On Dollhouse

Like a Boss

By Johnathan Mason

Of the various reasons to sing Dollhouse’s praises, my personal
evangelism of the show (to anyone who would sit still long
enough to watch) boiled down to pointing at Olivia Williams
whenever she was onscreen and noting to my captive audience:

“There. That’s who you should be watching this for.”

That Adelle DeWitt was the first voice heard in Dollhouse is
no coincidence. Not to slight any of the talented cast, but her
performance was a subtle symphony–a pop of her calculating
expression, a turn of phrase–that shaded every scene she took
part in. Indeed, “Echo,” the unaired pilot episode, and “Ghost,”
the series premiere, which are otherwise two very different
episodes, both had her introducing the premise of the show in
their openings.

Both began with a businesswoman and her client sitting
in a warmly lit wood-paneled room. The woman poured her
guest a drink while speaking calmly of the complications that brought them to her. Amid listing the entanglements of her listeners’
lives, she offered a choice, a chance to simplify, with an
oft-repeated phrase: “This isn’t about what you want. It’s about
what you need.”

At first blush, Adelle is the villain of the piece, because she
is someone we all know and loathe: a supervisor. As head of the
Rossum Corporation’s L.A. division, it was certainly her duty
to keep employees, Actives, and clients dancing to  …

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