Saturday, March 7, 2009

Blue Skies (Dollhouse 1.04)

Yes indeed, episode 4 of Dollhouse, "Grey Hour," was all "blue skies" for the show (despite a rather clunky attempt to create a new catchphrase for the Whedonverse that clicked as much as "five by five" or "shiny.")

As a whole, I really liked "Grey Hour," in that it gave us a good balance of drama with the engagement and more behind the scenes stuff at the Dollhouse. The "strangers with skills come together for a robbery" had a Reservoir Dogs feel to it (though sadly, without a debate over the deeper meaning in Madonna songs), and I appreciated the continued plot misdirections, such as:
  • Echo is on another whore mission. Oh wait, that was just a ruse to get access to the security office.
  • Ancient artifact guy makes off with the valuables and locks the rest of the team in.
  • Sierra gets imprinted with the exact same "Taffy" personality, and saves the day. Only, she doesn't, and that plan doesn't work.
  • Remote wipe? That's a new one.
  • Topher getting called on the carpet? Nope, just given greater security clearance and briefed on Alpha.
  • Adelle turns out to be middle management at the Dollmart.
The show still isn't "ZOMG! Must See!" yet, but it's entertaining and promising enough to watch to see where it may go.

Good Stuff:
Eliza was much better in this one, differentiating between the disparate roles. Yeah, Taffy was a tough talking "Faith" chick right in the wheelhouse, but ED didn't overplay this one, and she was noticeably different as the midwife in the opening scene, as well as in her "wiped Echo" state.

Dichen Lachman was also really good as Taffy 2.0, mimicking a lot of the gestures and attitude we saw from Eliza.

The reason for hiring a doll for this job was abundantly clear, so no complaints there. Also, there's probably going to be some carping about that opening scene -- why hire a doll as a midwife? I understand the choice thematically, as it tied into to the nature of "birth" and was a nice contrast with Topher's comment about wiped dolls emerging outside the Dollhouse as all “fluorescent lights and forceps.” Also, it was refreshing to see a mission that didn't involve gunplay and sex, if just for balance. So why use a doll there? Perhaps that was one of those "pro bono" missions Adelle mentioned previously. Maybe it was for a couple that really needed to stay off the grid. The message and acting were well done here, though a throwaway line about the reason for this engagement would have been nice to blunt one of the primary holes in the concept of the show. (Or maybe she was just delivering Damien, the antichrist, and didn't want all those monks busting in with skewers).

Speaking of themes, Echo's lingering over the fractured images of the Picasso was a nice touch: "This one's broken."

Cool to see Liza Lapira (NCIS, Dexter) show up.

We've been short on humor thus far in the show, so it felt good to chuckle: "You're privilege abusing!" "...could turn her into Carrie at the prom." Speaking about Bonnie and Clyde; "they're here too?" "You are a talking cucumber." "Is this the chowderhead?"

Seems like Alpha is a even more than just a slashing psychopath. He's got some major tech kung fu, too.

"Meh" Stuff:
Hitting that "comfortable shoes" line twice, when Taffy is wearing high heeled fuck me boots? Not that I've worn them, but those don't exactly seem like a nice pair of broken in sneakers.

There was a line from Adelle about not knowing all the details of an engagement. Really? Then who the hell does? And if not, how do they adequately plan it, price it, program it and flag it for "risk factors?"

Still not feeling the whole Paul and Victor thing, and this plot needs to get more integrated soon.

Boyd shooting the control panel and it magically opens? Lame and contrived. I don't think shooting a passcode keypad would cause the door to open.

Speaking of Boyd and his gun, I get that they're trying to make him a little "old school" with his hugeass revolver, but that just doesn't work for me. It's limited in its ammunition and really bulky, and with all the world and resources at his disposal, I think Boyd would choose something sleeker and more functional.

Also, wouldn't walking through that kitchen with a bloodied and confused girl AND a wounded dude over his shoulders attract just a wee bit of attention? Especially after sirens had sounded and the popo had been called?

Quibbles aside, "Grey Hour" was a solid building block. B+

1 comment:

  1. Boyd was hilarious with the rogue crook guy: "You drop it and I shoot you...then you don't get paid. Or breathe."

    "You SHOT me!" "Barely."