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Dollhouse is a drama about a secret company in Los Angeles who can programme the minds of their young 'Actives' with any personality that a client chooses. FOX 2009-2010


Season Overview #Episodes Score Viewer
Season 1 2009 13 61 70
Season 2 2009-10 13 62 -

Top episodes

» Episode
Episode Overview Score Viewer score
Season 1
» Episode 11
Briar Rose Echo is helping a girl who is struggling...
Echo is helping a girl who is struggling with memories of abuse. Adelle gets Laurence Dominic’s personality out of the attic and into Victor to help open a message from Alpha. Alpha has killed someone in Tucson and Sierra is dispatched as a forensic specialist to check it out. Paul Ballard breaks up with Mellie. He follows her as she is picked up by her handler and taken to the Dollhouse. He investigates the Dollhouse building and tracks down the man who must have helped design their underground building. Stephen Kepler is growing his own marijuana and is extremely tense about breaking into the Dollhouse. But they do and Ballard and Langdon fight over the confused Echo. Kepler keeps the other actives sleeping and the alarms quiet until he reveals that he is Alpha. He slashes Victor’s face and intimidates Dr Saunders. Then he takes Echo to the chair, she wakes and makes out with him before they leave together.
77 -
Season 1
» Episode 13
Epitaph One In Los Angeles in 2019 a small band...
In Los Angeles in 2019 a small band of people with their own minds still in tact stumble upon the Dollhouse. Being so far underground they think they will be safe from the technology which can now remotely wipe their minds. They find the chair and use it to gather memories from its former inhabitants to discover how the world changed ten years before.
74 -
Season 2
» Episode 13
Epitaph Two Return Mag, Zone and child Caroline are captured and...
Mag, Zone and child Caroline are captured and taken to Neuropolis, formerly Tuscon where Rossum maintains control. Paul and Echo break them out and rescue Topher and take them to safe haven. There Adelle and Sierra (and son Tony) live in relative peace. Victor answers Echo’s calls bringing his tech-head friends with him. Topher has a plan to reverse all the wipes and restore everyone’s original personality but needs to return to the Dollhouse to achieve it. On the way back Paul is killed. Once inside they find Alpha who is using the space to save those who have lost their personality. Topher sacrifices himself to save the world.
74 -
Season 1
» Episode 9
Spy in the House of Love Topher finds a chip which he fears has...
Topher finds a chip which he fears has been used to change his imprints. Laurence is temporarily in charge and locks down the Dollhouse. When they discover that the chip is owned by the NSA he sends Sierra to their headquarters to find out who the spy is. November returns to spy on Paul but she has been reprogrammed to warn him of who she truly is. Victor heads out for his tenth engagement with Miss Lonely Hearts, an older woman. But once there he leaves her and secretly meets with Adelle. Echo volunteers to be imprinted by Topher and help solve the mystery. She is now a spy hunter and interviews the staff of the Dollhouse. Ivy is in the NSA records but Echo works out that Laurence planted that information and is actually working with the NSA. Adelle orders him to have him sent to the Attic. He shoots her just before being wiped but she shrugs it off. Topher tells her of Echo’s learning curve but Adelle seems happy with her evolution.
69 -
Season 1
» Episode 6
Man On The Street A journalist prepares a piece about the urban...
A journalist prepares a piece about the urban legend which is the Dollhouse and exposes the differing views which the public has about it. Agent Ballard follows some money transfers and tracks down internet mogul Joel Mynor on an engagement with Echo. Mynor tells Ballard that he won’t be able to arrest him and suggests that what he’s doing is just a harmless fantasy. Ballard sleeps with Mellie and confesses the case details to her. Echo is sent out to frame Ballard and get him pulled off the case. But someone within the Dollhouse edits her personality to send Ballard a message about how to discover the truth. Meanwhile Sierra’s handler Hearn has been raping her and is exposed by Boyd. Adelle sends Hearn to kill Mellie but then activates Mellie (who is an active) so that she can dispatch him.
68 -

Credit FOX


Dollhouse was Joss Whedon's fourth network drama show after Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly. According to Whedon he felt no one had taken advantage of the acting talents of Eliza Dushku and the basic idea for Dollhouse was conceived over a lunch the two had.


Season one debuted to four and a half million viewers but the ratings slid from there and never recovered. There was some wrangling between FOX and Whedon's production company over the pilot which had to be reshot. A new episode then had to be produced to finish season one (for International distribution and DVDs) but FOX didn't air it.

Season two was commissioned in part because of the furore that occurred over FOX's cancellation of Firefly back in 2002. As a result season two's plot advanced rapidly to conclude the story which could have played out over many years.


Dollhouse was the most complicated and ambitious of Whedon's four network drama shows. The premise that technology had advanced to the point where people could have their personalities wiped and reprogrammed led to all sorts of moral dilemmas that the show could never marry with the demands of a weekly television show. For a start the main character on the show had no personality. Echo (Eliza Dushku) showed signs of breaking her programming and we were slowly informed about her actual identity but it still made it difficult to care about her. Especially as it was strongly implied that she had been coerced into becoming an 'Active.' It was difficult not to feel that she had been forced into the role of prostitute by the Dollhouse. This of course also made it hard to sympathise with her handlers, some of whom were clearly being positioned as "good guys."

As a big fan of Joss Whedon it was tough to see his project fail to gain traction. From early on it seemed to me that Dollhouse was a dark and gritty show. It really should have been on Cable where Whedon wouldn't have had to steer clear of the prostitution implications. It might have also allowed him the chance not to structure season one like it was Buffy with Echo going on weekly adventures. By 2009 this approach felt a bit passé and clearly didn't suit such a morally complex show.

Season two was a disappointment as the writers raced through the story to get to a fitting conclusion. Clearly the potential was there for a thought provoking and entertaining show but it was not to be.

It's worth saying that Joss Whedon has an interesting track record when it comes to casting. In most cases he has done an outstanding job so that characters like Buffy, Angel, Spike and Malcolm Reynolds become beloved figures. On some occasions though, notably Riley and Dawn (from Buffy) he has badly miscalculated and created a backlash from fans. In the case of Eliza Dushku it's probably fair to say that Whedon either saw something that wasn't there or badly misjudged the role of Echo for her. The part called for a chameleonic actress who could morph from one different role to another and make them all interesting. Dushku was unable to do this and had a far more limited repertoire than the role required.

My best friend George joined me to record a podcast for the first four episodes before he left the UK. I recorded the next two alone before Indiana native Cordia got in touch with me and offered to co-host. This of course led to the partnership that would then tackle the Buffy Rewatch. Due to low demand and Cordia's busy schedule I stopped recording podcasts after episode four of season two. That may be a blessing as recording over Skype at the time did not lead to the best sounding audio. However I kept reviewing and continued to chart Dollhouse's rocky but occasionally brilliant progress toward its finale "Epitaph Two: Return."


At this stage it's possible that Dollhouse will turn out to be Joss Whedon's last major television project. He has proven himself adept in other fields and doubtless the lure of movie work might ensnare him. However I hope he will one day return to the small screen. He has a rare ability to understand how his characters and stories come across on screen. And an even more rare capacity to change course when things go awry.

I haven't seen much direct influence from Dollhouse on other TV shows.

November 2011


Open the Dollhouse podcast in iTunes or in your favourite RSS reader:

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