Dollhouse: Season 1 (2009)



Critic Consensus: Dollhouse contains moments of intriguing entertainment value but ends up confusing and pretentious.


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Air date: Feb 13, 2009
Air date: Feb 20, 2009
Air date: Feb 27, 2009
Air date: Mar 6, 2009
Air date: Mar 13, 2009
Air date: Mar 20, 2009
Air date: Mar 27, 2009
Air date: Apr 3, 2009
Air date: Apr 10, 2009
Air date: Apr 24, 2009
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Dollhouse: Season 1 Photos

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Geek auteur Joss Whedon returned to television five years after the cancellation of his show "Angel" with this high-concept science-fiction series, which focuses on a secretive organization (the "Dollhouse" of the title) that uses futuristic technology to imprint operatives known as dolls with new memories and skills so they can complete assignments for wealthy clients. Eliza Dushku stars as a doll named Echo, whose missions include posing as a client's girlfriend, protecting a pop star and infiltrating a religious cult. Meanwhile, the staff of the Dollhouse attempt to capture an escaped doll with sociopathic tendencies, and an FBI agent (Tahmoh Penikett) works to blow the lid off their operation. The 13th and final episode of the season was originally released as a special feature on the DVD set, and jumps ahead 10 years into the future to show how the mind-altering technology brought about the collapse of human civilization.


Tahmoh Penikett
as Paul Ballard
Olivia Williams
as Adelle DeWitt
Harry Lennix
as Boyd Langton
Fran Kranz
as Topher Brink
Reed Diamond
as Laurence Dominic
Amy Acker
as Dr. Claire Saunders
Alan Tudyk
as Stephen Kepler
Philip Casnoff
as Clive Ambrose
Rhea Seehorn
as Jocelyn Bashford
Josh Cooke
as Leo Carpenter
Brenda Bakke
as Margaret Bashford
Adair Tishler
as Iris Miller/Caroline Farrell
Tim Chiou
as Nikoden
Octavia Spencer
as Professor Janack
Jordan Bridges
as Nicolas Bashford
Warren Sweeney
as Mr. Miller
Gregg Henry
as William Bashford
Ian Anthony Dale
as Jack Dunston
Matt Keeslar
as Richard O'Connell
Brian Bloom
as Jonas Sparrow
Jaime Lee Kirchner
as Rayna Russell
Kurt Caceres
as Gabriel Crestejo
Haley Pullos
as Davina Crestejo
Mark Totty
as Agent Lilly
David Doty
as Dir. Sam Zimmerman
Sam Hennings
as Senator Boxbaum
Patrick Stinson
as Brett Locano
Vincent Laresca
as Mr. Sunshine
Brad Hunt
as Jesse Dillard
Patton Oswalt
as Joel Mynor
Atalo Diakos
as Tony Amendola
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Critic Reviews for Dollhouse Season 1

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (16)

In a perfect world, "Dollhouse" would be a good show. It's not.

Feb 13, 2009 | Full Review…

As a drama, "Dollhouse" doesn't stand up to the broad interpretations it invites.

Feb 13, 2009 | Full Review…

Right now, it looks like a slate that keeps getting half-wiped as Whedon struggles to decide what to draw.

Feb 13, 2009 | Full Review…

The show is quick and exciting in its particulars, slick and captivating in its details.

Feb 13, 2009 | Full Review…
Top Critic

I've seen three episodes of this strange, mesmerizing show, and it has grown on me.

Feb 13, 2009 | Full Review…

The show has zero humor, and nothing in it resonates either cerebrally or emotionally. The show is inert, catatonic.

Jun 14, 2018 | Full Review…

Dollhouse was no Firefly...

May 22, 2018 | Full Review…

Dollhouse however called for an actress of especially notable skills and extremely broad range, and Dushku is not that person.

May 18, 2018 | Full Review…

It's a passable hour of entertainment that shows potential to improve but flails and confuses (and occasionally bores) from the start.

Feb 13, 2009 | Full Review…

It all starts slowly - but then again, so did Buffy, and on the evidence of the latter episodes here, the second season promises to be a belter.

