Alright, so it's finally here and the verdict's in: Not bad.
The story, which has escaped some, is about an agency--a temp agency if you will--that caters to a variety of services provided by agents, who range from a proverbial escort to a hostage negotiator. Depending on what kind of service you need, they download a job-appropriate personality and abilities into the agent's mind--a mind that's been wiped clean of any original memories.
I'm one of the few people who watch "Fringe" and won't self-destruct if it were canceled, but would most certainly be pissed off if anyone should ever consider canceling "Lost." (It can end, but no abrupt stops.) This show doesn't get you hooked as quick. I was sort of hoping it would though. There are a few mysteries underneath the surface, like the reason Echo (Eliza Dushku from "Tru Calling" and "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer") felt her only choice was to join a program that would wipe her identity, the reason Dr. Claire Saunders (Amy Acker from "Angel") flinches when people try to touch her, and the reason former cop Boyd (Harry Lennix) signed up for a job he's conflicted about doing.
The most interesting mystery, however, is the teaser that Joss Whedon gave at the NY Comic Con last weekend. He said that not everyone is who we think they are and not everyone is who they think they are, which has me thinking that maybe some of the employees--the non-agents--don't have their original personalities. I read somewhere that this series is supposed to be a metaphor for how society is filled with brainwashed people and how we're all pawns in this world. It's generally an examination of human nature. Topher (Fran Kraz from "Welcome to the Captain"), the guy responsible for downloading new personalities into each agent, is the mouthpiece for this philosophy. He describes the process of piecing together the perfect personality for a client's request as not aiming for perfection, because "achievement is balanced by fault." The personalities are borrowed from people who do or have once existed, and they create a person capable of handling any situation--a person, not a robot. Of course, we learned in the pilot that depending on a flawed human being can be risky, yet advantageous. While what this agency does sounds noble, a government agent (Tahmoh Penikett from "Battlestar Galactica"), who's been assigned to exposing the homebase of the Dollhouse, feels that the wiping of their personalities is equivalent to murder, because the person that used to exist doesn't anymore.
Underlying ideologies aside--the action was good, the emotion was gripping, and the dialogue was iconically Whedonesque. However, it's not exactly original (not that any show is these days). If you watched NBC's "My Own Worst Enemy," you know that Christian Slater played a government agent who had a different personality implanted into his mind so that he could have a cover when he's off-duty from performing espionage. In fact, the intentions of that company were just as murky. I'm not saying Whedon stole the idea, I just wonder if his show is capable of lasting simply off of his, Penikett, and Dushku's fame. Either way, I'm in as long as the missions are interesting.