Dollhouse Riffs: Special Edition: Victor’s Chin and Sierra’s Cheekbones: Dollhouse and the Reinvention of Beauty on TV

Author’s Note: I wrote this for the Smart Pop Books essay contest featuring Joss Whedon’s beloved-but-canceled TV series Dollhouse.  Since they did not choose my essay, I am posting it here on my blog. Introduction “A mask is but a sum of lines; a face, on the contrary, is above all their thematic harmony.” – “Garbo’s Face,” Mythologies by Roland Barthes Dollhouse is revolutionary television in its depiction of beauty.  The beauty presented on the program encompasses the social, economic, and visual.  We get the exotic beauty of Sierra and Victor, Bennett Halverson’s nerdy beauty, the damaged Dr. Saunders, Alpha’s … Continue reading Dollhouse Riffs: Special Edition: Victor’s Chin and Sierra’s Cheekbones: Dollhouse and the Reinvention of Beauty on TV

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In re Dollhouse Riffs

“Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!” Things get complicated. Due to the unprecedented awesomeness of Dollhouse, I’ve decided to forgo writing any more Dollhouse Riffs until Season Two concludes.  As you know, dear readers, I avoid writing the usual episode summary.  “This was cool.  This wasn’t cool.”  My essays aim for a more critical and analytical perspective.  Fortunately and unfortunately, the December episodes of Dollhouse have really threw me for a loop.  The reappearance of Alpha, the labyrinthine mindscrew of the Attic (both the episode and as a biotechnological concept), and Adelle’s assembly of a Dollhouse: LA Scooby Gang leave … Continue reading In re Dollhouse Riffs

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Dollhouse Riffs: Riff #7: Dollhouse sent to the Attic

Good bye, Echo. Sent to the Attic Echo: Everyone’s unhappy today. Topher: Somebody put her tiny little thinking cap on! Spy in the House of Love The inevitable has occurred.  Dollhouse, the science fiction series masterminded by Joss Whedon, fought against dismal ratings and executive meddling only to finally get canceled after two seasons.  To use the jargon of Adele DeWitt, the series was “sent to the Attic.” While the Dollhouse cancellation is traumatic for fans, viewers must also take a step back from emotional reaction and explore the possibilities.  The TV landscape and the media landscape are radically different … Continue reading Dollhouse Riffs: Riff #7: Dollhouse sent to the Attic

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Dollhouse Riffs: Riff #6: The Sierra Club; or Human Labor-power, Commodity Fetishism, and Workplace Rape

Commodities and human labor-power Arrows and Aphorisms “Remember Jamie Leigh Jones, the Halliburton/KBR contractor who alleged she was gang raped by her co-workers in Iraq and then imprisoned in a shipping container after she reported the attack to the company? Well, it looks like she’s finally get to sue the company, in a real courthouse, over her ordeal. “Her legal saga started after Halliburton failed to take any action against her alleged attackers, and the Justice Department and military also failed to prosecute. Jones then tried to sue the company for failing to protect her. But thanks to an employment … Continue reading Dollhouse Riffs: Riff #6: The Sierra Club; or Human Labor-power, Commodity Fetishism, and Workplace Rape

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Dollhouse Riffs: Riff #5: Belle Chose et le Désordre des Choses (The Disorder of Things)

Belle Chose Dollhouse’s third episode into the season explores the issues of performance and gender.  Entitled Belle Chose (French for “Pretty Things”), the episode begins with a bizarre performance of sorts.  A weird male, in a nondescript room that appears transplanted from a mini-mall, is talking to a group of immobile women.  The women are posed like mannequins yet they look very realistic.  Only when one of the women try to escape the clutches of this demonic incarnation of George McFly, does the viewer snap out of the Uncanny Valley reverie. Terry Karrens (Joe Sikora), the George McFly look-alike, loses … Continue reading Dollhouse Riffs: Riff #5: Belle Chose et le Désordre des Choses (The Disorder of Things)

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Dollhouse Riffs: Riff #4: Season Openers

Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse opened with the episodes “Vows” and “Instinct,” bringing new faces like Jamie Bamber and Alexis Denisof.  The season also began with a critique of two idols within the conservative mindset: marriage and motherhood. In “Vows,” the Dollhouse organization imprints Echo with the personality of an undercover FBI agent.  In her assignment, she married a wealthy amoral arms dealer played by Jamie Bamber.  Bamber (Lee Adama on Battlestar Galactica) uses his authentic British accent.  His good looks and easy-going charm create a false front to his nefarious activities.  He is not above selling dirty bomb components to terrorists … Continue reading Dollhouse Riffs: Riff #4: Season Openers

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Dollhouse Riffs: Riff #3: “Epitaph One” and the mutability of the Dollhouse Canon

Los Angeles, 2019: Another ‘Verse.  Another Vision.  More Human Than Human. L to R: Scut Farkas, Little Miss Sunshine, Codex. Apocalypse Now That’s What I Call Entertainment The TV series Dollhouse faces a unique canonical situation with “Epitaph One.”  The episode was produced but unaired, while the series was renewed for another season.  With Season 2 unseen and speculation rife, with a series finale full of cliffhangers and unanswered, where does one place “Epitaph One”? The title name winks at the possibility of the series ending.  The episode’s narrative and setting allude to finality.  Set in the year 2019 in … Continue reading Dollhouse Riffs: Riff #3: “Epitaph One” and the mutability of the Dollhouse Canon

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