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Some thoughts on the end of Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse," and how it relates to my love of fandom in general.

The spoilers should be mild, but -



It's a great time to be a science-fiction fan. With the recent mainstream successes of lighter sci-fi shows like "Heroes," "Lost," and "Fringe," there's been a good steady flow of genre programs on TV. Sure, as many fail as succeed, and an awful lot of it is derivative dreck, but once in a while the suits will take chances on really ambitious, interesting projects. Aside from "Battlestar Galactica" these don't tend to last long, but there's something to be said for the fact that they're still getting produced.

We all knew Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse" wasn't going to win over most viewers, with the difficult premise, the shaky first couple of episodes, and the behind-the-scenes turmoil going on with FOX. But as much as fans love to hate the suits, they did take the initial chance, saw the show through a lot of bumps, and even paid for a second season. "Dollhouse" got thirteen more episodes than "Firefly" got, and managed to produce at least as many good hours of TV when all was said and done.

I've heard plenty about why "Dollhouse" has problematic themes, as its premise is based around the concept of people who are contracted to become "Actives," essentially blank minds uploaded with manufactured personalities, who are then prostituted out on various "engagements." But problematic themes go both ways. Either they can be exploitative, which sadly several of those early episodes were, or they can be self-reflective and critical, which is what later episodes built on to terrific effect.

The series finale aired on Friday, and it was a great capper to a mad, brilliant, rushed Season 2 that was about four years of plot squashed into thirteen episodes. The characters changed, fell in and out of love, grew consciences, fell to pieces, stood up for themselves, made horrible mistakes, betrayed each other, and saved the world - for a little while. Some things just didn't fit or couldn't be properly compressed, resulting in out-of-nowhere plot twists, weird resolutions, loose ends everywhere, and too much left unsaid.

But at the same time, I loved that Whedon & Co shot for the moon and kept making their little world bigger and bigger as the end drew near. And now it's up to us to tackle the gaps. This is just the kind of situation that fandom was made for. Huge chunks of "Dollhouse" backstory are just waiting to be filled in, with lots of offscreen developments and unanswered questions to keep things interesting. It's like a giant jigsaw puzzle waiting to be assembled, but we all get to bring our own pieces.

The show was fun and moving and satisfying in its own right, but I can't wait to see how people react to it and process it through fanfiction and fanvids and other fan creativity. Fandom has become a huge part of how I enjoy media now, and I love that even when I know something is over, well it's never really over.

Somebody out there knows what happened to Whiskey. Somebody else knows what happened to Whiskey that's entirely different.

And I can't wait to find out.
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ravenbell

January 2011

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