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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » 'Dollhouse' Whedon's newest, strangest work (Page 15)

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Author Topic: 'Dollhouse' Whedon's newest, strangest work
Jon Boy
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Yeah, same here. I think he might even be worse than Eliza Dushku.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Jon Boy:
Yeah, same here. I think he might even be worse than Eliza Dushku.

I enjoy her acting. Look, there are a lot of people who aren't the best actors in the world. Johnny Depp and Jody Foster (to give two classic examples) are different people every time they play different characters. They're great actors. Someone like Eliza Dushku or Robert Deniro or John Cusack, who is always basically the same character with different veneers isn't in the same class as Depp and Foster, it's true. But I love watching Dushku and Cusack in pretty much everything I've seen them in. I loved Tru Calling and was way bummed that it got cancelled. Same with Dollhouse, and not just because of Dushku in either case.
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Raymond Arnold
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I don't have a huge problem with Eliza, except that in this show she's given a way bigger job than she can handle (it was particularly evident in the psychopath episode, where Victor nailed the guy completely, and hell, nailed Echo's character too, and Echo just pretty much read the lines). The fact that she has such an important job and is outclassed by people doing similar but theoretically "less important" jobs gets distracting.

That said, I think the Senator is way worse than Echo is. I didn't mind Echo in the last two episodes, but the Senator drove me nuts.

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Alcon
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Yeah, when Victor was the psychopath he was exactly it. When Echo was... I just had Faith flashbacks. I kept expecting her to say "five by five".
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Shanna
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I'm with Ray. Its not that they're not good actors, but not everyone can take on any role thrown at them.

I loved Eliza as Faith and Alexis as Wesley. I think they both did a great job exploring those characters. But Eliza has a "type." Nothing wrong with that. Lots of actors embrace a certain type of role and are able to thrive doing that kind of work. Other actors are able to be chameleons and no doubt some of them often have a harder time getting cast and being recognizable in their work.

I'm glad Joss has such a good relationship with Eliza and wanted to believe she could do well in a part like Echo, but unfortunately she's fallen short. She does have her moments though and hopefully it'll help her develop her skills abit for the next project she lands.

Alexis should just stick to using his British accent. And why not?? He's great at it. He's got a strength and so he should work it. Its unfortunate that there isn't a high demand for British characters on American television, but that's just the way it is and I can't imagine he's winning over alot of people with a hybrid accent he can't control.

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Raymond Arnold
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On a someone unrelated note, I think this is the first time someone called me Ray instead of spelling out my entire screen name "Raymond Arnold."
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Chris Bridges
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Personally I would have loved to have seen Dollhouse with Amy Acker in the lead role.
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Magson
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I loved the "Topher Twofer" -- completely hilarious!

I especially loved the exchange:

"Glasses?"

"On a chain!"

"For the WIN!!!!!!!!!"


I just about wet myself, I was laughing so hard.

It was also cute to see the little blush and smile from Summer when Topher was explaining that he thought she was a Doll due to what he thought was her similar situation to Whiskey/Saunders in the Los Angeles House, and she said "But to be a Doll you have to be beautiful" and he went "Uh. . yeah!"

That had to be the weirdest "successful chemistry" I think I've ever seen.

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Raymond Arnold
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These last two episodes really bugged me. Echo finally starts getting her personality back, and the first thing she does is fall gaga over Ballard?

I'm kind amused that they skip over the entire buildup of chemistry two. Probably in part due to early cancellation and time constraints, but I don't think their chemistry has been that great and I suspect that it was easier to sell us on the idea of them falling in actual love if we didn't have to watch the actors awkwardly pretending to.

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The White Whale
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When you say Echo gets her personality back, what do you mean? Caroline's? The sum of her imprints? Or this new person called Echo? I had no problem with them (Ballard and Echo) having this sexual tension. Ballard was her handler, and he honesty wants to protect her, and I think he's in love with Caroline, not Echo. Echo may be in love with Ballard, but I'm pretty sure Caroline is not.

