Saturday, October 3, 2009

Watcher's Council - Dollhouse 2x02 "Instinct"

Before we even get to talking about what we thought about this most recent episode of Dollhouse, I think we need to address the ratings situation. 2.1 million viewers, 0.8 preliminary adults 18-49 rating? They even lost a significant amount of viewers in the second half. Ouch! Derivative basic cable shows get better ratings than that, let alone a major network like Fox who knows how to dominate with shows like "House" and "American Idol". Is there any way that this show isn't toast? Even Terminator never did this badly and look what happened there.

As was pointed out elsewhere, Dollhouse is not being promoted much at all and, when it is, um... well, I think this speaks for itself. Fox, man, at least try to let your show succeed, dude. What was the point in even renewing it if you were going to treat it like it's dead on the vine?

Anyway, as Tara is on the coast that is west, I'm going to post this without our reviews for now but, here, have a nifty poll and tell us what you thought while you wait for us to weigh in.

UPDATE: Tara is respecting Michelle's Dollhouse fasting by not watching the episode while she's out there. Here's what I thought though!

Bitsy's take: You can really tell Eliza isn't a mom. It's not that she doesn't look like a woman who just had a baby (and, obviously, she doesn't since she hasn't) it's that she doesn't ooze that warm attachment to her baby that moms do in the earlier scenes before all the crazy happens.

The dialogue between Dichen and Eliza is really wooden. I wasn't sure who to blame for that but, as the episode went on and even Alexis Denisof's acting wasn't quite up to par in his first scene, I started to get the sneaking suspicion that it might be the writers or the director's fault.

The more I watch the more apparent it is that it's the writing that's the biggest issue here. It feels really uneven. The really emotional stuff is handled extraordinarily well but the quieter, more exposition driven scenes feel stiff and unnatural. It's almost schizophrenic but I think the real problem is that the writers couldn't handled making things feel authentically normal without making me bored in the process.

When the acting is on, though, it's really on. Eliza does a really magnificent job of expressing genuine terror. I can't believe I'm going to say this but, honestly, I think she is the best thing about this episode. Once Echo is wiped and all she has left is that maternal need, suddenly Eliza is giving the most subtle and nuanced performance of her life, capturing perfectly a character who is so foreign to our world and making her visceral and real. Color me impressed.

It's funny, when I saw the previews I thought that the concept was ridiculous and that the plot would be laughably bad. It's actually the opposite and, as the episode has time to breath and we enter the second half, it's almost like watching a completely different episode from the first half. I think the cast and crew are finally learning how to take what Fox wants them to do and make it work for them instead of trying to fight the current like they seemed to be doing last season.

All in all, I'd give it an even B. I'm starting to like you, show, which means you'll probably get canceled. Sigh...


Unknown said...

I thought the whole instinct over mind idea was interesting, but I had a hard time with the 'point' of this episode. It didn't establish anything new. Except that Mellie/November/Madeline is more or less happy. But her whole Madeline character feels... stilted or something.

Kaaren said...

My DVR did not record!!! Argh. I need to see if Hulu is going to have it. GrumbleGrumble

ps. WV is "inthewb." I thought it was on Fox? :)

Michael said...

I'm not feeling it. I try and try but I think my problem is I just don't like any of the characters. They're all arrogant pricks. I can't get behind any of them. It's very hard to root for Echo when she is new every week. For me, this whole identity crisis thing is wearing thin. I'm starting not to care who is and isn't a doll. If it's going to be every week with Echo in some new situation "glitching" (hate that word already) I won't last the season. Topher is a tool...and very unbelievable. I'm still watching, and hope it improves, but i can't see how - they're kinda locked into this premise which has been done to death in some form or another, i.e., The Thing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Manchurian Cand..and on and on. It's a good cool idea but I can't see it sustaining for a weekly drama - especially if ,like me, you hate all the players. Just glad it's not on against Fringe, cause that shit rocks.

Life Sucks and So Do You said...

Michelle should be fired from Buffyfest for her refusal to watch and write about Dollhouse. Just one more reason she totally sucks....

elainecleo said...

I also loved Eliza's acting as the mom losing her I have ever seen from her. But I still miss Amy, guess I need to stop beating this dead horse, but heck she could have pulled this new character a week thing off. Maybe DH just needs my favorite vampire, James Marsters to brighten up the show.

Cool Hip [InyRules] said...

"Color me impressed."


The previews for this episode made it seem like it was a standard "engagement-of-the-week-gone-wrong," but I was wonderfully proved wrong. Along with the season premiere, the engagements seem to be constructed solely to move the ongoing plot of Echo's evolution along, which is very refreshing considering the stand alone episodes from season one...

I agree that the whole conversation between "Kelly" and "Emily" was very wooden, and it feels like it was just thrown in there to explain to the audience Sierra's role as the best friend to Echo's persona.

Eliza's performance as a horrified mother trying to get her baby back made my heart ache, especially the scene in the police station, and when she's Echo trying to understand why she can't be the baby's mommy. Her conversation with Paul at the end about how "It's so real for me, every time they make it so real" really shed light on how self aware she's become.

The show is going to very interesting places, and I will genuinely be depressed if (WHEN!!!) it gets canceled.

Kaaren said...

Side note: Seriously cute baby!

I agree w/Michael. Cannot stand Topher. Never did. He's too cocky.

I too do not care what happens to Echo. It's a continual "Monster-of-the-week" show for me. I *hated* almost all motw episodes on Buffy & Angel.

I can't undertsand what Ballard is doing at the Dollhouse. Was he suspended or fired from the FBI? It's just random. One minute he's going to "take them down" and the next, he works for them. I don't get it.


I realy want to love it. Just not happening.