FOX has released "DOLLHOUSE: SEASON ONE" on blu-ray and dvd. Creator Joss
Whedon has consistently proven that talent and studio support don't always work
together. All three of his previous creations, "BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER,"
"ANGEL," and "SERENITY" never got the full studio support they deserved.
That said, FOX has made the right decision in approving a second season of his
latest, "DOLLHOUSE." Well, at least if the ratings for the first episodes don't
bomb. Eliza Dushku plays "Echo," a young woman working for a secret
organization, "THE DOLLHOUSE." Echo, along with others allow themselves to have
their mind programmed with the traits, knowledge and personalities of whatever
character is required by the ever-changing client base seeking these services.
The role of a singer, cult member, hostage negotiator, and more, might be
required for any given assignment, and the client is assured of their anonymity
because each of these "dolls" has their memory of their "character" completely
erased after each mission is completed.
While Dushku handles her role extremely well, Whedon has wisely placed her
supporting cast members on equal footing. Various characters, including
"handlers" for the dolls, a special agent trying to prove the existence of the
"Dollhouse" and these "Dolls," and more, provide depth and increasingly
interesting narratives to the series. "Reed Diamond," so good in "HOMICIDE," is
fantastic here, but then so is everyone.
While the first few episodes of the series raises concerns as to whether or not
the series will veer towards redundant arcs for each episode to follow, Whedon
has ensured, by the fifth episode, various sub-plots feel fresh and provocative.
It's hard to imagine anyone watching the entire season not being totally hooked
and eagerly awaiting the 2nd season to begin!
While some may be slightly disappointed with the season finale, FOX has included
an unaired "thirteenth" episode, that more than makes up for it!
FOX has provided the correct 1.78:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray
release. In comparison to the 16:9 enhanced dvd set, colors are notably richer,
and typically vibrant. Contrast is also notably improved with deeper blacks,
boasting impressive detail in darker scenes. There are a few scenes within each
episode that appear flat, but the majority of what's presented has the
"jump-off-the-screen" depth one hopes for on blu-ray. The dvd, by comparison,
is lacking in detail and suffers from murky colors and general softness.
FOX has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. As immersive as this mix can
be, it's not particularly well balanced, with dialogue coming across as uneven
and dull in various moments within each episode. There is a surprising amount of
bass, but the fidelity can still be problematic with regards to it, in
comparison to many superior blu-ray mixes from FOX. The standard Dolby Digital
5.1 mix offered on the dvd, is comparable to the lossy in overall atmosphere.
However, the bass is notably deeper on the lossy mix. While the dynamic range
isn't as impressive as the lossy mix, the standard mix is actually better
FOX has included the same extras for both dvd and blu-ray, with blu-ray offering
them in HD!
In addition to the unaired pilot, and unaired "thirteenth" episode, commentaries
for three episodes are offered. Only the commentary for "GHOST" is really
worthwhile, and even this one doesn't rank up there with the best commentary
tracks Whedon has offered for other series.
"MAKING DOLLHOUSE" offers plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and discussion
regarding the series' production struggles.
There are plenty of "Deleted scenes," some of them are extremely short, and
unimportant, but others are terrific and sure to please fans, offering some
important background info to various plots.
There are other short featurettes, but none of which are really worthwhile.