Oct 24, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Dollhouse: Season 1

could have been so good it was not given a real chance still wish eliza had done the faith series

From Joss Whedon comes the exciting sci-fi drama Dollhouse. In Season 1 FBI agent Paul Ballard searches for the elusive Dollhouse, a secret organization that programs people with new personalities and sends them out on missions ranging from sexual liaisons to criminal investigations to assassinations. Meanwhile, one of the Dolls begins to have composite issues; retaining various memory fragments from past personalities that she's been implanted with. Starring Eliza Dushku, Olivia Williams, Tahmoh Penikett, Fran Kranz, and Amy Acker, the show has a strong cast. And, the writers do a good job at exploring the possibilities of personality implants, along with the moral and ethical dilemmas. And while it's ostensibly a mission-of-the-week type show, each episode hints at a larger story-arc about the true mission of the Dollhouse and different factions. A victim of bad timing (the 08 Writer's Strike) the first season of Dollhouse was slated as a midseason replacement and only given 12-episodes (plus an exclusive DVD bonus episodes), but it's still especially strong and is full of mystery and intrigue.

Dann M Super Reviewer

Love this show. One of Joss Whedon's most controversial works. It's probably more controversial than A Clockwork Orange. Whedon loves to play around with what happens when we take away free will, think spike's chip from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This show asks what happens when we not only take away a person's free will, but their memories, desires, wants, needs... All the dolls are empty vessels, and they are used to play out clients fantasies. There is a demand for fantasy and the dollhouse supplies that demand. This show is definitely too smart for its own good, this is not a show mainstream audiences would crowd around. Joss doesn't talk down to the audience and the whole premise is too disturbing to think about.

Watched this a long time ago. Could have been a great show, but it had a few faults, namely the first episodes were too commercial, too obviously fishing for viewers. Otherwise some great humour and really neat moments.

Joss Whedon has had some really crummy luck with TV. In 2002, Firefly (sometimes known by its other name, The Best Show Ever) was cancelled by FOX, and yet, seven years later, Joss started another high-concept show with the very same network. I’m not sure whether he was too trusting, or desperately wanted to do this, or was just a glutton for punishment. Although it didn’t last long, the show gave us some great moments. The premise seems creepy. People can have their entire personalities removed, and be ‘programmed’ however their overseers like. These outings, or ‘engagements,’ range from the perfect date to breaking into a high-security vault. Along the way, this ‘dollhouse’ is under threat from the FBI, NSA, and the mysterious figure known only as ‘Alpha.’ The show moves at a brisk pace, with a lot of stuff happening in each episode. Each has its own distinct premise for our major players, with the various Actives going out on missions, sometimes together, sometimes apart. The episode I enjoy the most is “Man on the Street,” which has so many plot points, it seems like three episodes crammed into one. I also enjoy “A Spy in the House of Love,” which gives each Active a very unique role, and “Briar Rose,” which is a great payoff for all the plot points that have been building up all season (also: Alan Tudyk as a terrified hypochondriac. Comedy gold). There is some really great acting in this show. Eliza Dushku plays Echo, our main Active. She does a passable job, but I do have to give her points for degree of difficulty; it’s very challenging to inhabit a brand-new character every week. Harry Lennix brings a lot of depth to Boyd Langton, and shows how much he cares for Echo. Olivia Williams really sells it as deWitt (to use her words: “I am very British. I don’t say hard r’s”). Fran Kranz is hilarious as Topher; he takes fabulous lines and nails them each time. Tahmoh Penikett is sorta humdrum as Paul Ballard, Dichen Lachman is fine as Sierra, Amy Acker is great as Dr. Saunders, Reed Diamond is very convincing as Mr. Dominic. Finally, we have Enver Gjokaj, who, despite his difficult-to-pronounce name, is my pick for Best Actor Here; he easily slips in and out of characters, selling each one like he’s done it his whole life. The show is smart, very amusing, and full of action. It will make you question how our society functions in one scene, and then smash cut to a pantsless man giving serious instructions on the phone while his wealthy boss jumps on a trampoline in the background.

I love the dolls' stories, but the FBI agent dude is annoying as a character. "Oh it's soooooo wrong to do this to people." Blah blah blah we get it.

Dollhouse might be the guiltiest pleasure I've ever had. It's not very often I find myself in love with badly reviewed television series or movies, but I'm not ashamed to admit that I loved Dollhouse. I loved its eccentric characters and its banter and its action and its campiness and its ridiculous plot twists and its unrealistically attractive cast and just about everything else. And I'm not saying I loved this series in an ironic fashion just as somebody might love Tommy Wiseau's "The Room," I completely, un-ironically adore Dollhouse as a tremendously entertaining and intriguing piece of television.

Iabsolutly love this show it will be a classic for my family for generations it is that awsome!!!:-)

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