These last two episodes felt a little rushed, which is not surprising, but I like the increase in dramatic plot events and *OMFG* moments. And I laughed out loud several times, and felt a comfort in that Whedonesque humor that I miss so much.

And it's strange. I don't care about Echo, but I care about Topher and Boyd and Adelle, and which Whiskey/Amy Acker would come back. I miss her. Oh, and I love Alpha. He's just plain fun.

And most of all, these two episodes make me want to go back and rewatch Firefly. Oh, how I miss Firefly.

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Lisa
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I like the fact that even Echo doesn't like Caroline. Maybe we'll be lucky and not have to see Caroline again. Echo is a better person. And as far as her falling for Ballard, they share values. Both of them have an innate need to help victims. Caroline had that as well, but it'd been warped by her privileged upbringing (I'm guessing) into the kind of "helping" that doesn't care who suffers in the process.

Sharing that kind of value is exactly the kind of thing that can bring people together.

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Raymond Arnold
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To clarify, I DO think there's a lot of interesting potential in the Ballard/Echo/Alpha love story. But the way they went about it didn't feel like they earned it at all.

What irked me about it is that, back in the early days of the show, there was a lot of criticism about how "feminist" Joss Whedon was making a show that A) was about characters that didn't have a personality of their own, and B) that it was blatantly exploitive of women.

And Joss' response was that the purpose of the show was to talk about A) since so much of our identify is shaped by the system around us, how can we find ourselves? and B) it's intended, among other things, as the sort of feminist allegory that actually deals with how oppressive the world really is. The bad guy isn't a monster you can stab with stake and be done with it, it's an all encompassing, exploitive force that warps both yourself and everyone who might be trying to help you.

I like that idea a lot. And for the most part I like what the show has done with it. I particularly liked how the show suggested that Ballard's obsession with Caroline was unhealthy, and that he was using her to act out a fantasy just as much as a dollhouse client.

But what bugged me is that we are finally hitting the point where Echo (and I mean, Echo, not Caroline) is establishing herself as her own person - a point in the show where, if it's intended to be the kind of feminist allegory that was suggested earlier, I'd think that Echo wouldn't be acting so clichéd-ly in love with the man who rescued her. She's completely acting out the fantasy he wanted her to - throwing herself at him even when he's trying to be restrained, so when he finally does go for it he doesn't have to feel so guilty.

I do, however, like the little wrench thrown in - in his mind, the fantasy has always been rescuing Caroline, and the person he found isn't Caroline and doesn't want to be and may be a better person than Caroline was.

A while back I linked to a feminist blog that talked about Dollhouse in Season 1. Recently she wrote an updated review about Season 2. I don't entirely agree with this one, but it still had some interesting stuff. My favorite single part was this:

quote:
In my original post on Dollhouse, I praised it for its use of the “false consciousness” metaphor. What I did not mention is that “false consciousness,” as an actual political theory, often drives me a wee bit insane! The idea that there is some true, pure self, untouched and unconstructed by the Patriarchy, which you can have access to by reading the right books or attending the right classes or being subjected to enough terrifyingly condescending consciousness-raising and/or personal judgment by ladies who Know What’s Good For You (I’m just gonna call them Ballardettes. That cool?) is incredibly naive and incomplete: it ignores the fact that we are all informed by cultural context from day one, and will be for the rest of our lives. Dollhouse is, undeniably, a story about the journey from lack of agency (being so totally shaped by the cultural context that you have no power to resist it) to agency (defining who you are on your own terms). But it’s not about going back to who you were before culture. It’s not about being outside of culture. There is no outside, there is no before. Caroline doesn’t live here any more.

But Echo does. She’s gaining agency, even within the context of the Dollhouse: she remembers everything, she “is many people” – but, she says, “none of them are me.” She isn’t regaining her “true” self; she’s creating a new self, out of all the roles she’s ever had. And this is a far better metaphor for “false consciousness” than just becoming Caroline again. There is no false consciousness, only incomplete consciousness. You don’t get to escape into some realm of culture-free authenticity in order to claim your own power. You claim it starting right now, right here. From where and who you already are.

