Blu-ray Review: Dollhouse Season 1 [M15]

Starring: Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix, Fran Kranz, Tahmoh Penikett, Enver Gjokaj, Dichen Lachman, Olivia Williams

The Show: I have wanted to watch Dollhouse for a long time now, and I could never catch it on TV to watch it from the start. I was very happy to hear Australia was finally getting Season 1 on DVD and Blu-ray, and the opportunity to watch it was finally here for me. I am a Joss Whedon fan, I watched Buffy and I have seen bits of Angel and of course I have seen Firefly. Dollhouse seemed like something very different from Whedon, so diving in head first was quite an experience.

The premise is very interesting, and in a way disturbing which was to my surprise well represented in the show. The Dollhouse is kind of a messed up place, and as I watched the pilot I was very much reminded of The Bourne Identity, The Manchurian Candidate and supposedly real life stories I had read about CIA programs. The show deals with identity, and being able to be anything you needed to be. I liked that central concept and I do think for the most part it was explored in an engaging fashion.

Synopsis: As an “Active”, the mysterious Echo (Dushku) serves as an unwitting agent of Dollhouse, an illegal underground organization that provides its elite clientele with programmable human beings. Actives receive personality imprints, allowing them to temporarily become anyone or anything—the perfect burglar, lover, spy, or assassin. Now, with the FBI and her own shadowy past closing in, Echo must face a rogue Active who will stop at nothing to bring Dollhouse down—forever.

The pilot episode of the show served as an interesting introduction into this world, leaving us with a big sense of mystery. Who was this agency, and what was their real agenda? Our main character Echo gets sent out on a very dangerous mission, imprinted with a different persona – one that can handle the situation at hand. It is made clear that Echo is a stand out within the agency and this is something that does pay off further down the line. The pilot is certainly enough to keep an audience engaged, and I liked it.

The issue I had with Season 1 as much as I did enjoy it was that the first few episodes were really ‘story of the week’ and they didn’t have as much meat to them. The second part of the season really shined because it wasn’t just that, we had development of characters and on-going storylines. It really started to deal with the implications of what the ‘Dollhouse’ was doing, and the lines it crosses.

The acting is pretty good, with the standouts being Dichen Lachman, Enver Gjokaj and Tahmoh Penikett (who was a favourite of mine in BSG as Helo). Eliza Dushku was good, don’t get me wrong – but these actors really put across a lot and it was never uneven. Dushku was uneven at first, until she really settled in. I do love the woman, but it almost felt as though she was just pure eye candy at first. Once Echo actually got development and wasn’t just put down to a ‘story of the week’ her talents really came out stronger.

The Season is wrapped up with a bonus episode Epitaphs (starring Felicia Day) and it isn’t bad – but it didn’t quite interest me enough. Dollhouse in my humble opinion is a show worth watching, I really enjoyed the first season and I am glad that I finally had the chance to watch it.

The Australian DVD 
Audio/Video: The video is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p. Audio is presented with DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, 2.0 Dolby Digital on selected episodes/Audio Commentary. It contains subtitles for the hearing impaired, Canadian French, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish (Latin).

I am still relatively new to watching television series on blu-ray, however if the experience is anything like this – I want more! Dollhouse for the most part looked stunning in HD. The transfer was very impressive with minimal grain and noise visible, it was rather crisp and vibrant. The audio was very good, and it was definitely one of the better sounding blu-ray’s I have come across. This was impressive for me, and it was a great experience.

Extras:
* Original unaired Pilot Episode Echo
* Audio Commentary on Selected Episodes
* Deleted Scenes
* Featurettes: Making Dollhouse, Coming Home, Finding Echo, A Private Engagement,
* Designing The Perfect Dollhouse
* Comic (for a limited time only)

The 3-disc set comes with over three hours of bonus features and they are a nice addition. The original unaired pilot was very interesting, and for fans it is worth a look. Seeing the direction of the show as originally envisioned was an experience. With people not happy with it, and a new pilot made – it is always good to see what was intended.

Audio commentary is decent, it was good to hear about Epitaphs especially considering I was not a fan. If you do like commentary for shows I think you’ll enjoy this. Deleted scenes are again something interesting, but easy to see why they did not make the final cut.

The featurettes are all pretty good, I especially liked Making Dollhouse – which started off at Day 1. They do have meat on them, and I sometimes find that featurettes for shows can be fluff pieces – here they are more than that. Designing The Perfect Dollhouse is pretty cool, worth a watch in my opinion. The comic which acts as a prelude to Epitaphs is pretty cool and a nice companion.

Overall Rating

Dollhouse Season 1 is available to order on Blu-ray right HERE and on DVD HERE

Dollhouse: The Complete First Season Trailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnK-ykXOa1o&feature=youtu.be

‘Making Dollhouse’ Featurette

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