Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Reflections on the Dollhouse Season One DVD

23 June 2010

I recently watched the complete season one of Dollhouse on DVD. I am really beginning to think that there is something about watching a show on DVD which makes it more conducive to careful analysis compared to watching it on the small screen. For me there is a lot of Hitchcock in Dollhouse, the Hitchcock of Rear Window and Vertigo. I wonder if it is this Hitchcockian voyeuristic theme that runs through Dollhouse that makes viewers (viewers as voyeurs) feel uncomfortable because it implicates them in the process of doll making.

It is really interesting to compare the original pilot (scenes from which were used in later episodes) with later episodes of the season. The original pilot gets into the Alpha arc much more quickly than do episodes shown later in season one (interesting given the complaints by some viewers that Dollhouse's arcs evolved too "slow"). The original pilot seems to point to a somewhat different Dollhouse than the one we got.

I like the original pilot a lot. But I also like the way the show as broadcast evolved. There is a lot of interesting stuff revolving around Alpha and the fracturing of Echo/Caroline's "personality" in so many of the early episodes. The episode “Gray Matter”, for instance, uses modern art (Picasso?) to explore Echo's/Caroline's fractured sense of self. Along with brief eye contact and intimations of recognition between Echo and Sierra Whedon and Company lay down some really interesting foreshdowings about identity in the early episodes. Did some fans not notice this or are so many viewers these days brought up on a steady diet of jump cut editing and special effects (do these paper over thin plots and narrative?) a la Star Wars, MTV, commercial advertisements, and Saw simply lacking in the necessary patience to let stories unfold any more? Have transformations in communication forms (speedier and filled with special effects) impacted mass perception creating, in the process, new "realities" for how film and TV should take shape? I am thinking here of the mantra from Generations next about how "boring" something is as though "boring" was a transcendental and universal category that all humans share.

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