc, I just can't see why anyone would bother watching a show as they air.
Joss Whedon is a serious mixed bag.  He does something clever and fun like Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog or the few really great Buffy episodes like Hush or  Once More, with Feeling but just as often his story threads would fall off the rails or introduce annoying characters that would hit the wrong emotional notes and come off as synthetic and a convenient plot device.   It would just leave you wondering if he was dropped one too many times as a baby.  The entire Season 4 excluding Hush was a train wreck and then he really laid the rotten egg with Dawn.
So Joss is highly overrated by the fanboys and girls but he occasional he hits the target deadone.  I think the main problem for him is the maturity and quality of TVs (the best ones) just took a quantam leap after the Sopranos.

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#10 Posted by Media_Master (2189 posts) - - Show Bio

the premise alone sounds kinda 'whatever'                                 %Pr

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