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Avril Brown Presents:

Grrrr. Arrrgh!

Two nonsensical words which make complete sense to anyone who has heard them many times before. Namely, Joss Whedon fans. Those are the words of the mascot of Mutant Enemy Inc., the production company behind ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ ‘Firefly’ and ‘Angel’ as he traipses across the screen after the airing of a typically phenomenal episode of television. Occasionally he says things like “I think I need a hug” or “GrrrARRGH!” in an impressive operetta, but usually he sticks to the classics. Ladies and gentlemen, kids and curmudgeons, Joss Whedon is back! ‘Dollhouse,’ the latest brain-child of this sci-fi/fantasy addict and heart-breaker extraordinaire, recently premiered on Fox this past Friday night. Friday night. Generally known as the evening television shows go to die. So why would Fox Television put a well-hyped premiere show created by a cult GOD on a Friday evening? Search me, man. I actually HAVE a brain, and therefore am not qualified to answer such a spectacularly stupid question.

I am also a hardcore Whedon fan, so last Friday night I was glued to the tube at eight PM central standard time (actually I was in position earlier than that; ‘Sarah Connor Chronicles’ is now airing at seven on Fridays, a ridiculous yet enjoyable show). For those of you who were not so lucky as to bear witness to this show, allow me to provide a succinct summary. The Dollhouse is a state-of-the-art facility which houses ‘agents’ available to be programmed with the knowledge, skills and personality for whatever is necessary to fulfill the wishes of the client who has purchased their services. Starring Eliza Dushku, of such roles as Faith in the ‘Buffy’ series and some ‘Angel’ episodes, and ‘Missy’ from the absolutely classic piece of cinema ‘Bring it On,’ this new creation from Joss’s warped mind delivers some pulse-pounding action thrills complete with some very pretty people donning very short dresses.

Yet I have to say although I greatly enjoyed this introductory episode, quite frankly it could have been better. The most obvious thing I would say was missing from the pilot is Whedon’s trademark dark humor. Understandably there is only so much on can cram into the first episode, especially one that was completely re-shot due to various reasons, but Whedon has a knack for throwing in delightfully amusing lines in dire situations. Not to mention the idea of programmable people available for hire is not a completely unfamiliar concept, so it needs a little extra oomph to truly stand out.

Am I concerned by the fact I wasn’t completely blown away by this first episode? Not remotely, because ‘Dollhouse’ already has that something extra: it has Joss. Like any other human (or evil incarnate) he has his good days and bad, but his sharp humor and character depth consistently outweigh his less-than-stellar storylines. This is a solid idea backed by the creative brilliance of a man who has a colorful resume of kicking supreme ass, and I have faith the subsequent episodes will deliver.

Even though I wasn’t a fan until way after the movie came out, I have sympathy pains for ‘Firefly’ fans who had to endure months of jumbled chronology and being bounced around from one night to the next, so my only concern are the Powers That Be at Fox Studios. Studio execs, I beg of you: Don’t fuck this up. As for newcomers to the Whedon world, tune in next Friday and be pleasantly surprised at the amount of depth a sci-fi story can have while still finding reasons to blow shit up. 

Avril Brown

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