Sunday, December 6, 2009

Echo Goes to Washington



(Episode synopses from Wikipedia)

“The Public Eye”
United States Senator Daniel Perrin has been trying to bring down the Dollhouse for months, but he has never been a danger – until now, when he comes into possession of a material witness. Echo is sent on assignment to stop him and his witness from exposing the Dollhouse while DeWitt and Topher are sent to the Washington, D.C. Dollhouse to meet the head of the main American house as well as the D.C. branch's genius programmer, a woman named Bennett Halverson (special guest star Summer Glau), who has a mysterious connection to Echo's past.

“The Left Hand”
Echo and Bennett have a shocking meeting as DeWitt goes head-to-head with the cold and ruthless head of the Washington, D.C. Dollhouse, Stewart Lipman (special guest star Ray Wise). Topher involves Victor in his own branch of espionage while Senator Perrin struggles to keep control of his investigation and his witness while a seeming house of cards falls down around him.

A good pair of episodes (and this is a fun way to watch series TV, by watching two at a time) after a month-long hiatus. It’s nice to see Buffy vet Alexis Denisoff again, this time as crusading senator Perrin (named after super announcer/voice over actor Vic Perrin, I presume). The series keeps viewers on its toes with Actives/Dolls popping up when/where you least expect them. Perrin’s actual reveal as a Doll was a nice bit of staging and directing.

Echo (Eliza Dushku) has the line of the episode where she tells Perrin’s wife Cindy (Stacey Scowley) after she uses Topher’s neural disruptor on her that she’s “woken up a lot of people, and they all think you’re a bitch.” Nice.

The big surprise though is Summer Glau’s turn as Bennett Halverson, the D.C. Dollhouse’s answer to Topher (Fran Kranz). Bennet is off the scales intelligent, pretty (though she doesn’t know it) and more than a little damaged (and I’m not just talking about her “dead arm”). Glau seems to channel a bit of her previous Joss Whedon character Summer Tam’s mental instability, but she is a good enough actress that she’s not simply aping what she had done on Firefly. Bennett is at turns nervous, giddy, honest, psychotic, charming and unpredictable.

Special mention must be made of Enver Gjokaj’s work. When Topher goes to D.C. he makes Victor into a copy of himself and Gjokaj really hits one outta the park in his impersonation of Topher – the voice and mannerisms are all there - making me wonder if he does celebrity impressions as well. Maybe we’re looking at another Frank Gorshin.

By now you have heard the news: Dollhouse has been canceled; it will complete its 13 episode run and that will be that. If you’re a regular reader of this blog (you ARE, aren’t you?) you know that I’ve struggled with this series. Now just as it’s getting good and delivering on its promise it gets the big ax from Fox. (Aside from The X-Files name one long-running Fox network sci-fi show?)

If Joss Whedon creates another show for television, perhaps he should go to cable. Hey, HBO, give the man a call.

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