Dear Joss Whedon,
I watched the first episode of Dollhouse last night.
Joss, we've been together since 1997; I did watch the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, but really, the date of my lovefest is from the Buffy The Vampire Slayer TV show. I stayed with you during all the ups and downs in both Buffy and Angel. Now, it's true I didn't follow you into space and I regret that, and took up the cry of Serenity, eventually.
So, I will continue watching Dollhouse. Despite my misgivings, which remain after last night's episode.
The good? Well, there is you, Joss; and because of that, I'll stick around to see what Big Backstory is going on, to watch characters develop and stories deepen. You've assembled a great cast: Amy Acker, Reed Diamond, Olivia Williams, and be still my heart, Tahmoh Penikett (I love you, Helo!)
But... man. A dollhouse? Really? Humans with no memories, who get personalities downloaded into their brains, then rented out to fulfill whatever dream or need or want they have?
I know you've written some great roles for women: Buffy Summers and Zoe Washburne to name two. But the space prostitute, er, companion storyline of Firefly was always one of the weak spots of that series.
And Dollhouse... sorry, Joss. I don't see the humor nor adventure in a storyline where rich guys make human girls into their playthings -- their dolls -- to fulfill their emotional and physical needs, as we saw in the first few minutes of the show.
It's especially troubling when, unlike Inara, the women are not in on it, but rather empty vessels to be filled with the type of super-women the men want. The BuffyBot was at least a robot, not a real person; the same goes for the robots of Westworld. Echo wasn't acting in the first few minutes; she really was that dream-girl. And the Echo in-between downloads is oddly disconnected. Which means I don't connect.
Oh, I know; the main story in the episode had nothing to do with sex. Instead, it went very Nikita (and the backstory of Echo also, well, echoes Nikita's story.) It was about being a hostage negotiator! Echo's job will change every week!
I understand that this is being done in part to highlight the acting range of Eliza Dushku. One of the things I've always liked about good science fiction TV is the ability for actors to stretch and show multiple talents and faces. Perhaps if I were a bigger fan of Eliza, I'd be more excited about the show. But I want to watch a Joss show; not an Eliza showcase.
Will I DVR this show? Yes. Am I in love with it, the way I was with Buffy? No. Will I give it time, it case things turn out to be something other than what they seem? Yes.