Curious about what Ray Wise (Reaper) and Summer Glau (Firefly) are up to on Joss Whedon's Dollhouse? Whedon spilled all to reporters — and talked about how you'll be able to tell who's a doll in season two. Spoilers ahead.
Ray and Summer:
In today's conference call with reporters, Whedon explained exactly what Wise (the devil from the show Reaper) and Glau would be doing when they appear in the season's sixth episode. Wise is the head of another Dollhouse — sort of a counterpart to Adelle DeWitt, with whom he'll be butting heads. And Glau is the other Dollhouse's programmer — so she's the counterpart to Topher. And Glau's part is "eccentric" and totally different from anything you've seen before. The writers worked extra hard to make her character "pop" because they knew what Glau was capable of, said Whedon. And yes, this new Dollhouse will be much cooler than "our" Dollhouse, thanks to Wise and Glau.
And you can expect the new season to have a slightly more Reaper-ish feel because Reaper co-creators Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters have joined the show as show-runners, replacing the first season's Sarah Craft and Elizabeth Fain. Joss says Fazekas and Butters have a slightly different set of obsessions, but the show will still basically have the same concerns.
So why does Joss always work with the same people?
There's actually a deathmatch between Firefly and Battlestar Galactica as to which show will get more of its castmembers on Dollhouse, Whedon joked. (BSG's Tahmoh Penikett is a regular on the show, and Jamie Bamber is putting in an appearance in the season opener, while Firefly's Alan Tudkyk, plus Glau, have put in appearances.) Whedon added that he tried to avoid working with actors he already knew in season one, so the show could forge its own identity — but going forward, he'll be a lot less worried about that. So you can expect to see lots of familiar faces.
The first episode will still be newbie-friendly.
The show is no longer trying to make every episode stand alone, and the second season will be much more "arc-y" than the first season was. We'll keep delving into the workings of the Dollhouse and how it's affecting these characters. But Whedon added that the first episode contains enough of an explanation of what the Dollhouse is, and what it does, to bring in new viewers. At the same time, he's become convinced that you have to keep moving forward — even if you move slowly enough at first to provide a jumping-on point. And the show's opening credits have been retooled to be more explanatory.
No flash-forwards at first
Previously, Whedon had promised that the season opener would include some more glimpses of the terrible post-apocalyptic future we witnessed in the unaired finale, "Epitaph One." But it turns out his script for the season opener was too full of other stuff, and there just wasn't room for all the future visions as well. Now, it's looking like we won't be revisiting that dystopian ruined world until towards the end of the first block of 13 episodes this fall.
The Dollhouse's technology gets more complex
But that horrific future will continue to inform the episodes set in the present, and we'll start to see all the weird and disturbing uses the Dollhouse's technology can be put to. "We're going to stretch the tech fairly heftily," said Whedon. "A lot of it has to do with the different ways this tech can be manipulated... There's more that can be done (with this brainwashing technology), and the excitement and the danger of that is a big partof this season."
Doctor Horrible Lives Again!
Whedon confirmed that he and his co-conspirators are working on another installment of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, but they haven't yet decided whether it'll stay an indie shoestring project, or get bigger and involve a studio or more people. Either way, though, they know what story they want to tell and they're just waiting until it gels.
Challenges ahead for the Dolls
Echo will be dealing with the fact that she's had all of her personalities downloaded into her brain at once (in the episode "Omega") and she'll be able to access those personalities even when she's in her blanked-out "Doll" state. She'll be using them to reach her objective, which is to get her own original personality back, and to help the other Dolls get their own personalities as well. Victor and Sierra won't be able to keep their hands off each other, which will cause hilarity as well as some consternation. November, aka Mellie, will turn up early in the season — which means there's more pain ahead for her. And although we'll only see Whiskey (aka Dr. Claire Saunders) in three episodes this season, those will be intense, mindblowing issues that deal with her discovery that she's a Doll as well.
More importantly, Echo will be trying to gain allies — and Paul Ballard will be the first person she reaches out to. But she'll also reach out to others, and she'll be trying to create the kind of family that we wished we could have seen in the Dollhouse during the first season. (In other words: Scooby gang?)
Stop wondering who else is a Doll!
Since we're heading for a dystopian future where everyone — Doll or otherwise — can be implanted with a canned personality in a moment, I was wondering if this meant the distinction between Doll and "regular" person would become meaningless soon. But Whedon said that in the present day, the distinction between Doll and non-Doll is very, very important — and the prospect of being erased, losing your selfhood and becoming a non-person will continue to loom as the show's greatest horror for the characters who aren't Dolls.
And Whedon doesn't plan to reveal that a bunch of characters we've already met are Dolls — that kind of revelation should be done sparingly, since otherwise we end up just watching a bunch of Dolls interacting with each other and there's no longer anything at stake. Explained Whedon:
Everybody is not a doll, because it would be very easy for us to pull that trick over and over, and ultimately shoot ourselves in the foot... I'm not saying never, i'm not saying we won't question reality every now and then, [but] we're taking the people we have, and pushing them around. We're keeping them grounded, so that there is something at stake [for these characters]... If we just make people dolls willy nilly, it's the rabbit hole and nothing means anything.
Dollhouse premieres on Friday, Sept. 25 at 9 PM.