Category: Dollhouse

Michelle Trachtenberg and other Joss Whedon superstars make deals with the CW

Trachtenberg It's a good day for fans of strong, young TV heroines. Vulture confirms that the CW is developing not one, not two, but three series featuring actors and writers best known for their work with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon.

Perhaps the most exciting news is that "Gossip Girl" showrunners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are at work on a new Michelle Trachtenberg vehicle. The actress who played Buffy's little sister, Dawn, and continues to delight as the evil Georgina Sparks on "GG" will star as a talented criminology student who's lived a troubled life. And Trachtenberg won't just be acting — she came up with the concept and is on board as a producer. For those of us who have been waiting years to see her take top billing, this is a particularly welcome development. If we're lucky, we won't even have to wait too long for the project to see the light of day: it may premiere as early as fall 2011.

Meanwhile, behind the camera, writer-producers Marti Noxon, Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain also have new projects in development for the CW. "Angel" and "Dollhouse" alums Craft and Fain are adapting "Vampire Diaries" author L.J. Smith's three-book series "Secret Circle," about a teen who discovers she's a witch, into an hour-long drama. Not to be outdone in the feisty, supernatural heroine department, "Buffy" and "Angel" writer Noxon is co-creating "Chloe." The show will center on a young con artist who dies and comes back as a "Divine Covert Operator." "Holy Rollers" actor Jason Fuchs, who apparently knows from quasi-religious programming, has signed on as a writer.

Of course, none of these projects can entirely ease the pain of Whedon's post-"Dollhouse" retreat to the big screen. But perhaps, if they succeed, they'll clear the way for his return.

— Judy Berman 
twitter.com/judyberman

Photo: Michelle Trachtenberg at the sixth annual Pink Party at Drai's at the W Hollywood on Sept. 25. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images.

'Dollhouse' series finale: 'Epitaph Two: Return'

Paulecho Not enough time. For this storyline, for what we'd seen of these characters and this series, "Dollhouse's" "Epitaph Two: Return" finale episode wrapped things up pretty nice and neat for the most part. Been trying to avoid the possibilities left on the table here: the story lines they could've delved into, the technological and moral quandaries they barely scratched the surface of, the endless opportunities at "guess who's a doll or working for Rossum," the layers there should've been between the team and finding out that Boyd was the shady company man that he was. But there wasn't enough time in this dog-eat-remote ratings world. Eliza Dushku's already given her opinion on some of the reasons it didn't last, and Alan Tudyk gave a few reasons he thought it could've continued. There's not much more to say about it, except to discuss how it ended.

We go back to the near future in 2020. The release of the tech has apparently created a chaotic society with mindless "butchers" running around, pretty much as cannibals. Joss Whedon stalwart Felicia Day as Mag and Zack Ward as Zone find and help imprint a little girl with Echo/Caroline's personality. And off they go to find the real Echo/Caroline and to help save the world. But first, they're captured.

They end up in Neuropolis, the city of minds. Its name is spoken as if it's a myth, but we're never quite sure why. Regardless, it becomes a meeting point as Paul Ballard and Echo/Caroline break in to the place, mounting an assault to free Topher, whom the company is forcing to make more mind-wiping technology. Topher has gotten a little unhinged, because the company kills a person in front of him every time he doesn't do what they say (or does it to its dissatisfaction). That's a lot of deaths to witness over the years, and you could see how it would damage a person's psyche.

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'Dollhouse': Eliza Dushku on the dollhouse closing its doors

Eliza4_kwgtwmnc Shows are often canceled "before their time" -- that's the nature of the TV biz and an unfortunate fate that's befallen a few Joss Whedon shows. The latest to be thrown on the pile of low-rated cult faves is "Dollhouse," a series that seemed to have everything going for it: lead actress/producer/"Buffy" alum Eliza Dushku, futuristic rule-the-world technology, prostitution, hand-to-hand combat, a great supporting cast and a fanatically followed show creator. What could go wrong?

"I think it's easy to point fingers at the end and play coulda/shoulda/woulda," Dushku said. "I think initially Fox was really excited about Joss and I teaming up, and I think they were excited about the concept, even though Joss has expressed that maybe the concept that they'd thought up and the concept that he created ... maybe there was a disconnect there."

"Dollhouse's" finale airs this Friday after a two-season run. We spoke to Dushku the day that the final episode was shot.

So you just finished filming?
Everyone was so sad, but we're all really thrilled to have gotten a second season and we're really proud of the second season. The first season was great, but the second just really gelled, and I feel like people that were watching the show can tell. They can feel and see the difference. The writers got into exactly what we wanted to tell with these stories and the characters and conflicts.  We're really psyched.  And also, many shows upon getting canceled ... that's it. Game over. You don't get the chance to finish out all the stories and air all of the episodes. So, it's a really rare thing that we were really grateful for.