The full thing can be found here.
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Alcon
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This may have been addressed in the show already, but why don't they just use clones for the actives?

I don't know why that never occurred to me until now - but why do they have to take already existent people? Why not just make clones of people?

I mean if they can develop the active technology they could certainly develop cloning technology in such a way as to provide themselves with an essentially infinite supply of attractive, strong and durable bodies to use as actives.

And if they could do that, they could just clone themselves a super-powered army to take over the world...

Now that I've thought of this, if feels like a bit of a plot hole in the whole show. Even though I'm sure they'd explain it away with some technobabble about how active technology and cloning technology are incompatible or something along those lines.

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Mucus
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Well, cloning technology would still take X number of years to grow an active while human slavery is relatively easy (as in there is still a lot of human trafficking going on in the world and for relatively cheap).
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Alcon
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quote:
Well, cloning technology would still take X number of years to grow an active while human slavery is relatively easy (as in there is still a lot of human trafficking going on in the world and for relatively cheap).
However, cloning would absolve all worries of where there actives come from. Would solve the problems inherent in the active contracts and lengths and would provide an infinite supply of actives. Also - with no contract, no person waiting to get their body back... they could do essentially whatever they liked with the bodies.

Although you could argue that the whole point of the show is that cloned actives would still be people.

And I dunno, with the proper application of their apparently brilliant minds, and extraordinary amount of resources - I'm sure they could develop cloning technology and infrastructure that would be just as cheap as human slavery. Not to mention the increase in available bodies and decrease in work and stress in trying to find one.

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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Well, cloning technology would still take X number of years to grow an active while human slavery is relatively easy (as in there is still a lot of human trafficking going on in the world and for relatively cheap).

What would you define as human trafficking? Slavery? It is made known in the show that these people know exactly what they are getting into. They are told that if they do this for five years then at the end they will be paid a huge sum of money, and that they will not remember anything that happened to them. Can it really be considered human trafficking if they sign up for it?
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Mucus
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Alcon: Except Rossum as a whole doesn't really worry too much about what they can or cannot do with the bodies. And in Epitaph One, they switch to never giving the bodies back anyways.

Besides, human slavery is cheap, like really cheap. As in:
quote:
About 50,000 Asian, Latin American and Eastern European women and children are trafficked into the United States for sexual exploitation, the going rate between $12,000 and $18,000 each.
http://socyberty.com/activism/statistics-of-modern-day-slavery/

In fact, I think I've seen lower in other places in the world. I'm just not seeing the benefit from a corporate POV.

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Alcon
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quote:
In fact, I think I've seen lower in other places in the world. I'm just not seeing the benefit from a corporate POV.
Infinite and customizable supply. As many Echo's and Whiskey's as needed. And when the bodies get too battered, just clone up another. Plus I'm willing to bet that producing clones - aside from start up costs and research - would be much cheaper than $10,000 a pop.

Also Rossum is paying huge sums at the end of contracts. And then they have to worry about the former active spilling what they know - potentially. Not the actual price of human trafficking.

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Mucus
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Geraine:
My point isn't that what the Dollhouse is doing is human trafficking* (or that it is not). My point is merely that if cost or limited supply was actually an important factor in obtaining new actives, they could very easily increase their supply of actives by an incredible (and cheap) rate by simply tapping into the pre-existing supply of human trafficking.

* Although I would note in your line of argument unrelated to mine that technically some of these people do not in fact know what they're getting into, Sierra is the obvious example.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Alcon:
quote:
In fact, I think I've seen lower in other places in the world. I'm just not seeing the benefit from a corporate POV.
Infinite and customizable supply. As many Echo's and Whiskey's as needed. And when the bodies get too battered, just clone up another.
It wouldn't be infinite. You still need a handler for each active and 1 Topher-like genius staff member. In order to keep handlers working in such a morally dubious environment and keep their secrets, they probably can't be making less than, say 100K. As for Topher, based on his intelligence on the show, he could easily be making millions per year in some think-tank or startup, so say 10 million per year. And the Dollhouse has, what, maybe 30 actives at each location?

