Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Buffyfest's Spoilerific "Epitaph One" review

Comic Con attendees will have the privilege of watching the mysterious, PR snafu surrounded, unaired and straight-to-DVD finale of Dollhouse "Epitaph One" before the DVD is released at Friday's panel. We thought it appropriate time to give our 2 cents about the ep with this here little review, Buffyfest style. Let's get right to it.

Tara's take -
The Gist- I found the episode to be good, bad, confusing and clarifying all at the same time. Things get going when the team of "Actuals" on the run from what is seemingly an Active run world arrive at the now defunct LA Dollhouse. The place seems like Wolfram & Hart just after The Beast attacked in season 4, leaving nothing but zombies behind.

The Bad - The wannabe "post- Skynet apocalypse" looking set decor wasn't Whedon's finest. I understand we were working on a limited budget, here, but the opening scene was a sad reminder of how Sarah Connor Chronicles would be no more than anything else. Felicia Day's appearance here didn't really help, what with her speaking in "year 2019, just-short-of-Dark Angel-lame" slang. Just saying. Oh, and let's not forget the Eliza shaped hole in the wall and all that surrounded it.

The Good - Well, there's Amy Acker, who's fantastic. I'm really sorry she was underused during the season but I guess that's what made 'the reveal' better. Not sure what's up with her and Boyd, though (Bhiskey!) and that's obviously a whole other story. There's the touching scene between Topher and Dewitt that changed everything for me (even though I believe I'm alone on this within the realm of Buffyfest.) And most importantly, there's the comfy feeling that I have about season 2 of Dollhouse. The Dollhouse Death Watch might be a very different bet this coming season.

Tara's Final Rating - I give it 2 and a half stakes for story and a T-800 series Terminator Skull for quality.

Michelle's take -
It's hard for me to put in words why I didn't love this episode, especially since anything post-apocalyptic is always my cup of tea. I think it has something to do with my feelings for the rest of the Season which were not positive at all.

Duschku's absence was weird to me, her being the main character and all and when she did appear, her scenes became a distraction. The first scene where she announces that she's still getting headaches and then screams out in unconvincing pain right after that declaration was stupid and I can't believe it even happened. Then there was the brick wall-breaking, gun-toting Caroline with her silly one-liner. No thanks.

One ray of sunshine during the entire episode was Amy Acker. She was convincing and had an awesome Illyria-esque quality to her. There is a scene with her and Boyd that was well-done, too. Joss Whedon, when he does it right, can get a lot of emotion and back story out of one tiny scene.

Another positive is the fact that Joss is telling us straight out that imprinting humans with false memories for the good of rich people is NEVER going to end well. But where does that leave the viewer? A big problem I have with the show is that I don't really sympathize with any of the characters. The "Topher crying" scene was touching and they did a great job acting it, but I still found myself thinking that they should feel this pain. Funnily, I find Dominic, the one who is supposed to be the dickiest, to be the one I root for most of the time. That can't be right, can it?

Michelle's Final Rating - I give it 2 stars.

Bitsy's Take -
In a moment of complete shock that surprises no one more than me I actually loved Epitaph One and was sad as hell (yeah, you heard me: hell is sad) when the episode ended. To qualify: I treated this episode as functioning essentially completely outside of the canon of the rest of the series. The only thing I found myself connecting the episode to was the unaired pilot and, in a way, I think you could probably splice the two of them together into a really keen movie.

In fact that goes right along with what I've always believed; that the premise of Dollhouse is a better fit for film than it is for a television series. I just don't think the concept can be sustained under the duress of weekly broadcast. As a two hour movie, however, it is harrowing, haunting, and deliciously distopian. Gone are any pretenses that anything good could possibly come out of the Dollhouse. All we're left with is the terrifying consequences of what happens when the people with all the money and power can live forever. More than that, we bear witness to the ultimate Orwellian nightmare, where Big Brother isn't just everywhere you look, he is programmed into every facet of your being.

The performances were solid. I actually didn't mind Dushku as much as some but, then again, I was just happy she wasn't the focus. Dollhouse is at it's best when it's treated as a true ensemble piece. Felicia Day is, well, Felicia Day. It's nice seeing her do something that isn't just on the interwebs. It's really a shame this didn't go to air. Amy Acker earns the break out performance though. Her treatment of Whiskey in stark contrast to Claire Saunders is spell-binding and unnerving. It's actually pretty similar to the turn from Fred to Illyria actually and there aint nothing wrong with that.

As Travis Birkenstock would say: I give it two thumbs up. Fine, family fun.

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