Dollhouse: That Was Better

by on Oct.24, 2009, under television

Well, we were promised an improvement this week and we got it. There are several obvious reasons for that improvement: the complete absence of Tahmoh Penikett, who’s been seemingly at a loss this season about what to do with his character; the near-absence of Eliza Dushku; the uninterrupted focus on one story rather than the usual TV convention of breaking the week into A and B stories; the fact that that story built on a larger continuing arc rather than trying to be wholly self-contained.

Most of all, though, it succeeded because it gave the characters conflicts (in which they must resolve two competing, incompatible desires) rather than merely challenges (in which the achievement of an uncomplicated desire is blocked by some external obstacle). There’s a pretty low ceiling on how interesting one can make a mere obstacle. (Okay, there’s Iago. Still.) It was a real risk to center that conflict on Fran Kranz, who I wouldn’t have thought capable of shouldering an episode based on his overly ticcy work last season, but he absolutely pulled it off.

As a side note, if Dichen Lachman and Enver Gjokaj don’t get leading roles in something good based on their work on this show, there’s something seriously wrong with the world’s casting agents.

I read that we’ll see the next six episodes over three weeks in December, and the last three who knows when. Maybe next summer.

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