TCA Tour: “Dollhouse” set visit

Last year, I had a chance to visit the “Dollhouse” set, and it was absolutely breathtaking. This year, I went to visit it again, and the effect was the same. I just wish I liked the show as much as I like the Dollhouse itself. But, hey, maybe that’ll change when I finally get a chance to sit down and watch the Season 1 set in its entirety…particularly the bonus 13th episode, “Epitaph One,” which the show’s creator, Joss Whedon, describes as “an incredibly strange sort of bookend to the show.”

When we first arrived on the set, the actors were still shooting elsewhere on the Fox lot, so Whedon held court before the assembled throng of critics (some of whom may or may not have actually been bowing before him) and spoke to the second season of “Dollhouse” all by his lonesome, which he described as “the biggest surprise of my career.”

“What can I say?” asked Whedon. “I really didn’t expect to be sitting here again for a while. This has been like skiing in a cartoon where you go up the mountain and down the mountain and up and down. Right now, we are pretty high up on it because we realized that we were actually going to have to work for a living this summer.”

Okay, I’m sure the Whedon-ites will want to know every last word that Joss had to say, but for the sake of those who – like myself – still have good intentions of playing catch-up before Season 2 begins, I’ll do you the favor of waiting ’til post-jump to offer up his comments.

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Battlestar Galactica: What the frak happened in the series finale?

I thought about posting last night, but I’ve gotten into a rhythm this season with letting the episode marinate in my brain overnight and then posting on Saturday morning. I know a lot of people TiVo shows nowadays (myself included) and end up watching the episode later that night, the next day or the next week, so there isn’t a huge rush to get something up.

Was it a great finale? Absolutely. Was I blown away? Not entirely.

Let’s start at the beginning (which is always a good place to start) — more flashbacks of life on Caprica. Bill is thinking about retiring and entering the private sector, Roslin has a blind date with a former student, Lee gets to know Kara. Great, let’s move on.

Back in the future, Baltar’s vision tells him that he will “take mankind’s remnants and guide them to their end.” Last week, after watching him struggle with the decision in the hanger, I wondered whether or not Gaius would in fact volunteer to go along with the rescue mission. The truth is that it should have been obvious that he would. Creator Ronald D. Moore wasn’t about to take one of the main players out of the game in crunch time.

After an emotional scene between Roslin and Doc Coddle, Laura had a great line:

“Don’t spoil your image. Just light a cigarette and go and grumble.”

Then the planning began for the assault on the colony — that’s when the episode really got going. The final four move Sam to the CIC (more on this later) and Galactica prepares to jump.

Like just about every battle scene in the entire series, this one rocked. Galactica jumps in and immediately starts to get pummeled by the colony’s weapons. After the terrific rescue mission on New Caprica, the show had a lot to live up to, and once the birds were away and Bill ordered his crew to ram the colony, Moore and Co. had cleared the bar. It was very cool to see Lee leading a group of Centurions into the colony. Even when they’re on “our” side, they still scare the ever-loving crap out of me.

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Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak

The name of this episode was “Daybreak,” so it’s not surprising that the fleet turned a corner of sorts this week. Specifically, Bill finished mourning for the Galactica and made a major decision — that he would lead a rescue mission for Hera. This started when he saw that picture of Hera and Athena was left on the Galactica bulletin board, and I think he took it as a sign that he had to do something. We didn’t see Sam provide the location of the colony, but that’s the assumption.

I’m not clear on why we spent much of the episode back in Caprica City before the attack. The first scene was with Bill talking to someone about something that he did not want to do. After just meeting Gaius, Caprica Six met his elderly dad. She set him up in a nursing home, so maybe that’s how she earned Gaius’s trust, eventually leading to his betrayal of his fellow humans. We saw Kara and Lee’s first meeting, though she was his brother’s girlfriend at the time. And then there was Roslin — after losing her entire family in a car accident, she had a bit of a mental breakdown.

One of the last flashbacks was of a drunk Lee having an encounter with a pigeon.

