Fridays at 9 p.m. on Fox. Seven episodes into the first season.
The premise of Dollhouse gets creepier and creepier, verging on distasteful, the longer you thing about it. A shadowy company manages a collection of “Dolls”: people whose memories and personalities have been erased, to be replaced with the personas and skill sets demanded by the company’s clients. Want a temporary bodyguard who looks like Eliza Dushku? A master thief who looks like Eliza Dushku? A date guaranteed to put out (i.e., a glorified whore) who looks like Eliza Dushku? Done and done and done. And deeply creepy.
Fortunately, creator Joss Whedon is reflective enough to keep his latest garrulous, genre-bending show from becoming the vacuously salacious T&A extravaganza that the Fox advertising geniuses clearly wish they were selling. If you’re going to play around with themes of selfhood and human trafficking and, frankly, rape, you can’t be superficial about it. You have to take the characters and their predicament seriously, and to his credit, Whedon does, even amid the banter and stunts and all that. Dollhouse still has weird flaws and shortcomings, but seven episodes in, it’s beginning to find its way and develop an intriguing, thought-provoking mythology. I’m interested to see where it goes.