I’m trying to put together an essay on Dollhouse, and waited for tonight’s finale before I really pushed myself. After the episode ended, I checked out the critics … not all of them, because not all of them stuck with Dollhouse to the end (I’m talking to you, Tim Goodman), for good reason, since it was so erratic and even mediocre at first. And I found Alan Sepinwall, who managed to articulate exactly what I was thinking, in about 3900 fewer words than I was hoping to write:
Ultimately, the degree to which I was invested in Topher's fate - Topher! - may be the most incredible thing about "Dollhouse" from "Epitaph One" on. This was a character I viewed as symbolic of most of what wasn't working about the show in the early days, but once Topher began developing a conscience, Fran Kranz and the writers consistently knocked it out of the park. I have no idea if this was a course correction or the plan all along - show us an amoral man, then show him discovering morality with the highest stakes possible - but damn, did it work.
I really don’t have anything to add to this, which is bad news for my desire to write something lengthy. The ending was as satisfying as possible, considered the entire second season was rushed far beyond any usefulness. What I’ve said before may end up being the show’s epitaph (pun semi-intended): the growth of the series, from “why bother watching” to “show I most look forward to,” was remarkable and, if not unprecedented, at least highly unusual.
I write a lot about TV. A year ago, I wrote about shows I didn’t even like (hello, L Word), and shows that barely got out of the gate before they were cancelled (Kings, we hardly knew ye). But I didn’t write about Dollhouse until quite a few episodes had run. I simply wasn’t interested enough. Now? I already miss it, and it’s only been gone for two hours.
Grade for finale: A
Grade for series: Incomplete
Grade for the oddly-presented “Epitaph” episodes (oddly presented, as in Part One was never aired, but showed up on the Season One DVD, while Part Two didn’t show up until tonight, as the series finale): A+.