Tag Archives: dollhouse

The Do’s And Don’ts Of A SHIELD TV Show

SHIELD logo via IndieWire.com

By Guest Contributor Kendra James

All right…as critical fans, our issues with Joss Whedon are well documented, so you can understand why ABC’s announcement that they’ve greenlit a primetime S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot written and directed by the man himself inspires more of a cautious excitement rather than all out jumping for joy.

We don’t know much, aside from it having been described as a “high-concept cop show,” that presumably takes place in the SHIELD of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (shown, so far, in Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and Whedon’s Avengers). Unfortunately, the following character descriptions released this week seem to harken back to tropes and characters he’s already written. And written again.

  • Skye: This late-20s woman sounds like a dream: fun, smart, caring and confident–with an ability to get the upper hand by using her wit and charm.
  • Agent Grant Ward: Quite the physical specimen and “cool under fire,” he sometimes botches interpersonal relations. He’s a quiet one with a bit of a temper, but he’s the kind of guy that grows on you.
  • Agent Althea Rice: Also known as “The Calvary,” this hardcore soldier has crazy skills when it comes to weapons and being a pilot. But her experiences have left her very quiet and a little damaged.
  • Agent Leo Fitz and Agent Jemma Simmons: These two came through training together and still choose to spend most of their time in each other’s company. Their sibling-like relationship is reinforced by their shared nerd tendencies–she deals with biology and chemistry, he’s a whiz at the technical side of weaponry.

Maybe I’m too familiar with Whedon’s work, but this reads as a potential recasting of Firefly. And while the roles are all listed as open ethnicity and nationality, I’m willing to bet the “fun, smart, caring, and confident” Skye is cast as white while the “damaged, hardcore soldier” goes to a woman of color.

If Michelle Rodriguez’s agent isn’t all over this, they’re not doing their job.
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Frustrations Of An Asian American Whedonite

By Guest Contributor Michael Le, cross-posted from Racebending

(l-r) Nathan Fillion, Joss Whedon and Summer Glau at San Diego Comic-Con. Courtesy: Entertainment Weekly.

Equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who’s confronted with it. We need equality. Kinda now.

Joss Whedon, Equality Now tribute address

Let me preface this piece with the following:

I’ve been a fan of Joss Whedon for many, many years. I’ve seen every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer more times than I’d care to admit. I have the complete Angel 30-disc DVD box set. I have two signed copies of Dollhouse S1 on Blu-ray (one to watch and one to keep). My girlfriend recorded her own versions of the music from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and I have my very own copy of Titan AE.

And, of course, I’m also a huge fan of a little show called Firefly.
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Revisiting ‘Dollhouse’

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García



I’m not ready to excuse Joss Whedon for the issues Thea Lim brought up in February, but I’m glad to see that POCs are the most compelling characters on Dollhouse this season.

Sure, Eliza Dushku still takes center stage as Echo – she’s the star and a producer, so whaddaya gonna do? — but the show’s improvement over the past few weeks is, for my money, directly related to it taking on more of an ensemble feel, rather than Echo’s Tough Girl Adventure Theatre. And in a welcome change from Whedon’s usual formula, it’s an older black man, Boyd Langton (Harry Lennix), who has emerged as the series’ conscience.

topherboydIn the early going, Boyd was the POV character for the audience – the rookie Watcher handler trying to make sense of what and why the Dollhouse does what it does, and overcoming the creepiness of being the go-to guy for a girl with the brains of a CD-RM. Further inverting Whedonite expectations, resident geek Topher (Fran Kranz), who looks like the kind of guy fans would be asked to “relate to,” is revealed as an utter skeeve-bucket, closer in character to Warren Mears than Xander Harris. (I’m hoping Topher’s Asian assistant, played by Liza Lapira, plays a bigger role later in the year — one tied in to a come-uppance for him.)

We don’t know why Boyd, a former cop, ended up working for the ‘House, but his sensibilities translate to action when he saves another Doll, Sierra, after she’s molested by her own handler, an act which gets him put on the bench when Echo is sent on double-secret operations like attacking hapless FBI agent Paul Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett) or “allowed” to escape for the sake of removing a glitch in her programming. It’s Langton who’s the cool guy in this collection of broken psyches, without being a stock Cool Guy.

sierraechoSpeaking of Sierra, Dichen Lachman has gotten the chance to shine in both her Doll persona and, in last week’s episode, as her alter-ego, Priya. When Sierra, as a safe-cracker, is dispatched to save a wonky Echo, Lachman demonstrates her action chops. And as the viewers are asked to consider the possibility that two Dolls (Sierra and Victor) can be attracted to each other both in and out of their mind-wiped state, Lachman and Enver Gjokaj’s performances, so far, have made it plausible, if not quite believable. And another POC, Mellie/November (Miracle Laurie), was at the center of the single best twist of the series so far; “There are three flowers in a vase” still makes me squirm when I think of it.

By the way, my take on the Dollhouse decor looks to be holding up: the Asian affectation is just a “pleasantly” blank slate to both match the Dolls and lull them further into submission, concealing stark hallways, a fleet of vehicles and a decidedly not-blank arsenal at the handlers’ disposal. To say nothing of the anonymous, Agent-like security forces backing up the handlers. Thankfully, there’s been a lack Geisha sightings since the pilot episode.

The series’ improvement might be too little, too late; though Fox has reportedly said it will air the rest of this season’s episodes, low ratings (2.2 last week, or 8th for its’ time slot) don’t bode well for a renewal. But, even if Whedon can’t see fit to create relevant Latino characters despite setting three series in frakking Los Angeles, it’s good to see at least a couple of positive POC on one of his programs.

Boyd/Topher image courtesy of Watching Dollhouse
Sierra/Echo image courtesy of IO9

joss whedon and the blurry line between homage and appropriation

by Special Correspondent Thea Lim

I don’t really like Joss Whedon.

Phew, there I said it. Sure I admire Whedon’s gender politics, but I find his dialogue and characters glib and unbelievable.

But my real problem with Whedon is much more superficial.

While most people were enjoying the full use of their patella, I spent last July lying in front of the TV after having the anterior cruciate ligament in my left knee repaired. To cheer me up my loving roommates bought me the boxset of Firefly. I loved the movie Serenity and I will always have a soft spot for Buffy (well, seasons 1 & 2) so I was pretty thrilled. But after the first episode opened with a coupla blonde actors speaking some sort of mangled hybrid of Mandarin and Cantonese, I wasn’t so sure.

After screening several episodes where – apart from being space cowboys and quasi-anarchists – the cast of the show wear kimonos, carry paper parasols, and talk about making pau, I started to get more and more annoyed. But was I just being a jerk? What was so wrong with the array of East Asian symbols and decor on the set of Firefly? Was I preventing myself from enjoying a perfectly good TV show by being some sort of yellow fever watchdog? Continue reading