So consider the costs in the human trafficking scenario. Even if they cost $10K/year each then that would be only $300,000, a mere 2% of the running cost so far without taking into account the technology and salaries of the other underlings, and any overhead.

The limiting step in the supply wouldn't be the cost of actives, it would be the Bennett/Topher-like super-geniuses and to a lesser extent, the handlers and other overhead. Arguably, there are also benefits to keeping the supply low because many of the potential customers *like* how exclusive and rare the actives are and would be willing to pay to keep it that way.

So this is the potential cost that cloning would need to beat out. It just doesn't seem compelling.

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Raymond Arnold
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Aside from which, waiting 20 years for a clone just seems silly to me when they can already (apparently) acquire as many actives as they need.

The more I watch the more I am bothered by the homogenousness of the actives though (this was mentioned earlier but I hadn't noticed how ridiculous it is. Upwards of 80% of the female actives are slim brunettes. Even ignoring that some people are into heavier women, you'd think they'd have a better mixture of redheads and blondes and non-white people.

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TheGrimace
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Not only would you need to wait the 20 years for the clones to develop, but presumably you (Rossum) would have to pay for that development time. Even if somehow you can just do some kind of test-tube-like setup rather than raising them as actual human beings, the cost of that 20 year development, facilities, supervision etc is non-trivial. And even if you had such methodologies, what's to say that they would be capable of creating psychologically and physiologically compatible actives?

If instead you raise them as normal people, you now have a greater likelihood of creating compatible actives, but probably incur far more cost to have some kind of fostering system set up.

Assuming it would be possible to clone people in a way that would make them acceptable actives I think there's no reason to believe it would be more efficient than their current methods. Especially given that we have no guarantee that they actually fulfill their end of the bargain. Apart from November, we have very few concrete references to former actives out in the world... they could always just box them up in the attic or something, and save the "big payout" after however many years they want to use them for...

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Alcon
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We're assuming the same technological genius that invented active technology applied to cloning and they can't find a way to speed clone development?

We're also assuming the same resources, so it would be easy enough for them to set up massive incubators such that they didn't have to worry so much about the growth time - such as there is.

And you're telling me that the further control offered by cloning technology: exact physical control over the bodies of their actives (they could produce - in theory - as many actives in any size, shape or physique as they needed) isn't going to overwhelm any cost downsides? Along with the fact that it would probably wind up cheaper in the long run given the not having to worry about the cost of the active's pay packages or keeping them quiet when they leave. And the fact that you could use each active for much longer, and not worry about using it up.

Also, given their apparent inclination toward world domination - you don't think a cloned army that listens to their exact orders and commands and has genius level skills wouldn't be tempting for them?

I dunno, I just don't see how they wouldn't think of these applications of cloning technology when mixed with active technology. It would give you the ability to literally produce people who are basically super human and totally subservient. And to produce as many of them as you pleased.

I mean, in theory they could do similar things by just using the existing population - but that doesn't offer nearly as much control to produce the exact physique you're looking for. It also doesn't offer exacting control over the supply of bodies. I really don't see how they wouldn't want to mix the two technologies.

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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Geraine:
My point isn't that what the Dollhouse is doing is human trafficking* (or that it is not). My point is merely that if cost or limited supply was actually an important factor in obtaining new actives, they could very easily increase their supply of actives by an incredible (and cheap) rate by simply tapping into the pre-existing supply of human trafficking.

* Although I would note in your line of argument unrelated to mine that technically some of these people do not in fact know what they're getting into, Sierra is the obvious example.

Ah, you are right, I had almost forgotten about Sierra.

As for cloning Whiskeys? I'd order three.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:

As for cloning Whiskeys? I'd order three.

