Dollhouse. And Pacing.

This comes out of discussing this week’s Dollhouse with DoubleBitch. I’m really digging it so far, the second episode ramped up the awesome to a suitable degree and started bringing in some big picture plotness. DB thinks the show needed to start off stronger, but I honestly don’t think it should have.

Yes, some shows manage to be ramped up to 11 right out of the gate (Leverage, Eli Stone, and Lost for example), but this usuallydollhouse-01 isn’t the best tactic. Lost certainly ran into problems keeping up the same level of rockitude that it brought with the pilot, though they did manage to keep it up for the entire first season. The same thing happened with Eli Stone, the first few episodes of the second season were a pretty big step down from the first. Leverage has been amazing for twelve episodes now, but we’ll see how it holds up come season two.

Back to Dollhouse, then. The first episode was good (though it certainly had flaws) and the second episode started bringing together the hints and promise of a great show that were lodged in the first ep (I keep wanting to call it the pilot, but it isn’t even remotely here). This is actually what I want in a (hopefully) long-running series. The beginning should be more focused in getting your attention, building up the basic mythology and introducing all the characters and interpersonal relationships. After all these basic blocks are out on the table for the viewers, that’s when a show can take off.

My reasoning here is that this let’s a show grow and evolve without being too wrapped up in keeping up the quality of that super awesome premiere. Those ‘awesome out of the gate’ shows have a habit of eventually running out of steam for a while. I think this happens because keeping a full season up to the standards of an awesome pilot is done by the skin of your teeth, and when you finally get to the season finale and get a break you realize that you really don’t have things plotted out correctly and you don’t reaaaally know just where it is you’re headed, hence the crash.dollhouse-02

If you worry less about making the show kick off as the MOST AWESOME ANYTHING EVARRRR and more about setting everything up, then you can build to the awesome sure of where you’re going. This lets a show build, not just episode to episode, but season to season. I find that my favourite shows are always ones that build for at least three seasons or so, with each one better than the previous. Examples of this type of show include Buffy, SPN, and Battlestar (with the exception of a couple episodes in the middle of the second season, but it’s well documented that that was growing pains from having seven more episodes than they did for the first season).

dollhouse-03Now I’m not really saying that the awesome out of the gate shows are bad, Lost is one of my favourites and Eli Stone was getting really good again before… you know. It’s just a different style, and honestly I prefer the slow build. I really like watching a new show and thinking ‘wow this is good, but I can’t wait to see what this will be like in season three!’ and that’s exactly what I’m doing with Dollhouse.

Also, whoo Steven S. DeKnight! Been a while since I’ve seen a new ep of something by him. Bonus points for not shooting my favourite character through the chest to death this time.

-Jerk

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~ by Jerk on February 22, 2009.

2 Responses to “Dollhouse. And Pacing.”

  1. Ideally I too would prefer slow build up but in reality that rarely works. I’ve seen too many great slow build up shows cancelled before they even had a chance to reveal all the questions waiting for answers. The power of money.

    I’m still wary about this show mostly because I know Joss Whedon and his work, in good and in bad. The show has promise but I fear that in Whedon’s hands all the capricious plot twists will become repetitive. That is if the show lives on.

  2. alright, so build your working ground, introduce your characters but make it appealing. Maybe it’s my distaste for the ‘dush but this week saw her being weak and lana-esque for at least 40 mins before she showed any hint of being awesome or strong and not a Mary Sue.

    We got WAY too much time with the green arrow. Time that could have been spent on mythos or letting me look at Tahmoh.

    I’m willing to give this time. I really am. I know it’s going to grow and get better but it’s missing major things that I expected. It’s not leaving me asking questions. Who is Alpha? Why do I care? Amy Acker’s face is the only reason I care. Her poor face. Short of a few lines by Tucker it’s still missing it’s Whedon wit.

    I’ll wait this out but the question is, will FOX?

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