Friday, November 13, 2009

Did I fall asleep?

I've been watching the Joss Whedon sci-fi series Dollhouse, and just learnt it has been cancelled. Damn. It's Firefly all over again.

Dollhouse has an interesting premise. Young, attractive people sign away 5 years of their lives to become "dolls" - they have their memories and personalities wiped and then they are rented out to the wealthy and well-connected, having been downloaded with temporary new alter-egos. This results in a kind of Charlies Angels type of structure, whereby every week, the cast are put into new situations: one week you're a hostage negotiater, the next a pop star, the next a sex slave. The dolls all live in a giagantic underground spa/rehab centre and sleep in little coffins. When they're not been hired out, they're kep busy doing crafts or yoga in a kind of endless dream-like state, where they have a mental age of about 7. The Dollhouse is run by a (stereotypically) crisp British woman who wears nice skirts and blouses. There's also a geeky, wise-cracking tech guy who downloads all the personalities, and a morally confused ex-policeman who acts as a minder to the dolls. Then there's a sexy member of the FBI, played by a very gruffly-voiced Tahmoh Penikett, who is on a mission to prove that the Dollhouse exists and set them all free. Tahmoh looks and acts like a doll himself. Maybe he is. Almost every epsiode there is a twist where someone turns out to have been a doll all along.



Most of the "missions" that the dolls are sent on are a bit silly, and I have some difficulty in believing that the super-rich would want to pay for this kind of service. There's one guy who just seems to want someone to have motorbike races and slightly kinky sex with. He's young, rich and good-looking so I can't work out why he'd want or have to pay for that sort of thing. The show occasionally expands its central premise - for example, by showing how the Dolls could poentially allow people to live forever - if you die you simply download yourself into another person's body. And in the season 1 finale, which is set several years in the future, half the population of America have had their personalities wiped (via telephone) as an act of war, and replaced with that of a murderous psychopath, resulting in the breakdown of their society.

My favourite doll is Victor who occasionally malfunctions by getting erections in the shower, when he isn't supposed to.



Enver Gjokaj, who plays Victor, is good at doing different accents - he's done a passable posh Brit, been a member of the Russian mafia, a good ol' Southern boy and an all-American one. In a sense, acting is kind of like being a doll - you pretend to be someone else, show off your body and get paid a lot of money for it. I wonder if you can actually buy dolls of the cast? I imagine Victor would be a best seller.

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