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Dollhouse (Re)watch & Discuss: Season 1 Summary

Athena

Belinda
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Black Thorn
#1
So that's the end of our Dollhouse Season 1 journey, and I can totally see why the reviews on this show are so mixed!

One the one hand, we have the Alpha plot, which is interesting and introduces the threat of an antagonist who not only knows the Dollhouse, but has free thought and the ability to be multiple personalities. We find that Echo also inhibits this same ability for free thought and retain some knowledge of previous actions. This is probably the most interesting arc, but it isn't one the show tends to dwell on throughout the first season.

There are several episodes that just serve to set up what the Dollhouse is for and about - more standalone stories that on the most part don't seem to work with the rest of the narrative. These, for me, were the weakest part of the season, although they did do a good job of explaining actives and what they can do, given the opportunity.

I graded each episode individually, here were my grades:

Ghost: C+
The Target: B-
Stage Fright: D
Gray Hour: D-
True Believer: C+
Man on the Street: A
Echoes: B
Needs: A-
A Spy in the House of Love: A
Haunted: D
Briar Rose: A
Omega: A
Epitaph One: B

So, basically I really didn't like Gray Hour, Stage Fright or Haunted, but I thought Man on the Street, A Spy in the House of Love, Briar Rose and Omega were the standout brilliant episodes.

(I've not yet watched the Pilot episode, but I'll add my grade for that later);)

And now we move on to Season 2!
 

Carrie Hopewell

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Sineya
#2
I agree with @Athena, expect that, unlike most people, I don't like Epitaph 1 or the end-of-humanity-as-we-know-it plot (at the very least in S1).

I really enjoyed this season. Even when it wasn't great, the story was so promising that I kept watching. The first episodes were strong and exciting, so the uninspired run of episodes from Stage Fright to True Believer didn't turn me off the show. The season got good again with Man on the Street and picked up intensity (Haunted excluded) until Epitaph 1, which ruined the season a bit for me.

I never saw Echo has a truly wiped Doll (plus, Eliza was convincing enough) and she always had some personalty. I wasn't very anxious to get to Caroline, because with every episode Echo became more aware of herself. I think the pacing was right. The Alpha story line was pretty interesting (the most interesting one), but mostly when we didn't know who Alpha was. I liked that mystery. Omega (and Briar Rose) was a bit of a disappointment, because I had build up an image of Alpha that the show, or the actor, couldn't live up to. I liked the plot twist that the nerdy, awkward guy Paul practically kidnapped was actually Alpha, but I was underwhelmed by the Echo/Alpha scenes (his fascination with Alpha is just weird and cliché). Also, there wasn't a follow up to 'Omega' involving Alpha which I found unfortunate. The problem with 'Omega' is also the fact that Alpha's story with Saunders was the most fascinating one - we knew what he had done to Saunders face, just not why, and discovering that she was actually a Doll was great. Alpha/Adelle was excellent too. Alpha/Echo had the least interesting relationship, pretty much.

This is my first time watching the show so I don't have a lot of insight and I don't remember lots of details... Anyway, I'll attempt to rate the episodes:

Echo: B (Don't really remember this episode, but it was a strong pilot)
Ghost: C (Uninspired, but a decent follow-up to the pilot)
The Target: A (Really liked the fact that it changed the timeline of the show and developed Boyd and Echo's relationship)
Stage Fright: C- (Terrible music! Ugh to most of it! But Sierra is great and Victor is an active!)
Gray Hour: D (Boring with few redeemable moments)
True Believer: C- (I hate stories about religion fanatics, but 'man reactions'!)
Man on the Street: A (Solid episode)
Echoes: B (Loved the effects the drug had on the characters, Echo's story was uninteresting)
Needs: B (Found the episode useless and a bit predictable)
A Spy in the House of Love: A+ (Loved this episode. Great development for every character, especially Adelle)
Haunted: C+ (A bit boring, but one of Eliza's most convincing personas, plus Topher/Sierra fun!)
Briar Rose: C+ (This episode was a bit boring, especially the beginning)
Omega: A- (Alpha/Echo was a let-down)
Epitaph One: B- (Like I said, hate apocalypses, but the episode itself isn't bad)

I'm not very sure of most of these ratings. I don't remember the episodes clearly enough. Overall the season was better than the individual episodes.
 

Fuffy Baith

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Sineya
#3
Season 1 does struggle a bit but I think there's a lot of good in there. It's still one of my favorite shows. I still have problems with Paul though.

Echo: B+ (I really like this pilot)
Ghost: D+ (I really don't like this pilot)
The Target: B+ (I love the flashbacks)
Stage Fright: D (this is probably the worst ep of the show)
Gray Hour: B (I really enjoy this episode the only thing that drags it down is Paul)
True Believer: C (it's not the worst but not good)
Man on the Street: A (this is where the show gets good)
Echoes: B+ (there's a lot of good comedy in this one)
Needs: B- (it's not bad, my problem is that I just don't like Caroline but the other Dolls were great)
A Spy in the House of Love: A+ (this is my favorite episode besides Epitaph)
Haunted: B- (some good comedy bits and I like the murder mystery element)
Briar Rose: B (is just the little girl story I don't like)
Omega: A- (mostly I just love Alan Tudyk, but learning more about Whiskey is great)
Epitaph: A++ (This is the best episode for me)

I think that there's a lot of episodes in the first season that can be skipped. I think the essentials are The Target (I think you could start here), Man on the Street, A Spy in the House of Love, Briar Rose, Omega and Epitaph. You argue a few others like Gray Hour (introduces the remote wipe and more Alpha as a threat) or Echoes (to get Carolines back story).
 
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#5
For a first season I think it stands up very well with lots of promise for the second season. The main things I didn't like were much of the Paul Ballard stuff (though his character does improve as he learns more about Dollhouse, but the actor is terrible;)), and Topher does annoy me too often. I prefer the sly, unreadable Topher of the first episode. Too often after that he was just too zany and played the sterotypical nerd.

Ghost C-
The Target C
Stage Fright D
Gray Hour C
True Believer C+
Echoes C
Needs A
A Spy in the House of Love B
Haunted D-
Briar Rose B+
Omega A
Epitaph One B