I am a huge Buffy fan. And Eliza Dushku’s Faithwas one of my favorite characters on the show. When Buffy ended, I hoped for a Faith spin-off. I was more than a little disappointed when that didn’t materialize. So, you can imagine how excited I was when Dollhouse was announced. Any Joss Whedon series is a cause for celebration. But Joss a Joss/Eliza reunion seemed like something special.
Dollhouse had a bumpy road. The disagreements between Whedon and Fox are well domunted. Like Firefly before it, Dollhouse had to undergo some massive changes before it aired. When it finally hit the airwaves, Fox scheduled it on Friday nights – a death slot.
Unfortunately, the early episodes just weren’t very compelling. The premise of the show prevents the audience from getting overly invested in characters who have their memories wiped at the end of each episode. It’s hard to build strong connections to the characters when they are essentially blank slates. And the characters who are not are largely unsympathetic.
Then there is the issue of the show’s subject matter. It’s not much of a stretch to say that Dushku’s Echo is a prostitute. The show makes this comparisson frequently. The Dollhouse is a brothel although they do other distasteful jobs as well. The show can be icky, and not always in a good way. Sometimes, it’s just icky.
Over the course of the season, I contenplated giving up on Dollhouse. But my loyalty to Whedon kept me around. And my loyalty was rewarded. The show got progressively better as it grew beyond the constraints of the initial premise. Clearly, this was always Whendon’s plan. But the first season was an awfully slow burn getting to that point.
It’s a bit of a miracle that Dollhouse was renewed for a second season. The ratings have been abysmal and the reviews have not always been kind. As good as the last half of the season was, I would not have been disappointed to see the show go out on a high note.
The truth is, I would not have bothered with the Dollhouse DVD except for one thing. Whedon and company filmed an unaired 13th episode which was to serve as the series finale if the show had not been renewed for a second season. Frustratingly, Fox has refused to air the episode despite renewing the show.
“Epitaph One” is unique to say the least. Although the series regulars appear in the episode, the story focuses on characters who are new to us. The action takes place in the not-to-distant future. An apocalyptic event has occurred and the Dollhouse is to blame. The story centers on a ragtag bunch of survivors on their run. Eventually, they stumble upon the abandoned Dollhouse which they see as a potential safe house.
The central story is pretty standard zombie fare. Members of the crew are picked off one-by-one. But the episode intercuts the main story with flashbacks that provide glimpses into what happened after episode 12 that lead to this dystopian future. Honestly, these vignettes look like they came from a more interesting show than the first season of Dollhouse. Which is a good thing since they are likely glimpses into what we will see in the second season of the show.
If you didn’t watch Dollhouse or you gave up on it, the DVD gives you a second chance to catch up before the new season starts. Hopefully, the second season will live up to the potential that is promised in the unaired 13th episode.