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DVD Review

DVD cover

Season One


Starring: Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix, Fran Kranz, Tahmoh Penikett, Enver Gjokaj, Dichen Lachman and Olivia Williams
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 15
Available 07 September 2009

Deep underground in a secret location in Los Angeles is one of a number of global institutions known as the Dollhouse. This facility houses a group of beautiful and seductive young people known as “Dolls”. These men and women have sold their bodies and minds to the Dollhouse - for a set number of years, their minds are repeatedly wiped blank by the house’s programming expert Topher and can then be imprinted with an infinite number of different personalities. In this way they become (for the right price) the perfect partner, the perfect assassin, or the perfect plaything for Los Angeles’s super-rich. Unfortunately, however, the programming technology is far from perfect, and as the series progresses the house’s most popular doll Echo starts to remember glimpses of her past engagements, and the woman she once was before she entered the house…

Dollhouse is the latest series to emerge from the creative mind of Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly/Serenity). This DVD collection is spread across four discs and contains all thirteen episodes of the show's first season.

Highlights in this collection include:

The Target: This episode sees Echo being used for a more bizarre client whose big thrill is hunting humans. So, after a romantic weekend of hunting, climbing and camping Echo is on the run for her life as her date attempts to hunt her down with his bow and arrow. The odds are stacked against her as her imprint has no special combat skills. This episode also hints at things to come as we learn a little about a doll, called Alpha, who went mad in the Dollhouse. We also get a little history on Echo's handler, Boyd Langton.

Gray Hour: Echo's services are employed in order to break into an underground museum warehouse. However, as everything goes bad, her imprint is suddenly wiped, leaving her and her gang trapped in the vault. Tony Amendola (who Stargate SG-1 fans will recognise as Bra'tac) also appears briefly in this episode.

Man on the Street is noteworthy as it brings to the surface quite a few surprises for fans of the show. Firstly Agent Ballard finally discovers that the Dollhouse is real (there's quite a moving scene here with a dot com billionaire who explains why he uses the Dollhouse once a year); one of the dolls is plagued by nightmares and we discover that they are being abused; and we discover that someone we already know is actually a doll.

Echoes: This episode gives us much more of the back story to Caroline/Echo's induction into the Dollhouse. It also allows the cast the opportunity to play different characters when the Dollhouse is infected with a virus that alters their personality

A Spy in the House of Love is interesting due to the fact that we see the episode play out from various cast members point of view - each one over lapping at some point in the episode. When it looks like there is a spy in the Dollhouse, Echo is imprinted in order to track down the guilty party.

Haunted: We discover that the Dollhouse can also be used to bring people back from the dead. When a woman dies she is brought back to life in Echo's body. She is a friend of Dollhouse boss Adelle DeWitt, and a few months earlier she has her mind scanned so that she could be brought back to life briefly if she died. It turns out she knew that someone was planning to kill her and now she plans to infiltrate her family and discover who it was. This episode also has a sweet scene with Topher and Sierra, as he imprints her with a memory that makes her act like a close friend for the day.

The only episode I didn't particularly enjoy was the season finale, Epitah One. While the extras explain why this episode was rushed into production, I thought it was a pretty poor way to end the first season. I suppose that Whedon was seriously doubting he'd get a second season (which the show did manage to get) as the ratings were so poor, but this episode just feels like a lazy bolted on episode - which I suppose it is in reality.

Notable regular guest stars include Amy Acker and Alan Tudyk who Whedon fans will recognise from Angel and Firefly respectively.

Extras are pretty impressive. We get audio commentaries for three episodes (Ghost, Man on the Street and Epitaph One); Original Unaired Pilot - Echo (to be honest I can see why this pilot was scrapped and Whedon started over again as a lot of the scenes jump about too much making little sense. A lot of the scenes were reused in the first half of the season and make more sense now that they are fleshed out a bit more); Deleted Scenes (30 min, 16 sec the only noteworthy inclusions are alternate scenes with Echo and Hayden from the pilot show and a couple of scenes from Omega where we see Sierra and November as bounty hunters); Making Dollhouse (20 min, 47 sec on set featurette with Joss Whedon in which he explains things like why they had to ditch the pilot and film another one, that the episodes were shot completely out of order making it hard for the actors, and why the odd 13th episode was filmed that way); Coming Home (7 min, 11 sec look at the various crew members who have worked with Whedon in the past); Finding Echo (5 min, 07 sec featurette that explores Whedon and Dushku's friendship); Designing the Perfect Dollhouse (5 min, 59 sec in which Whedon takes us on a guided tour of the Dollhouse set); and A Private Engagement (5 min, 47 sec featurette which asks the cast and crew if they would use or become a doll if the technology was real).

At it's heart Dollhouse has a fine plot and much potential. It's a series that deserves to succeed. Sadly, due to poor first season ratings, the second season has only been commissioned for an additional 13 shows.


Darren Rea

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