Sunday, February 22, 2009

1400 Words about Doll House

Here's the first rule of Fox television programming: start every show with an inconsequential but balls-to-the-walls, action packed sting and have the rest of the show ape relevance to it. If the network executives had their way, I bet they would insist upon three minutes of jiggling titties in front of flaming piles of shit before the start of every show. It's a wonder the network hasn't been replaced by a never ending slow motion Youtube video of similar footage with “Smack My Bitch Up” playing over top. On no, wait, it has, and it's called “24.”
All snark aside, this weeks episode of “Doll House” begins less than promisingly. Alpha has gone Rogue, Echo is showering in blood, and I can't care less. If Eliza Dushku was allowed by the FCC to show even a sliver of side-boob I might care more, but that's not likely.
Whedon is, in spite of all reason, continuing the central theme of the show, namely forwarding the plot exclusively with illustrative montages and extemporaneous dialogue. This show makes me wonder how he would be as a DM. I bet he would be the type who preferred to just tell me what I did, just so I didn't have the chance to fuck up his intricately plotted adventure with, you know, role playing. Whedon is going half way down the storytellers road this episode, however, using a new character as an excuse to tell us what the fuck is going on. The token British chick, another of the show's shallow character tropes, explains to said new character, the Client, what her organization can provide him, and by telling him, Whedon tells us. It's about as sneaky a use of the most contrived storytelling device in Robert McKey's “Story” as “accidentally” initiating anal sex.
The next major scene involves Eliza and this episode's client whitewater rafting and rock climbing, yet another excuse for Whedon to snuggle up to the typical Fox viewers. It's during this scene that he exposes two major inconsistencies in the show. One, the actives' character templates seem to be aware they are templates, same as the clients. This begs the question of why. Why do this? Shouldn't this expose all sorts of awkward scenes OH CHRIST! Tahmoh Stupid Fucking Name just walked into the scene. AND ROMO LAMKIN! Is Doll House turning into a reunion show for ex-Battlestar characters? Don't get me wrong, I don't mind that Tahmoh Canadian Guy is getting work, and Romo-Guy-From-Firefly too. But someone needs to slap the casting director. Or Joss Whedon. He has as of this scene reused three and a half actors from his previous shows, if you count the science guy who looks Jonathan from Buffy. Seriously, unless the SAG has gone anemic with talented or semi-talented actors, hire someone new, maybe even someone who can emote something other than brow-furrowing frustration and angst. It like watching a dramatic version of grunge music when Helo is on screen.
Anyways, we cut with an obscenely phallic segue to a character developing scene with Echo, Medicine woman, and the client where he shows her how to shoot nature with a compound bow. Because that shows depth, right. And then we have another blunt cut when she fires the bow to a “hot” scene of the two firing their own bows all over each other. And then the scene turns all “now I'm gonna make you my winter wife” when the client tells Echo he's going to turn the romantic hunting trip into a reenactment of his favorite film, John Woo's Hard Target, minus the Muscles from Brussels.
For some reason, which this show surrendered at the door, we then cut to a scene from Langdon's origin and we also find out how Amy Acker got her scars, presumably from Alpha. Langdon plays “guess who had initiative in this fight” with the body of the man he is to replace, Echo's last handler who died at the hands of Alpha. This would be when the show pretends the sting at the beginning had any relevance to it beyond titillation. What's most troubling is how Whedon couldn't contrive any way to involve this scene or the sting into the events of the show, so he had to just shoehorn it in. And this man wrote “Hush.” Fuck's sake.
More Langdon scenes of background, which end with him asking the Major Dramatic Question for this episode, “what is Alpha's relationship to Echo?” And then we cut to Russian Goon Guy in his Beamer with some hussy and Helo-Tahmoh-guy. After Helo is done acting the cunt with Russian Goon Guy we cut to a scene of Helo's office life. It seems he's being mercilessly taunted by his co-FBI guys for working the “Doll House” case, which would have more impact, if, you know, we cared about him.
There's more stupid shit with Echo running through the forest and Client guy shooting her with phalluses, but who cares?
At about the time I realize I'm only half way through this preposterous farce, and I wonder when that heart attack I expect to kill me is going to arrive. Fucking kill me now.
Next we have a scene of Echo's handler and his driver being hustled by a county cop, or is he? This little fella packs a silenced pistol and he quickly uses it on Langdon's driver before ominously closing out this atrocious scene.
Cut to another flashback and more unrelated background for Langdon. We see Topher, that's Science Guy, talking with Langdon talking about Alpha. I really hope that when this shithead finally shows up he whips out his pecker and kills every member of the cast, even Helo and his FBI antagonists, with it. Then he needs to disappear up his own ass.
Do I even need to write about this any more; we're arriving at the crisis resolution scene of Act III, so this should be over soon, right. Echo has just found a deserted cabin in the woods, OH, and she just opened a closet door, revealing a dead county cop who was most likely replaced by the silenced pistol guy. And then there's some heated dialogue between Echo and Client guy, which ends with Echo learning she has been poisoned. As we go to commercial, I hope that Joss Whedon has come to his sense and plans to kill off Eliza Dushku. But no, there's another hollow character depth scene.
Topher, Langdon, and Echo are in the Apple Store for Evil Geniuses and we get lines like, “you're about to become the most important man in her life.” It's a trigger line, I guess, but it's still shit. Which, because this is amateur screenplay hour, directly references what is happening in the episode. Oh, for fuck sake, please just kill her or him and end this.
A few flashbacks and some vomiting later, and still Eliza Dushku isn't dead, and we have to endure another Helo scene. Apparently he has a needy, fat girl neighbor with whom he shares state secrets regularly, and then it's back to Eliza stumbling through the forest, and I have finally stopped caring about this show.
Joss Whedon has a guaranteed thirteen episode commitment from the network and something called Remote Free TV, in which the network takes less time from the show to sell commercials, and reinvests it in the show air time. This means that Whedon has six or seven extra minutes to eek out a plot, and really, he should have just gone for another commercial break. Extending the running time on a show like Doll House, or any show, is a great idea and for a creator like Whedon a godsend. This gives him more time to work his trademarked magic, which is why fans like me tune in each week. Sadly, that magic is not to be found in Doll House. It's mindless, soulless drek, and what's sad is how shamelessly Whedon is selling out. If her were debasing himself for Fox but enjoying unfettered creative freedom, I could over look the lapses in judgment that brought him back to the network that raped Firefly. But this show is inexcusable. It makes the first season of Angel look like every season of Arrested Development, genius and under appreciated. Unfortunately, this show will most likely secure an audience, just like Paris Hilton did, and Joss Whedon will die a bit more. And I'll be here next week, kicking back glass after glass of merlot, anxiously waiting for the 50 minute mark.


976chip said...

I didn't watch this week's episode, I watched last week's and was generally neutral towards it. Upon later reflection of it I just didn't consider it as something I would make an effort to keep up on. Maybe if there was nothing else on and I was home, or I was bored and came across it while dicking around online. But I have to say Alan, I'm having a hard time determining, by this post, if the show's pacing is that irratic or if it's just the usual angst ridden stammering jumble of attempted description we always get from you.

s1m0n said...

no, the show actually has some format, but i couldn't be bothered to follow it while live blogging about it. It is, however, deserving of every ounce of hatred i write about it with.

Brendan MD said...

A small note: They establish in the fst one that the agent are aware of their agent status when they're operating. Remember how both of the Dushku's referred to getting their treatment?

Aside from that, I haven't seen this week's episode and I don't feel compelled to. This plot summary will do quite nicely.