Neat!
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TheGrimace
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Alcon, don't get me wrong, there would certainly be benefits to your cloning program, I'm just not certain how clear-cut the trade study would be. After-all, if they diverted their Tophers and Bennetts from the brain-side of things then the imprinting technology would slow down... Additionally, it's not clear the timeframe involved here. In my mind, they only recently (within the last 10 years) developed the active technology, and they'd only be able to keep it secret for so long...

So there's probably a window of 2-4 decades when the Dollhouse can exist as it currently does, which is probably also as long as it would take (optimistically) to get a working clone production program going.

And in any case, what's to say that the Tokyo house or somewhere else isn't working on exactly this?

And sure, an army of super-actives would be great, but it seems like it would be arguably easier or at least as-easy to just have their Tophers develop exactly what he developed and just use the ready-and-waiting populace that is sitting there just itching to be exploited.

And from the position of writing, that would just make it all the more complicated. How tough is it to explain how the Active technology works without also trying to explain how they simultaneously got advanced human cloning put together to perfectly compliment things. It would also ruin most of the philosophical intent of the show (or at least vastly shift it).

Finally: put me down for a Whiskey and a Sierra.

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Raymond Arnold
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@Alcon: you're saying that because one unrealistic technology exists, another one must as well? Whedon asks us to suspend disbelief about the plausibility of active-technology because it is necessary to tell his story. Super advanced clone technology is not necessary to tell his story, so he doesn't bother to pretend it exists.

Not to mention that Rossum is a company specializing in neuroscience. They're already in the process of developing the techniques that lead to active-technology. Whereas super-precise and accelerated clone technology would require them to start mostly from scratch, invest billions of dollars.... for what?

They can already get the actives they need for reasonable prices. They don't need to invest in an "army" because their research is already leading up to the ability to create an army of super geniuses instantly (that's the whole point of the last few episodes, let alone Epitaph 1). All it takes is an automated phone call to everyone in the country and you have an instant army. Clones would be completely superfluous.

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Sala
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I loved, loved, loved the first hour, and the last twenty minutes of the second hour. The first forty of the second hour, though, hated, hated, hated.
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SPOILER


I really hated when they did . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . dream sequences on Star Trek, and the first part of the second hour was too much of that, imo. But, oh my gosh, what an incredible story line! I haven't seen Epitaph One yet. I wonder if it would have been as astounding to me if I had seen it first, based on comments here.

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Sala
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Okay, apparently I don't know how to put spaces in to separate spoilers. It still shows up in the little blurb. Sorry.
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Dogbreath
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quote:
Originally posted by Sala:
I wonder if it would have been as astounding to me if I had seen it first, based on comments here.

[SPOILER]


Epitaph 1 is set in Arcane's vision of the future. It helps give you a little background to what's going on, but there's nothing essential to the plot you're missing.

Also, the idea of the "Attic", people being used for their processing power as chips in a supercomputer, was the original idea behind the Matrix. Each person connected to the Matrix was, in fact, part of the Matrix. They dropped that in favor of the idiotic "people are fuel" idea, because they thought the average person would be too stupid to understand it. [Roll Eyes]

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Lisa
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If Victor was transfered to the LA Dollhouse (as Adelle told Boyd), why was Topher the one to put him under? Unless Adelle lied to Boyd about that, which I guess is possible.

Gah! I guess knowing that you have to get to an endpoint can really help a show. I liked it before. I love it now.

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Dogbreath
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I think it means he was recruited at another house, and then sent to LA for processing.
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Glenn Arnold
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Random musings:

While Dollhouse is wrapping up, I'm also watching Battlestar Galactica on DVD. I just watched the episode in which Helo accuses a doctor of mistreating Geminons, and there's a scene where Helo is telling Sharon that he is always on the wrong side, yet he winds up being right.