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'Dollhouse': Alpha, Alan Tudyk if you like, on the show's end

While at Sundance, covered ably on our sister blog 24 Frames, I ran across a movie called "Tucker & Dale vs. Evil," co-starring none other than Wash himself, Alpha himself, actor Alan Tudyk. He was gracious enough to stay, after a midnight showing, and talk to me about the movie -- then awesome enough to give me his quick impression on what happened to "Dollhouse" and where he thought the show could've gone. I know, why do we keep punishing ourselves with this 'coulda' stuff? Because we care.

-- Jevon Phillips

Say it ain't so, Boyd! A traitor and mastermind revealed
'Dollhouse' double: 'Meet Jane Doe/A Love Supreme,' and the awesome Alpha
Joss Whedon says unaired 'Epitaph One' will guide Season 2

'Dollhouse': A traitor and mastermind revealed

Boyd

Viewers were probably a bit more on edge knowing that Boyd Langton was the puppet master and having to watch him guide the team around in this "The Hollow Men" episode.

I didn't even mention Victor and Sierra escaping last week, but for now, they've returned. We'll keep calling them by their doll names until I'm sure there's no shenanigans going on! And based on a note left in a destroyed lab, they decide to get back into the doll-making chair. They rationalized it, and may not fear it as much since they know they've been through it many times, but that pricked me a bit. The result though? Victor as Topher! Yes!!! When you find a good thing, use it. Now, with another quick tweak making Victor a super-soldier, they're in the game.

So Boyd, still pulling the strings, gets the crew down to a Tucson dollhouse after drugging Caroline/Echo, where they meet ... Whiskey/Dr. Saunders? Clyde Randolph, another of Rossum's architects, took the body of Whiskey. Wow, but great way to get Amy Acker back in. How did Adelle DeWitt know so easily? Guess she knew him pretty well.

Anyway, so fast-forward. Boyd splits the team and goes with Topher to "find Echo," sending November with Paul Ballard. Right away, started thinking about flowers and vases. His plan was going well until Echo woke up. She finds and smacks Boyd around for a while, but Whiskey shows up with a gun. Then Boyd's calculated craziness is revealed.

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'Dollhouse': Boyd, Bennett and 'Getting Closer'

Gushing over "Dollhouse's" plot twists and turns, over how you should never feel that you're in a safe place with ANY character, over how this ensemble of actors, this storyline and this show are taking viewers on a very cool roller-coaster ride with enough quick spins to create couch-bound whiplash, seems so ... mean.

There are two more episodes to go after last night's aptly titled "Getting Closer," and there's still much Echo mystery surrounding the goings-on of the dollhouse. Who may still betray whom and what the world is going to look like because of it all are a couple of the big sticking points left. There's also Echo/Caroline (Eliza Dushku, pictured), Paul Ballard, Topher's mind-altering creation, Whiskey/Dr. Saunders and much more. From the last few scenes of this episode with Harry Lennix's Boyd Langdon, and the preview for next week's episode, this whole thing has become a bit topsy-turvy. In a good way.

So we know from the end of the last episode that they're all trying to put Caroline back into Echo's body. She's seen who the big bad is at Rossum, and that'll help the hastily formed subversive group take down the corporation. But they can't find Caroline, or better yet, Caroline's personality. My first thought: Alpha! My second thought: chocolate chip cookies!

Ahem, back to Alpha -- or not. He's nowhere to be found, so the next best "Firefly" actor on the show steps in as Summer Glau's Bennett helps to restore the personality of Caroline. It's a problem since they were friends and Caroline used her and then left her trapped (for her own good) under a huge concrete slab. She strikes a deal with Echo to get revenge on Caroline once she's back.

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'Dollhouse': Victor's 'Stop Loss' and somebody's in 'The Attic'

Another two-episode airing on "Dollhouse" gave us more revelations about not only Victor the doll, but also about the power and devious directions of the Rossum Corporation, and the efforts of a consortium trying to take them down.

Victorpic First is "Stop-Loss."  Guess we can say congratulations to Victor.  His five-year commitment to the dollhouse is up, and he's free to go back to his civilian life as the lonely, not well-adjusted soldier Tony.

Unlike "Belonging," which was full of life in showing us the real side of Sierra, this episode didn't open up much on Victor.  He was a soldier in a war that still rages on, and he must not have much in the way of family and friends because he didn't seem at all eager to talk to anyone after being freed from the dollhouse.  He was content to stay in the hotel paid for him by the dollhouse, watching footage of the war -- something that was familiar to him and gave him a sense of belonging.  Again, great job by Enver acting in a very isolated way.

