The interviewees [in “Man on the Street”] fall into three distinct categories. There are those which see the dollhouse as a positive, wish granting entity. There are those which see the dollhouse as a negative, human trafficking agent. Finally there are those which are no so much concerned with what it is, but rather its greater implications for the world at large . . . The show doesn’t paint a picture of good and bad, instead Dollhouse challenges the viewer to analyze various viewpoints and come up with their own logical conclusion, as we root for the characters in the show to do the same.
A recent article in Entertainment Weekly revealed that Whedon wanted to use Barbie to help rescue Woody and Buzz Lightyear in the first movie’s final act . . . Producer Matt Guggenheim said in the article Mattel objected to using Barbie because they thought girls project their own ideas of what Barbie should be. Giving Barbie her own voice, Mattel allegedly thought, wouldn’t become a girl’s ideal. . . Mattel’s alleged objection. . . stuck with me because it could be the same attitude Rossum has towards its Actives in all its Dollhouses.
The first time I watched Dollhouse, I thought it seemed eerily familiar. The spacious rooms, the nice-looking people having lunch, everyone trying to be their best. Then I realized: the Dollhouse was my office. For over ten years, I worked for one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. At our peak, we had three buildings within four square blocks, each with its own cafeteria. We had our own branch of a major bank, a mailroom, and a doctor on the premises. We even had yoga. All of our needs were met. We never had to leave.
With the exception of the luxury spa-style set and Adelle’s green ceramic tea pot, the differences between “Ghost” and its predecessor, “Echo” are vast. From the opening scene to the final fade out, each episode has its own storyline, pacing and style. Each version has its own set of merits as well as its criticisms, and to watch them back to back is a fascinating exercise to compare what was added, what was changed, and to consider what could have been.
In the case of Dollhouse especially, the imaginary technology that forms the premise of the show has a special significance. It is both metaphor and something more. While the writers are able to use it as a lens through which to explore the human heart, they are also more literally raising serious ethical questions begged by the future of possible scientific interventions in the brain.
“Who do you want me to be?” That was the tag for Mutant Enemy’s new show Dollhouse in 2009. Mutant Enemy and . . . Joss Whedon are known for writing shows featuring stereotype-smashing female characters. Yet, with Dollhouse they had their sexiest and most controversial actress asking the audience this leading question. The ad campaign even featured Dushku superimposed naked against a backdrop of fast-moving Los Angeles . . . So, what was going on here? Were Mutant Enemy and Dushku selling out? It might have looked that way–they were presenting a sexy young woman and implying that she would be anything you wanted her to be. So, who did the mainstream audience want Eliza Dushku to be?
The name Topher, surely, is a diminutive form of Christopher, utilizing the second part of the given forename. Not nearly as common as “Chris,” it deliberately echoes another Joss Whedon character who also uses the less-common, second half nickname, Alexander ‘Xander’ Harris . . . But far more interesting than [Topher’s] first name is the surname of the character. What, then, is Topher on the Brink of? A scientific revolution? A mental breakdown? Or, before he encounters either one, is he, in fact, on the brink of becoming what his second-named counterpart Xander eventually became–a man?
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