What’s the point?

I have no idea.

Back in the present, Kara continues to work on the meaning of her song, even trying to turn it into some mathematical formula, but she’s not having much luck. Gaius pleads with Lee to give his “people” representation in the government and Lee asks him if he’s ever made a single selfless act in his life. Later on, when Bill asks for volunteers, it looks for a moment that Gaius is conflicted and may join them, but when we cut to the final shot of the hanger, I didn’t see where he was. My guess is that he’s ultimately going to stick with the fleet.

That’s about it. Not a whole hell of a lot happened this week, save for Bill’s decision to go after Hera. Based on the reconnaissance, it’s going to be tough to get close to the colony…

Next week should be interesting.

  

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Battlestar Galactica: Islanded in a Stream of Stars

What did we learn this week?

Well, a while back, when Cavil mentioned that the humans hadn’t found the “colony” yet, he wasn’t referring to Earth. The Cylons do have a colony and that’s where Boomer took Hera. It appears that the final two (or is it three, as TV.com indicates?) episodes are going to involve some sort of a rescue attempt. It’s all about Hera. (And Kara.)

Speaking of Kara, Baltar tested the DNA from the dog tags and apparently discovered that she did in fact crash and burn on Earth. After the funeral, Baltar used this information about Kara to advance his own agenda. He announced that Starbuck is walking proof that there is an afterlife. (Of course, if that was the case, why don’t we see more “dead” people walking around?) Anyway, we learned once again that Baltar is a giant ass. For whatever reason, Kara took him into her confidence and he betrayed her. But really, what did she expect he’d do? (On a side note, Baltar did in fact try to make a move on Caprica Six, but he was shot down. I wonder if that’s the end of that storyline or if it will continue through the end of the series. I’m betting on the latter considering how the two are always together in the opera house dream.)

What else did we learn? It took a lot of liquor and a weird Jackson Pollock moment with the white paint, but Bill is finally able to give up on Galactica. He’s cynical about the fleet’s destiny and whatnot, but what else is there to do? If the more spiritual folks say that they need to go after Hera, why not do it? Isn’t that better than aimlessly drifting around space until you run out of resources?

Hera can project! I don’t know what this really means, but she and Boomer bonded over it. By the time they got to the colony, Boomer had grown attached to Hera and those crocodile tears at the end proved that she had a tough time handing the girl over to Cavil. By the way, did you hear Cavil say to Hera that she would soon have a lot of little playmates? How does he plan do accomplish that? Cavil also confirmed that Boomer sneaking Ellen off to the fleet was indeed just a ploy to kidnap Hera. It will be interesting to see if Boomer steps in and saves Hera from whatever Cavil has planned for her.

With Galactica being stripped for parts, the military personnel are going to move over to the Cylon basestar. The humans are justifiably skeptical of this, but do they really have a choice?

  

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Season Pass Deleted: “Dollhouse”

I’m sorry. I can’t take it anymore.

I watched three full episodes of Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” and decided somewhere in the middle of the third episode that I couldn’t continue to watch the show. It didn’t help that the third episode had the dreaded troubled-pop-star-deals-with-stalker storyline, which has been done so many times before that it has become one of my biggest pet peeves. Bad stage production, bad singing, bad crowds…ugh.

The show has a solid premise — a business that rents out “dolls” which are programmed to suit the clients’ needs — and a pretty compelling macro storyline — a renegade doll on the loose and, separately, an FBI agent (Tahmoh Penikett) trying to find the dollhouse — but the week-to-week episodes just aren’t all that interesting. One week, the main character, Echo (Eliza Dushku) is an unconvincing kidnapping expert, the next she’s bait for a psychopath who likes to hunt humans. And last week she was a sassy backup singer who said things like, “You’re not okay…okay?”

Mind you, this is coming from a fan of Whedon’s work with “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Firefly.” I was really rooting for this show to work, but for whatever reason — suspect acting, sketchy writing, poor continuity — it just doesn’t.

  

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