Time Magazine's James Poniewozik has seen the first episode of Joss Whedon's troubled Dollhouse and - appropriately for a show about characters with multiple personalities - he can't quite make up his mind about how good it is.
Poniewozik's review is cautiously optimistic about the show's potential -
It was both better and worse than I expected, in different ways... Yes, this is certainly Joss Whedon trying to do What People Think Works on Broadcast TV Today—the legendary serial-procedural hybrid. But the first episode—in which Echo is imprinted with a kidnapping-negotiator's personality to secure the return of a rich man's abducted daughter—is well enough written to be absorbing. Writing a crime hour doesn't seem like Whedon's thing, but the episode is tight, suspenseful, with intriguing psychological twists and flashes of Whedonesque humor.
- but also entirely aware of the possible drawbacks of the series:
Dollhouse as conceived (a heroine plays a different "person" every week) is less a series concept than an actress' showcase, a sort of extreme version of an Alias undercover premise. (In fact, the reports of how the show was conceived have said that Dushku essentially broached the idea as a showcase.) And the actress being showcased is Eliza Dushku. Now, I have nothing against Dushku. I thought she was fine on Buffy. But she's not exactly Toni Collette (who's playing a multiple-personality case on Showtime's The United States of Tara, which I have not seen). Watching her inhabit her imprinted "personality"—a tough negotiator with secret vulnerabilities—I did not see her becoming another person. I thought: Oh, look! There's Eliza Dushku with glasses and her hair in a bun!
As someone who suffered through as much Tru Calling as I could handle (That'd be about ten minutes, if you're curious), I have to concede Poniewozik's point. After all the back-and-forth about shooting delays because of scripts not being good enough, will its star ultimately be its undoing?
Image from Entertainment Weekly.
I Have Seen Dollhouse [Tuned In]