Best Blu-ray Deals
Best Blu-ray Deals, See All the Deals »
Top deals |
Dollhouse: Season 2(TV) (2010)
The Dollhouse is a very secret, and very illegal, place where wishes come true.
For more about Dollhouse: Season 2 and the Dollhouse: Season 2 Blu-ray release, see Dollhouse: Season 2 Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on December 30, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix, Tahmoh Penikett, Enver Gjokaj, Olivia Williams, Fran Kranz
Director: Joss Whedon
» See full cast & crew
Dollhouse: Season 2 Blu-ray Review
Push through its shaky stretch. The final five episodes come alive and reward fans with closure...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, December 30, 2010
For all his ideas, witty characters and snarky dialogue, writer-director-creator-producer and humble fanboy-deity Joss Whedon can't seem to catch a break. Despite its emergence as a cult phenomenon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer failed to expand its fanbase beyond a faithful five-million, fizzling out in its seventh-season prime after series star Sarah Michelle Gellar decided to hang up her stakes. (Official Season 8 motion comic notwithstanding.) Firefly was mishandled and mistreated by Fox from day one, canceled long before it could find an audience and prove how wonderfully constructed and well-written it actually was. Angel was yanked off the air without warning when it was still going strong; a victim of the WB Network's tussle with competitor UPN. Whedon, in turn, glumly compared the sudden death of his third series to a "healthy guy falling dead from a heart attack." Then there's Serenity, a taut, sharp-shooting feature film continuation of Firefly that, impressive home video sales aside, has yet to convince Universal to greenlight a sequel. Sadly, the time has come to officially add Dollhouse to the list. After being granted an unexpected, albeit all-too-temporary second-season reprieve, Whedon was left with little choice but to cram six years of ideas into the few episodes he had left. So here lies Dollhouse: struck down ahead of its time, the victim of network mismanagement, dwindling Friday night viewers, creative constraints and a tragically hurried endgame.
The first season of Dollhouse survived on a diet of a high-concept storyline and an intriguing premise. The setup? When a rebellious young woman named Caroline (Buffy mainstay Eliza Dushku) reluctantly agrees to serve as a Doll (a subservient blank slate that can be imprinted with whatever identity, personality and attributes her superiors require), she becomes Echo, the Rossum Corporation's foremost "Active." And she isn't alone. Fighting, killing and fulfilling wealthy clients' fantasies along with a legion of Actives -- among them Victor (Enver Gjokaj), Whiskey (Amy Acker), Sierra (Dichen Lachman) and November (Miracle Laurie) -- she and her seemingly docile brethren provide a variety of services to the world's most powerful people courtesy of Dollhouse director of operations, Adelle DeWitt (Olivia Willaims). Of course, by the end of Season One, it was all too clear to us, the Rossum Corporation and ex-FBI agent Paul Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett) that Echo was something special: a Doll capable of retaining memories from imprint to imprint while juggling previous personalities in the same brain-pan. At least without going certifiably insane like the murderous Alpha (Alan Tudyk), a former Active gone rogue.
Alas, where Season One excelled with brisk pacing, compelling supporting characters, efficient mythos management and intriguing mysteries, Season Two lurches and stalls -- shudders and crumbles really -- for eight hit-or-miss episodes. Lured back by Fox after a last-minute renewal, Whedon had to scramble to put his second season together on nearly half the budget he had the year before and race to tie up the entire series after learning of its cancellation some three episodes into its sophomore run. The results amount to some of the fanboy favorite's most problematic work; a salty stew of underdeveloped subplots, misappropriated missions, glaring gaps in logic, rushed reveals and scattershot storylines. And, as any Whedon acolyte will probably tell you, almost everything about Season Two feels, for lack of a better term, "off" for most of the season. Dushku and her castmates hobble from scene to scene, capable but confused. Whedon and his writing staff desperately change key elements of the series, searching for anything that will garner a proper audience. Early episodes feature too many ancillary elements, poorly nurtured twists and turns, uneven characterizations, cut corners, scaled-down set pieces and indecisive plotting, none of which contributes to a very cohesive or commanding reinvention. It's strange, although not exactly a surprise considering Whedon and his cohorts were working with a gun pressed against the back of their heads.
But Season Two is also a television rarity: a thirteen-episode jaunt that provides unexpected closure to a series that was meant to unravel over a much longer period of time. Fox may not know how to promote, support and schedule its new shows, but if Dollhouse is any indication, the network may finally be grasping the value of giving a showrunner like Whedon the chance to tie up loose ends and subsequently give whatever fans remain a satisfying payoff. And, if nothing else, Season Two has a satisfying five-episode payoff. (Not to mention a two-pronged series finale that brings both Dollhouse and its post-apocalyptic Epitaph storyline to a doubly ambitious conclusion.) Yes, Whedon's reduced budget is a more obvious hindrance as Dollhouse nears its endgame, the secret identity of Rossum's co-owner struck me as little more than left-field, mega-twist lunacy (that frankly doesn't make a lick of sense, especially if you dig back through the first season) and the writing is more crowded-comicbook-word-bubble than savvy-n-sophisticated-social-commentary. True, true and true. Like Serenity though, it offers a stark, startling, action-packed, idea-fueled sneak peek into what could've been: a remarkably complex mind-bender that, given the chance to unfold as Whedon had originally envisioned, might have left a crater in the television landscape. Death comes often and leaves its mark, tension mounts wonderfully before exploding, the series' tone remains in gripping flux, characters quip some of Whedon's best one-liners to date and nothing, nothing proves to be certain.
