Dollhouse will be about "identity, self-determination" and the fact that "free will is both a blessing and a pain in the ass, " says creator Joss Whedon, who helped revolutionize science fiction with his space western Firefly. Also important strands in the show: Joss' view that Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation "is a great TV character," and the hotness of star Eliza Dushku. Joss spilled tons of details on the Dollhouse pilot, plus the first script review just popped up online. Spoilers, as they say, ahead.
Joss told E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos that the Fox show's pilot is called "Echo," which also happens to be the name of Dushku's character. Says Joss:
Echo is a young woman who is literally everybody's fantasy. She is one of a group of men and women who can be imprinted with personality packages, including memories, skills, language—even muscle memory—for different assignments. The assignments can be romantic, adventurous, outlandish, uplifting, sexual and/or very illegal. When not imprinted with a personality package, Echo and the others are basically mind-wiped, living like children in a futuristic dorm/lab dubbed the Dollhouse, with no memory of their assignments—or of much else. The show revolves around the childlike Echo's burgeoning self-awareness, and her desire to know who she was before, a desire that begins to seep into her various imprinted personalities and puts her in danger both in the field and in the closely monitored confines of the Dollhouse.
Joss also describes Dollhouse as, "The Bourne Identity meets Stepford Wives meets boarding school meets Los Angeles neo-noir meets the Whedonverse." But Echo is much more self-aware than the character Dushku played on Whedon's Buffy, despite being mind-wiped a lot of the time. "In the first episode, we are shown that Echo is essentially like the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz — 'If I only had a brain...' — but she's otherwise fully equipped with a soul, a rockin' bod, and a good, fearless heart."
Joss also spilled more details about the supporting cast:
- Olivia Williams is Adelle Dewitt, a "Frigidaire administratrix" who runs the Dollhouse. She has rare moments of human empathy that make you wonder if she's not secretly a good guy.
- Tamikoh Penikett plays FBI agent Paul Ballard, who's obsessed with opening up the Dollhouse, but "he may have more in common with — and already be closer to—the Dolls than he even knows." And Paul may have a hot romance with Echo.
- The Doll mechanic, Topher (sort of like the nerd who controlled Michelle Ryan in Bionic Woman, but more evil) may end up having a relationship with another doll, Sierra (Dichen Lachman).
- And the show's "Xander" may be Victor (Enver Gjokaj).
- Then there's Dr. Claire Saunders, who has visible facial scars from a razor-blade attack, plus a cooperative, calm personality.
Meanwhile, Televisionary has a full review of the Dollhouse pilot script, which is full of "morally grey characters" engaged in the most sickening human trafficking imaginable. The Dollhouse has a power structure that's constantly in flux, and the place itself is "not a draconian prison nor an icy SD-6-type operations hub; instead it's more like a serene, Japanese-influenced, high-tech spa for the Actives." Topher, Claire and Adelle are engaged in a high-stakes game of "human chess," with the dolls as pieces.
We get to see Dushku's Echo take on no fewer than five identities in the pilot episode alone. And we see her starting to remember things from her assignments, things which were supposed to have been wiped from her memory. There's also a huge backstory, referred to as "Alpha," that gets set in motion in the pilot. [E! Online and Televisionary, via Whedonesque]
Eliza Dushku image by WENN.