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DOLLHOUSE: SEASON ONE
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix, Fran Kranz, Tahmoh Penikett, Enver Gjokaj, Dichen Lachman, Olivia Williams
Creator: Joss Whedon
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 540 Minutes
Release Date: July 28, 2009

“Actions have consequences.”

“What if they didn’t?”

Shows ***

After viewing the first several episodes of Dollhouse, I was close to giving up on the show. But then a funny thing happened; it got spectacularly better for the duration of its opening season. I don’t think I’ve had this particular experience with any other television series.

The show is the latest offering from Joss Whedon, the mastermind behind such cult television favorites as Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Firefly. This, believe it or not, is the first show of his I’ve seen. Ironically enough, the only previous Whedon credit I’d seen was Serenity, the feature film follow up to Firefly.

With TV being in the great state it’s in right now, thanks to such fantastic shows like Breaking Bad, Damages, Dexter and Mad Men, my expectations have grown bigger for the new shows I come across. Each of the shows I just mentioned grabbed me right from the first episode, making me instantly addictive. In fact, of all the shows I’ve experienced, none of them started off on a sour note.

In no way was that the case with Dollhouse, as I found myself a little too underwhelmed by the pilot episode and next few episodes. The premise didn’t really excite me, the writing felt a bit weak, the tone was all over the place and it was overloaded with exposition, but yet it felt as though a number of important details were missing. That’s never a good way to begin a series.

I later learned that Whedon had an entirely different pilot episode he wanted to go with, but the network tossed it aside. You’d think they put a little trust in Whedon, since his name alone is enough to sell a show. And there’s no doubt in my mind that Whedon’s name was the one reason viewers were keeping faith in the show during its rocky start, which began paying off around the fifth episode.

The premise can best be described as a cross between Alias and Total Recall. The title refers to an organization that makes use of mind-wiped DNA-altered humans known as “dolls”. They are given false memory implants, which help give them skills to complete and task/mission they are assigned to. When their job is done, they have their memory wiped and reside in a real life dollhouse.

Other key characters in the show include Langton (Harry Lennix), Echo’s personal handler who oversees her every assignment. There’s also tech specialist Brink (Fran Kranz) who provides most of the show’s comedic relief. And there’s Adelle Dewitt (Olivia Williams) who created the Dollhouse.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m glad I didn’t give up on Dollhouse, because when the fifth episode kicks in, the show really begins to fulfill its promise. It’s definitely a work in progress type of show. As a result, I’m more than ready to experience the next season.

Video ****

This may just be the best presentation I’ve seen of TV show on Blu-ray. Fox has provided a most splendid anamorphic picture quality for this sci-fi series. The detail is thoroughly crisp, the image is always clear in amazing form and even the numerous visuals of the series show off spectacularly. An all around fantastic experience in 1080p.

Audio ***1/2

Not too shabby on the audio side, either. The DTS HD mix serves this action packed series quite well. There’s a lot of action, sound effects and music to go around, and the sound mix does a most terrific job in display all the numerous aural qualities. Dialogue delivery is top notch, as well.

Features ***

Nice extras find their way onto this 3-Disc Blu-ray release from Fox. We get the Original Unaired Pilot "Echo", as well as Audio Commentary on Selected Episodes, Deleted Scenes, numerous featurettes, including “Making Dollhouse”, “Coming Home”, “Finding Echo”, “A Private Engagement” and “Designing The Perfect Dollhouse”.

Summary:

Though it starts out as a bit of an iffy ride at the beginning, Dollhouse does begin to payoff around midseason. From that point, it gets better and better to the point that you can’t wait for the next season. What’s more, the show gets a marvelous presentation on Blu-ray.

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