Dollhouse: Season 1, Episode 1

Ghost (13 Feb. 2009)

TV Episode  |  TV-14  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 914 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 7 critic

A wealthy backer asks the Dollhouse for help when his daughter is kidnapped. They send Echo to negotiate the release. One of the memory imprints used to prepare Echo for the mission causes some complications.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Gabriel Crestejo
David Doty ...
Sam Zimmerman
Tim Kelleher ...
Mr. Sunshine
Davina Crestejo (as Haley Alexis Pullos)


Echo is one of several "Actives" in the elite and illegal criminal organization known as the Dollhouse, which is run by the shady international entrepreneur Adelle DeWitt. Through different personality downloads, Echo plays the role of a lovestruck girl on a romantic weekend, and then a ruthlessly efficient kidnapping negotiator when a wealthy client hires Dollhouse to look for his missing daughter. With the help of her handler Boyd Langdon, and "programmed" by tech specialist Topher Brink, Echo goes out to rescue the girl, but her memory imprints cause some complications. Meanwhile, FBI Agent Paul Ballard is struggling with his assignment to uncover information on the Dollhouse. The chase has destroyed his marriage and is wrecking his career when both his superiors and colleagues refuses to believe in its existence. But it doesn't seem that he'll stop until he uncovers the truth. Written by matt-282

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

13 February 2009 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Gabriel first meets Echo, he reveals that he had expected a fatherly character as the hostage negotiator, someone like Edward James Olmos. Olmos plays Commander Adama in Battlestar Galactica (2004) which Tahmoh Penikett (Paul Ballard) also stars in. See more »


[first lines]
Adelle DeWitt: Nothing is what it appears to be.
Caroline: It seems pretty clear to me.
Adelle DeWitt: Because you're only seeing part of it. I'm talking about a clean slate.
Caroline: You ever try and clean an actual slate? You always see what was on it before.
Adelle DeWitt: Are you volunteering?
Caroline: I don't have a choice, do I? How did it get this far?
Adelle DeWitt: Caroline, actions have consequences.
See more »


References First Blood (1982) See more »


Just Dance
Performed by Lady Gaga
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User Reviews

starting off promising... not sure where it will go, and that's not entirely a compliment
14 February 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Joss Whedon is a very smart writer, so smart that he may have blown past some audiences with the pilot of his latest show Dollhouse. The premise is interesting and attention-grabbing, and the way the plot unfolds isn't the problem at all... I shouldn't even sound like I'm being on the defensive here, or offensive for that matter. No pilot episode really hits it out of the park and gives a clear indication of how great (or bad) the show will turn out (just look at The Seinfeld Chronicles for proof of that). But in the case of Dollhouse, it's hard to tell exactly where the chips will fall. It's exciting and strange, and also hard to tap into. It's like The Matrix with an extra touch of genre-itis and then Eliza Dushku thrown in for good measure.

Actually, Dushku gets probably one of her best parts, if not something that appears substantial, since her run on Whedon's Buffy as Faith. Here she plays Echo, a being who gets memory chips implanted- and then wiped clean- in order to go as one of the "Dolls" as part of the Dollhouse, a covert operation designed to infiltrate "clientele" or other and have the doll go into a situation (or rather a "client" as they are usually escorts) and extract some kind of information or something in the act - they have surveillance all the time, of course, and the memory chips go a ways to making things preprogrammed as far as a 'character' and its memory or health ailments; why not give one near-sightedness and asthma?

In the pilot episode we see Echo on a mission, as a little girl has been kidnapped and she's given the memory and persona of a negotiator "Ms. Penn" to get the girl back - but then, of course, not all will go to plan, especially as another agent is on her trail. All of this is shown with a good amount of technical skill, and with one or two exceptions (i.e. the actor playing the Mexican father of the girl is pretty bad) the acting is pretty solid. But in dealing with this material I'm still not sure where Whedon is going with getting us to connect with these characters, especially Echo. The potential is there for some great kick-ass plots, perhaps with both the self-contained and plot-continuous variety of Buffy or Firefly.

With Echo though her whole shtick is that she doesn't really have much of an actual identity, so any real attachment or growth will be temporary based on the episode. Dushku does her best, but it's also hard to tell from just one episode where the character will be taken. I'll stayed tuned in, and maybe it will deepen and become an intelligent twist on genre conventions and things inspired by, say, the Matrix. While it's not a hit-out-of-the-park like the pilot of Firefly, it's definitely no disaster either. It's slick Friday night escapism.

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worth watching? zeleiah
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Similar concepts in other movies / books? Dark Raven
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