Being huge Joss Whedon fans, we like Dollhouse and we’re happy to report that, since it premiered four weeks ago, the show’s gotten better with each episode. Even so, it still has one major problem (besides the fact that nobody’s watching it) — it doesn’t really make any sense. If you’ve never seen it (and, statistically, chances are you haven’t), the premise is this: The titular “Dollhouse” is a secret, high-tech Los Angeles–based corporation that rents out Echo (Eliza Dushku) and her fellow “Actives” — people whose personalities have been erased so they can be implanted with new ones and execute dangerous missions — to wealthy clients. But why on earth would anyone hire Eliza Dushku with the transplanted brain of a bodyguard or hostage negotiator when they could simply hire a regular bodyguard or hostage negotiator? Thankfully, Friday’s episode addressed this problem, sort of.
The worst part isn’t that Dollhouse forces us to suspend our disbelief — it’s that, for the first three episodes, the show’s writers made the poor actors playing clients explain their hilariously implausible motivations out loud. For example, last week, character actor Jim Piddock — who played the manager of a pop star with a stalker — actually spoke these lines:
“Someone’s trying to kill her… Rayana’s had stalkers [before], but this guy … Rayana needs to be protected, and not by bodyguards. Oh, she hates those guys. Yes, feels like a prisoner … blah blah blah. Anyway, this [stalker] can dodge them. No, what she needs is someone by her side that she likes, that she trusts, that will protect her without even knowing she’s supposed to … As it happens, we do have an opening [for a backup singer].”
And the week before that, actor Matt Keeslar, who will probably never work again, had to explain why he was hiring Echo to be his short-term girlfriend:
“I’ve been with a lot of women … It’s not bragging — just what you would call truth. And not one of them turned out to be who they said they were. Your services may be expensive, but at least this time I’d be the one telling the girl what to lie about.”
But on Friday night’s episode — thanks to an incredible technological innovation that the characters didn’t even bother trying to explain — a client was allowed to hire Echo without actually disclosing what for to any of Dollhouse’s human employees, and the corporation’s off-screen computers were somehow able to sort out the details. “No one knows the details of your engagements but you,” promised a Dollhouse official to a guy who we later learned needed a safe-cracker who looked like Eliza Dushku, for some reason we’re sure would’ve sounded crazy out loud. But they spared us, so problem solved!