Taking “Dollhouse” Through Genres

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Joss Whedon’s plans for “Dollhouse” go beyond just making a tv show about an extraordinary girl.

Joss Whedon is now considered one of televisions greatest minds. As the chief architect and creator of the then-WB network’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” he instantly achieved critical recognition for his work and the series became one of the most surprising successes of 1997.

Since then, he has continued to develop the Buffyverse mythology through the spin-off series “Angel” and also the proposed “Ripper” show, raking up additional credits for his space-western “Firefly.” Since then however, Whedon’s television credits have been scarce but he is now finally ready to return to the small screen with his chilling super-spy series “Dollhouse,” starring Eliza Dushku.

“I knew right away it felt like a fit,” Whedon told SFX magazine. “And Eliza’s first reaction was ‘Oh my God’. She was the person I put it into words for the first time in front of so I’d have to say it was mutual.”

In the series, Dushku will play a Government puppet (otherwise known as a Doll) called Echo who is programmed with all the skills and talents required for her next mission Matrix-style. When the mission is complete, her memory is wiped and she prepares to embark on her next adventure. But wiping someone’s memory is a tricky thing, and over the course of the series Echo will slowly begin to develop some awareness.

The very nature of the series means that as Dushku’s memory is wiped, Echo will be starting with a clean slate the following week and depending on the skills required she could also be a completely different person altogether. Now while this may murky the waters a little bit on good and evil, Whedon insists that the approach will allow him to tell different stories from genres and also include many tones to the series.

“I’d like the freedom to explore different moods, rhythms, genres – and I know Eliza can hold her own in all of them,” he said. “At the same time, it makes it hard – how do we make a like, fun episode as compelling as a life-or-death one?”

The series has been put together as part of a television deal that was put in place between Dushku and Twentieth Century Fox in the second quarter of 2007. And although Echo will definitely be the focal point of the series, “Dollhouse” will actually be more of an ensemble piece.

“She’s the lead, but the ensemble and the mythos of the world has to be bigger than her,” Whedon added. “Partly because I like ensembles, and partly so Eliza doesn’t have to be in every damn scene. I’m an artiste, but I’m also a practical showrunner. Avoiding burnout is very useful in structuring a show.”

Depending on the outcome of the writers strike that is bringing Hollywood to a standstill, “Dollhouse” will head in production in 2008.


Liz is a wife and mother of three from the Nashville area who likes being able to discuss her favorite TV shows with adults sometimes. She is addicted to the Sookie Stackhouse novels and was a huge fan of the HBO series based on the books, True Blood. Her other favorite shows include Chuck, Grimm, Pretty Little Liars, Blindspot, Heroes Reborn, The Goldbergs, Sleepy Hollow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, just to name a few. Contact her at bethanne@nicegirlstv.com.

1 Comment

  1. Effulgent

    January 12, 2008 at 1:59 am

    The more I read about Dollhouse the more excited I get about the show – and about Whedon’s new ‘verse.