It seems to me that Tahmoh Penikett is being typecast as a Cassandra character. Given the nature of Dollhouse, I'm curious how much attention Whedon is paying to how much range each actor is expected to stretch. I think we all agree that Dushku's range is quite limited, but we haven't seen Topher display much range, nor Boyd, even Adelle (although her character is much more well developed, it's still always her).

In discussion tonight, it also occurred to me that Echo actually should always seem to be the same character, since she has the ability to hold onto herself between wipes. I don't think Whedon planned it that way, but...

I also want to see what Enver Gjokaj has lined up after Dollhouse ends. I have little doubt that he will have a long and successful career a-la Meryl Streep unless he goes Heath Ledger... Don't want to think about it, but I did anyway.

As for the whole cloning argument, it's a moot point. Whedon wanted to explore self-ness and consent, and this is the way he chose to do it. So in this world, cloning isn't an issue.

And also: When Alpha speaks to Echo in Ballard's voice; There is no question in my mind that Alan Tudyk was lip syncing.

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Nighthawk
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Enver is starring alongside Robert De Niro, Edward Norton and Milla Jovovich in Stone (he's a young De Niro).

It's not a bad start, I guess.

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Nighthawk
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Just saw the last five episodes back to back last night on Hulu.

Uh... Wow. I think Joss might be making super good on purpose because it's getting canceled, just to make the studio look stupid. [Wink]

And Victor as Topher was awesome beyond description!

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Raymond Arnold
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Man, too bad he didn't try just doing that a year ago.
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Fyfe
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I feel like throughout the first series, the show was trying to save some awesome for later, and I think it was a mistake. Of course I've only got all invested after it gets canceled. [Razz]
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Blayne Bradley
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This show is awesome, its like all of the story telling pros of certain grimdark anime's, character development, plot, overarcing themes, complex characters!

And of course While getting 2 seasons is not getting a third because Fox is staffed by retarded people who can talk.

So great but gone so soon!

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Fox is staffed by retarded people who can talk.
*nod* They spend all their time on internet forums instead.
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Blayne Bradley
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Firefly, Dollhouse, who knows how many good shows have been cancelled because of them.

[ December 30, 2009, 06:14 PM: Message edited by: Blayne Bradley ]

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Jon Boy
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Blayne, please tone down the language.
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Blayne Bradley
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Don't recall that word being a swear word and it IS fox which is as kinda been Acceptable Targets for a long time now.

In other news I love how the show is like spot the Battlestar Refugee.

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Jon Boy
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I didn't say anything about swear words.
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Eaquae Legit
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Blayne, please refrain from using that sort of insult. I don't care about FOX, but I care very deeply about "retarded people who can talk." This is an insult to them, to specific people I have loved and who are just as human and deserving of respect as you, and I find it very upsetting. Insult Fox all you want (I'm not a big fan either), but please find a different way.

If you can't understand the reasoning, then please refrain out of a sense of courtesy, now that you know insults like that are hurtful to members of this forum.

***

In other news, why does this show have to go and be all compelling now that it's been cancelled? Geez, man.

Enver is a phenomenal actor. I look forward to seeing him in more things, and would probably take time to see films/tv I wouldn't otherwise bother with, if he was in them.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
In other news, why does this show have to go and be all compelling now that it's been cancelled?
Perhaps it's because it's canceled -- there's no time for fluff or filler episodes.
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Eaquae Legit
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Point.

Ah well, at least it should end strong. *crosses fingers*

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kmbboots
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oooo...twisty.
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Mucus
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Curse you, stupid Wikipedia episode list!
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Magson
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*blinks*

Wow. Didn't see *that* one coming.

Edit to add: I googled the word "Rossum" as being part of a play as stated by Clyde 2.0 or 5.0 or whatever and came up with Rossum's Universal Robots. Eerie similarities to the whole story arc the show has taken.

Edit again -- linkie code won't work becuz it wants a parenthesis, so... It's at wikipedia.....

[ January 09, 2010, 01:44 AM: Message edited by: Magson ]

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Sala
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Whohoohoo! THAT was one interesting episode. [Big Grin]
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