That sense was exploited when Rossum's battalion of ex-dolls kidnapped him. His desire to be part of something bigger was evident as he agreed to be a soldier again -- which turns out to be just another part of the arm of Rossum technology. A hive mind!  The ability of a group to think and act as one would definitely be an asset in many situations -- unless you were trying to become an individual.  As Anthony (Victor) finds out, it's also not a thing that can be easily walked away from.

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'Dollhouse' double: 'Meet Jane Doe/A Love Supreme,' and the awesome Alpha

The jailbreak portion of the "Meet Jane Doe/A Love Supreme" double episode of "Dollhouse" was just a training exercise;  Echo in a situation that would allow her to hone her skills and access her abilities.

Echo Her rescue of Galena (Ana Claudia Talancon) reminds me of Rogue from the X-Men, and how the more abilities and personalities she absorbs, the more powerful she is, and the harder it is for her to keep control. Rogue's getting it together, but it may be taking its toll on Echo as the headaches mount.

And Paul Ballard is back ... with Echo? An interesting development. Her progression has been slow with learning to read, noticing wrongs and trying to grasp her own self-awareness ... but this seems like a jump. Of course it is, as we find out it's three months later. The show has lots to go through in order to wrap things up clean-like -- though that may not be Joss Whedon's endgame. We can only wait and see.

The training sequences; Whedonites know what they stirred memories of. Do I even need to ("Buffy") say it?

Meanwhile, back at the dollhouse ... Love the idea of having Victor and Sierra actually working in the lab. Giving those two more screen time can do nothing but help.  Not that Joss and the showrunners didn't know this, but it was evident as each got another couple of spotlights throughout.  Sierra on another assignment, Victor as a doctor probing Echo, Sierra slamming a guard's head repeatedly into a wall and Victor administering some kind of knockout injection to Ballard.  Can't say enough about these two, and can't wait to see Victor's back-story in upcoming episodes.

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'Dollhouse': 'The Public Eye' and 'The Left Hand'

We may as well enjoy "Dollhouse" while we can. Echo's back. Topher's back. November's back. Sen. Daniel Perrin is ... back? And with all of the fireworks that happened, way to return from the break!

Sorry it's not getting the rousing welcome-back reception that it deserves, but these twin episodes of "Dollhouse" were SO GOOD that it creates a kind of melancholy knowing that this too will end. But until then ...

I'm choosing to think that Fox wanted to double the viewers' pleasure (not get rid of episodes quickly) when two shows were aired back to back: "The Public Eye" and "The Left Hand." In them, Alexis Denisof's Perrin finally takes the dollhouse public, with the help of Miracle Laurie's Madelyn/Mellie/November. Let's call her November since the dollhouse never actually bothered to take out her programming when she was released from her contract. Both are going to testify in a higher court about the existence of the dollhouse and their manipulation of minds and lives. Or both think they are.

Dollhouse_LeftHandtopher But the dollhouse can't have that. Boyd Langton (Harry Lennix), Paul Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett) and Adelle DeWitt (Olivia Williams) figure that Perrin's wife (played well by Stacey Scowley) is a doll, which is why the dismissive dollhouse bigwigs are still pretty calm about being exposed. They have a plan, one that does not include DeWitt and her clan, and one that they figure could end up with November dead. So they step in, and promptly botch up a carefully laid scheme when Echo-as-hooker-Bree stops by with a confused Perrin the morning after being drugged. Ballard goes after November at the same time but is forced to let her go when she asks him to respect her freedom. The quandary causes Ballard to go MIA for the rest of the episode. And really, I don't know what that's about. Morality issues, again? He's as mixed up as Perrin, and why is the senator confused, you ask. ...

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'Dollhouse': Alexis Denisof, and yeah, we're still tracking it

The first time I spoke to Alexis Denisof, he was walking down the streets of New York City ... and we got cut off.  Despite the hustle and bustle around him, he tried to answer questions, but was silenced as he went deeper underground.  Kind of like "Dollhouse" -- kind of like Joss Whedon, who goes into detail with Maureen Ryan over at the Watcher about what he felt were the problems, and what he'll be doing in this post-"Dollhousian" world.

DH-Ep205_Sc33pt_5484 It's a conflicting thing continuing to "track" a show when we know that the tracks have already been pulled up. The Fox coyote painted a tunnel on the side of the mountain and continues to let the "Dollhouse" train speed toward it. To use another great show's saying: "This has happened before, and it will happen again."

