Monday, October 12, 2009

Roundup: 'Dollhouse' Putzing Along; 'Dexter' Hitting His Stride

By LillyKat
PTR Senior Staff Writer

Regular readers of PTR may have noticed that my Dexter and Dollhouse write-ups skipped a week. Apologies as I've been out on the road a bit of late and am only just now getting caught up with the DVR. Yikes! Soooo, rather than try and go back and recap two weeks worth of episodes, I thought I'd give more of an evaluative write-up at how the shows seem to be doing as they progress into their seasons.

'Dollhouse' Airs on FOX


Well, I've been here before.

Finding myself missing the way a show was done in its first season. Not sure I'm following where it is intending to go during its second season. Still liking it enough to hang in there and see what happens.

It's my Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles complex reincarnated through Dollhouse.

And that is to say that Dollhouse seems much slower this year, and a little melodramatic at times. While I do appreciate trying to explore the deeper echelons of Echo's memory recall and/or the fact that wiping one's entire neurological sense of self WILL have residual consequences, we seem to be getting long, drawn out sequences of backstory of either the assignment itself or her IN the assignment. And that has, at least for me, removed the sense of adventure, excitement and urgency that was present in the episodes last season.

I also didn't realize how much the absence of Special Agent's Paul Ballard's pursuit to bring down the dollhouse would create such a bland void and/or remove that sense of uncertainty and intrigue that got me so interested last year. Don't get me wrong: I love, love, love the fact that Tahmoh Penikett is getting a huge uptick in screen time this season. But not having a true nemesis - either on the inside (Alpha) or outside (Ballard) of the dollhouse - has slowed the show way down.

And I don't know if that is a good thing - especially given ratings are still seemingly anemic even WITH DVR viewings.

I had this issue with the second season of Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles. It decided to go ... well, let's just say philosophical and melodramatic. It stopped its fight to save the world, took a back seat on the action and had us wandering through episode after episode of tangent material that seemed completely unrelated to what the show's essence was supposed to be about.

I don't believe Dollhouse is quite at that point. But removing two very central conflicts - one being of the pursuit to bring it down, and the second being one of its own attempting to sabotage its very existence - has left me feeling a bit Vanilla when I watch it.

I hope that's temporary.

New episodes of Dollhouse air Fridays at 9 p.m. on FOX. For the scoop on the series, head on over to the show's official site.


For all the issues I seem to be having with Dollhouse, I'm having absolutely zero-zilch-none with good ol' Dex. That is a HUGE improvement over last year at this time when I thought the show had fallen and couldn't get up. This year, through its third episode, I'm loving just about everything the show has on offer:

- John Lithgow manages to do more in a handful of short and sweet scenes as The Trinity Killer than Jimmy Smits ever did as Miguel Prado in his ungodly number of BFF episodes.

- Jennifer Carpenter's Deb is so conflicted about having Special Agent Frank Lundy back in town pursuing The Trinity Killer that I just can't help but want it to work out given they seem so suited for each other - age issue aside. And to have this all happen JUST as she was finally getting her stuff together and/or in a solid relationship for the first time in her life is some excellent conflict characterization that is moving her story along beautifully.

- Dexter is back to being uncomfortable and unsettled in his new suburbanite existence that it's making me wonder what exactly WAS the third season about? I love, love, love Harry being back, front and center, as Dex's conscience and code handler. And as Dex seems to be so thoroughly impressed by the Trinity Killer's ability to NOT get caught, it puts him once again in the uncomfortable position of being Lundy's go-to guy.

- The Laguerta and Batista relationship is one I find myself actually routing for. I've never been a fan of Laguerta, but she seems to have mellowed in her old age. However, I have always loved Batista, so providing she doesn't hurt him royally, I'd kind of like to see this work out. Yet, I can't escape the feeling it won't.

New episodes of Dexter air Sunday at 9 p.m. on Showtime. Check out the official Dexter Web site for the inside scoop on the series. You can follow the show on Twitter:; or, become a fan on Facebook:

1 comment:

John said...


The show can't seem to find a theme and stay with it. Is the show going to be mainly the assignment of the week with a little bit about Echo's personality echoes or is it going to be about the Dollhouse and its moral and practical implications told against the story of the week.

They seem to be trying to recast the Dollhouse as not really evil with the November backstory and some of their other info. I don’t see how they can sell that.

The weekly assignments they show always crash and burn. I guess if everything went smoothly all the time there wouldn’t be a show. But that means they are rarely interesting since the only question is how do they get screwed up this week.

Echo’s memory glitches and the story of the Dollhouse system as a whole are better material, but they haven’t figured out how to handle it.

Friday is my busiest TV night (the CBS lineup, the USA 9:00 to 11:00 shows, same for SyFy 9:00 to 11:00 and Fox’s Dollhouse). Fortunately the USA and SyFy shows repeat later that night so I can DVR them then. If Dollhouse doesn’t step it up, I can lose it and make my life easier.