Inbox features items that I have recently purchased or received.
I don't do this often, but Dollhouse was a impulse purchase. I saw it for an amazingly low price and snapped up the first season solely on the good will I have toward the show's creator, Joss Whedon, whose many previous works for TV, film, and web I had appreciated. I do have a little buyer's remorse about it, since I don't have the second season and will probably have to hold off on watching it until I pick it up, because I don't want to be stuck mid-season and be unable to see the rest without starting to rent the second season or have to purchase it at whatever price that it's available at the time. Still, a good price is a good price.
The season comes packaged in a simple Blu Ray case with three discs. Also included with the first season is the original unaired pilot for the series as well as the thirteenth episode of the first season, "Epitaph One", which was never aired with the first season, but instead aired penultimately in the second season, before the series finale "Epitaph Two: Return". As such it's a bit of a strange inclusion here as it doesn't exactly feel like a proper season ender, whereas "Omega" does.
As for the first season, it really does start out rough, especially the first episode. Also the conceit of the show makes it very difficult to draw you in right away, both because the main character, Caroline/Echo (Eliza Dushku) is a bit of a blank by necessity, so you have to rely on getting attached to other characters (it happens better toward the second half of the series) and it struggles also because it has to introduce the whole concept of "Dolls", which means that we get the first half of the season focused on missions-of-the-week before we really can delve into the workings of the world.
However, the first season lays down some great mystery and groundwork for a longer series, with lots of intrigue and greater questions about what's going on with the Dollhouse. Alpha, who is only hinted at in the earlier parts of the season holds a Syler-like menace, at least until the final couple episodes when he really shows up and becomes much less intimidating as a character, which is disappointing. The season ending twist on Agent Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett) is also pretty disappointing too, considering how much intrigue was built in about where he's been getting (some) of his leads from. Still, there are some decent episodes in the second half and the intrigue and mystery did keep me curious about the show, at least until I saw the apocalyptic future in "Epitaph One", which also deflated the season (and possibly the series) a bit.
Having been built as a mid-season replacement, perhaps it's too much to expect a full season of great promise. Buffy: The Vampire Slayer didn't provide that either in its first season and didn't lay down nearly as much scope in terms of long-term story arc intrigue. But, I think the project was in some ways doomed to struggle, just because of the nature of the story and its very slow-to-built protagonist. Personally, I think building in a lot more about Caroline, maybe in flashback, would have done a lot to make Echo/Caroline more interesting earlier on and given an interesting storytelling requirement as well. As such, it's still pretty interesting science fiction, at least as far as cyberpunk-type television goes and fans of Whedon (and, to a lesser extent, Battlestar Galactica) will find plenty to appreciate in this first season. 7/10.