Saturday, April 17, 2010
I've always have a penchant for shows on the brink of cancellation; it's almost natural for me to be drawn to Dollhouse. I got hand-me-down DVDs from my father because he thought the series was too violent (really, my father who watches Dexter thinks this is violent), and my best friend is afraid to watch it with me for fear of nightmares. And I thought I was a sissy.
Just like the Arrested Development that got cancelled too soon*, Joan of Arcadia that they didn't even bother finishing, which also goes for Veronica Mars (oh Veronica Mars), Dollhouse got booted out even before it got really good. But not too soon for me to not feel bad about it going off air.
It's a solid Whedon-esque alternate universe that only Josh Whedon himself can conjure. Human blank slates or dolls that get imprinted with personalities based on their clients' preferences or wildest desires. These dolls, being literal tabula rasas, take on the identity of their imprints and become trained assassins, girlfriends, sous chefs, and whatever person that exists and can exist in this world.
But beyond fantasies and desires, if you look at it close enough, Dollhouse is a mind-boggling, constant debate on ethics, human existence, and the extent of human greed (or quest for knowledge, what have you).
How far will humans go to pursue a technology that is inherently good but on the wrong hands can be potentially evil? What right have we to take away a someone else's core, even if it is with consent, and strip someone of his own memories, defense mechanisms, and basic right to choose?
What I like most about the show, aside from its basic mind bogglery, is that it constantly traipse between the line between Good and Evil. On one hand, you have a technology that has the potential to do good. As an example, in Briar Rose, Echo (Eliza Dushku) was imprinted with the grown up brain map of an abused kid to help the kid cope with the trauma by showing that she, through Echo, will get through it. In Instinct, Echo was imprinted with a mother's brain map in order to lactate and take care of an orphaned baby.
Then again, this technology, this imprinting, can be a weapon so deadly you can program armies proficient in the deadliest combat techniques to start with. So what do you do? Do you continue developing a technology to push the boundaries or do you stop when it's becoming too uncomfortable and dangerous?
In a way, I am glad that this ended too soon because by the looks of it, two or three more seasons and we'll find ourselves with rehashes of cliches and personalities. It's a task to stretch the show's premise into years. I guess in a way, having an impending cancellation atop Whedon's head made him speed up pace of the story and tie up loose ends as cleanly and unquestionable as possible.
With its two seasons, Dollhouse already delivered what it is suppose to deliver: a smart, well thought of action-suspense, sci-fi drama. The only regret I have for this show is that I won't get to see more of it.
*I still hate you for this, America.