It's happened to Alexis Denisof, who went through the process when the plug was pulled on another of Joss' shows, "Angel." The Whedon protégé has an important arc in upcoming episodes of "Dollhouse."  As Sen. Daniel Perrin, he doggedly begins to pursue the dollhouse, hoping to bring its existence to the public and planning to shut it down. But there's a twist. There's always a twist.

Denisof is one of the few actors to play pivotal roles in three of Whedon's shows. From "Buffy" and "Angel" as Wesley Wyndham-Price, and now as Perrin (who might not be a regular, but will have an impact). Denisof offers a heaping helping of praise for Whedon, some insight into the psyche of the show, and even a bit on the show's direction had it gotten picked up. We spoke before the show's fate was sealed.

Show Tracker: Any thought of politics personally?
Alexis Denisof: [Laughs] I don't know.  I think there's too many showers that you have to take, and you're still not clean. That's really saying something when you're in the entertainment industry. I probably don't have a leg to stand on in that regard.

If your character had control of the "Dollhouse" technology, what would the ambitious politician do with it?
I'd like to think that he'd dismantle the technology knowing that mankind can't be trusted with it ... kind of along the lines of nuclear technology. We all feel that we should be the ones in control of that technology and that it can't be trusted in the hands of others. I think the same may apply to the dollhouse technology.

But he would probably end up, like so many of us, morally conflicted. Intending to use it for good and eventually using it for something other than good.

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Fox announces its midseason lineup

24-Ep801_Sc121_0480
Fox announced its midseason lineup today and it contains a couple of surprises. Dr. House and Jack Bauer will team up on Monday nights, "Fringe" will remain in its challenging Thursday night time slot, and "Glee" will be off the air until April 13, when it returns on a new night following "American Idol" but up against the last episodes of ABC's "Lost."

"American Idol" returns on Jan. 12 and will help launch "Our Little Genius," a new game show by Mark Burnett ("Survivor" and "The Apprentice") the following night. "Our Little Genius" then will shift to Tuesdays paired with "Idol" until April 13, when "Glee" returns for its remaining nine episodes at 9 p.m.

The new drama "Human Target," starring Mark Valley, premieres on Jan. 20 after "Idol."

As previously announced, "24" returns with a two-night premiere on Jan. 17 and Jan. 18 and then settles into its regular Monday 9 p.m. slot after "House" on Jan. 25.

"Fringe," which has taken a ratings hit on its new night, will remain on Thursdays but will take a break beginning Feb. 11, when Fox launches the new drama "Past Life."  "Fringe" returns to the schedule on April 1.

As previously announced, "Dollhouse" will end on Jan. 22. "Kitchen Nightmares" will take over its Friday time slot the following week.

The new comedy "Sons of Tuscon," starring Tyler Labine, will premiere March 14 at 8:30 p.m. when "The Cleveland Show" moves to 9:30 p.m. and "American Dad" is off the schedule.

Fox also ordered a complete second season of "Lie To Me."


--Maria Elena Fernandez

Photo: Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer on "24" / Credit: Fox


Related:

Fringe looks for an identity in its second season

Mark Valley stars in "Human Target"

24: First Look of new season

Dollhouse is canceled

'Dollhouse' comes crumbling down; Joss Whedon expresses disppointment [Updated]

Eliza Well, at least, this time Joss Whedon fans can't retaliate against Fox. 

"Dollhouse" has been canceled. Please don't yell at me, members of the Whedon cult. I am only the messenger.

Take heart in the fact that the network really did give the low-rated series, starring Eliza Dushku, a chance. All 13 episodes will air, and the advance notice has given Whedon a chance to give the series a satisfying ending, according to a Fox spokesperson. The remaining episodes will begin airing Dec. 4.

And if that doesn't make you feel any better, consider that now Whedon is free to direct even more episodes of "Glee" if he wants to.

And if you're still not consoled, buy hundreds of thousands of DVDs. It worked for "Firefly" and "Serenity."

[Updated 1:30 p.m.: The remaining episodes of "Dollhouse" will air this way: Two episodes will air each night on Dec. 4, Dec. 11 and Dec. 18 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. The last three episodes will air Jan. 8, Jan. 15 and Jan. 22 at 9 p.m.]

[Updated 2:13 p.m.: Whedon has posted a statement on whedonesque.com, where he says, in part, "For now there's a lot of work still to be done, and disappointment to bear." Read it in its entirety here.]

-- Maria Elena Fernandez

Photo: Dushku in an episode of "Dollhouse." Credit: Fox

Related:

Joss Whedon speaks about his "Glee" directorial debut

Fox sticks with "Dollhouse"

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