Evil network, hacked budget, inane timeslot, impossible working conditions, short-sighted viewing audience... perhaps I'm making too many excuses for my old pal Joss. After all, he condensed his sprawling vision for Firefly's would-be series run into a bristling two hours with Serenity, and it stands as one of the best sci-fi flicks of the decade. But regardless of whether it solidifies your position as a Whedon apologist or plants seeds of crippling doubt when it comes to Uncle Joss's upcoming Avengers film, it's difficult to deny that Dollhouse's second season is wildly patchy and, taken as a whole, a disappointment. Point to Fox, point to millions of faceless Americans who had better things to do on a Friday night, point to anyone you like. Just don't forget to point to Whedon every once in a while. He candidly touches on Season Two's failings during his "Vows" commentary and the disc's subsequent featurettes, but doesn't make many excuses. If anything, he makes it clear Dollhouse was always his ball to drop.
Dollhouse: Season 2 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Season Two may not be as consistent as Season One, but Fox's 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation is. Besting both its DVD counterpart and its first-season Blu-ray release, Dollhouse's second (and presumably final) foray into high definition is a strong one. While noise reduction is still apparent throughout (Williams seems to take the brunt of it), it isn't quite as prevalent or distracting; while detail is still a slave to Whedon's ever-evolving aesthetics, fine textures are more acutely resolved, definition is a bit crisper and cleaner, and delineation is a touch more satisfying; and edge enhancement, though still present to some degree, isn't nearly as intrusive as before. Whedon's bountiful palette is awash with rich, savory shades as well. Primaries are gutsy and visually arresting, skintones are fairly lifelike, black levels are nice and deep, and contrast is spot on. Even the series' futurescape is teeming with color, forgoing a wintry post-apocalyptic mood in favor of a more summery disposition. On the technical front, Fox's encode is just as impressive. Artifacting, aliasing, banding and the like are kept to an absolute minimum, and crush is only a factor insofar as the series' at-times shadow-strewn photography is concerned. All in all, Dollhouse looks much better than it plays and should satiate any lingering appetite fans have for the show.
Dollhouse: Season 2 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
While Fox's video transfer represents a step forward, its Season Two DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track represents a small but annoying step back. As was the case with Season One's lossless mix, dialogue is as uneven as the episodes. The series offers crystal clear voices one minute, muddled mumbles the next, and hollow chirps and tinny declarations soon thereafter. It isn't a debilitating issue -- at least not one that sweeps lines away by the dozens -- but it is a notable disappointment, especially considering how conversation-driven Dollhouse can be. Worse, the rear speakers aren't particularly active or enveloping this time around, erupting with convincing directional effects at times, but growing strangely quiet the moment Echo's lowers her fists and Paul lowers his gun. Ambience is largely stagey and indistinct, acoustics range from decent to non-existent, and the majority of the soundfield is relegated to the front channels. Thankfully, commanding LFE output lends power and heft to an otherwise two-dimensional experience, granting action scenes welcome punch and other intense sequences a sense of sonic weight. Not that all is lost elsewhere. Dialogue is still serviceable, Whedon's original sound design is polished, the nuances of Mychael Danna and Rob Simonsen's music translates beautifully, dynamics are bold, and pans are smooth. It isn't all for naught; just underwhelming on the whole.
Dollhouse: Season 2 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Like its predecessor, Season Two serves up a short but sweet supplemental package fans will enjoy. Still, three audio commentaries, two all-too-short featurettes and a handful of deleted scenes just doesn't cut it nowadays. It would have been nice to hear from Whedon on more episodes and see the entire "Looking Back" conversation he and his cast shared over dinner. Ah well. At least all of the content is presented in high definition.
Dollhouse: Season 2 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Another one bites the dust, and not in a particularly graceful fashion. Dollhouse's second season gets off to a rickety eight-episode start, and only pulls it together in the last five-ep stretch as Whedon condenses six years of material into four hours. It's worth watching... so long as you have the patience and devotion to reach his endgame. Fox's 3-disc Blu-ray release isn't a surefire stunner either. While its video presentation warrants praise, its DTS-HD Master Audio track comes up short in key fundamentals and its supplemental package, though well worth digging through, is light on content for a 13-episode television season. Ultimately, it's almost as bittersweet as Dollhouse's demise.
Dollhouse: Other Seasons
Use the thumbs up and thumbs down icons to agree or disagree that the title is similar to Dollhouse. You can also suggest completely new similar titles to Dollhouse in the search box below.
Similar titles suggested by members
Dollhouse: Season 2 Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Dollhouse Season 2 Blu-ray Dated (Update) - July 15, 2010
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has set a street date of October 12 for the Blu-ray release of Dollhouse: Season 2, the second and final installment of Joss Whedon's sci-fi TV series, starring Eliza Dushku. Those who preorder this three-disc set at Comic-Con ...
Dollhouse: Season 2 Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
» Show more forum discussions for Dollhouse: Season 2 Blu-ray
Dollhouse: Season 2 Blu-ray Screenshots
Back to Dollhouse: Season 2 Blu-ray »
Trending Blu-ray Movies
Trending in Theaters
This web site is not affiliated with the Blu-ray Disc Association.
All trademarks are the property of the respective trademark owners.
© 2002-2014 Blu-ray.com. All rights reserved.