If you haven't been watching Dollhouse, no less an authority than series creator Joss Whedon says it's time to tune in. Earlier this week, Whedon hopped on the phone with a bunch of reporters to talk about why there's so much hype around tonight's sixth episode,"Man on the Street," which he says is the struggling series' best yet.
I wasn't sure about the show at the start, but it's been sucking me in — to the point that I might have told my real-life friends I was busy so I could hang with my fictional Fox friends instead. Uh . . . just kidding. That would be weird. Ahem.
Anyway. My point is, I'm into the show, but at this point there's still a lot to be explained in terms of the ground rules of this universe — possibly a result of Whedon's disputes with Fox over how to tell these stories. Whedon promises tonight's episode will answer a lot of questions for fans but says it's also a point where someone who has never seen the show before could jump in without a problem. Here are some of the big points from his chat:
- On whether hyping this episode could have a negative effect: "You know, there may have been a negative side to it, because we may have said, 'The first five episodes are crap,' which I don’t believe. . . . There's also the negativity of somebody saying, 'Well, now he’s blaming the network for the other episodes.' Like, no, no, no, no. We did our best to try and figure out how to put the show over with a new paradigm under the gun while we were in production or occasionally out of production. And then what happened with 'Man on the Street' was really, it just came to me as a concept really quickly. I pitched it to the network and for the first time, there was a real simpatico. They went, 'Oh, yes, we get that,' and it was a very simple thing."
There's lots more from Whedon (including his thoughts on the show's "ick" factor) after the jump. Just
- On what about tonight's episode works so well: "I think it was doing an episode that somebody who had never seen the show could walk in on, because it explains very clearly the premise. In fact, it's kind of about explaining the premise and at the same time really getting under the skin of the dollhouse and of Paul's character and of what’s going on with everybody and the workings of the place and coming at it sideways rather than just showing an engagement and flipping in some information around that engagement. This was one where we really got to look at the cogs of the clock, and that’s what gave it such momentum for us."
- On jibing with the network on how to tell this story: "We lay it out as simply as we did in the first five, but because we get to get inside the dollhouse more and have the events there take on much more resonance, it has got what I had hoped to bring to the other episodes that I didn't really have the opportunity [to do] as much. So I felt like it was really finding the code to a show that I can do my best work in that the network still really can get behind. So it was a meeting of the minds."
- On the possibility that dollhouse staffers could actually be dolls themselves: "How many layers of unreality can you have in somebody's identity? . . . We have to pull ourselves back and say, 'If we make this a lie within a lie within a lie within a lie, people are just going to start slapping us.' We're like, 'Now we're not invested in anybody.' So we've talked about [it], but we've been very restrained with the concept, because you have to have some touchstone of reality, even in this world."
- On the "ick factor" of the show's premise, where there are hints that some of the dolls may be essentially slaves instead of volunteers: "It makes me uncomfortable. I'm not going to lie. But for me, it's part of what we're dealing with. We're dealing with people who have power and are abusing it and people who don't and are trying to regain it. . . . It's not something we feel that we can shy away from without being a little hypocritical."